While there are many factors that Chris Grant will have no control of in the Cleveland Cavaliers quest for the 2014 postseason, with player health topping that list, there is one big one that he does control and that’s who the team drafts come June 27. When the dust settled and the cheers faded from the Cavs contingent that attended the 2013 NBA Draft lottery draw, team owner Dan Gilbert made the bold prediction that this would be the last time in awhile that the Cavaliers would be lottery bound. With those words, Gilbert ensured that general manager Grant wouldn’t be getting much sleep this summer as he makes preparations to bring Gilbert’s claims to reality.
With the draft but two weeks away, the rumor mill is running full time with who the Cavaliers are going to take with the first overall pick. Names such as Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter and Ben McLemore have all been brought up as potential selections for the wine and gold.
All these players have the potential to be great contributors for a playoff squad but not all of them fit the mindset that Grant and the Cavaliers should have come draft night. That mindset should be about getting the most out of whoever you pick for the coming season.
Basically, it’s not what can you do for me in a year or two but what can you do for me now.
This “play it safe” style of drafting would ultimately rule out Noel and probably Len as the first pick simply because they are coming off of injuries that put a question mark on their availability. Also, tradition has big men taking a couple of seasons to acclimate to the NBA and with the top pick of the draft, instant contribution is the name of the game.
That leaves Oladipo, Porter and McLemore as the remaining potential picks using the safe drafting philosophy.
For the sake of brevity, I am going to take Porter off the list as small forward is a position of need that can be filled more ably in free agency. This leaves Grant with a decision between Oladipo and McLemore as the top overall pick in the draft.
Both these players represent exactly what Cleveland will be looking for come draft day, which is solid character individuals who have the ability to instantly contribute right out of the gate. With Gilbert putting the thumbscrews on Grant to put together a playoff team, no other options remain if they intend to keep the first overall pick.