Well here we are. The culmination of our efforts, the moment where our speculation, workout analysis and rumor-screening comes to an end. Tonight, the Cleveland Cavaliers will add at least one quality piece to their puzzle as they continue their rebuilding efforts and eventual ascent back up the standings in the Eastern Conference.
Apparent is the fact that the Cavaliers’ brain trust has decided to aggressively attack the holes at the two wing positions and do so early in tonight’s festivities. They’re still rumored to be in the hunt for the second-overall spot, but continue to have their names linked to several players who — up until 48 hours ago — were not even in the big-picture discussion. They have four picks at their disposal, but going home with four new players would be very surprising1. Expect some wheeling and dealing, or at least unabashed attempts at such, but know that whatever happens, the Wine and Gold will be a better team come Friday morning regardless of the names that are called.
After the jump, you’ll find my final top-five of this season. Past NsBB’s can be found by searching, but you’ll find that they’ve remained relatively consistent throughout the process, leaving me more comfortable than ever that Chris Grant will once again find an intergral piece to the Cavs of tomorrow. T-minus three hours…
Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky
I don’t think much needs to be said here. Davis, in my mind, will change the New Orleans Hornets into a team that will not only win more basketball games, but will have a national appeal. It could be argued that, for at least the 2012-13 season, the Hornets will be more relevant than they were when Byron Scott and Chris Paul were making a run for the Larry O’Brien. The fact that some Cavalier fans would consider parting with Kyrie Irving for the chance to land Davis speaks volumes. There’s no way he’s available when the Cavs approach the podium, but in the event Chris Grant can work magic, Davis is this year’s Holy Grail.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
We discussed our respective “No. 2’s” in the WFNY round table; I’ve even gone on to compare Kidd-Gilchrist to Harrison Barnes in the great small forward debate. This nonsense about “needing a scorer” as a reason to not take the youngest player in the draft is simply baffling. I can list off countless players who score the ball among the best in the league without having a polished perimeter game — none of them are 18-years old with the work ethic that will only allow for improvement. Add in the fact that Chris Grant places a premium on the human aspect of players as well as chemistry, and I don’t see how you can go wrong with MKG.
Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
As I’ve mentioned, I won’t debate anyone who would prefer the Florida product over anyone else in the draft not named “Davis, Anthony.” That said, I’d much rather take my chances on trading up in the first round or finding a shooting guard later in the process, especially one who would provide the Wine and Gold with a relatively small backcourt. I dig the stroke, I love the hustle, and will concede that Beal may be the best scoring option in the 2012 draft class. But for this Cavaliers team, I’m only taking him if he’s falling to the fourth-overall spot. Give me the dynamic small forward 10 times out of 10.
Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
I may be the biggest Harrison Barnes fan on this very website, but I’ve slowly began to cool on him as the answer to help the Cavaliers regain prominence among the Eastern Conference. Sure, he could likely be plugged in and score 18-20 points per night, but his volume requirements will make this a very tough addition — a spade is a spade whether it’s named “Harrison” or “Antawn.” I won’t be upset if the Cavs are forced to take Barnes as the two parties obviously have interest in one another, but fans will need to realize that they’re getting more of a Richard Hamilton than a Danny Granger.
Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Welcome to the club, Thomas Robinson. I’ve managed to keep the Jayhawk off of the Not-so-Big Boards all season long, relegating him to mere honorable mentions due to his position. However, having fallen out of love with the prospects of Andre Drummond, I have little choice but to include Robinson. I think the power forward will be able to contribute right away, but I think we’re sacrificing a lot of need with him. Strong-bodied and very athletic, Robinson could easily be one of the best players to come out of this draft. I prefer to roll with Tristan Thompson, using these assets to address weaknesses.
Top Point Guards:
Damian Lillard, Weber State
Tony Wroten Jr, Washington
Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Top Shooting Guards:
Bradley Beal, Florida
Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Terrence Ross, Washington
Top Small Forwards:
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Moe Harkless, St. John’s
Top Power Forwards:
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Perry Jones III, Baylor
John Henson, North Carolina
Andre Drummond, UCONN
Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Potential Targets Outside of the Lottery:
Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonneventure
Perry Jones III, F, Baylor
Evan Fournier, SG, France
Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
Draymond Green, SF, Michigan State
Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor
John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt
Miles Plumlee, C, Duke
Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky
Do not count out the potential for at least one pick to be used on an international player who would subsequently be stashed overseas [↩]