Who’d a thunk it eh? After all the crap we’ve suffered through all season long, from decisions to injuries, from losing streaks to even more injuries, from Ryan Hollins to believe it or not more injuries, we go away and finish the season off ON FIRE by winning 4 out of our last 6 games. Now we might not even end up with the silver lining we all pinned our hopes on – the number one overall pick this summer. I don’t care what people say about this draft, that its weak, that there are no stars – rubbish. They said the same about 2007, there were doubts about the overall quality in 2008 also, and look how they’ve panned out. I’m not saying that this draft is going to as productive or All Star-laden as those two – but let’s give the guys coming out this year a chance before we write them off totally. Over the next few weeks I’ll be going through our Cavaliers needs position by position, and giving you my top 5 guys at each spot with how I’d rank them personally and in order of how much I’d like to see them rocking the Wine and Gold next year. Suppose we might as well start with what has now seemingly become the most important spot on an NBA team, the point guard.
With the mid season acquisition of Baron Davis and the steady play of Ramon Sessions, the point guard spot seems to be one that we are legitimately strong at. I like Davis here because with the youth flowing through our team (and the potential four new picks coming in next season adding to the kindergarten movement) a steady, seasoned vet as floor general makes sense. Sessions on the other hand showed glimpses of being our leader for the future, a more traditional point man as opposed to Jack-a-Shot-Williams. So maybe not landing the top pick, and being almost forced to take Irving with it for fear of his potential coming back to haunt us, could turn out to be a good thing. But let the record state that Irving is my number one guy this summer – take him and deal with the rest of the issues afterwards. But I digress; here are my top 5 point guards available this summer…
1) Kyrie Irving, Duke. At 6’2”, he’s at a decent enough size for his spot, and his blistering speed and reported demonic work rate should enable him to be a capable enough defender at his spot, he showed glimpses of it at Duke averaging 1.5 steals a game. You know he shot 50-40-90 in college, right? I’d argue that right now, he was a better college point guard – not player – than John Wall was. I know he missed a big chunk of the season, but when he was on the floor he was the best player in college, simple as. I could easily see him averaging around 18 points a game in the pro’s his first season because he’s very crafty when in the lane, he’s a great shooter, can go both ways and importantly he gets to the rim and free throw line at will. In five years time people will talk about the great point guards in our league, the names mentioned will be Rose, Paul, Williams, Westbrook, Wall, Rondo and quite possibly, Irving. Kid’s a star.
2) Brandon Knight, Kentucky. Big time players do big time thing on big stages. Knight did exactly that in the NCAA’s, he was huge for Kentucky. Game winners, defensive stops, you name it he did it. He came in highly touted, and found scoring early on an easy enough task, but the one thing that worries me is that throughout his entire college career (all one year of it, but still) he didn’t reach double digit assists in a game. No joke. Closest he came to it was 9, against South Carolina. Here’s the counter argument to that “flaw”, Irving also failed to reach double digit dimes in college, so maybe I’m nit picking a little bit with that. The things that Knight does have that will interest teams picking in the top five are his shooting skills, his decision making and his relentless tempo. While being one of the quicker guys on two feet in college he also showed me signs that indicates he’ll have no problem executing in a half court system, a necessity for any guard in the current NBA.
3) Nolan Smith, Duke. I don’t think he’s a starter in our league, but if you’re looking for a steady back up, a guy who’ll work his tail off every second of every minute, a guy who’ll instantly be the most coachable kid on your roster, Smith’s the one. He’s not a great athlete, and he may struggle to create his own shot in the pro game, but he’s got an incredible IQ and work rate, he’ll run his man off screens for 23 seconds of a shot clock to get his shot off. And he’ll make the shot too. He manned the point extremely well when Irving went down while never failing to let his scoring dip, his embracing of the role as leader on the nationally fancied Duke team should stand to him. He’s pretty much the guard version of Tyler Hansbrough when you look at it; great college player, a winner for a big program while not exactly being the best of athletes and a player some have doubts over with regards to him transitioning to the next level. Count me in as a believer with Smith; after all, it’s in his genes.
4) Kemba Walker, Connecticut. I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said about Walker and his scoring exploits, heart and determination. We all know he is the main reason UCONN won it all this year, he showed extreme poise and courage when lining up game winner after game winner. He willed that team through the Big East tournament, and like I’ve already said, the clutch shots he hit have become that of UCONN folklore. But I just don’t see it. I can’t see him being anything but a Nate Robinson-type guy in the NBA, someone who can spell the guard duties for a while if you need him to, but ultimately is nothing more than I scoring punch off the bench. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love for him to succeed at the next level because its such a good story, but he can’t defend, he’s tiny, he takes bad shots and he weighs about 160lbs. If he’s your backup point/shooting guard, you’re gonna have a chance to be ok. If he’s your starter? Just not sure…
5) Josh Selby, Kansas. I’m an incredible believer in potential, I really am. If a kid shows me glimpses of what I deem to be transcendent abilities at the college level (with a big time program) I fall into the category of believer. I think Selby has a chance to be a solid player in our league, mainly due to the fact his incredible first step lets him get to the basket and into the lane easily. He can score – though if you saw any of his last nine games for Kansas (failed to score more than seven points in any of them) you’d disagree. My biggest concern with Selby? I really and truly had to read this entire paragraph over about nine times before I accepted it as my actual opinion. He’s a head scratcher, but someone will take a shot on him. If only Isaiah Thomas were still in New York…oh wait.
Jimmer Fredette of BYU
Demetri McCamey of Illinois
Norris Cole of Cleveland State
Shelvin Mack of Butler
Reggie Jackson of Boston College
Ben Hansbrough of Notre Dame
Hands up those of you that, six months ago, had it pencilled in that Shane Battier and Tony Allen would have a bigger say in these here playoffs that Dwight Howard?
Hands up those of you that still believe Boston’s team ethic and “Ubuntu” will let them prevail in the East?
Any takers on the belief that Kobe’s “injury” will prevent him from taking 24 shots a night against Dallas for 6 games straight?
Who ya got in a fistfight, Pau Gasol or Dirk Nowitzki?
Memphis have kept things simple, they’ve got their game plan and they’re sticking to it – almost religiously. They have two very serviceable bigmen, a reliable go to scorer, role players, defensive stoppers and a solid steady rotation. Now the question is, do they overpay Marc Gasol this summer?
Speaking of overpaying, who’s gonna bite on Greg Oden?
Just before I leave you, I would like to say my goodbye to Joe Tait. This is my first blog since the legend himself retired, and I would just like to wish him all the best – people like him don’t come around very often. He stands for everything that is good within our game, and will be missed.
Follow me on Twitter @dol17.