Count me in as one of the believers who thought that a guy rocking 23 and racking up MVP’s for fun would lock down the Cavaliers small forward spot down for the next ten years. Count me in as one of the believers that no matter what our deficiencies anywhere else on the court, we’d always hold all the aces when it came to the three spot. Count me in as one of the millions who were crushed by The Decision. Now, you can count me in as one of the many who have firmly gotten over the former, and is well and truly looking forward to the future. We know its not going to be the same, but we need to actually embrace that fact. We won’t find another LeBron, quite possibly ever again. There goes the NBA Titles, there goes the numerous TV appearances and opening slots on SportsCenter, there goes the franchise. Please. Here comes the future, and yes we do know it’s going to be tough and yes we do know the chips are stacked against us – we’ve been here before and came out smelling like roses, and it’s going to happen again let me tell ya.
This season our rotation at the three was, to say the least, frustrating. Christian Skyenga, Joey Graham, Alonzo Gee, Jawad Williams, Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker and even Antawn Jamison have all logged minutes at the small forward spot, with none really showing any hope of being the solution long term. Sorry Brendan and Dave, Eyenga is not the answer, he really isn’t. I really can’t see any potential free agents coming in and solving the equation neither. Call me silly, but Julian Wright, Shawne Williams, Al Thornton, Reggie Williams and Thaddeus Young don’t exactly scream “building blocks” to me. I’d argue that the small forward spot is our biggest weakness by far. Think about it. If we were at full strength (and health may I add) you’re looking at Davis-AP/Sessions/Boobie-Tawn-Varejao as four certain starters, we just need that one gem, that one diamond in the rough at the three to kick start our revival (that is, unless we can get Irving I guess). Here are my five guys that could be the answer. (Please note that due to the fact I haven’t seen that much footage of European basketball, I’ve omitted Euro prospects from my top five, but have mentioned them at the bottom. Wouldn’t be fair for pass remarks on guys I’m just not that knowledgeable about)
1) Derrick Williams, Arizona. Do you play him up close and get tight on him? No, because he’ll drive right by you. Do you stand off of him, taking away his speed? No, because he’ll shoot and make the majority of the shots he takes. That’s the dilemma with Williams, he’s got it all – and we’re only starting to see him scratch the surface. We all saw what he done to Duke (32 points, 13 boards, 5 of 6 from three, 11 of 17 shooting). Another thing he has going for him is that by virtue of being under the radar coming into college, it only highlights even more the level of improvement he has shown in his time on campus. Did I mention he’ll only be 20 this month? People have said he’s pretty much Michael Beasley 2.0, but I disagree. He hasn’t got the (unfortunate) mental issues Beasley has/had. He strikes me as a kid who wants to be great, whereas Beasley always struck me as someone who loved the idea of being great, but not the idea of putting in the work to get there. Williams is a top two pick, so let’s just hope we don’t fall any further than there.
2) Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State. Defensively, he’s ready. He’s got an unreal motor – he never gives up. He’s got good size and huge wingspan, which is needed in today’s game if you really want to excel at playing the passing lanes or to be a great one on one defender. He’s also got enough speed to stay in front of his man, and he’s versatile. You could put him on a three, he could also guard either guard spot if needs be. He’s very Ron Artest meets Gerald Wallace meets Matt Barnes, if that makes sense. I think he can get better offensively, an area where he is still very much developing. He’s an inconsistent shooter, which is seen by some of his shooting performances this year. He’s had games where he’s been 4 of 5 from three; he’s had game where he’s shot 7 of 20. It’s a mixed bag – but the tools are there. He’s probably going to be chosen anywhere between tenth and twentieth, he might even crack the top ten.
3) Jordan Hamilton, Texas. Jordan Hamilton reminds me of Josh Smith. He’ll do five to six things per game that make you say “Wow” but he’ll cancel them out by taking four bad shots in a row, or missing a defensive switch or failing to box out. I guess what I’m trying to say is that he’s not yet the finished product. He can score the ball real easily, but he’s not a very efficient scorer at times. He can take bad shots, very bad shots. He sometimes settles for the jump shot, which is annoying for most when you consider he’s so quick and athletic he can blow past most guys. The one thing that that scares the crap outta me regarding him as a prospect and us not taking a chance on him is that he could be a 25 point per game scorer. When he gets going, he gets going. He’s a pretty good rebounder for his spot, and when he adds bulk he’ll be able to bang more down low which will help. I don’t know if he’ll crack the lottery, but he won’t fall out of the teens.
4) Chris Singleton, Florida State. Not a great scorer and isn’t the best at handling the ball. That’s the bad things out of the way, now here’s the good. He’s huge for his spot, he’s built like a tank, he’s a lockdown defender, he’s a solid catch and shoot guy, he has I high IQ and can do a little bit of everything. He’s very much a glue guy, a la Shane Battier in that he won’t every be the star attraction, but he’ll very much be a big part of what his team want to accomplish. The obvious highlight from last season was his triple double of 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 steals. How he recovers form his injury (he fractured his foot) will determine a lot about his draft stock, but the kid is a baller.
5) Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA. He’s basically Tayshaun Prince. No joke. He looks like him; he plays like him and will probably carve out a career being just like him. The biggest knock on Honeycutt is the question regarding his hunger. He seems to hide during games a little bit too much and might not go full steam enough to be relied on right now. But he has got potential. He’s 6’8”, and is only going to get better at rebounding/defending down low when he adds size to his frame, which could easily handle another 30 pounds. He’s got a lot of upside, and that will get him drafted in the first round and will get him on the court next year. You know where I’d love to see him land? Phoenix or San Antonio, I just think he’d fit in well there given time.
Kyle Singler, Duke.
Travis Leslie, Georgia.
Chandler Parsons, Florida.
Jerome Richmond, Illinois.
Jan Vesely – Serious dunker, reliable post up guy and has ridiculous size (6’11”) for the small forward position.
Davis Bertans – Incredible shooter who impressed at the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit.
Bojan Bogdanovic – Has great size and versatility, a knack for scoring the ball and is playing top-level ball since he was 16.
Let it be noted that if Terrence Jones hadn’t made the shock move (to me anyways) of pulling his name out of the draft, he’d be in at number two and would have bumped Honeycutt out of the top five. Jones pulling his name out means the small forward crop is down two of its best three players, Jones and Harrison Barnes. Had those two gone pro, the three might have been the deepest spot to choose from in this draft. As things stand Williams obviously projects to be the star of the bunch, but don’t sleep on the rest.
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