The Cavs have a problem. If they are right and the rest of the league is wrong, it could be a fairly significant problem. How they navigate tonight’s NBA Draft will go a long way in determining how successful they are in clearing out the debris and retooling another championship-caliber roster.
While draft analysts and league executives continue to rave about the depth and talent available tonight, the Cavs’ collective reaction to this draft pool has registered little more than a yawn and belly scratch.
“There’s no Kyrie in this draft,” one team official said, referring to the Cavs’ reigning Rookie of the Year. Irving could soon be one of the three best point guards in what is quickly becoming a point guard-driven league. That counts for something.
And while Anthony Davis should be spectacular, he is the only potential superstar the Cavaliers see in this draft. That’s why it would be a bit surprising to see them trade with the Charlotte Bobcats to move up to No. 2.
If the price is their second pick in the first round, No. 24 overall, the Cavs don’t seem to think it’s worth it because there isn’t another player (aside from Davis) whom they are absolutely in love with and feel they can’t live without.
From all accounts, the Cavs will be happy to sit at No. 4 and wait to see who falls to them. It will most likely be Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who should be wearing a Cavs jersey by the end of the night.
Kidd-Gilchrist provides everything the Cavs need, except he struggles shooting the ball. He is a spectacular athlete who can defend three positions, he was a high school teammate of Irving’s and he has an incredible competitive streak.
If he is selected, the Cavs are counting on coach Byron Scott working with him and fixing the hitch in his shooting mechanics. Kidd-Gilchrist is the youngest player in the draft and has shown an eagerness to learn and work.
It’s that type of work ethic that sold the Cavs on Tristan Thompson with the fourth pick in last year’s draft. Thompson may never be an NBA superstar, but Cavs executives firmly believed he wouldn’t flop. That’s why he ultimately was the choice at No. 4 last year — to the surprise of nearly everyone else in the league.
Which brings us to tonight’s potential shocker. There is a chance, regardless of how small, that the Cavs could stun the NBA world again with a choice at No. 4 no one saw coming.
Like Syracuse shooting guard Dion Waiters.
At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Waiters has a thick physique. He excels at getting into the lane and getting to the basket, and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has compared his style of play to Dwyane Wade.
One scout outside the Cavs said Waiters might be the best pure scorer in this draft, and scoring remains this team’s biggest need. With Antawn Jamison gone, they must find someone to take some of the scoring burden off Irving. That just might be Waiters.
It sounds ridiculous now, particularly since he didn’t even start at Syracuse, but the Cavs have been high on Waiters and have had him under consideration all along for the fourth pick.
General Manager Chris Grant has shown he isn’t afraid to take a chance on a guy higher than he is projected to go. Just look back to Thompson last year and, prior to that, Grant’s time in Atlanta, when he was part of the regime that selected Marvin Williams.
Grant has shown a flair for pulling draft night surprises and another one tonight would be yet another step down the path of the Oklahoma City model. The Thunder, then the Seattle SuperSonics, selected ultra athletic point guard Russell Westbrook out of UCLA with the, ahem, fourth overall pick in 2008.
No one saw it coming, and team officials were hammered for it by draft analysts. ESPN’s Dick Vitale was one of them, hollering how the pick didn’t make sense.
“Seattle will look back on this and realized they made a big, big mistake,” Vitale howled.
Turns out, the Sonics/Thunder knew exactly what they were doing.
In this world of instant gratification, we want to know right away if the Cavs make good or bad picks tonight. Truth is, whether it’s Kidd-Gilchrist, Waiters or someone else, no one will have any idea tomorrow if they did right or wrong. We won’t know that for a few years.
That brings us back to the initial point — the Cavs don’t view this draft like everyone else. There is one lock for stardom, and he is headed to New Orleans. If the Cavs are right and this draft ultimately isn’t as deep and talented as perceived, it means they will have held three picks within the top five over two seasons of lousy drafts. It doesn’t exactly bode well for a high success rate.
The clock in fans’ heads has naturally sped up now that LeBron James has won his championship. Dan Gilbert’s guarantee of beating James to a championship has been buried somewhere on South Beach, and now Cavs fans are expecting the playoffs.
The front office doesn’t agree. Another year in the lottery is expected, another high draft pick is needed — particularly if there isn’t a superstar available at No. 4 this year.
This rebuild is a long, painful process that has been complicated by varying views on the talent level of the past two drafts. But there is no fast forward button on this construction site.
As Gilbert and James can both agree, there are no shortcuts to a title. None.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. 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.