The upcoming NBA draft class doesn’t boast the next LeBron James or Kevin Durant, but would you settle for James Harden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ray Allen or Larry Johnson?
There are guys out there who can help the Cleveland Cavaliers immediately. Here are a few names to consider:
Ben McLemore, shooting guard, small forward, Kansas
Marcus Smart, shooting guard, OK St.
Anthony Bennett, UNLV forward
Glenn Robinson III, small forward, Mich
Alex Len, center, Maryland (7-1)
Trey Burke, point guard, Mich
Nerlens Noel, center, Kentucky (6-10)
Otto Porter, small forward, Georgetown
Kansas two-guard Ben McLemore amy be the most high-ceiling guy in this draft, considering his knowledge of the game, athleticism, coach-ability and shot. The only problem is, the Cavs’ most talented players are already at the guard slots. Still, if they get the chance, McLemore would be a must-pick.
At 7’1″, Alex Len is one of those guys who might fly under the radar cuz he didn’t get much love nationally, but he is athletic, can run the floor, board up, play on both ends and has the ability to get better. This is a perfect fit for the Cavs.
Otto Porter is a bit raw, but the high ceiling and athletic build make him a real draft possibility for Cleveland. Needs to improve his shot, but he really fills a need for the Cavs at small forward. he would be a quality choice.
Anthony Bennett is a tad of a tweener, something that scares me, but his game is incredibly efficient. At 6’7″, he is a bit like Larry Johnson in his game, which I would gladly take. He has a 7’1″ wingspan, which helps him play bigger than his actual height. He fills a need for Cleveland cuz he can play the small forward, and could easily post up smaller defenders.
Glenn Robinson is an athlete, pure and simple. Will he be aggressive enough to excel in the NBA? One has to wonder, but all the signs point to a solid contributor at the highest level. He can run the floor and shoot the rock, and I could easily see him adjusting to the two-guard spot in the NBA.
Trey Burke, NCAA POY. At 6 feet tall, will get posted up on a ton, but when you have that much heart, grit and determination, you can make up for it in other ways. I think Burke is a winner, something Cleveland needs desperately. what they don’t need is a point guard, although Kyrie Irving could slide to the two-spot to make room. It certainly would add an air of excitement to a team in need of it if the Cavs did draft him.
Marcus Smart is fierce. He competes, and I admire that. After seeing him play, you get a sense that he is really a great leader, and that the Cavs need desperately. he is capable of scoring, although he doesn’t exactly fit in as a true point guard or shooting guard. But a 6-4, 245-pound tank of a player who can handle the ball and score is a nice thing to have.
Depending on where the Cavaliers land in the lottery, they will have an excellent chance to secure two of these guys because they have a mind-boggling five picks in this year’s draft, including two early second rounders.
My hope is that they package a couple of those, move up and find two of the above guys.
If it were me, I’d like to see them snag Len and McLemore, but Porter and Smart would also be solid contributors to the young Cavs. I think Len is the key, because they need a big, lanky shot-blocking defender in the paint more than anything.
With the return of Anderson Verejao at power forward, that would leave a starting line-up of Irving at point guard, Dion waiters at the two guard (I think he will make great strides next year), McLemore at the small forward, Varejao at the four and Len manning the paint. It would also mean the improving Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller, who will make some solid strides in year two as well, along with Alonzo Gee will come off the bench, along with forward-center Marreese Speights, whom I think will get dealt, but I do like him, and guards Wayne Ellington and C.J. Miles, if they keep either or both around.
That starting five would give Cleveland a solid core of young, talented and potentially solid scoring line-up. The addition of Len and McLemore, or possibly Porter will make them better defensively, where they were totally hapless this season.
Much of the success next year will rely on two things: Irving and Waiter realizing that there are two ends of a basketball court, and Irving and Verejao remaining healthy, something neither has proven to be very good at.
For me, the team needs from this year’s draft include an injection of confident, smart leadership guys who are willing to come in and work hard.
Of course, a coach would always be a nice thing to have too, and with all of this youth, is taking a flyer on a young up-and-comer a good idea, or does an old veteran coach fit the bill?
As long as it is someone the players respect, and one who will drive them to play on both ends of the floor, we could definitely see a nice bump in wins for the Cavs next year.