The Cleveland Cavaliers were already iffy about selecting Joel Embiid with the No.1 pick due to his potential back problems. Now, it’s almost a certainty they won’t be exploring that particular avenue. So with that said, the ensuing question is where do the Cavs go from here?
Although adding size and a rim protector was the primary need, the great thing about having the top overall pick is that there are several avenues to go in. Five in particular stick out.
A). Take the "safe pick" – Cleveland wants to win now and they need a sure thing. Jabari Parker is the closest thing they will get to both.
The Duke product is arguably the safest bet in the whole 2014 Draft class thanks to his big time scoring ability. As such, his game is comparable to that of a Carmelo Anthony (yeah, he’s that good) and the Cavaliers love it.
Per CBSsports.com’s sports Ken Berger: “With Joel Embiid's foot surgery, and the reported 4-6 month recovery that comes with it, the Cavs are said to be leaning toward Duke's Jabari Parker with the No. 1 pick.”
However, the question that still remains and will give the Cavs a headache: Where does he play?
Offensively, it doesn’t really matter because he has the skillset to be effective both inside and outside. Defensively though is it gets a bit complicated. At 6’9”, 240lbs, is Parker going to be quick enough to guard the faster small forwards at the next level? Or is he going to be strong enough to cover the stronger, bruising power forwards in the game?
Those are questions Cleveland seriously needs to consider before making their choice.
B). Draft potential – Although his game isn’t quite as polished as Parker’s, Andrew Wiggins is seen as the one with the most upside. That is thanks in large to his incredible athleticism which enables him to thrive in fast paced offensive sets or fastbreaks, and it also comes in handy on defence.
Combined with his 6’8” frame and 7ft wingspan, his athleticism gives him the tools to be an exceptional perimeter defender. He has the lateral quickness to keep up with his man and his 7ft wingspan only increases his range.
Wiggin’s biggest issue though, is his lack of a killer mentality. All too often he will defer to someone else rather than taking the game by the scruff of its neck and dictating the outcome himself. Not exactly a quality you want in your franchise player.
Then again, that’s not such a bad thing when you consider he will be playing alongside Kyrie Irving and possibly Dion Waiters, both of whom have no problem whatsoever with taking control of the game. That could work out for the best long-term as it allows him to continue nurturing that aspect of his game.
C) Risk it with Embiid – Ok, possibly having back problems at just 20-years-old as well as breaking his foot (similar injury that prematurely ended Yao Ming’s career), will mean the bigman misses A LOT of time this coming season, and he will always be a risk in the future, but Embiid could easily end up being the best at his position three-to-five years from now. Maybe even one of the all-time greats someday.
That alone should be incentive enough to take a chance on him.
Granted that’s not what a team hell-bent on winning now wants to hear, but the Draft is about both short term and long term benefits. Drafting him now may not mean championship contention right away, but it could be a HUGE step in the right direction.
D). Take the man of mystery – Embiid’s injury has thrown the NBA Draft into complete disarray, but one of the key benefactors could be Dante Exum.
The 18-year-old guard is set to work out with Cleveland but at this point it is unlikely they will go in that particular direction. If anything, this is just a case of thoroughly doing your homework and evaluating the top prospects.
However, the news of the Cavaliers evaluating the teenager will no doubt unsettle both Waiters and Irving. After all, they were reportedly unwilling to give their superstar a max contract not too long ago. But if they choose to stick with Kyrie and still draft Exum, then Waiters’ time in Ohio would be near an end because shooting guard is the only other position the Aussie guard can play.
E). Trade the pick – This by far is the least likely scenario to occur, but it’s still worth exploring.
The Philadelphia 76ers are desperate to climb up into the top two to snag Andrew Wiggins, so they may be willing to give up an arm and a leg to do so – or the third and 10th overall picks. In the long run, maybe taking two rather than one player at the top of this loaded draft could be best.
Utah is also said to be interested in moving up and a minimum ask could be for Derrick Favors, who is still only 22 years old and would reinforce the defense, in addition to the No.5 pick. Who knows, maybe Embiid drops that far and they still get their man with less pressure to play him right away.
Then there is Kevin Love who wants to go to a large market team, but if the Cavs can convince him they can build a contender, maybe he changes his mind.
Which of the five options do you think would best aid the Cleveland Cavaliers’ hunt for success?
Comment below with your thoughts...