The Cleveland Cavaliers struck gold Tuesday night by winning the NBA Draft Lottery, which is the third time for them this century. The franchise is undoubtedly excited about this, but they remain unsure of what they will do with the number one pick. Many people are saying that due to the weakness of this draft, they ought to trade the pick for multiple picks, or for a more established player who can help them win right away. Others say they ought to keep the pick and pick the best rookie for their team. While there are many ways that they can go, I will list some of the more likely things that they do, and the potential fallout from each of those decisions.
#1. The Cavaliers Trade The #1 Pick: Trading the #1 pick could be the right move for the Cavaliers to do under certain conditions. One of those conditions would be if they got a nice veteran player entering their prime or in their prime that could help them win now. Should they make a move like this, it would likely include them getting a lower draft pick. An example of this might be to trade the #1 pick to the Wizards for the #3 overall pick and Nene. A move like that would be a legitimately good decision for the Cavaliers to make. However, I don’t see the Wizards dealing Nene, but I do think some other teams would be intrigued in giving up a veteran player for the top pick. But like I said, this move only makes sense under certain conditions, namely that they get a good veteran player back that can help them win now. If no team makes a really good offer, then the Cavaliers should undoubtedly keep the #1 pick and pick the guy who they most think will help their team for the future.
#2. Draft Nerlens Noel #1 With The Goal Of Entering The 2014 Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes: This move sounds a bit sneaky, but it actually might be the best course of action to take. The Cavaliers won’t be a contending team for a while, so why not take Nerlens Noel? The fear behind taking Nerlens Noel is he tore his ACL earlier this season at Kentucky, and perhaps he never gets back to his true form. However, with the way ACLs are treated these days, that concern isn’t nearly as big as it used to be. Plus, the advantage of drafting Noel is he won’t be available until December or January, which means that they likely will be in for another losing season, and a chance at landing Andrew Wiggins, the best incoming freshman in NCAA hoops. If it weren’t for the rule that forces these guys to play one year of college basketball, Wiggins would be the #1 pick in this year’s draft. By drafting Nerlens Noel, the Cavaliers would get a really good rim protector for the future, possibly the best player in the draft, and also one more year to get a high lottery pick. Cavaliers fans may not want to see this course of action be taken, but it really might be the best move for the long hall.
#3. Draft Ben McLemore or Otto Porter Jr. #1: Should the Cavaliers decide to keep the #1 pick, they don’t have to draft Nerlens Noel. Noel could become really good, but he isn’t the second coming of Patrick Ewing or Hakeem Olajuwon. Adding a good swingman to go alongside Kyrie Irving would be a perfectly sound move for the Cavaliers to make. Otto Porter Jr. might make more sense since they really like Dion Waiters and hope he can be Irving’s backcourt mate for the future. Otto Porter Jr. is a really good small forward that would fit right in and be a huge upgrade at the small forward position from C.J. Miles. Of course, while Otto Porter Jr. likely fits better with their young nucleus, should they think Ben McLemore is a better overall player, than they should by all means take him, and figure out what to do with Dion Waiters (maybe even trade him). Getting the #1 pick is always a huge deal, and taking the best available player is often the right move to make even if it crowds you at a certain position (The Utah Jazz are a good example of this by drafting Enes Kanter #3 overall despite being crowded in the front court).
The Cavaliers have many different options with the number one pick, including options that I haven’t even mentioned. But these three options I just mentioned are the most likely moves that they decide to make with their top pick. It’ll be interesting to see what they end up doing with the pick, and if they keep it who they will draft. If the Cavaliers play their cards right, they could set themselves up for a nice upcoming decade of competitive basketball even if it doesn’t include the return of LeBron James.