Cleveland Cavaliers need to find missing link
Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 23:06
The 2011-2012 Cleveland Cavaliers looked like an entirely different team than the squad that was left in ruins following LeBron James’ infamous “Decision.” Rookie point guard Kyrie Irving, who the Cavaliers took first overall in the 2011 NBA Draft and who was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Tuesday, and fellow rookie forward Tristan Thompson added some spice and gave life to a team that desperately needed it. For a good portion of the season, the Cavaliers even looked like they might sneak into the playoffs.
But then, the dreaded injury bug reared its ugly head.
Center Anderson Varejao was lost for weeks longer than expected with a wrist injury and Irving had health issues of his own. The team felt the losses, falling from a potential playoff team to having the third-worst record in the league.
But might this have been a blessing in disguise? Instead of having a borderline-playoff team and a first-round pick in the mid-teens, the Cavs moved themselves way up in the draft and will have the opportunity to draft a game-changer for the second year in a row.
With the NBA Draft lottery, the Cavs have a 13.8 percent chance of obtaining the No. 1 overall pick, but also could move down. Either way, if they stay in the top six-to-seven picks (which is far more than likely), they can improve themselves vastly. Here is a look at some of their options.
The Potential Star: Bradley Beal – Shooting Guard – Florida
Beal is a player many folks have not heard of, but NBA scouts rave about. Standing at 6-foot-3, Beal is a deadeye shooter who will also defend and rebound. He is just 18 years old and would be a perfect backcourt mate for Irving to take some of the pressure off the star.
The Risk: Andre Drummond – Center – Connecticut
Drummond is one of the biggest question marks in the draft. Most scouts have him going in the top five, but he could slip due to questions about his motivation, motor and maturity. Still, Drummond is a force down low with amazing athletic ability.
If the Cavs were to roll the dice on Drummond, they could pair him down low with Varejao and would have a terrific rebounding force as well as a shot-blocking presence for years to come.
The Dream: Anthony Davis – Center – Kentucky
This kid is the real deal. Davis, who played the point throughout much of his high school career, hit a tremendous growth spurt in his final two years of high school that sent him from the range of 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-10. He has the shooting stroke and dribbling skills of a guard, but also the knack to be a solid big man. Davis led the nation in blocks at 4.7 per game and was on the best team in the nation.
Everybody is drooling over Davis, who is the consensus pick to go No. 1 overall. The Cavaliers would need some luck in the lottery, but to be able to pair him with Varejao down low would be a dream scenario for this franchise.
The Best Fit: Harrison Barnes – Small Forward – North Carolina
After a slow start to his college career, Barnes picked his game up as he decided to stay for his sophomore season when the NBA went into lockout mode last summer. Standing at 6-foot-8, Barnes is a pure scorer who can get his own shot and has the potential to be a 20+ points per game kind of guy.
Barnes would alleviate tons of pressure from Irving. It is almost certain that Barnes will be on the board when the Cavs draft. He would be a terrific fit on a squad that desperately needs a small forward.
On May 30, the Cavs will find out their Draft Lottery fate, but they also hold the 24th overall pick along with the 33rd and 34th overall picks and have a golden opportunity to improve further. But all eyes will be on their first choice, and they appear to be a lock to get another big piece to what Cleveland fans hope will soon be a championship puzzle.