April 23, 2014

Cavalier NBA Draft Film Room: Victor Oladipo

victor-oladipo-draftWe continue our May and June trip around the top of the NBA draft board and navigate exactly who the Cavaliers should take with the top selection at the end of the month.

The recent rumor winds indicate that today’s topic of discussion, Indiana guard/forward Victor Oladipo, could very well be in play with the No. 1 pick for the Cavs. Oladipo, like top pick favorite Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, brings a game-changing brand of defense to the table with a more complete offensive game.

Let’s take a look at what others around the internet are saying about Oladipo.

DraftExpress:

“Oladipo makes his presence felt all over the floor defensively, playing with tremendous intensity and always finding ways to get his hands on the ball for deflections and steals, or flying in from out of his area to block a shot or come up with a rebound, thanks to his seemingly endless energy and outstanding speed, quickness, and leaping ability.

Oladipo ranks second amongst all players in our Top 100 Rankings in steals per forty minutes, using his athleticism and anticipation skills to play the passing lanes, and also his quick hands to strip his man off the dribble. He has excellent lateral quickness and is able play his man very closely on the perimeter and still stay in front of him, while also being able to recover quickly in the event that he gets beat.

With the ability to guard up to four positions at the college level, Oladipo projects to be able to defend all three perimeter positions at the NBA level, depending on matchups. He has the speed and quickness to cover point guards, and his athleticism, strength, and toughness should enable him to guard most small forwards as well. Coaches will likely value the flexibility Oladipo gives them on the defensive end, as they can cross-match and hide weaker defenders while putting Oladipo on the opposing team’s top perimeter threat, regardless of position.”

NBADraft.net:

“Oladipo is an explosive athlete with great leaping ability … Has nice size at about 6’5, 215 lbs, and great length and a good build … Fantastic first step and moves well laterally … A very tough and gritty player who fights for everything … Excellent rebounder for a guard averaging over 5 per game last season … Absolutely relentless on defense and is versatile enough to guard multiple positions … Not one to be outworked on either end of the court … One of the best finishers in the country around the rim due to his athleticism and body control … Moves well without the ball and doesn’t need to have plays drawn up for him to be effective”

Chad Ford/ESPN:

“Oladipo is one of the best athletes in the draft. His energy is infectious, and he can lock down just about everyone. On offense, he shows an above-average ability to finish at the rim. His jump shot has started falling, and he’s been less hesitant to attack the basket. He still needs to improve his handle but could become a Tony Allen-like 2-guard someday.”

Hoopshype:

“Oladipo is a late bloomer who draws rave reviews for his demeanor and personality from those who have spent time around him. While he may lack superstar potential, he appears to be the ultimate glue type player as an overachiever who brings boundless energy. His explosiveness is off the charts (42-inch vertical at the combine), particularly off of two feet and his shooting and ball handling have shown surprising improvement. At 6-foot-4 in shoes, he’s undersized, taking his long-term potential down a notch. Some wild comparisons such as Dwyane Wade and even Michael Jordan have been thrown out for Oladipo. But those are unfair for a player who projects as a high level role player, but not a star at the next level.”

Additional Video:
YouTube – DraftExpress

Past Film Rooms:
Alex Len
Nerlens Noel
Shabazz Muhammad
Otto Porter
Ben McLemore

Without further ado, let’s dive into some film analysis. For Oladipo, I have one of his best performances of the season, at home against Michigan State. In the game, Oladipo put together a highlight reel on defense to go with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting as the Hoosiers secured a 5-point win.

The first thing you have to talk about with Oladipo is his defensive skills. I probably watched more of Oladipo than any other prospect at the top of the draft board due to my tendency to watch other Big Ten games during the season, and this guy is a game-changer on the other end of the floor. At just 6’4″, he’s even on the small size for your average shooting guard. However, that doesn’t stop him from being capable of guarding all three perimeter positions (1-3) effectively. Here, we begin with Oladipo (#4 in white) guarding Spartan guard Branden Dawson on the right wing.

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The first thing I noticed is how Oladipo is up in Dawson’s personal space. He’s an aggressive defender that has the skillset to seldom get burned by that style. With good lateral movement and a 6′ 9 1/4″ wingspan, Victor is a great on-ball defender and can handle covering point guards. Here, Dawson, who has two inches on Oladipo, tries to back down on the perimeter.

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Dawson spins and puts the ball on the deck to make a move to his left, but Oladipo picks his pocket with those long arms and forces the turnover.

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The light tap sends the ball behind Dawson and starts a breakaway for Oladipo.

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Oladipo is lightning quick in the open court, and a good percentage of his points come in the open floor. He has a good enough handle to push the ball up the court, and he can finish with authority at the rim.

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Next, we find Oladipo guarding MSU guard Gary Harris on the right wing. As Spartan point Keith Appling starts to drive from the top of the key, Oladipo

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Oladipo gets his hand on the kickout pass from Appling by pestering the driving Appling and then jumping back into position to prevent the pass. Mike Brown’s defense is built on great helpside defense, and Oladipo has that ability to roam and create turnovers.

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Again, Oladipo does a great job knocking the ball out to where he has the advantage to gain possession. As Harris overpursues the ball, Oladipo is cleared for take off once more.

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And nobody is catching Oladipo in the open court.

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Now, we see Oladipo start on the left wing against Harris as he avoids a screen down from Adreian Payne. Oladipo’s awareness on this end of the floor is off the charts, always one step ahead of what the offense is doing in the pick and roll game, back screens, etc.

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Appling is just barely across halfcourt when he zips a pass over to the left wing and Harris. This was far from a lazy pass, but that’s a lot of court between Appling and Harris, and Oladipo makes them pay.

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The ball gets to Harris but it hits the floor and Oladipo digs it out and gains possession. This guy is a 50-50 ball warrior, and it’s far from a coin flip when he’s in on the scrum.

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Oladipo starts the fastbreak, something he did more frequently than IU’s point guard Jordan Hulls in the games I watched them play. With a 5-on-3 break, Oladipo doesn’t force the issue himself, instead making a great pass to Will Sheehey on the left. Sheehey has a great angle to shoot or attack the hoop.

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Sheehey chooses to shoot about a 12-footer, which he misses, but Oladipo uses those springs in his feet to grab the offensive rebound and keep the IU possession alive. Oladipo had a very nice offensive rebound percentage for a 2/3 playing with big man Cody Zeller at 11.8%, which put him in the top 150 in the nation.

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Again, we see the Spartans underestimate Oladipo’s ability to track down a long pass. Victor goes high over the screen set by Derrick Nix and is in great position on Harris.

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Victor snatches this one Alonzo Gee style on the run and is off down the court for yet another fastbreak opportunity. Can you imagine an open floor five-man lineup of Kyrie, Dion, Oladipo, Tristan, and Andy? Wow, that is some serious quickness and athleticism.

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Oladipo gives it up to Yogi Ferrell who finishes with a layup.

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Oladipo is that classic pesky guy you just hate when you’re playing against him. His hustle is infectious, and his motor is relentless. Here, we see him pick off a lazy pass back from Payne off a defensive rebound.

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As the offense sets up, the ball gets swung to Oladipo in the corner. Oladipo goes right to the basket and gets fouled while going up and under on the other side of the rim.

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Oladipo got to the line about four times a game in his junior season, and he shot at a solid and respectable if not flattering 75%.

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Oladipo had 6 steals in all in this game, along with a couple of other deflections and helpside defensive decisions that led to more MSU turnovers. The Spartans had 19 total turnovers in this game.

Now, we transition to some tremendous blocked shots from Oladipo. The first comes on a Nix move in the paint. Nix goes left, leaving Cody Zeller in a less than ideal guarding position. Oladipo leaves his man out on the wing and makes his move.

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Like we’ve seen with the better shot blockers I’ve chronicled already in Noel and Len, the key to being a good shot blocker is having the hops and at the same time being able to keep your body away from the offensive player as you make the block. The Hoosier forward does just that here, slamming it off the backboard as IU recovers and pushes the ball up the court again.

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In a Michigan State transition opportunity, Travis Trice gets by his man and is heading for the hoop. Again, Oladipo leaves Harris alone on the right wing to get in on the play.

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The funny thing is Oladipo has a knack for making it appear he doesn’t have time to get over and help and then closing quick and attacking the ball at its release point. He gets in between Trice and the rim and elevates to send the shot back.

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Gathering the defensive rebound, Oladipo pushes it with purpose up the right side of the court, blowing by a Spartan defender or two in the process.

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Now, he gets even with Payne in the open court. This should be a dunk.

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Instead, this time, Oladipo slows down a bit and chooses to go with the finger roll, which gives Payne time to close and bother the shot. Oladipo did miss a couple gimmes at times this year, but when you shoot 64% inside the arc, you aren’t missing many.

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Below, we have another quick example of Victor never giving up on the play. With Dawson in the open court looking for a layup or slam, Oladipo catches up to him and manages to strip him of the ball ad send it out of bounds, preventing an easy score.

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There have been plenty of knocks on Oladipo’s offensive game and questions as to whether it will translate to the next level. On this play, we start with Oladipo, ball in hand, on the left wing. Sheehey flashes to set an on-ball screen.

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Oladipo gets a second high screen and dribbles around it.

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Michigan State switches on the pick, and Oladipo is left with a wide open three look as Payne is late getting on the shooter.

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Oladipo had a drastic improvement in three-point shooting from sophomore (10-for-48, 21%) to junior years (30-for-68, 44%). Will he ever be a go-to, knockdown guy out there? Probably not, but he’s certainly capable of shooting and making them when he’s open.

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In another offensive sequence, we watch Oladipo go opposite the ball screen and shoot straight down the middle of the paint.

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Oladipo uses a huge power stride to split the Spartan defenders, drawing contact in the process, and finish for the and-one.

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Oladipo ran the offense a decent amount of the time with Hulls being more of a shoot-first point. His dribble is far from a strength (2.3 turnovers/game this past year), but I certainly think it’s good enough to make some NBA-level drive to the hoop.

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Finally, we see Victor in one more pick and roll set, using the Mosquera-Perea screen this time, going right.

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Again, the Spartans switch it, and Payne is left once again getting out late on Oladipo, who nails the long two-pointer.

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So, Victor Oladipo, number one pick? It’s certainly possible. This idea I’ve heard thrown around that the Cavs would be making a mistake with a “safe pick” or “highest floor” guy in Oladipo is just absurd to me. I’ll get into some of this more this weekend. Yes, Oladipo is a junior as opposed to many of these other freshmen and sophomores. But, in Mike Brown’s system, I see Oladipo as the best defender on the team in year one and a first-team All-NBA defender by year two or three. He’s that gifted on that end of the floor.

I know that having a shot-blocking center is in fashion right now, and for good reason. But, if Nerlens Noel isn’t a center longterm, I argue that Victor Oladipo can and will make just as much of a difference on the defensive end of the floor as Noel will from the power forward position. Oladipo, much like LeBron in Cleveland, does a fantastic job of being the defensive linchpin, roaming and creating steal and block opportunities. Having that guy to put on the other team’s best perimeter player is huge.

And, I do think that Oladipo’s offensive game is being undervalued. In a backcourt with Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving, do you really need another guy who can give you 20 points? I don’t think so. You do need a guy who can hit open shots, be a good facilitator on offense, and hold his own when called upon. Oladipo can do just that. What you ABSOLUTELY need with a Kyrie-Dion backcourt is an elite defender. I know Oladipo is just 6’4 1/4″ tall, but with his 6′ 9 1/4″ wingspan, 42″ vertical, and every other eye-popping combine measurement, I think you could deploy a starting lineup with those three despite being on the smallish side. Unlike McLemore, I think Oladipo has the frame for consistently defending NBA small forwards. Sure, he’ll give up 2-3 inches most nights, but he’ll make up for it with his defensive prowess.

So, if you have your heart set on improving the Cavaliers’ atrocious defense with that first pick, don’t discount Oladipo. He has the chance to make just as much of an impact on the defensive end as Nerlens Noel does. Do I ultimately take him one? No, probably not, but if Chris Grant and company come to that conclusion, then I can certainly roll with it.

Until next time, the film room is closed!

(Photo: Andrew Hancock/SI)

  • BenRM

    I am one of those who has qualms with drafting the “highest floor guy” with the No. 1 overall. If Oladipo can legitimately play the 3, then I will buy into him a little more. But if you’re drafting “safe” wouldn’t someone like Porter make sense over Oladipo?

  • mgbode

    if Oladipo could be a SF, then he’d be as highly valued as MKG was last season. the problem is that he isn’t a fulltime SF (he can be a SF in some matchups, but would struggle there in others). we already have a shorter backcourt, do we really want to exasperate the problem at the ’3′ as well?

    and I love Oladipo’s NBA prospects. if we want to put him at SG, split the rest time between Irving/Waiters/Oladipo and play them together for a short-set each game? sure, I’m on board with that plan.

    note: 96 minutes for 2 positions in any given game. That’s 32min/game each just using those 2 positions.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Good stuff Kirk. I couldn’t agree more, that his height is a non-factor. With a 6’9″ wingspan and a 42-inch vertical (and the ability to add some more good weight), he can guard any perimeter player in the league. Height is a fairly useless bit of information all by itself even though fans still throw it around like it means everything. I really wouldn’t be upset if he is the Cavs’ pick, but I still think Grant will end up trading it in a deal for an All-Star.

  • T-Bone

    I think Oladipo’s going to be an All-Star at a minimum within 3 years. We pass on him and it’s a huge mistake IMO. Noel will be an injury prone big just like the rest of them and potentially the next Oden to Oladipo’s Durant.

  • mgbode

    I agree in theory. Height is not as important as wingspan, weight/strength, vertical, and quickness combinations.

    However, you cannot just say he has a 6’9″ wingspan. You have to compare him to the SFs wingspans.

    Here are all the other potential 1st round SFs:
    Otto Porter – 7’1.5″
    Shabazz – 6’11″
    Giannis – 7’3″
    Karasev – 6’9.25″
    Bullock – 6’8.75″
    Snell – 6’11.5″

    And, it’s not surprising to see many questioning whether Karasev or Bullock can handle defense despite being 6’7″ at SF. Neither has Oladipo’s overall athleticism, but it’s still a concern.

    Oh, and you can see one of the reasons I really want to draft & stash Giannis.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Good point, but I am starting to believe that none of that ends up mattering all that much when it comes to guarding perimeter players. I think there’s a good reason that you are seeing so many coaches going with smaller lineups when the game is on the line. You saw Jimmy Butler do a pretty nice job on LeBron James (Butler is listed at 6’7″ but he’s not that tall… 6’5″ seems more likely). Danny Green might be doing the best job guarding him for the Spurs, although Leonard is also smaller. OKC used Thabo to guard him last year. The Mavs used Kidd two years ago. In the end, your best perimeter defender should be guarding the best offensive perimeter player for the other team, and you throw height/wingspan out the window.

  • BenRM

    Your the first person I’ve met/read who seems to think so. Also, the Oladipo to Durant comparison is very off base.

  • BenRM

    I suppose you could split him that way. I didn’t think of that. As long as you can manage to get significant minutes from the guy, it’d be okay.

  • Captain Kidd

    Bingo. I like him. But he is NOT a SF. Not a chance.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    You could do the same thing with McLemore which is what I mentioned a few times. It will be interesting to see how the careers of both McLemore and Oladipo pan out I’m guessing both will be effected by who drafts them. I.E. Harrison Barnes last year.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Not sure which is more stunning the AS within 3 years or the comparison to Durant. No I don’t it’s the comparison, in any form or fashion, to Durant. Not by a mile.

  • Harv 21

    Not seeing anyone mention what is important to me: his offense could very well significantly improve. Don’t think you develop a great handle once you’re in the NBA but his shot mechanics are good and he works at his game like crazy. Exactly the type of guy who becomes a better pro than college player.

    Breaks my heart a little to take a non-franchise guy at #1 overall; to me he’s a #5-8 in a loaded draft. But he will be an impact player immediately because he plays defense like a sane version of Dennis Rodman. In the 35 games Andy will play with him, Mike Brown can go take a cigarette break. This would be ok, he will be an impact guy and could very well have his jersey in the rafters in 15 years.

  • mgbode

    I knew Green was going to come up on LeBron and it’s just not the right comparison. Pops is having him play 4-5 feet back from him on the perimeter. Length matters less at that point.

    Kawhi is who you want guarding LeBron more often. He and his 7’3″ wingspan.

    ———————————————

    and, we are deflecting the main point here anyway. wingspan doesn’t matter as much when the perimeter players first move is to drive. wingspan is absolutely HUGE when it comes to guarding passing lanes, altering shots, and the amount of the floor your defense can cover.

    look at Indiana. their defense is amazing in large part because they can cover so much of the floor at any one time with amazing length.

    we already are losing some ground at PG and SG. I would prefer to not lose that ground at SF as well. I’m open to it (see my big board), but it’s not what I really want for team building here.

  • mgbode

    McLemore’s career will be more affected by the team that gets him than Oladipo IMO. McLemore will need to be on a team that can properly utilize his skills whereas every team needs a perimeter defender like Oladipo.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The Cavaliers aren’t in a position to afford a specific skill set like a perimeter defender though hoping he can develop more of his game especially not with the #1 overall pick in the draft, IMO.

    This is one of the reasons I can’t hop on the Noel bandwagon and he’d be much more of a defensive force then Oladipo, once he plays.

  • mgbode

    only Len doesn’t have a narrow specific skillset at the top of this draft but also has a big upside. if it wasn’t for those darn feet.

  • BenRM

    Yeh – that injury scares me more than Noel’s.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Actually, LeBron has been posting up a good bit on Green and I think he’s done a good job in defending.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Both feet or just the one? But this speaks to this draft unfortunately. You know as soon as the next superstar arrives Cleveland will end up selecting one spot lower as to just miss him right?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    His offense will have to prove otherwise he’ll be Corey Brewer part deux.

    As to your point about selecting #5 or later I was really hoping #3 or later myself just to avoid the possible pitfalls of the whole Noel dilemma but the basketball God’s hate me so that of course meant Cleveland would be #1, finally, again, in something.

    Oladipo and Rodman, hmmmmmmm, not as bad as Oladipo to Durant but you guys are starting to make me think I must have missed something when I watched Indiana. YouTube.com here I come!

  • Harv 21

    saw that too, and thought Green was being about as disciplined as smart as he could be, understanding he was going to lose that match up.

    Haven’t watched a ton of LeBron lately but last night really noticed how his body as changed in the last couple of years, and can imagine how his game will morph in the next few. He’s stronger than ever – but now more like heavy marble and looks to me like he’s ever so slightly more earthbound than at his skywalking peak. He’s a better player and I see his future as some sort of nightmare power forward, a low post guy who passes like Walton, endless unstoppable moves like McHale, stronger on the block than Karl Malone and good range shooting. And who could still run the break down your throat and defend nearly everyone. If he’s not the best ever, definitely the most physically talented ever.

  • Harv 21

    well he’s certainly no Boobie, but …

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Gibson’s legacy will be legendary!

  • mgbode

    hey, now you’ve got it!!!

  • mgbode

    yes, I agree. he is losing that matchup every time. so, he is funneling him to his help as best he can. he’s doing an admirable job, but in a losing effort.

    LeBron is definitely the most physically talented ever and if he develops a late-career turnaround jumper from the post (ala Wizards Jordan, but before his body breaks down like that), then he’ll just be unfair to the rest of the league. Actually, he’s probably already there without it.

  • mgbode

    I’m hoping we are 15-16 slots outside of Wiggins actually.

  • WFNYKirk

    I don’t really think of it as a luxury or “specific skill set”. If he’s impact enough, it becomes part of your identity and makes you a contender.

  • WFNYKirk

    Oh, Pat! That would be a nightmare after all of these hours upon hours of film study, analysis, and writing! :)

    Just kidding, whatever takes this team to the next level and beyond, I’m good with. There are certainly trade scenarios with which I’d be more than pleased.

  • WFNYKirk

    Great point, Harv. If he makes half the improvement in subsequent years that he did between sophomore and junior year, then someone is in for a treat.

    Love the cig break line.. that made me laugh out loud.

  • WFNYKirk

    Yep, mgbode. That’s the point I made in the McLemore article. If Dion can play backup PG effectively (I think he can), then this is almost a non-issue.

    32/game for each of the three, and then you add your small ball minutes from there. I personally think you can afford to play more small ball minutes per game with Oladipo than McLemore (maybe 15/game with Oladipo and 7-8 with McLemore).

  • mgbode

    yes, when you add the smallball minutes it makes it even easier to handle.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Sssooooo….you think he’ll be an All-Star when they are typically offensive minded-guys? They guys skills project to a Tony Allen type. That’s a very very good role player, but not an All-Star.

  • pihc

    Good break down with this article. I have to give it up to C Grant in what happens in the Draft, FA and potential trades to come. He’s done a great job the last few years for us. He shocked us with Kyrie (everyone was shouting Derrick Williams), he shocked us with Tristan and he’s turning out to be a beast, we all sat up and yelled “What?” with the Waiters pick and he’s a strong NBA 2 that can also come in as a PG if needed. And the trades Grant has come up with to make this happen.

    Go Cavaliers! It’ll be interesting to see what tract Grant and the Cavs take in this extremely pivotal draft in the growing Cavalier team.