The week that started on June 15th, 2014 was quite an eventful one for the Cleveland Cavaliers, to say the least. On Sunday, it was reported that former Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach David Blatt would get to interview face-to-face with Cavs GM David Griffin. This made Wednesday a busy day for the Cavs, bringing in Kansas wing and one of the top prospects in the draft Andrew Wiggins in for a workout. The next day, it was revealed that the consensus number one overall pick, Kansas center Joel Embiid, suffered a foot injury – which was said to be a stress fracture in the navicular bone on his right foot, aka the injury that Zydrunas Ilkauskas, Yao Ming, Kevin McHale and Bill Walton all suffered from (insiders only).
Late Thursday night, the Cavs and Blatt were hammering out a contract to make him the next head coach. By Friday, they got a deal done and the move was made official. Also on Friday, Embiid had surgery and had two screws inserted into his foot, with a recovery set time for 4-6 months.
With all of these things going on, it most likely changed the way people, including myself, think about what the Cavs will do with their pick. This is especially true with the unfortunate Embiid news. The Cavs can do a multitude of things with the first pick, some of which include trades. Had the Embiid news not come out, he would have been the slam-dunk number one option for me. Let’s see if his foot injury has changed my opinion.
Below, I will list the realistic options the Cavs have on draft night ranging from my least to most favorite. Also, I’ll have a link directly below the option, giving you a view into my reaction should that option happen. Here we go.
5. Trade it for Kevin Love
Let me get something out of the way; I adore Kevin Love as a player. Last year at this time I would have been ecstatic had the Cavs traded the number one pick for him. But this year the draft is a lot more loaded and Love only has one more year left on his contract. It’s also expected that if any team trades for Love, there’s no guarantee that he’ll sign an extension with them or that he will re-sign after the season. So the Cavs would basically be trading at least 4 years of an expected great prospect for probably one year of Kevin Love. I for one buy into the narrative that he’ll sign with a west coast team; he grew up in Oregon and went to college at UCLA. And if you didn’t know, Quicken Loans Arena is 2,346 miles away from Staples Center, where the Lakers and Clippers play (just for an example). All this isn’t to say I wouldn’t want to trade for Love at all, because I’d consider it. But if the number one pick is involved, I want nothing to do with this trade.
4. Dante Exum
Unlike the other three top prospects, I didn’t do a prospect profile on him because he was never a realistic option, until this happened:
As Jeff Goodman reports, Joel Embiid suffered a foot injury. Cavs want to workout Dante Exum for No. 1 spot now too, sources tell Yahoo.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 19, 2014
Exum is a 6’6 Australian point guard. Yea, “point guard,” the position All Star Kyrie Irving plays for the Cavs. I’m assuming holding this workout is just posturing by the Cavs, in case any team wanting to land Exum has to think about trading up to number one to get him. But with this organization, you can’t really assume anything. So here I am, telling you what might happen if they take Dante Exum.
This option is ahead of getting Kevin Love for me because I’d rather get a good prospect with the pick – though a bad fit on the roster at this time – than Kevin Love, who I expect to only be on the team for a year. Anyway, if the Cavs were to draft Exum, they either think he’s bar none the best player in this draft or don’t expect Kyrie Irving to sign an extension this summer, which will force them to trade him. If it’s due to the former, I would think it spells doom for Dion Waiters. Exum would have to play the point guard role, as he’d be the better distributor of the three guards. This would move Irving to shooting guard and would force the Cavs to either bench or trade Waiters. And yes, this all sounds very ridiculous. I don’t expect it to go down this way, but anything can happen when the Cavs go into the draft – though hopefully David Griffin can ease these thoughts with a great draft/offseason.
3. Trade Down/draft Joel Embiid
Just pretend I’m Gregg Popovich and David Griffin is Tiago Splitter in this clip. I’m obviously upset at Griffin, and when I pull him I out, I point to the two options he should be concentrating on; Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.
There’s a lot of ways we could go with this one. First of all, coming into this draft, I, like many others, rooted hard for the Cavs to get the first pick. I still want the first pick in this top-heavy draft and am not pulling for it to be traded. So initially, I would be disappointed. However, there are a lot of variables that would take place that would make this trade better or worse in my eyes. The popular trade that has been going around is with Philadelphia. The biggest rumor has been Philly’s number three pick and forward Thaddeus Young for the first pick. Even had Embiid not been hurt, this would still be an unfavorable trade for the Cavs. An ideal trade for the Cavs with the 76ers would include their third and tenth picks, along with a player – perhaps Young or Nerlens Noel. This isn’t to say Philly would want to do this, but that’s what it would take for me.
Now, what the Cavs would do from here is another story. Let’s say the Cavs trade the first pick to the 76ers for the third and tenth picks and Young. Perhaps the Cavs still take a chance on Embiid at three, having another top 10 pick to utilize. They could either stay there or, what I would do, use this pick to trade for a veteran, like Kevin Love and maybe even use Young in this trade as well. In this scenario, the Cavs would have attained Embiid and Love. I would think this is the realistic best case scenario for the Cavs should they trade down. However, it would be better just staying put. Love probably still leaves next offseason and the Cavs are left praying Embiid stays healthy.
Other trade rumors have involved Utah’s fifth pick and Derrick Favors. I’m not going to get into this one as much, but just know that I think it’s a really bad idea. Favors is a good player, but gives us a serious log jam at power forward. Not to mention, the drop off from Wiggins and Parker to the prospects there at five is big, considering the prospects that are most likely still available are power forwards and point guards, positions the Cavs are most “set” at. The Cavs would most likely be hoping Embiid is there at five. I think trading down and accumulating more picks/players is the only way the Cavs can draft Embiid. He’ll most likely fully recover from his foot injury, but three major injuries in just four years of basketball experience is enough to scare me off from picking him at number one. Had he not gotten the stress fracture, he would’ve been my top choice for the number one pick.
If you still find yourself wanting Embiid with the first pick, read this great injury analysis by Right Down Euclid’s Trevor Magnotti, who also broke down Embiid’s back injury. In this, he tells you why the foot injury is a greater concern than Embiid’s back.
Here’s where we get into the good stuff. The Cavs’ decision most likely, hopefully, comes down to picking between Parker and Andrew Wiggins. Should Parker be the pick here, I’d be a bit disappointed at first, knowing that the Cavs just passed up on Andrew Wiggins, who I think will be the better player. But then I’ll realize we weren’t even supposed to have a chance at a guy like Parker and be fine going forward – though not as happy as we would be walking away with Wiggins. In any case, Parker would be an okay fit on the team overall. Offensively, he could probably play on the wing, but is best suited as a stretch-4. Defensively is where the problem lies with this pick. He most likely wouldn’t be a help guarding any position. On the wing, he’s not athletic enough to hold up with other teams’ best players on a nightly basis. In the post as a 4, he’s not stout enough to consistently hang with big men, though he has good size himself.
Parker would also force the Cavs’ hand at power forward, with Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett. However, there has been something transpiring with Bennett this offseason. I noticed Bennett looking slimmer in Matthew Dellavedova’s Instagram picture. Then, in an article last Friday (insiders only), ESPN’s Chad Ford said Bennett has been shedding some pounds. “The [Cavs have] also been working on slimming down Anthony Bennett to get him minutes at the small forward position.” Anthony Bennett making a transition to small forward would open up the necessary room should they draft Parker and let Thompson come off the bench. This would also hopefully plug a gaping hole at small forward, assuming Luol Deng isn’t re-signed.
From the time the Cavs won the lottery to some time after my Embiid came article came out, I was on Wiggins’s bandwagon. I had gone back and forth between the Kansas 2 for weeks. Embiid’s foot injury forced my hand and now I’m fully on board with the Cavs drafting Wiggins.
Cavs need to take Embiid if they win the lottery.
— Dan Armelli (@dano708) May 4, 2014
WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS WIGGINS http://t.co/pQfsFvZjnl
— Dan Armelli (@dano708) May 21, 2014
Never mind, Embiid
— Dan Armelli (@dano708) June 11, 2014
Ok, no really, Wiggins. Final answer, Regis.
Joel Embiid has suffered stress fracture in right foot and slated for surgery on Friday, agent Arn Tellem says.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 19, 2014
I watched more Kansas basketball games on TV, just as a basketball fan, than any other college program. I came for Wiggins and stayed for Embiid. For whatever reason, after the Cavs actually won the lottery, I gravitated toward Wiggins. After really evaluating both of the Kansas 2, I realized Embiid was the guy I wanted. However, I also realized Wiggins is far from a consolation prize. If the Cavs take him, they’re potentially (I know everyone loves that word come draft time) drafting a guy that could be the next great wing player in the NBA. First and foremost, ATHLETICISM, ATHLETICISM, ATHLETICISM. He has it. This helps him on both sides of the floor and he should be able to contribute well right away on the defensive side, should the Cavs take him.
On the offensive side, it’s a bit more of a challenge in terms of development. Some will say since he’s the (in this scenario) first overall pick, he should get the ball right away since he’s projected to be a star. The problem, other than Wiggins’ ball handling weakness, is that the Cavs have Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, other wing players that dominate the ball. This could maybe force the Cavs to trade Waiters. In my opinion, for Wiggins’s rookie year, let him focus on spot up shooting and getting buckets from off-the-ball cuts, things he did at Kansas this past season. Hopefully through the offseason and practice he’ll be able to build on his strengths before he’s thrown into the fire of leading an offense – which is why having Irving already on the team is such a great asset.
Ultimately, there are two outcomes that could happen on Thursday in which I would come away satisfied. Unless someone blows them away with a trade offer, which could possibly happen (crazy stuff happens on draft night), they should just stay put and draft either Wiggins or Parker… (Wiggins).