It’s impossible to predict in which direction the Cavaliers will head with their second pick in the first round next week until all the particulars are known. Beginning with, of course, who they select fourth overall.
If they go big at the top of the round (Andre Drummond), they’ll most likely address their glaring need on the wing with the 24th pick. If they select a wing at No. 4 (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal), they’ll likely try to add a big at the bottom of the round.
Two power forwards trending in opposite directions right now are Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson. Sullinger’s stock appears to be plummeting after NBA doctors “red flagged” his medical report because of concerns about his back. There is at least a slim chance Sullinger could be available when the Cavaliers select 24th.
There is also a slim chance Nicholson is available, although he continues to trend upward and could be selected with either of the Boston Celtics’ selections at Nos. 21 and 22. Nicholson is a 6-foot-9 senior, making him that rare draft prospect who stayed all four years in college.
He departs second on the Bonnies’ all-time list in scoring (2,103 points), blocks (244), field-goal percentage (.575) and fourth in rebounds (887). He averaged 18.5 points and 8.4 rebounds his senior year, when he was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year.
He surprised scouts at the combine with his ability to make shots from anywhere on the court, he has a strong post-up game and he has enormous hands that measured 10 inches in length, the longest of any draft prospect at the combine.
A native of West Mississauga, Ontario, Nicholson could fit in nicely next to Cavs forward Tristan Thompson, who grew up just 10 miles down the road from Nicholson in Brampton, Ontario.
Drafting Thompson last season wouldn’t preclude the Cavs from taking a power forward like Nicholson. General Manager Chris Grant has made it clear that roughly 40 percent of an NBA roster is comprised of bigs, meaning they’re like pitchers in baseball — a team can never have too many.
Nicholson is a quiet, humble kid who initially projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick. His work at the combine just might lift him into the high 20s or perhaps the late teens.
“I’m not anxious, I’m just being myself,” he said at the combine. “I’m not going to fluff anything up, I’m just going to tell them straight up about me.”
If Nicholson is gone, or if the Cavs decide to pass, other bigs sure to be lingering around the bottom of the first round include Michigan State’s Draymond Green, Duke’s Miles Plumlee and Mississippi State power forward Arnett Moultrie.
Moultrie is a 21-year-old rebounding machine who led the Southeast Conference by averaging 10.5 per game in his one season with the Bulldogs. Moultrie spent two seasons at UTEP before transferring. He is a terrific athlete and ferocious on the offensive glass.
Memphis shooting guard Will Barton and St. John’s small forward Moe Harkless are among the wings that could be available at the bottom of the first round. Barton is an explosive scorer who was named Conference USA Player of the Year as a sophomore. He averaged 18 points as a sophomore and is one of nine players in school history to score at least 1,000 points in less than two seasons.
Despite the presence of Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes at the top of this draft, Barton called himself the best wing available.
“I respect all the other guys in the draft, I think they’re real good,” he said. “I’m not saying they’re bums, I just think I’m the best. My numbers stack up against everyone else. I feel like I’m clear-cut better than everybody, so why not feel like I’m the best?”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.