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Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers draft wrap

By Jason Lloyd Published: June 24, 2011

Entering Thursday night's NBA Draft, the Cavs had depth at two positions on the roster: point guard and power forward. So it makes perfect sense that they spent the first and fourth overall picks in this draft on ... a point guard and power forward.

Wait, what?

Relax, it's all part of the process the Cavaliers are only beginning.

The instant feedback I received from 5,000 Twitter followers last night ranged from anger to disgust for the Cavs' draft. I understand why people are upset with the Tristan Thompson pick, but there are a couple of things to point out.

* The Cavs insist Thompson was their top target with the No. 4 pick from the start. Whether or not that is true will never be known, but it was clear they were scared off by Jonas Valanciunas' murky European contract. Had they known the parameters of his buyout, I believe they would've selected him fourth. But the Cavs were true to their word. If they didn't know precisely when Valanciunas would be available, they weren't taking him.

* Once Valanciunas was eliminated from the pile, who else were they supposed to take at No. 4? With Derrick Williams and Enes Kanter going second and third, the options were limited. Had the Utah Jazz selected Brandon Knight third, the Cavs could've maybe taken Kanter fourth and traded down a few spots and still wound up with Thompson. They could've taken Valanciunas for the sole purpose of trading him, since interest in him seemed to increase closer to the draft.

* Could they have gotten Thompson a few spots lower? Yeah, probably. And in fact, they did try hard to move around a little bit. But the pieces didn't match up, so they stayed right where they were and took the guy they wanted all along. I remember Browns GM Tom Heckert talking after his first draft, which netted Joe Haden and T.J. Ward at the top. Fans were scratching their heads why they took Ward so high, to which Heckert replied simply: When your guy is there, take him. Sometimes you can get cute and try to get him lower, only to miss out on him entirely. When a guy you want is there at the spot you are drafting, sometimes it's best to just take him.

* As for the pick itself of Thompson, yes, the Cavs already have J.J. Hickson and Antawn Jamison on the roster. So what? Both are in the final year of their deals and there is an excellent chance neither is on this roster 12 months from now. That is pretty much a guarantee with Jamison, while Hickson should have excellent trade value between now and the trading deadline. The selection of Thompson makes it clear the Cavs aren't willing to pay Hickson at least $8 to $10 million a year, which he'll likely command on the open market (under the current salary cap rules).

* They love Thompson's makeup. They love his character. They think he can evolve into a pretty decent player in this league. Will he be a superstar? No, probably not. But given the draft pool, they probably weren't going to find a superstar at that spot (unless Valanciunas turns out to be one in five years). Given who was off the board and what was left, I wonder what would've made fans excited. Earlier in the day, I heard grumblings of how unhappy everyone would be if Valanciunas was the pick. If you didn't want Thompson and you didn't want Valanciunas, who was left to take?

* The pick of Kyrie Irving was a slam dunk. The Cavs love him. They feel he is the one and only player who has the chance to be a very special player in this league for many years to come.

* The trade of Justin Harper (No. 32 overall) wasn't that surprising. If the Cavs could get three high first-round picks to take into next season, terrific. Short of that, they weren't interested in bringing a mediocre rookie with limited long-term potential and putting him on a bad team. So they flipped him for a pair of second-round picks in 2013 and 2014.

* It's important to understand that the new regime of the Cavs covets draft picks. The more picks, the better, particularly on a roster lacking in players anyone else wants. Picks are assets that can be moved around in future deals. Harper may have been able to help a little bit next season, but would he really be a key figure on this team four years from now? If not, was it really worth keeping him around?

* Like everyone else, the Cavs knew this was a thin draft. They tried to get back into the first round, but by pick 19 or 20, they lost interest. There was no one left on the board they had a great amount of interest in.

* Lastly, as the Cavs begin this rebuilding process, look at it this way: It's as if there are 15 current vacancies on this roster. With very, very few exceptions, the bodies currently occupying the positions on this roster probably won't be around three or four years from now. In many cases, even two years from now. This is a MASSIVE rebuild from the ground up.

* The Cavs approach has been to treat this like a remodeling project. Remodeling your house can be irritating and, at times, ugly. The shower doesn't work, the kitchen is torn apart, etc... In this case, they have about 13 power forwards and point guards, but no wings who can create. But they weren't going to fill all their needs in one draft, particularly a weak draft, and they knew that going into the night. They went into the draft wanting to get two good, young players to start this out. They feel like they did that with Irving and Thompson. Eventually, the belief is they will lead to a sparkling new colonial, complete with a chef's kitchen and a shiny new steam shower.

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