CHICAGO — Although new Cavaliers coach John Beilein knows he will need time to adjust to the NBA, his hiring out of the University of Michigan on Monday should provide immediate benefits for the June 20 draft.
The Cavs front office was disappointed it did not end up with one of the top three picks in Tuesday night’s NBA Draft lottery, slipping from second to fifth. But as the Cavs study prospects for that spot, which include Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland, Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter, Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver and Duke forward Cam Reddish, they believe Beilein will be a huge asset.
The Cavs also have the Houston Rockets’ 26th pick in the first round, acquired in a three-way deal at the February trade deadline.
The personnel department, headed by General Manager Koby Altman and Beilein, will spend Thursday and Friday in Chicago at the NBA Combine, expected to be attended by 66 players. Many of them will be familiar to Beilein, who coached the Wolverines for the previous 12 seasons. Michigan was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by Culver and Texas Tech in March.
“I think this is a pretty good draft. Throughout the whole first round, at five or 26, we’re going to get two really good players,” Beilein said Tuesday. “I’ve gone down the list and I’ve played against many of those guys or I’ve watched them on TV or I saw them play in AAU.
“It’s really exciting ... to have the fifth pick in the draft. Hopefully the only way we’re there again is if we traded and got that pick from somebody else. But we’re going to take advantage of it now.”
Altman pointed out another plus with Beilein, 66, one of the most respected in the college game, on the Cavs’ side.
“He’s going to be able to make phone calls to coaches and get the immediate respect and the knowledge that we need to make some of those decisions,” Altman said. “We’re fortunate and we’re going to use him as an asset during this process.”
On Tuesday, Altman said he wanted to find fits for Beilein’s system, so it will be important for the staff “to learn his values and his ideals and his system and the skill set that helps him.”
Asked how he will get a handle on that with just over a month to prepare for the draft, Altman said, “I can tell from sort of watching him play from afar what he values. But we’ll see.”
The presence of assistant general manager Mike Gansey will help in that regard. Gansey played two seasons for Beilein at West Virginia University. The Mountaineers went 46-22 in that span, reaching the NCAA Elite Eight in 2005 and the Sweet 16 in 2006, when Gansey made the All-Big East first team.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.