CHICAGO: Within the volumes of research the Cavaliers compile concerning the NBA draft, one important fact remains. On average, between 12 and 14 players from every draft have “significant NBA careers,” Cavs General Manager Chris Grant said Friday.
Some years that number might be closer to nine and some years it could soar to 18, but good players can be found in every poor draft.
“From our standpoint and I think from most teams’ standpoint, you want to get the guys you pick right. You’re not worrying about the whole draft,” Grant said. “Overall if a draft produces a lot of All-Stars or it doesn’t, you want to get the guys you pick for your team that produce at a high level. We don’t necessarily concentrate on if a draft is good or bad, it’s ‘Where we’re picking, can we get a player we can add that is going to be a good fit?’ ”
ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford compared this draft to an anemic 2006 crop when Andrea Bargnani was the No. 1 pick. But LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo were plucked from that draft and enjoyed All-Star careers.
The Cavs have made it clear they’re not focusing on position so much, but instead will compile their board by ranking the best players available. Depending on where they select, and they’ll know that following Tuesday’s draft lottery, they could wind up with Georgetown small forward Otto Porter or Maryland center Alex Len or any host of players in between.
That strategy also doesn’t preclude them from taking another guard despite spending their first pick the last two years on Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. The Cavs met with guards Ben McLemore and GlenOak product C.J. McCollum, among others, during this combine.
Players involved in this draft don’t appear upset by the assertion it isn’t a very good draft. Porter believes it creates an opportunity for guys to move up higher, and ultimately make more money.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” Porter said. “People can say what their opinions are, at the end of the day, it’s how you want to go. Knowing that there is nobody that’s a superstar like LeBron James or Kevin Durant, the window is open for anybody. It’s just unlimited what you can do.”
The Cavs won’t compile their draft board until the week of the draft, but the bulk of their scouting work was done during the season. The combine is a small piece, as is the private workouts. The bulk of the work is a player’s performance during the season.
“It’s a significant piece,” Grant said of the combine. “But evaluating the players on their teams and how well their teams do and who they play and looking at their body of work, really studying the history, is probably the biggest piece.”
Grant said coach Mike Brown is still working on completing his coaching staff and no one has officially been added, but a league source said Friday that Los Angeles Lakers assistant Phil Handy will join Brown’s staff in Cleveland.
Handy was a player development coach under Brown with the Lakers.
Grant didn’t rule out the Cavs talking to assistants with teams still in the postseason, meaning they’d have to wait until after that team has been eliminated to speak with the coach.
“It may be a drawn-out process,” Grant said.
One league executive at the combine called the Portland Trail Blazers plucking away Nate Tibbetts as a “home run hire” for the Blazers and coach Terry Stotts. Tibbetts has been viewed as an up-and-coming coach since the Cavs hired him out of the Development League two years ago.
He worked closely with Kyrie Irving and is expected to do the same — and more — with reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard.
Indiana teammates Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo competed in all of the strength and agility events on Friday. Zeller, the younger brother to Cavs center Tyler, ran his sprint in 3.15 seconds — the fastest time among all big men. Oladipo ran his in 3.16.
Zeller pumped his fist upon learning he won. Oladipo threw his head back in disgust.
“Let’s do it again,” Oladipo said.
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.