Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto dropped this little nugget in his Sunday notes column:
[Noel] is a project, especially on offense. He’s a No. 1 pick who may never make an All-Star team. That’s why certain teams may be willing to trade the pick.
Suppose the Cavs end up with the No. 3 pick. They could offer their entire draft (all four picks) for No. 1, and that team could still draft someone such as Otto Porter at No. 3.
Noel is ideal for the Cavs, a team on a mission to improve its defense. He blocks shots, 4.4 per game. He can rebound, 9.5 per game. He influences the game defensively with a 7-4 wing span.
What did the Cavs talk about all season? Improving the defense. Add Noel into the middle of the lane and suddenly there is help for Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, who both have trouble on defense. Some of those layups the Cavs yielded a year ago will be blocked or missed at the rim.
This is somewhat surprising. Given Noel’s ACL injury and that he won’t play until the middle of the season, one would figure the Cavs might be cool on the Kentucky center. While I wouldn’t be shocked if the Cavs won the lottery and took Noel at the top spot, it would shock me to see the Cavs trade up. With Mike Brown back on board, the Cavs are looking to make a playoff push next season. Having them package all four picks to take a player (an offensive project) who might miss half the season (or at least a significant chunk of it) doesn’t seem to jibe with the prevailing “playoffs or bust” attitude.
That being said, Cavs’ GM Chris Grant has a being aggressive on draft day. Both Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson were “outside the box” picks that threw many a mock draft into chaos. And last season Grant packaged their late first and early second round picks to move up to draft Tyler Zeller. So it wouldn’t be all that surprising if Grant made a bold move on draft day.
The draft order will be determined this Tuesday during the NBA Draft Lottery. Nick Gilbert will represent the Cavs at the lottery for the third straight year.