In two weeks, the Cleveland Cavaliers will enter the 2014 NBA draft with the first overall pick for the third time in four seasons.
Last season the Cavaliers felt their days of drafting in the lottery were behind them. When they went out and added Andrew Bynum to the core of Irving, Thompson, Waiters, and Varejao, many felt Cleveland would be back in the playoffs for the first time since “the decision”.
Unfortunately for Dan Gilbert and Co., the Cavaliers season nose-dived and consisted of the following highlights:
• Andrew Bynum was a malcontent and was eventually traded for 2014 free agent Luol Deng
• There was a reported beef between Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving during the season
• Number one overall pick, Anthony Bennett, looked lost and was a non-factor
• Head Coach Mike Brown was fired one year into a five year deal
• Key free agent signing, Jarrett Jack, was a bust after inking 4 year, $25 million deal
• The team finished 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 33-49 record
As bad a season as it was, there once again is now a light at the end of the tunnel for Cleveland. The basketball gods have decided to give the Cavaliers another chance at redemption, as they will now have their choice of Embiid, Wiggins or Parker on draft night.
Based on Chris Mannix’s latest mock draft, it appears the Cavaliers are down to either Embiid or Wiggins with the first pick and according to Chris Sheridan, Cleveland would even consider dealing the first overall pick for Kevin Love if they could.
But who should the Cavaliers draft? Or would they really consider trading the first overall pick?
Drafting Joel Embiid
When you look at the front line for the Cavaliers, you can make a strong case that Embiid is the right pick. Anderson Varejao will be 32-years-old next season, and has only played in 44% of games since 2010.
Recent draft picks, Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson are solid forwards, but don’t appear to move the needle, and their trade deadline acquisition, Spencer Hawes, is an unrestricted free agent.
Although Embiid has only played serious basketball since he was 16, he would step in right away and be an upgrade to the Cavaliers front court. According to NBA.com, the Cavaliers finished 17th in defensive rating this past season. The addition of Embiid would most certainly improve this ranking, and if Varejao can stay healthy to pair with Embiid, the Cavaliers would have a nice duo on the defensive end.
However, out of Embiid, Wiggins and Parker; Embiid is the riskiest pick. If the Cavaliers do draft Embiid, they will need to be certain that he has a clean bill of health. After the Bennett pick last year, the Cavaliers can’t afford to draft “Greg Oden”, instead of “Kevin Durant”.
Drafting Andrew Wiggins
Making the case for drafting Andrew Wiggins is very similar to that of Embiid. When you look at the Cavaliers wing players, an upgrade is needed. Luol Deng is a good bet to leave via free agency, Dion Waiters seems to have worn out his welcome, and the reserves consist of Alonzo Gee, C.J Miles and Anthony Bennett – not guys who put fear in opposing teams.
Like Embiid, there would be a learning curve for Wiggins, but with his speed and athleticism, he automatically upgrades the Cavaliers perimeter defense and will now make opposing guards work at both ends of the floor.
With a Wiggins and Irving backcourt, the Cavaliers would be set and can look to add pieces up front this offseason. According to BasketballInsiders.com, the Cavaliers could have up to 23.4 million dollars in cap space this offseason, and could also use Waiters, Thompson and Zeller as trade pieces to land a free agent.
Landing a Pau Gasol or Marcin Gortat in free agency would be an upgrade on the front line, and they could also possibly sign and trade Deng to bring in another starter like Chandler Parsons from Houston.
A starting line-up of Irving, Wiggins, Gasol/Gortat, Thompson and Parsons would get the Cavaliers back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Trade the Pick
One of the gutsiest moves the Cavaliers could pull off is trading the pick. If I’m David Griffin, the only chance I trade this pick is if I am blown away with an offer that would put my team into the Eastern Conference elite for not only next season, but for years to come.
The Kevin Love rumours are circulating, but there is zero chance he signs on with the Cavaliers after this season. So unless I get a guarantee from Love, I’m not even thinking of doing a deal with Minnesota.
Cleveland is not a prime destination for players, so the only chance they trade the pick is if they are able to acquire a superstar, with time left on his deal. Right now, when you circulate the market, there really is no big name superstar that is available, and worth the risk of trading the first overall pick. Of course there is LeBron and Durant, but we both know they are not being traded to Cleveland.
The only real name right now is Kevin Love, and with his sights set on LA in 2015, I think it’s a safe bet for Cleveland to stand pat.