This is – hopefully – the last Draft Lottery piece I’ll be writing that provokes a strong interest from us Cavs fans. I wanna be done with it, I’m sick of waiting for the numbers to be drawn and finding out where the Cavaliers are picking.
I’ve had enough, it’s over with now. Send the memo to Kyrie, Coach Brown and co. that this is the last year I want to be in the lottery before Kyrie actually turns into Uncle Drew for real. But seeing as we do have a keen interest in this draft – spots 1-5 could be real good real fast – it’s time for me to dust off my keyboard and crack out my usual three or four pieces on the draft.
We’ll hold off on the Mock Draft until we find out who's picking where and when; today we’ll focus strictly on certain types of players. I’ve broken it down into five sections:
1) Absolutely, positively no regrets in taking this guy.
2) Not our first choice, but I’m happy with this pick
3) I’ve got concerns, so I’ll take him late lottery
4) Red Flag Alert, call the Pentagon
And my own personal favorite section, “If we don’t pick him, he’s going to turn around and bite us in the ass down the line”, otherwise known as the Andre Drummond section.
Before we start, let’s get it clear here by clarifying that this draft isn’t as weak as people are saying it is. Sure there isn’t an out-and-out franchise player here – we need to wait for 2014 for those guys – but there are at least 8 guys who will come in straight away and play, and play well.
And besides, in the last five drafts, how many true franchise-level guys have we unearthed? I think there is anything from 2 to 5 All-Stars in this draft and I really believe that. Anyways, let’s get the ball rolling…
“Section One – Absolutely, positively no regrets in taking this guy”
Let’s start with what he can’t do–it’ll be easier. He can’t make free throws, he can’t shoot and he’s pretty raw in the post. Now, as for what he can do, well…he’s a monster inside as a shot blocker/rim protector. His leaping ability and intuitiveness for snuffing out shots is already at a very high NBA level, and with seasoning he’ll only get better.
He doesn’t bite on pump fakes as much as you’d think, and he’s got very quick hands that helped him to rack up two steals per game in college. He will get called a lot for reaching in when he’s starting out in the pros, but again, with seasoning and the steep learning curve he’ll face he will learn and will improve. If you’re a team in need of defense, athleticism, intensity on the boards and a leader in the middle he’s your guy.
I’d argue that there are only five NBA centers right now I’d rather have than Noel for the next 3-6 years. And even then, five might be pushing it. He’s an absolute stud, and I’m going to go as far as saying he’s a “can’t miss” prospect. He’ll be the number one pick, that’s for sure. I’d love for the Cavs to luck out (again) and end up choosing first, but it’s probably going to be Orlando. So start looking for suitors for Nikola Vucevic cause Noel should be let loose from day one, and by day one I mean when he’s ready to roll after the ACL injury. I said I’d keep that bit til last.
As a freshman on a national title contender, McLemore was, at times, jaw-droppingly good at Kansas. Remember his 30-point game against rivals Kansas State? Or his whichever-you-want-I-don’t-care-I’m-scoring-anyway performance against West Virginia? The kid can flat out score the crap out of the basketball–and has a tendency to do so at an efficient rate.
He has next-level athletic ability and will be a monster in the open court from day one as a pro. His gaudy college shooting percentages will naturally drop his rookie year, but when he fully figures himself – and his game – out, this guy could be pretty good.
Player A – 32 minutes a game, 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and a 50-42-87 shooting line
Player B – 34 minutes a game, 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and a 45-34-77 shooting line
Player A is Ben McLemore, Player B is Bradley Beal. The same Bradley Beal scouts were enamored with in the buildup to last years draft and the same Bradley Beal who had pro executives drooling over his potential when he played this season without John Wall by his side. Bradley Beal is a damn good rookie and will have a very good NBA career – but Ben McLemore could be special, real special. That’s the difference.
This kid’s rise has been nothing short of phenomenal. The way he developed over his three years at Indiana has turned plenty of GM’s and scouts heads, and will more than likely result in him hearing his name called pretty early this June. Oladipo has one major, definable skill at this stage – defense. He will lock you down and shut you out of a game if needs be. He is long, quick (laterally he is very impressive) and his motor is second to none. He’s pretty much a (very) younger version of Tony Allen – with a better offensive ceiling, obviously.
Oladipo's athleticism when in transition makes him stand out, and when he has any momentum at all going he can be very hard to stop. His offense is sketchy, as he can be turnover prone and not the most reliable as a ball handler – but the kid is a workhorse, and is getting better by the minute. Because of his strength, speed and finishing ability near the basket Oladipo is best used on offense coming off cuts. His jump shot is improving, and he can knock down his fair share of threes (shot 44% last season at Indiana) but he won’t be relied on as a scorer, nor should he be, as a rookie.
You take this kid and from day one he will make you better. His work ethic and intensity will be contagious (unless he ends up in Charlotte), and I’m sure he will love the opportunity to do battle with the Wade’s and Hardens of the world. The ideal landing spot for him would probably be (gulp) the Pistons. To me, it’s a natural fit.
Eyes open Cavs fans – this is the guy we should be paying a lot of attention to. For starters, he’s 6’9” with a 7’1” wingspan and plays the position we are in desperate need of help at – small forward. Secondly, he has shown signs of being a very, very good defender. He isn’t the quickest, but his length and reading of the game make up for that. He needs to bulk (he weighs like, 200lbs) up to be able to battle it down low with the Paul Pierce’s and LeBron’s on a nightly basis, but he will more than hold his own for now.
He’s going to find his groove offensively after a while in the NBA, but for now he is best used near the basket or spotting up inside the arc (he made 69 percent of his 2-point shots per DraftExpress) as the third option off of a pick and roll. He’s a glue guy, with a very high ceiling. He’s a strong passer (something we need) and will only make us better on the offensive boards. He already has a very natural feel for the game, and under Mike Brown this guy would evolve into one of the best wing defenders in the NBA.
We have two ball dominant players in Kyrie and Dion, so it bodes well that Porter doesn’t need that much of the ball to be effective. He’s unique, unorthodox and different – but he’s a perfect fit for Cleveland (or damn near any team drafting in the top five). He oozes potential and still has a whole lot of developing to do, so it’s hard to judge how good he’ll actually end up being. He’s Nicolas Batum-y, but in my estimation he’ll be much, much better.
“Not our first choice, but I’m happy with this pick”
He owes Marcus Smart a favor or two; I’ll put it to you that way. Burke is now the best point guard in the draft and could – could – be taken number one overall if Orlando ends up choosing there, drafting for need over ability. He’s a blur on the court, and can make shots for fun when he gets going. He is quite small and will get bullied by the bigger guards out there, but he’s strong as an ox for his size and has great length (6’5” wingspan) with active hands and a nose for stealing a pass or two.
He was a pick and roll magician at Michigan, and is a very creative and accurate passer. I’d feel comfortable choosing him anywhere between spots six and ten, you know, Johnny Flynn range.
He’s undersized, he may not be the best defender and he can coast by just a little bit, but he’s an absolute beast who’ll beat up the smaller forwards and leave the bigger ones staring at his number when he blows by them. If he were two inches taller I’d take him number one overall, and not bat an eyelid. He’s very skilled and can finish with the best of them around the rim, and can even knock down the occasional three.
But Bennett's a six-foot-eight power forward who missed a whole seasons in high school due to injuries. He could be the next Paul Millsap, or he could be the next Clarence Weatherspoon. My guess, he ends somewhere in the middle and has a productive NBA career.
“I’ve got concerns, so I’ll take him late lottery”
Too one-handed, too reliant on being bigger than his opponent, not creative enough and he lied about his age. On the other hand, he was arguably the best scorer in all of college basketball and has huge size for a two guard, except he’s probably a small forward. Averaged more offensive rebounds than defensive ones, and only dished 27 assists in 1,000 minutes playing time. Make of that what you will.
He could very well end up being a very good sixth man, but bearing in mind the hype he once had surrounding him (and his father’s influence) I’m not using a top-8 pick on this guy. One potential outcome that could possibly be very scary – the Thunder (using the Raptors pick) snag him late lottery.
As seven footers go, he’s pretty unique. He’s a very good athlete, is above average at running the floor and has nice speed. He has an offensive game and can finish around the rim, but tell me why wasn’t he more of a focal point at Maryland? When you have a seven footer made up like him in the middle, don’t you feed him the ball every time down and let him go to work? Why wasn’t he so assertive? And why didn’t he average more rebounds? He did, however, outplay Nerlens Noel when the two faced off against one another, so that’s something.
“Red Flag Alert, call the Pentagon”
Player A – 30 minutes, 16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 56% FG, 75% FT
Player B – 29 minutes, 15.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 62% FG, 75% FT
Player A is Cody Zeller. Player B is Cody Zeller. Player A is Zeller in his sophomore year, Player B is Zeller his freshman year. Why so little improvement from a seven-footer with his skill set? Why was his season high for rebounds in a game just 13 (I refuse to count his 19 against Central Connecticut State, I mean, Brendan would grab 19 against them)?
His freshman season, I was all in on him. When he announced his return, I expected an Indiana National Title led by Player of the Year Cody Zeller. I was expecting a season for the ages. I was expecting Zeller to leave no lingering doubt that he is the sure-fire number one pick, and a franchise center. I got none of that. The team that drafts him will get no one of that either.
“If we don’t pick him, he’s going to turn around and bite us in the ass down the line”
Michael Carter Williams
He’s 6’6”, he averaged over seven assists and three steals in college. He is a phenomenal passer – the Syracuse system made him look a lot worse than he is. He was so far ahead at seeing plays develop often his teammates were too slow reacting or too slow getting to certain spots to avail of his passes. He couldn’t drive and kick – because Syracuse had no shooters – but in the NBA he’ll find success in this area of his play.
His point guard game is NBA ready; he picks apart opposing defenses by finding those little holes and putting the ball there with minimal effort. In the open court on the break he is near flawless, and he has a knack for the big moments and taking over games when needed. He’s nowhere near perfect, and I can see him having more downs than ups at the beginning of his career, but by the end of his rookie season the kid will have figured it out.
For me, he’s a top five pick and the best point guard in the draft. I’d hand him the keys from day one and let him learn from his mistakes, cause this kid is going to be the real deal.
He’s this year's Paul George, a somewhat unknown commodity who may or may not end up being very, very good. George had the same concerns coming out of college as Pope does, but wowed scouts at workouts and now, well he’s right in the discussion of budding, legitimate superstars in our league.
Caldwell-Pope, in the right setting and with a coach who understands how to use him properly, could turn out to be special. It won’t be right away, but give him a season or two and this kid could be an 18 ppg scorer.
Coming soon to a website near you: Stepien Rules 2013 NBA Mock Draft