CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers won the coin flip, but lost the lottery. Now instead of winning the first overall pick for the second consecutive year, they’ll select fourth in the NBA Draft on June 28.
The Cavaliers won the coin flip tiebreaker with the New Orleans Hornets after matching them with a 21-45 record during the season. That small victory earned them the third grouping of number sequences on the lottery board Wednesday night and one extra combination. The Cavaliers entered with 138 combinations, the Hornets received 137.
The four-digit winner for the top pick, 6-4-9-7, was selected from the Hornets’ grouping, which would’ve belonged to the Cavs had they lost the coin flip.
“Those are things you can’t control,” Cavs General Manager Chris Grant said. “We feel like where we’re sitting is fantastic. We’re going to get another really good young player. We’re excited about that.”
Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis is the consensus to go with the top pick to the Hornets, who have been owned by the league this season while the team was sold to new owner Tom Benson. That sale should be completed before the start of next season.
But the Cavaliers still have plenty of appealing options at No. 4, beginning with Connecticut center Andre Drummond, Florida guard Bradley Beal, North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes and Kansas forward Thomas Robinson.
Drummond is a legitimate center at 6-foot-10 and 270 pounds and averaged 10 points and 7.6 rebounds during his one season with the Huskies, but questions about his motivation and work ethic persist.
Beal is a smooth scorer who averaged 14.8 points and 6.7 rebounds as a freshman with the Gators, but the Cavs will be interested to see how he measures out at next week’s NBA combine in Chicago. He is listed at 6-3, but is expected to measure smaller. The Cavs’ preference is for bigger guards.
Barnes is a prototypical small forward with a legitimate 6-foot-8, 215-pound frame, but is purely a shooter who struggles handling the ball. The Cavs were high on Barnes last season before he opted to return to the Tar Heels for another season and will certainly be in their discussion with the fourth pick.
Robinson is the most experienced after playing three years with the Jayhawks and averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds last season. But he plays the same position as Tristan Thompson, whom the Cavaliers selected with the fourth pick last season.
This draft is expected to be better and deeper than the one that produced Kyrie Irving and Thompson, but Grant isn’t sure yet just how deep it truly is. That will be uncovered next week at the combine and in the private workouts at the Cleveland Clinic Courts.
“Certainly some of the players on the high end have the chance to be pretty good,” Grant said. “I think it’s probably a pretty deep draft.”
In addition to the fourth pick, the Cavaliers hold the 24th, 33rd and 34th selections, although it’s unlikely they’ll bring four rookies into camp next season. That makes it possible for trades, although Grant conceded it’s difficult to trade up in the NBA.
It’s difficult to envision the Hornets parting with the No. 1 pick, but the Cavs might have the pieces to move up to second or third if they deem it necessary. Grant made it clear Wednesday those decisions are still weeks away.
“We haven’t had the guys in to put them through the process,” Grant said. “With our ownership group, they like being aggressive and we like being aggressive. We’ll look at a lot of different options once we get everybody in here. I’d presume we’ll be pretty active.”
The Cavaliers closed the season on a 4-19 skid to catch the Hornets for the third-worst record. The Hornets were one of the three worst teams most of the season, but finished by winning eight of their final 13 games, then lost the coin flip to the Cavaliers.
Ultimately, none of that mattered.
“We were going to play the right way and play to win down the stretch,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said Wednesday night on a conference call. “You can’t explain coin flips and pingpong balls and all that other stuff.”
Interestingly enough, the Cavaliers picked fourth last year when their number combination wasn’t selected in the lottery despite entering with the second-best odds of winning it. They won the lottery with a number combination acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers’ pick.
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