By: Eric Grinnell
The NBA Draft is tonight, and the last draft-related thing I wanted to do was to make a Cleveland Cavaliers “dream draft.” Although I highly doubt the night will play out this way, this would be my favorite scenario for the Cavs.
1st Round, Pick #4 – Thomas Robinson, PF Kansas
It’s sounding more and more likely that Robinson will be gone by the time the Cavs pick. But in my dream scenario, he is available and the Cavs pounce on him.
I’m sure a lot of Cavs fans would actually be unhappy with this selection since the Cavs already have a decent front court of Tristan Thompson and Andy Varejao, and the Cavs are desparate for some wingmen. But I am drafting Robinson for two reasons: 1) in my mind, Robinson is the clear-cut second best player in this draft; and 2) I think Robinson would fit much better in the Cavs front court than Andy Varejo or Tristan Thompson.
Everyone has Anthony Davis rated as the number one player in the draft, but there isn’t a clear consensus on who the number two-through-five players are. Robinson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, and Andre Drummond are all considered in the second-tier behind Davis, but I really think Robinson is the second best player behind Davis and is going to be a star in the league. Robinson is truly a complete player — he has a great post game, can face up, has a solid jump shot, plays great in pick-and-rolls, is really athletic and explosive, and is a great rebounder. Robinson is also a high character guy that has an incredible drive. He is really a complete basketball player and the only real knock on him is that he is a little undersized for the 4 (he measured in at 6’8.75″, but did have a long wingspan of 7-3.25). Overall, I just think Robinson is one of two players in this draft that could be a franchise game-changer, and honestly, I think you could argue that Robinson could make a bigger impact next year than Davis because Robinson is more polished offensively than Davis right now.
The second reason that I would draft Robinson is that I think he would play a lot better with Kyrie Irving than current front court starters Tristan Thompson and Andy Varejao. Tristan Thompson had a solid rookie year, and I think he exceeded everyone’s expectations. But the problem is, Thompson is pretty limited offensively. He doesn’t have a great post game and isn’t a great shooter. Thompson is pretty good around the rim though, and that’s where he gets most of his points. Everyone knows that Andy is very limited offensively, and really just gets his points from hustling, offensive rebounds, and the occasional shot where you yell at the TV, “Andy, what are you doing?!?!?” and then the shot goes in. So the problem I have with the current Cavs frontcourt is that they really don’t provide a lot of offensive production. You could argue that Tristan could improve his post game and mid-range shot, but he has a long ways to go.
What’s also important is that neither of Thompson or Andy compliment Kyrie Irving well. Kyrie needs a big man that can either play the pick-and-roll game well, or be a threat to knockdown a mid-range jumper in order to stretch the defense and keep the lane open. Neither Tristan or Andy provides either of these things. Tristan has the potential to be a decent pick-and-roll guy given his athleticism, but he really needs to improve his game outside of 10-feet and develop a short-to-mid range game in order to be effective.
Which brings me back to Thomas Robinson. Robinson is a superior offensive player right now to Andy and Tristan, and he also fits better in the long-term with Kyrie. Assuming Robinson makes it to #4, I’d want to see the Cavs draft him. Drafting Robinson would then clearly beg the question, “what do we do with Tristan or Andy?” Well…..
Trade Pick #24 and Tristan Thompson to Detroit Pistons for Pick #9 – Jeremy Lamb, SG Connecticut
I think if the Cavs were to select Thomas Robinson, they would have to move one of Tristan or Andy. I think they would opt to move Tristan Thompson, as he probably has more value, and I think a Robinson/Varejao front court would be better than a Robinson/Thompson frontcout because Andy can play the 5 better than Thompson.
I think this trade works for the Pistons because their only glaring hole is at the 4 spot. They have a decent backcourt of Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey, a very promising 5 in Greg Monroe, and they still have Tayshaun Prince at the 3. In my mock draft, I had the Pistons selecting Jared Sullinger to play the 4, but I have to think a package of Tristan Thompson and the #24 pick would be more enticing than just Sullinger. So I think the trade would work on the Pistons end—they get a promising young player that meets a need, and still have a late round first-rounder to play around with.
I think the Cavs would jump all over this deal, because they would get arguably the best 2-guard in the draft and fill their black hole on the wing. Lamb’s stock is all over the place–I’ve seen him mocked in the Top 8 and I’ve seen him mocked in the late-teens, but I really think Lamb is the best 2-guard in the draft and I think #9 is a safe estimate on where he will go.
I’m really high on Lamb for 3 reasons: 1) his length and defense, 2) his offensive skillset, and 3) I think he’d fit well with Kyrie. First, I love the fact that Lamb is tall and lanky. This is one reason why I like him more than Florida 2-guard Bradley Beal–Beal measured in at 6’4.25″ with a 6’8″ wingspan, while Lamb measured in at 6’5.25″ with a 6’11″ wingspan. Lamb is already a decent defender, but given his great measurements I think he could turn into an above-average defender at the next level (he needs to bulk up a little too).
Second, I really like Lamb’s offensive skillset. Lamb is smooth and athletic, and can create off the dribble better than any 2-guard in this draft. Lamb is also a pretty decent outside shooter. A lot of scouts talk about Bradley Beal being the best pure shooter in the draft, but Lamb actually shot better from the 3-point line as a freshman last year (36%) than Bradley Beal did this year as a freshman (33%). Overall, I think that Lamb has a well-rounded offensive game, and could turn into a guy that averages upper-teens for points per game if he can improve his jump shot.
Lastly, I think Lamb would fit well with Kyrie Irving. Again, Kyrie needs some outside shooters around him, and Lamb has showed that he can hit the outside shot. But Lamb is also good enough at creating his own shot that the Cavs could run their offensive through him here and there to give Kyrie a break, or when Kyrie is on the bench.
I get giddy thinking about a core group of Kyrie Irving, Jeremy Lamb, and Thomas Robinson. Those are three guys that could form a great, borderline elite, trio of offensive players and I think that trio could definitely contend for a championship down the line. They can shoot from the outside, create their own shot, would make a nice pick-and-roll combo (Kyrie and Robinson), and would make for a nice inside-out combo (Robinson and Lamb). It would make for an explosive, well-rounded offense. But what also excites me is the potential on defense. Lamb, Robinson, and Andy would make for a great defense at all spots. Lamb is versatile enough that he could guard 1-3, Robinson plays tough interior defense and is great at rebounding, and Andy is one of the better interior defenders in the league. It would just make for a complete team, both offensively and defensively.
*NOTE: I obviously like the idea of Kyrie/Lamb/Robinson, but conversely, I’m not crazy about the idea of Kyrie/Thompson/Barnes, Kidd-Gilchrist, or Beal. There just isn’t enough offensive in that core, and I think that this is really a huge draft for the Cavs because they might be good enough next year and in the foreseeable future that they sneak into the playoffs and then it is really tough to add talent from there on out. So I think this is the year the Cavs need to finish up the core of their roster, and I’m not sure a Kyrie/Thompson/Barnes, Kidd-Gilchrist, or Beal core would ever be good enough to win a championship.
2nd Round, Pick #33 – Festus Ezeli, C Vanderbilt
The Cavs select the 6’11″ Ezeli for some front court depth. The Cavs have been desparately trying to find some front court depth for the last two seasons, giving opportunities to guys like Samardo Samuels, Luke Harangody, Ryan Hollins, Semih Erden, and Mychal Thompson. Unfortunately, none of these guys has shown much, and its left the Cavs with no reliable front court depth.
Ezeli is really raw, but has really good size (6’11″ with a 7’4″ wingspan) and could be a decent defender in the league. It’s tough to get much out of 2nd rounders in the NBA Draft, so getting a guy that could just protect the rim and give solid depth is pretty good at this point, especially considering the lack of depth the Cavs currently have.
2nd Round, Pick #34 – Darius Johnson-Odoms, SG Marquette
The Cavs finish their draft off by drafting the best offensive wingman available at this point. Johnson-Odoms is a little undersized, but has a pretty solid offensive skillset and could develop into a nice bench player. Odoms averaged 18.3 points per game as a senior at Marquette last year, and shot 38% from 3-point land. The Cavs desparately need scoring from the wing, and I think Johnson-Odoms would be a solid selection here, and provide some depth at the wing behind Jeremy Lamb.