Yesterday, as WFNY’s Scott Sargent was announcing his trial separation with the NBA Draft Lottery, I found myself nodding along in agreement as I consumed every word of it. Scott is exactly right. The Draft Lottery is the worst. It was k...
Yesterday, as WFNY’s Scott Sargent was announcing his trial separation with the NBA Draft Lottery, I found myself nodding along in agreement as I consumed every word of it. Scott is exactly right. The Draft Lottery is the worst. It was kind of fun the first couple years, dreaming of top picks and thinking about potential. In previous years I’ve spent countless hours playing the lottery machine, reading about the top 2 or 3 prospects, and dreaming of what winning the top spot would mean for the team.
But the more time you spend wallowing in the murkiness of luck, lethargy, and the tantalizing siren song of the NBA Draft Lottery, the more you realize it’s not a scene you really want to be a part of. As much as I love seeing Nick Gilbert proudly represent the city of Cleveland and the Cavaliers franchise, I’d be perfectly content if I don’t see him on TV again until it’s on a podium holding a trophy.
And thus, shortly after Nick Gilbert told the national audience that he, too, was tired of being there, the Cavaliers won the #1 pick in the draft. And in doing so, the Cavaliers opened the door to a world of options and opportunities. The team may or may not be in the lottery again next year, but you have to believe that at worst Nick Gilbert will be sitting in the top row instead of his usual front-left spot on the stage.
That’s the fun part of this. Thinking about all the options and potential for roster improvement is exciting. But the reality is, with so many options in front of him, choosing the right move is an enormous responsibility for GM Chris Grant.
Of course, there’s also a darker reality to this situation. The truth is, this is the worst draft to have the #1 pick since 2006. There’s no real, clear-cut choice at #1. The decision of who to pick at #1 will require weighing factors such as team need, injuries, immediate impact, long-term upside, etc. In most drafts, there’s an easy choice at #1. This year, it feels a little like picking the lesser of two evils.
The good news for Cavs fans is that Chris Grant has done this before. It’s easy to forget already, but just 2 years ago, Kyrie Irving wasn’t the obvious #1 pick that everyone makes him out to be today. There was a lot of debate back then about whether taking Derrick Williams first and someone like Brandon Knight 4th wasn’t the better route for the Cavaliers. Thankfully Grant and Company made the right move then, and the hope is that they make the right move now.
But what is the right move for the Cavaliers? That’s a tricky question. In some ways, winning this lottery almost feels like a cruel joke, because the best fit for the Cavaliers right now, at this moment in time, is probably Otto Porter. Porter, of course, would be considered a reach at #1. But Porter fits the biggest immediate need. As a SF, he is a solid two-way player who can help space the floor a bit on offense while buying in to Mike Brown’s defensive scheme. But does Porter have the highest long-term upside? Probably not.
The player with the most potential and brightest future might be Ben McLemore. But McLemore isn’t a need for this team right now. Drafting a SG in the top 4 of the draft in back to back seasons is a bitter pill to swallow, even if McLemore is the best player available and the smartest pick 1 .
The consensus #1 prospect, however, seems to be Nerlens Noel. With Anderson Varejao getting older and constantly being considered in trade rumors, selecting the center of the future is appealing. And Noel’s raw defensive ability is mesmerizing. But his wire-thin frame is an enormous concern. I’m uncomfortable with the amount of footage I’ve seen of Noel being abused in the post by NBA prospects like Mason Plumlee and Alex Len. Preying on mediocre collegiate talent by using your superior athleticism is one thing, but banging in the post with the NBA’s elite centers when you weigh 206 pounds is a completely different beast. And then there’s also Noel’s surprisingly abysmal offensive skillset. Noel