CHICAGO: If the Cavaliers’ front-office executives arrived at this week’s NBA predraft camp looking for shooters, they came to the right place. From Doug McDermott to Nik Stauskas, Rodney Hood and C.J. Wilcox, the Cavs should have the opportunity at the draft to fill one of the team’s most glaring needs.
“You don’t see a lot of missed shots out there,” McDermott said Thursday at the combine. “There’s quite a few [shooters] to choose from.”
Since taking over as general manager in February, David Griffin has been searching for ways to better balance the Cavs’ roster. He has mentioned repeatedly the Cavs are built around two ball-dominant, drive-and-kick guards in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
The only problem is they don’t have enough shooters to make open jumpers after the “kick” portion of that sequence. Former coach Mike Brown called Irving the best shooter on the team last year, but if he is busy penetrating the lane, there are few other options who opponents fear leaving alone.
Spencer Hawes and C.J. Miles, the two best 3-point shooters last season, are both free agents this summer. There remains a decent chance neither will be back next season on a team that made 35 percent of its 3-pointers to finish around the middle of the pack.
The Cavs tried unsuccessfully last summer to upgrade their shooting. They chased both Kyle Korver and Mike Dunleavy in free agency, but both spurned more lucrative offers from the Cavs to sign elsewhere. Korver remained in Atlanta, while Dunleavy signed with the Chicago Bulls (accepting about half the money the Cavs were offering in the process).
Now they could have the opportunity to draft McDermott, who at least one league executive on Thursday compared to Dunleavy, except with a better post-up game.
McDermott led the nation in scoring each of the last two years and leaves Creighton as the fifth-leading scorer in NCAA history, averaging 26.7 points a game last season while shooting 53 percent (45 percent on 3-pointers).
The Cavs won’t find out where they’ll be drafting until Tuesday’s lottery, but for now they’re projected to pick ninth. That’s right around where McDermott is expected to go, and given the Cavs’ need for perimeter shooters, it seems to be a natural fit.
But McDermott measured only 6-foot-6¼ without shoes here (he wasn’t measured with shoes on), which will further cause teams to question whether he’s a small forward, a power forward or the dreaded “tweener” with no home.
The concern over McDermott is where he fits defensively. It’s difficult to imagine him staying in front of the league’s elite small forwards, nor is he big and strong enough to pound consistently in the post.
“I’m not a lockdown defender,” McDermott acknowledged, “but I’m good enough and smart enough that I feel like I can fit in out there.”
McDermott holds a bit of an advantage at these workouts, which are being held at Quest Multisport in Chicago. This is where he has been since the college season ended, working out in this gym daily alongside Stauskas.
If McDermott is the best shooter in this draft, then Stauskas isn’t far behind. He averaged 17.5 points as a sophomore at Michigan, shot 44 percent on 3-pointers and excels in the pick-and-roll, modeling his game after the Golden State Warriors’ guard tandem of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
“I can immediately be a guy who can stretch the floor and make shots,” Stauskas said. “That’s something I’ve always been able to do. I think teams are really going to be surprised when I have the ball in my hands and they put me in ball screens. They’re going to be surprised at the plays I can make for myself and for others.”
Stauskas is projected to go late in the lottery, while Hood — who met with the Cavs on Wednesday for his first interview session — is a late first-round projection and Wilcox could fall to the second round.
The Cavs hold the third pick in the second round.
When Hood walked into his interview with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he said General Manager Sam Presti immediately handed him a marker and told him, “Five seconds to go, you’re down by 2. Make a play.”
“Just want to put you on the spot and see how you react,” Hood said, which begged the question of whether he took the shot in his imaginary play.
“I had to,” he said. “I don’t know how it would’ve looked if I didn’t.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.