Tag Archives: Joel Embiid

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Number One Pick Should Be…

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

Excitement Level:

(0:20-1:09)

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

Excitement Level:

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:

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

Excitement Level:

http://youtu.be/jauhPKiqZ4A?t=14s

(0:14-0:27)

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.

2. Jabari Parker

Excitement Level:

(0:05-end)

followed by

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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.

1. Andrew Wiggins

Excitement Level:

(0:41-1:45)

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.

Embiid

Wiggins

Never mind, Embiid

Ok, no really, Wiggins. Final answer, Regis.

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).

Cleveland Cavaliers Draft: Who Is Number One?

For David Griffin and the Cleveland Cavaliers front office decision time is getting closer and closer, not for deciding on the next head coach (although that decision must also be made) but what they will do with the number one overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Unlike previous years there appears to be some upper level talent at the top of this year’s draft. What the Cavs decide to do with the pick could trigger the turnaround Cavs fans have been waiting for since The Letter. So which of the perceived top three prospects (Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid) is the best fit for the Cavs? Let’s take a look.

Andrew Wiggins

WigginsThe popular pick for the Cavs seems to be Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins is an extremely athletic small forward who many believe is the best player in this year’s draft class. Some think he is the most athletic player to come out of the draft since LeBron James. That’s all well and good, but can all of that translate onto the floor? I mean, a 44” standing vertical is impressive, but NBA teams don’t draft Olympic high jumpers to their teams. Now there’s no doubting Wiggins can play. He finished the season as a 2nd Team All-American and averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He’s also known as a solid defender. The issue I have with Wiggins to the Cavs is roster fit. From a positional standpoint Wiggins could come in and start right away as small forward is a position of need for the Cavs. That doesn’t mean Wiggins is the right man to fill that position. While he is very athletic and a nightmare in transition, the big question here is how would he fit with the Cavs current roster – specifically Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters? Perhaps if the Cavs draft Wiggins one of those two players gets traded (presumably Waiters, but at this point who knows – especially with Irving’s contract situation), but for the sake of argument let’s assume Kyrie and Dion both stay and Wiggins is added. One of the more concerning flaws in his game (which shows up on tape) is his lack of movement without the ball. A 44” vertical won’t help Wiggins make a backdoor cut to get open. A quick first step doesn’t mean a thing if you stand out on the perimeter watching somebody else attack the basket.

This also ties in with another knock on Wiggins, his lack of aggression. Perhaps this partly stems from the fact that he isn’t the best ball handler, especially when you consider his athleticism, but a player who isn’t aggressive and doesn’t move without the ball (at least consistently) isn’t a great fit for a team that has two players (Kyrie and Dion) who are aggressive, ball dominant and want to attack the basket. Furthermore, at times he will settle for lower percentage jump shot instead of driving towards the basket for a higher percentage shot (and to possibly draw a foul). I won’t lead an angry mob if Wiggins is the selection for the Cavs. He has plenty of upside, but being aggressive and moving without the ball are two fundamental flaws that make Wiggins a not so great fit for the Cavs – or at least a challenging fit.

Jabari Parker

ParkerDuke forward Jabari Parker is thought of as the third player of the top three candidates by many. However, while he isn’t nearly as athletic as Wiggins, I feel Parker is the better fit for the Cavs when comparing the two. Both players would fill a position of need and both players can score. Parker was a consensus 1st Team All-American last season, averaging 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. While both players stand at 6’8” Parker is the bigger player, weighing in at 240 pounds (Wiggins weighs in right around 200 pounds). Two things stick out to me in regards to Parker, despite his ability to score he is a team focused player and he can play without the ball in his hands. Parker has a good understanding of the game, which undoubtedly was nurtured in his one season under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. In reviewing games, you’ll find Parker constantly on the move without the ball in his hands. When he does have the ball in his hands it’s extremely difficult for wing defenders to stop him when he attacks the basket. Simply put, he is stronger most other small forwards he will matchup against. He is a good shooter and attacks the ball for a rebound on both ends.

This doesn’t mean Parker is flawless. He isn’t the fastest player on the floor and can struggle on defense at times because of this. However, unlike Wiggins, nobody is questioning Parker’s work ethic. Many compare him to Paul Pierce, somebody also considered to be not the quickest, most athletic player on the floor. At some point athleticism will fade, or at least blend in. Drive is what separates Parker from Wiggins.

Joel Embiid

EmbiidIn my opinion, Joel Embiid should be the selection for the Cavs with the first overall pick. The Kansas center would provide an immediate upgrade to the position for the Cavs and would potentially give the team a dominant big man who has drawn comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon. While he might not ever be an elite scorer (few NBA centers are), Embiid can put up solid numbers offensively. Averaging just over 23 minutes per game, Embiid shot 62.6% from the floor and averaged 11.2 points per game. He is also able to impact the game defensively, averaging 2.6 blocks per game while pulling down 8.1 rebounds. The best part about Embiid, aside from the fact he is an athletic (former soccer player) 7’ 250 pound big man who can run the floor, is that he is still extremely raw. He has only been playing organized basketball since 2011, however he is clearly showing a natural feel for the game. As a center he isn’t somebody who needs the ball in his hands to be effective, another positive when you consider the current Cavs roster. There are some durability concerns (although ESPN’s Chad Ford says his back cleared out in Cleveland) and obviously his lack of basketball experience can lead to a learning curve and some frustrating mental lapses, but Embiid is the best fit for the when you consider the current roster and couple that with his tremendous upside.

Final Thoughts

All three players have serious NBA upside. While I prefer Embiid and Parker to Wiggins, I wouldn’t be upset with any one of the three coming to Cleveland. However, the past few seasons the Cavs seemed to be drafting (what they perceived to be) the best player available. That’s fine for a year or two, but at some point you have to start looking at player/roster fit. To me, it’s clear the Joel Embiid is the best fit for the Cavs roster.

Cavaliers Draft Prospect Profile: Andrew Wiggins

With the Cleveland Cavaliers wrapping up important workouts later this week with top prospects, they should be close to determining who they will take with the number one pick (if they don’t trade it).

Last week I talked about center Joel Embiid and a week prior to that I focused on forward Jabari Parker. This week, I’ll end the look at the Cavs’ potential pick with Kansas freshman wing Andrew Wiggins.

 

There's no doubt about it. Andrew Wiggins is a high flyer.
There’s no doubt about it. Andrew Wiggins is a high flyer.

2013-14 stat line: 32.8 Min., 45% FG, 34% 3PT, 17.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 BPG, 1.2 SPG, 2.7 PFPG, 2.3 TOPG

 

Andrew Wiggins was the top prospect coming out of high school last year. Native of Ontario, he has a chance to become the third Canadian-born player to be drafted by the Cavs in the last four years (Tristan Thompson in 2011 and Anthony Bennett in 2013). Wiggins garnered a lot of hype coming out of high school, as any number one prospect in the nation would, and ended his season with mixed results. He became the top scoring freshman in Jayhawk history (597 points), surpassing Ben McLemore’s mark of 589 set the year prior.

However, Kansas’s season ended on a bitter note, being upset by #10 Stanford and their zone defense in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, denying head coach Bill Self’s team a Sweet 16 bid. Wiggins was highly criticized after this game, finishing with just four points, four rebounds, an assist, and four turnovers.

Overall, Wiggins gets lauded for his extremely rare athleticism, defense, and dunks. But some question his passiveness, ball handling, and shooting ability. Let’s take a look at which critiques are real and which are perhaps a bit exaggerated. (Games evaluated: v. #4 Duke, @ #19 Florida, v. #24 Baylor, @ West Virginia)

 

Offense:

If you’ve heard anything about Andrew Wiggins, then you’ve heard about his out-of-this-world athleticism. Some will try to downplay this, stating that in the NBA, everyone is athletic which will compromise Wiggins’ abilities. While the former is true, Wiggins has athleticism that perhaps only a select few in the NBA will be able to match. This athleticism enables him to be a great player in transition and be a guy that plays above the rim.

 

(1:27:40-1:27:48) Wiggins’s teammate #34 Perry Ellis gets the steal and the former immediately starts to run the floor from the post. By the time he gets to the ball he’s in front of everyone and is able to dunk it home while taking a hit from Jabari Parker.

 

(34:28-34:36) #31 Jamari Traylor gets the rebound and gives a quick outlet pass to Wiggins. He turns on the burners past half court and then picks up his dribble as two Gators meet him. For most players, this would be enough to force them to just go into their half court set, but Wiggins takes the ball over the defenders and in just two steps is able to lay it up and in.

 

Wiggins’s athleticism also helps him be a heavy contributor on the boards, even on the offensive side (2.2 per game).

 

(44:29-44:35) Wiggins crashes the boards as soon as the shot goes up. He then tracks the ball off the rim and uses much of his 44-inch vertical to out jump everyone and grab the rebound.

 

(50:19-50:25) A few minutes later in the game, Wiggins gets another offensive rebound. This time, he shows that along with the ability to go up and get the ball, effort is critical in grabbing offensive rebounds. He taps it up to his right hand (probably by accident, but still) and taps it in with his right hand between two Baylor Bears.

 

Right away, Wiggins should be able to contribute on offense as a cutter/slasher, being able to get to the basket, especially off the ball. With the ball, he’s had some serious problems that he will need to fix to fulfill the potential he has on offense.

 

(22:23-22:29) This is a great overall play for Kansas. #21 Joel Embiid dribbles out of the post and Wiggins recognizes the gaping hole he leaves in the middle of the paint. He quickly cuts through the lane and Embiid gives him a nice pass for an efficient bucket.

 

(44:47-44:54) This is one of my favorite offensive plays I’ve seen from Wiggins. He gets momentum at the top of the arc on a pass by #1 Wayne Seldon Jr, who then sets a pick forcing Duke defender #2 Quinn Cook from Seldon to Wiggins. Wiggins is able to get initial penetration, but when Cook meets him, he’s able to perform a right-to-left spin move – a move he loves to use – to split him and his initial man, #5 Rodney Hood. From there, Wiggins is able to shoot it over Parker, through contact, and is able to bank it off the glass into the rim.

 

Wiggins isn’t just a supreme athlete that happens to play basketball. He has translatable skills going into the NBA on offense. He isn’t the most polished and has some serious work to do, but he has a pretty good foundation to start from, especially with his jump shot.

 

(1:20:49-1:20:54) In this game at West Virginia, Wiggins scored 41 points. He was able to show the promising range he can have in the NBA, coupled with his ability to get to the rim.

 

(50:23-50:29) Wiggins, above the arc, gets a pass from Embiid. He’s wide open for the shot, but jumps forward, causing him to miss long. I didn’t notice Wiggins make this mistake often, and his shooting mechanics are pretty solid. While he didn’t shoot at a high clip from 3, there’s no reason he shouldn’t (double negative!) be able to improve on that in the NBA.

 

Though Wiggins can get to the rim with the best of them, he has mixed results throughout the process, from beginning, to middle, to the end. What I mean by that, is that sometimes he is passive, which has been the narrative – one that I buy into right now. His ball handling and finishing have also been criticized, and rightfully so. These three aspects of his game aren’t atrocious, but will more than likely take some time to fix – especially his dribbling.

 

(1:05:11-1:05:17) Kansas struggled against zone defenses last year, which is what Florida runs. It was very hard for their wings to penetrate off the dribble. Wiggins has a great chance to do that here – he has a one-on-one matchup and at the very least could’ve drove middle to suck defenders in and then kick it out. He also could have, and probably should have, done a ball fake to the left and dribble right. I think sometimes he underestimates the athletic prowess he has over his opponents. Most of the time he’d have the upper hand athletically, giving him a good chance to drive. But sometimes, like he did here, he would just pass it up.

 

(31:58-32:03) Wiggins has two good options here, none involving turning the ball over like he did up top. It would’ve been reasonable had he taken that somewhat long 3. Also, his defender was closing so hard, he probably could’ve given a hard pump fake – something he should try more often – and drive to the hoop.

 

(37:16-37:22) Wiggins is an inconsistent ball handler, and just flat out struggles driving with his left. That’s exactly what happens here, as he tries to get into the paint but loses the handle as he tries to pick up is dribble. Losing the dribble is one thing, but this is also an example of Wiggins picking up his dribble too soon, which he does too much. As I said before, sometimes it seems as if he underestimates his ability when he can just blow past guys.

 

(40:37-40:43) Even though he drew the foul here, this is a shot I’d like to see him finish more often. He’s not a bad finisher through contact, just a bit inconsistent. He does a good job of using his body to shield the defender and then his long arms prevent the defender from blocking his shot. As Wiggins’s body fills out, he should be able to finish more shots in the paint through contact.

 

There are other parts of Wiggins’s game to be optimistic about. He’s made some good passes, none spectacular. He’s shown sparse post ability, though that would just be icing on top and not something he should grasp right away.

 

Also, like I touched on with Embiid, Kansas didn’t have great distributors that would set up teammates. Their point guard, #10 Naadir Tharpe, made some good plays for them, but sometimes was more interested in making a spectacular play than making the smart one.

 

(41:37-41:42) Tharpe gets doubled up top and has Wiggins wide open in the corner, but never sees him. Instead, he passes to Seldon, who drives and gets swatted down low.

 

If you’ve read this far, enjoy this picture of Dion Waiters’s buzzer beating game winning shot to make the Cavs go bonkers and steal a win in Detroit.

The night Dion Waiters became a Cavaliers legend, probably.
The night Dion Waiters became a Cavaliers legend, probably.

 

Defense:

 

This is the part of Wiggins’s overall game that has the highest floor, due to his athleticism. He still has things to clean up, as every prospect does, but it shouldn’t be long until he’s someone’s lock down defender.

 

(16:12-16:17) I know it sounds like I’m beating a dead horse, but Wiggins once again shows off his athleticism. He’s able to cheat inside the paint as #14 Rasheed Sulaimon drives. He kicks it outside to the corner where #12 Alex Murphy thinks he’s about to get off a 3 pointer. Nope. Wiggins closes in on him in a hurry and is able to block Murphy’s shot right out of his hand.

 

Wiggins played a great defensive game against Baylor, and this play was no different. If my memory serves me correct, he was only driven on twice during this game and eventually Baylor’s sharpshooter (and fellow Canadian), #5 Brady Heslip, was getting hot from deep. Wiggins was then put on Heslip and was basically shut down whenever guarded by Wiggins. Here are two of those plays:

 

(53:53-54:00) Wiggins shows off his transition versatility, closing in on Heslip and makes him think twice about shooting that 3, making him look like a deer in the headlights.

 

(57:57-58:08) Here, Wiggins does a nice job of getting around the weakside screen and chasing Heslip, who gets the ball on the opposite side of the court. He knows Wiggins is behind him and gives a pump fake, which Wiggins does a nice job of not completely falling for. After Wiggins gets through a pick, with the help of Ellis’s hedge, he’s able to recover on Heslip and force him to shoot a deep, contested 3.

 

(25:27-25:35) Wiggins’s athleticism is nice, but that’s not the only thing that helps in transition, and he displays that here. He gets good positioning to deny the rim and is able to poke the ball out. After West Virginia regains possession and puts a shot up, Wiggins rejects it into the eighth row (not really, but it was pretty far).

 

(2:24-2:31) Gator #24 Casey Prather gets the ball on the arc and quickly drives to the paint. However, Wiggins gets great first and second steps to beat him to a spot, forcing Prather to pick up his dribble. He tries a shot from there, but Wiggins is able to block his shot. It’s just a well-read, executed play by Wiggins.

 

For all the good that comes with Wiggins on the defensive side, there are still some fixable things that he can get rid of.

 

(1:09:15-1:09:22) Wiggins is guarding Sulaimon one-on-one at the top where #21 Amile Jefferson sets a screen on him. Wiggins has enough space to go over top of the pick, but instead makes full contact with Jefferson, forcing Embiid to come out on Sulaimon. As Wiggins recovers, he and Embiid get tangled with each other, allowing Sulaimon to get initial penetration. At times, Wiggins doesn’t read the screen correctly, and also isn’t able to power through some screens. This is something that can be learned through repetition and improved by getting stronger.

 

(1:25:36-1:25:42) Wiggins gets a good first step as his man starts to drive. But as they get closer to the paint, Wiggins starts to pull away, perhaps trying to avoid a foul (he did have four at this point in the game, when Kansas was trying to make a comeback). Nonetheless, this is something that I’ve seen him do on multiple occasions. Instead of trying to beat his man to a spot – which I showed he has done – it’s as if he’s just following the movements of the ball handler and following him.

 

Bottom Line: Wiggins is an easy player to fall in love with watching. The level of athleticism (the “athleticism” count is up to 9, in case you’re wondering) he has will be beyond most that of the players already in the NBA. At the very worst, he’ll be a reliable defender, a good off-the-ball slasher and a versatile transitional player on both ends of the court. As I said earlier, he’s not as polished as, say, Jabari Parker is offensively. He will have to work long and hard to get his dribble to become a reliable/elaborate weapon – he’s already shown he can have an effective spin move. Luckily for him, he already has a respectable shot. That and his defensive ability should be able to keep him on the court a good amount of time as a rookie.

Looking at all three top prospects – Wiggins, Embiid, and Parker – they’re all great options for the Cavs. These guys would arguably be the top prospects in other drafts as well, so GM David Griffin has a tough decision to make between the three. The draft is less than two weeks away and I have finally come to a decision of who I want the most out of three…

I’ll have that for you next week.

Contrasting reports surface on likely number one pick, Joel Embiid

With the 2014 NBA draft only 13 days away, there’s still a great deal to be determined for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs still have yet to make a coaching hire for this coming season, but it seems likely that they’ll have someone in place before the draft. The Cavs are also still conducting workouts and determining whom they will select with the number one overall pick, if they even keep it.

The Cavs have been linked to an abundance of coaching candidates over the past month, but many reports have seemingly narrowed it down to David Blatt, Tyronn Lue, Alvin Gentry and possibly Mark Jackson. Blatt announced yesterday that he would be leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv in order to pursue his dream of working in the NBA. It’s still unclear which team–and position–he will be working for, but he supposedly has an in-person interview with the Cavs sometime next week. Lue and Gentry are the only candidates who have been reported to have two interviews with the Cavs thus far. Jackson has simply been linked to being on the Cavs radar of late, by none other than ESPN’s Chris Broussard and his never-failing sources. There’s sure to be more details on the Cavs’ coaching development over the next week.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 3.48.34 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

As far as where the Cavs are in determining which prospect to select with the number one pick, so far they’ve only had Joel Embiid in for a workout and medical test. According to @PDcavsinsider, Andrew Wiggins will be working out for the Cavs next Wednesday and Jabari Parker next Friday.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 3.50.55 PM

 

 

 

 

 

That means there will be only six days until the draft after Parker–the last of the top three prospects–works out in Cleveland.

Now, if the Cavs keep the number one pick, the obvious and best choice for them is either Embiid or Wiggins. Parker is the best player right now and should have the most immediate impact (he’s my early choice for Rookie of the Year), but Embiid and Wiggins are clearly the best prospects with the most upside and star-potential. It then really comes down to the results of Embiid’s tests in Cleveland and how they view his long-term health. It was reported earlier this week that all of the tests came out positive and his workouts were a success.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 3.54.36 PM

 

 

 

 

This morning, however, radio host Tony Rizzo claimed from his “sources” that Embiid’s physical with Cleveland did not go well.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 3.56.23 PM

 

 

 

I see no reason for the Cavs to leak this sort of information and devalue the first overall pick, and every other report that’s surfaced has been positive about Embiid’s workout. Suffice it to say that there will undoubtedly be countless more rumors swirling about the top three prospects as they continue to workout for teams over the next week and a half.

IF everything did check out with Embiid and there appears to be no long–term problems, he should be the number one pick. Yes, the league has shifted from teams coveting dominant big men to now valuing two-way wings, but players like Embiid are rare. Embiid has been most often compared to Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan thus far, and if you’ve been watching this year’s NBA Finals (or the last 15 years of the playoffs), you know how valuable Duncan’s skill set is. The Miami Heat have the best wing in the league in LeBron James, but Duncan–and even Boris Diaw–has caused them absolute fits. Having a big who can post-up, face-up, knock down the mid-range shot, pass out of the post, make the right play out of double-teams, rebound at a high rate, protect the paint, block shots, all while keeping his teammates involved is a true commodity in today’s NBA. These are all things that Embiid is capable of and will continue to get better at. Yes, Wiggins is an athletic freak that will immediately contribute on defense and likely end up like a Kawhi Leonard or Nicolas Batum, but passing on Embiid is probably scarier than passing on Wiggins (and I’m extremely high on Wiggins).

The possibility of pairing Kyrie Irving and Embiid together for the next 5+ years is salivating as a Cavs fan. Having your franchise point guard and center in place, and then building around them seems like the best recipe for success at the moment. Especially with the assets and cap space that the Cavs also have now and over the next couple of years. There are plenty of options out there for the Cavs to consider in every aspect of this offseason, but if they can nail this coaching hire, number one pick and free agency; Cavs fans might actually be able to finally escape basketball purgatory.

Cavaliers Draft Prospect Profile: Joel Embiid

A lot has been circulating around the Cavs this past week, ranging from possible coaching hires to veterans they could be targeting via trade. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowksi had a busy day on Monday breaking somewhat (unsettling) Cavs news (that has since been refuted). But one thing remains constant: they still have to figure out who they will take number one in the draft later in the month.

Last week, I took a look at Duke freshman Jabari Parker as a possibility for the Cavs top choice. This week, I’ll be going over the first of two Kansas freshman: center Joel Embiid. I’m going to do things a little different this week, with more clips from actual games to highlight his strengths and weaknesses. With that said, let’s get into it.

Kansas center Joel Embiid
Kansas center Joel Embiid

2013-14 stat line: 23.1 Min., 63% FG, 20% (1-5) 3PT, 11.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 2.6 BPG, 0.9 SPG, 3.4 PFPG, 2.4 TOPG

The one thing that almost always came up when watching Kansas play last year was the story of how Joel Embiid came to play basketball.

Until about the 18 minute mark, you’ll hear ESPN’s crew talk about how Embiid was integrated into the sport of basketball.

 

Offense:

The comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon have been constant ever since, and for good reason. Starting basketball at such a relatively old age, he’s been able to limit the amount of bad habits one could pick up from playing a lifetime of basketball since middle school. Here’s a big reason why Embiid draws some Olajuwon comparisons:

Hakeem Olajuwon explains his patented “Dream Shake” (goes until about the 1-minute mark)

http://youtu.be/5Irvvb7Y4-w?t=3s

Embiid fakes twice and gets his man to hesitate (watch the defender’s head turn every which way). Embiid finishes him with his smooth, quick feet and his length allows him to under the rim and finish on the other side. Another thing I noticed on this, and other plays, was Embiid’s awareness of the rim, no matter where he was at – which is crucial for someone who does his scoring in the paint. That’s not to say he doesn’t have a good jumper, because he does.

 

http://youtu.be/lvx20ZejUyU?t=39s

He shot a respectable 69% from the free throw line, and could get better. He has a sweet stroke and showed off his soft touch wherever he shot from on the court – including the three-point line.

In the 4 games I delved into this past week (v. San Diego State, v. Oklahoma State, v. Baylor, and at Baylor), Embiid got doubled, if not most of the time, then every time. He usually did a good job of dribbling out of it and was able to show off his great court vision in distribution ability. Sometimes though he wasn’t convictive enough and would turn it over or get called for a foul.

 

Embiid gets doubled and dribbles to the outside to force one of the defenders to cover his original man. From there, he takes advantage of his quickness and destroys his man, drawing the foul.

 

This is downright impressive. Embiid gets doubled and as he dribbles out, he takes a peak across court to point guard #10 Naadir Tharpe. He takes another dribble to clear space and fires an accurate pass across court to set up Tharpe for the three and an assist for himself.

 

Embiid is too far outside to dribble any further, especially while being trapped in the corner like that. In this instance, he should’ve quickly passed it to #31 Jamari Traylor on the post but instead commits an offensive foul.

 

Embiid has to know with three guys on him to get the ball out. He had #1 Wayne Seldon next to him on the 3-point line or #34 Perry Ellis across the court from him – a difficult pass, yes, but one he’s made before. Instead, he tried to dribble out of it and gets it stripped.

Embiid committed a lot of turnovers even though he just averaged 23 minutes per game. Something that will help him is that if the Cavs were to pick him, he wouldn’t see as many doubles. Even still, at times he needs to be more decisive on what to do with the ball and utilize his great court vision.

Embiid is an athletic freak – not an understatement – for his position. He runs in transition exceptionally well and can dunk over just about anyone and catch just about anything.

Granted, this dunk is over 6’3 guard Marcus Smart, but it was heavily contested and he slams it home like there’s no one in front of him.

 

Defense:

Embiid also has the potential to be a great defender as well as offensive player. His athletic ability alone enables him to do a lot of things that some big men struggle to do. This includes things like hedging on pick-and-rolls, recovering to his man, and leaping to block shots. While he still has some polish left to be done on this side of the court – i.e. better positioning, timing on blocks – his athletic ability is good enough to where at worst he’ll be a solid defender.

 

Embiid’s ball denial in the backcourt is astounding here. No matter where his man goes, Embiid is there to prevent him from getting the ball. He shows off his athleticism, quickness, and intensity.

 

Here’s Embiid covering ground on an inbounding play underneath the basket. As soon as he sees the guard cutting free to the basket, he’s right behind him and his able to use his length to block the shot. It’s an impressive play that Embiid makes look easy.

 

For all the great plays Embiid makes, he makes some fixable mistakes as well. A lot of his mistakes are due to either cheating inside the paint/on a hedge or jumping on a pump fake, allowing an easy bucket.

 

Embiid’s man fakes a screen and Embiid cheats to hedge Oklahoma State’s guard. Embiid’s man cuts to the basket and Embiid is caught out of position, giving his guy an open lane for a dunk.

 

Embiid comes off his man, who cuts to the post, to cover another Aztec cutting to the paint and getting the ball. Ellis comes to help, but Embiid jumps on #22 Josh Davis’s pump fake, leaving his original man open for a dunk.

 

Embiid is also a good rebounder. You would think I wouldn’t have to say that since he’s a 7-footer, but Ryan Hollins played for the Cavs so I feel like I should say it just to make sure. Sure, Embiid gets a lot of these rebounds because of his length, but he also puts effort into boxing out as well, something many NBA players don’t pay enough attention to.

 

Embiid is alone in the paint when the shot goes up. Some guys just feel around for the opposition when the shot goes up, but Embiid goes and searches for someone to put a body on. While he didn’t get the rebound, he prevented his man from possibly cutting into the paint and getting it.

 

Embiid powers through three San Diego State players to get the rebound and has the strength to go right back up and fish through contact to get the and-1.

 

Bottom line: One last thing I noticed about watching Embiid with Kansas is he set a lot of screens, both off the ball and on the ball. When he would set a screen for the ball handler, he would rarely be passed to.

 

Embiid is ready for the ball after he sets the pick, but Tharpe drives into 3 defenders and gets swatted.

 

The problem with Kansas’ offense was a lack of a consistent distributor. Tharpe was more interested in making a game-breaking play than setting up his teammates. This limited the amount of time Embiid got to see the ball, especially outside of the paint. With the Cavs, I would image whoever is brought in to coach would capitalize on Embiid athleticism and shooting promise, letting him star as a pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop player, along with being a lethal threat on the post. Embiid would also give the Cavs a legitimate rim protector, something they haven’t had in a long time.

If the Cavs pick him, the fan base will have to be patient with his progression. While he’s one of the more advanced big men to come out of the draft, it still takes time for his position to find their place in the league. Also, Embiid was in foul trouble quite a bit and will more than likely have to go through a growing period in this area. He only averaged a bit more than 23 minutes per game at KU, so don’t look for him to get more than that as a rookie.

The big issue with Embiid is his health. In early March, he suffered a stress fracture in his back that kept him out of the Big 12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament. There’s been huge speculation and argumentation about how serious this will be with Embiid in the future, but only the Cavs will truly know (insiders only) how serious or not serious it is. If they think it’s 100% sure it will be a problem going forward, then they can’t pick him. Anything less than that, he has to be heavily considered to be the pick for the Cavs at number one with Andrew Wiggins. Speaking of Wiggins, I will dive into why he could be the top pick next week.

Cleveland Cavaliers explore trading Waiters and Thompson for additional lottery pick

Since the Cleveland Cavaliers inexplicably won the NBA draft lottery on May 20th, there has been rampant speculation about what the Cleveland Cavaliers plan to do with the number one overall pick. The obvious option would be keeping it and selecting Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid or Jabari Parker. Another option that has gained traction recently is trading the pick for a proven, All-Star caliber veteran to help expedite the Cavs rebuilding process. Some of the names that have been thrown out are Kevin Love, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Zach Randolph. All of these players would obviously exponentially help the Cavs win next season and in the near future, but are any of them worth relinquishing the number one pick in this draft for? Straight up, I’d say no.

I would love to have any of those players to pair with Kyrie Irving and to help the Cavs make a playoff run next season, but I can’t say that would be better than pairing Irving and Embiid/Wiggins for the next 5+ years. Having that pair grow together and actually building a competent team around them that fits together seems like the better option.

One trade report that did catch my attention, however, was a scenario that involved trading Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson for a lottery pick in this year’s draft. Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico first reported it this week.

via @SamAmicoFSO

Now, it’s a general report and he mentions that it’s just exploratory for the Cavs right now, but this has some enticing potential depending on which team it’s with. It’s also unclear whether that team is targeting the Cavs’ number one pick in that deal or just Waiters and Thompson. If it’s the latter, there are some interesting options there.

Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters in trade talks, via Fansided.com
Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters in trade talks, via Fansided.com

First of all, I don’t think the Cavs do this deal unless it’s the 8th pick or higher. While Waiters and Thompson still have some serious improvements to make, they were both 4th overall picks (2011, 2012) and should have more value than a 9th-14th pick. Also, if I were giving up Waiters and Thompson, I’d want to try to pair Julius Randle and Embiid or Noah Vonleh and Wiggins. In order to secure Randle, the Cavs would likely have to make this deal with the Utah Jazz for the fifth pick. In order to secure Vonleh, the Cavs would probably need the sixth or seventh pick from the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers. If they are unable to obtain those picks, they could look at targeting Aaron Gordon with the 8th pick as well.

 

As enticing as a lineup of Irving–Miles(re-signed)–Wiggins–Bennett(?)–Vonleh/Varejao/Hawes or Irving–Miles–(free agent)–Randle–Embiid is, that would be adding even more youth to an already young core. The positive is that it would allow that talented, young core to grow together over the next 5+ years and become very competitive. Unfortunately, Dan Gilbert has a reputation for putting a “win now” label on the Cavs and it’s doubtful he’d be on board with this direction.

Which brings me to the more likely scenario to happen if this rumored deal goes down. If the Cavs are able to trade Waiters and Thompson for a pick in the 5-10 range, then they could start exploring trades for that pick in order to bring in a veteran. There’s no doubt that the Celtics and Lakers are exploring the same types of trades with their picks (6 and 7), so the Cavs would be able to use a similar lottery pick, and assets, to open up their options.

It’s a little silly to speculate whom the Cavs would target with an additional lottery pick with so much still up in the air. It’s also hard to see a team giving up their lottery pick for Waiters and Thompson right now. If the Cavs are able to make this trade though, they will likely be adding either Embiid or Wiggins, a veteran player through this trade and then signing a veteran player through free agency.

With three weeks to go until the NBA draft, the Cavs have a lot of tough decisions to make. They still need to hire a coach, decide whom to draft with the number one overall pick and make a decision on which players they will be re-signing or trading. Then, after the draft, the Cavs and Irving will decide on an extension and the Cavs will attempt to improve the roster through free agency.

With so many variables for the Cavs to consider and so much still up in the air, one thing is for certain: the Cavs roster should look noticeably different on opening night.

Cavs to Take Another Duke Star Number One?

“With the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select…” This will be the first thing NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will say coming from backstage with the Cavs’ draft card in hand. On this card will be the name of the player they think will best help take this team to the next level, hopefully making them a playoff caliber team for the extended future.

The issue at hand until the draft, which takes place June 26th, is which name bookends the phrase up top. As I outlined here, there are most likely three prospects the Cavs will be seriously considering: Kansas center Joel Embiid and forward Andrew Wiggins, and Duke forward Jabari Parker. For the next few weeks I will profile each of them here, to ultimately determine who I think would be best suited to help the Cavs win now and more importantly for a long period of time down the road. Today, I’ll start with freshman Jabari Parker.

Duke freshman Jabari Parker
Duke freshman Jabari Parker

2013-14 stat line: 30.7 Min., 47% FG, 36% 3PT, 19.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.1 SPG, 2.4 PFPG, 2.3 TOPG

Measurables/Athleticism: 6’8 241 lbs. This part of Parker’s game is what makes some people use the word “tweener” when talking about him, fair or unfair. He’s more of a smooth athlete than an explosive one. He has a big body for a small forward, but is undersized as a power forward. He’s not a terrible athlete but there’s little doubt he’ll be somewhat of a liability on defense, at least right away. He doesn’t have the lateral quickness to consistently guard 3’s and isn’t powerful enough to hold his own against 4’s. In transition, he runs very well for how big he is and looks smooth in the open court.

Parker shows his leaping ability with a blocked shot on an Aaron Gordon finger roll. However…

Parker gets blocked when he can’t get around/over Gordon on the post.

Offense: This area is where Parker shines as a prospect. Last year he shot 36% from 3 and had an eFG% of 51% (basically anything over 50% is above average). He can be lethal when he’s facing the rim, but has shown promise as a post player – which is where the option of being a power forward comes into play, making him a versatile threat on this side of the court. He can make an array of different shots; step back jumpers, set jumpers; driving to the hole, from mid-range, and behind the arc. His athleticism isn’t great, but he’s still able to pick his spots when to go to the basket and is able to finish well. Although he can make a lot of shots, he takes ill-advised ones too. Sometimes he’ll bypass high percentage shots for harder ones. It sometimes looked like he forced the issue, but some of this could be due to how heavily Duke relied on him. Nonetheless, he’s not afraid to take shots. He had low assist numbers last year but he’s shown he’s willing to get teammates involved when he’s covered. In all honestly, the only other legitimate scoring threat was Rodney Hood (and Quinn Cook to a degree), so there weren’t many opportunities for assists. Parker’s also a pretty good ball handler for his size. By all accounts, he looks like he can be a team’s number one option on offense, so long as he’s able to be efficient with his shot selection.

Defense: As stated earlier, this is where the word “tweener” comes into play. A lot of factors play into Parker not being a solid defensive player. First and arguably most importantly is his effort. Sometimes he just downright looks disinterested on that side of the floor. It doesn’t happen all the time, but the first thing you have to do to reach your defensive potential is play with effort. Secondly, too many times he looks lost or out of position, as you will see in the gif below. Bad positioning and not knowing where/when to rotate hinders good team defense. Lastly, as has been touched upon multiple times, he’s limited athletically. On the perimeter, he won’t be able to stay with the more explosive wings in the league. This is why effort is so important, especially when you don’t have the best athleticism to begin with. As for playing down on the post, he’s just not strong enough to continually hold his place to prevent his man from setting up close to the rim.

http://youtu.be/ZhTaImYwFHc?t=44s

(h/t @ConradKazNBA)

Parker helps with Embiid on the post, but when the ball is taken outside, Parker looks lost and Wiggins cuts in the paint behind him for an easy bucket.

Rebounding: He was a great rebounder at Duke, using his 7-foot wingspan and surprising leaping ability. He contributed on both ends in this category, with 105 offensive rebounds and 201 defensive rebounds –nine rebounds short of being in the top 20 in the nation in each category.

Bottom Line: In a vacuum, Parker would be a fine pick at number one in any given year. He has the chance to come to a team right away and contribute offensively. Relative to his age, he looks polished and isn’t afraid to be the go-to guy. However, all things considered, I’d be surprised and perhaps a little disappointed should the Cavs take Parker. They already selected two undersized power forwards – which is what Parker would be – trying to develop. Not that Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson should prevent a team from taking a prospect of Parker’s caliber, but when you have a desperate need for a small forward (Wiggins), and a rim protector (Embiid), it doesn’t make a ton of sense to take what you already have two of, despite Parker being light years, light years, ahead of Bennett and Thompson offensively when they came out. Jabari Parker will most likely be a good if not great player, but with two other prospects at a greater position of need with arguably as much potential, it’s not hard for me personally to pass up Parker in this situation. The Cavs should have their eyes set on Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins.

But I’ll get into the Kansas-2 in the coming weeks.

Cavaliers Win the Lottery Again

Unbelievable. After the Cavs won the lottery in 2011 and last year in 2013, and after I spent all day on twitter last Tuesday hoping and pining to get at least a top 3 pick, this happened. I didn’t think it was possible, Nick Gilbert not being there and all. But David Griffin is a wise man.

David Griffin holding Nick Gilbert's lucky bow tie.
David Griffin holding Nick Gilbert’s lucky bow tie.

I was even more excited when the Cavs won this year than last, when a lot of people, including myself, thought the Cavs would go with Kentucky center Nerlens Noel. With the draft class as touted as it is this year, there’s reason for Cavs fans to be excited about this draft. Instead of talking about good-not-great prospects like Creighton forward Doug McDermott and Indiana big man Noah Vonleh, we get to focus on the big 3 names: Kansas teammates, wingman Andrew Wiggins and center Joel Embiid, and Duke forward Jabari Parker. Evaluating the big three will be a much more fun process than talking ourselves into loving the idea of taking a player like Arizona forward Aaron Gordon or Croatian forward Dario Saric – though they are good players. David Griffin and the Cavs will get to hand pick the player that could be a transcendent player in the NBA for years to come.

https://twitter.com/Larrydn22/status/468911217093144576

(Clean up your tweet game, Mr. Gilbert)

So where does David Griffin go from here? First of all, it’s been reported that he’s already been receiving calls for the first pick. That’s a prominent sign that this draft is loaded up top. If you can remember last year, it was former-GM Chris Grant that was the one trying to trade the first pick, showing how sparse the talent pool was last year. We know how that ended.

While Griffin is busy fielding calls, he and his staff will continue to dig deeper into this class. As I said before, Griffin is in a much different position than he was a couple weeks ago, being able to shift his focus to the cream of the crop in this class. The moment the Cavs won the lottery, there were conflicting reports/assumptions about who the Cavs have at the top of their proverbial board.

(Those were all within 17 hours of each other. L.O.L.)

And that is just the way David Griffin would want it. There is no point in outright telling the world who you plan to pick, for trading leverage purposes. Let’s take a look at a quick breakdown of the options Griffin and the Cavs will be looking at (in numerical order, because that’s fun).

 

SF/PF Jabari Parker (6’8 241), Duke, Freshman, Age: 19

2013-14 stat line: 30.7 min., 47% FG, 36% 3PT, 19.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.2 APG

Two years removed from Chicago-based Simeon Career Academy, who also produced Chicago Bulls All

Jabari Parker after a made trey
Jabari Parker after a made trey

Star Derrick Rose, Parker was ranked as the 4th best recruit in the nation. He has great size for his position that could enable him to play power forward. He has the offensive skill set to play both on the wing and in post. He’s impressively polished on the offensive end, being able to shoot well on the perimeter and some post ability. Some label him a “tweener,” which is more of a suitable adjective for his defense rather than his offense. As much of a threat as he is on offense, he’s somewhat of a liability on defense. He’s not an explosive athlete, though he gets the most out of what he has on the offensive end. The same cannot be said for him on defense. He just flat out looks disinterested at times on defense, being late to rotate and not being able to hold ground in the post consistently. Because of his defensive flaws as a wing and potential as a post player, he’s probably best as a stretch-4. Parker is probably the most likely to find success right away, at least on the offensive side.

 

SF Andrew Wiggins (6’8 197), Kansas, Freshman, Age: 19

2013-14 stat line: 32.8 min., 45% FG, 34% 3PT, 17.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.5 APG

A native of Toronto, Ontario, Wiggins could become the third Canadian in four years to be drafted by the

Andrew Wiggins with a solid dunk face
Andrew Wiggins with a solid dunk face

Cavs in the lottery. Wiggins has garnered much hype since coming out of high school, being named the best recruit in the country. The first thing that pops out about him is his tremendous athletic ability. Most players in the NBA are great athletes, but Wiggins just seems to have an amount that few have. Wiggins projects to be a great all around player, and no worse than a guy that can guard at least two, if not three, positions and be a slasher on offense. He still needs to work on his shooting consistency, but he has pretty good form and isn’t very sloppy. He can, and should, get bigger to help him finish through contact more when he drives the lane. The big question everyone is talking about is if he has the attitude to carry a team, as he looked a little passive at times in college, passing up opportunities to drive. On defense, Wiggins gives great effort, which paired with his athletic ability, gives him a high ceiling on that side of the ball. He also has the length to bother and block a lot of shots, averaging a block a game at Kansas. And at 19, he’s still growing. Wiggins could play multiple positions right now, best projecting as a small forward, with the potential to be a lock down defender down the road. And if he can be a reliable shooter, he’s going to be one of the best players in the league. Wiggins should have a high floor, but may take some time developing into the star he can become.

 

C Joel Embiid (7’0 240), Kansas, Freshman, Age: 20

2013-14 stat line: 23.1 min., 63% FG, 11.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.6 BPG

Embiid is probably the most interesting story atop this draft. If you look at his story and his stats, you’ll

Joel Embiid saying, "Get that weak stuff outta here!"
Joel Embiid saying, “Get that weak stuff outta here!”

question why he’s being talked about as a top prospect. For starters, a native of Cameroon, where his main sport was volleyball, he’s only been playing basketball since 2011. Going into Kansas, he was rated as the 25th best recruit in the nation.  He wasn’t put into the starting lineup until December and only averaged 23 minutes a game. All this doesn’t seem like the profile for the number one pick, but that’s why scouts and evaluators watch the tape. And Embiid’s tape was supreme, even drawing comparisons to Hall of Famer and 1984 1st overall pick Hakeem Olajuwon. Like his college teammate Andrew Wiggins, Emiid has the potential to be a great two-way player. He moves extremely well for his size and has post moves that probably have never been seen from a player with only three years of experience. He even has respectable shooting range and projects as a great pick-and-roll or even pick-and-pop center. On defense, he still has some issues rotating, which is expected for a player with his lack of experience. But he’s an excellent rim protector and can cover ground well. His athletic ability should allow him to guard some power forwards if he’s ever called upon. Embiid should turn into an all-around great center, but fans should be patient with their expectations. It’s typically hard for bigs to come into the league right away and dominate, especially one that has 3 years of experience and only played 23 minutes per game in his only collegiate year. Nonetheless, Embiid should be a great pick for the team he goes to, given he stays healthy (if you click on any of these links, click that one).

 

So those are the options for the Cavs, should they hold onto the pick. I’ll dive in deeper with these players as we get closer to the draft. Cavs fans should be very excited right now. Instead of talking ourselves into prospects, we’re trying to find out which one of the biggest three will be more of a star. This is a position we haven’t been in since 2003, and it’s awesome.

Who the Cleveland Cavaliers could draft with the number one pick

The Cleveland Cavaliers have the number one pick in the highly touted 2014 NBA draft. No, Tuesday night’s draft lottery was not a dream, Cavs fans. The Cavs actually won the lottery for a second straight year and for the third time in four years.

Now that that fact is finally sinking in for everyone, it’s time to take a look at which NBA prospect the Cavs should take with the number one overall pick.

Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, via Bleacherreport.com
Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, via Bleacherreport.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I’ve researched and scouted this year’s NBA prospects throughout the season, I’ve come to the conclusion (along with most scouts) that there are three players worthy of the first tier. This means that there are three guys who are a step above every other prospect. These three guys are Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker.

Jabari Parker is a 6’8”, 240-pound SF/PF from Duke. Parker is easily the most NBA-ready prospect from this draft class. He is only 19-years-old, but is physically gifted and extremely skilled offensively. His offensive game is very versatile and he can score from just about anywhere on the court. He’s also a talented rebounder and a confident player. Parker won’t fall past the Philadelphia 76ers at pick three and whoever gets him will have a great player for the foreseeable future, but he’s the third best option for the Cavs.

Joel Embiid is a 7’, 240-pound C from Kansas. He’s 20 years old and has the most upside in this draft. Embiid would likely be the consensus number one pick if he didn’t suffer a spinal stress fracture near the end of his freshman season. Shockingly, Embiid didn’t start playing basketball until 2011, but has already impressed everyone who’s seen him play. Physically, he already looks the part of an NBA center and just need to bulk up some, which won’t be a problem. Offensively, he has a wide array of moves. He can play back-to-the-basket, face-up, hit hook shots and has even flashed a bit of a midrange game. He’s very agile for his size and runs the floor well. He has a 7’5” wingspan and is a beast above the rim. On defensive, his potential is endless. He still needs to learn exactly where to be and how to fit in to a system, but he’s already a great rim-protector, averaging 4.6 blocks per 40 minutes at Kansas. Embiid’s strengths greatly outweigh his weaknesses and where he ends up really depends on the results of his injury tests. He is a terrific fit for the Cavs and if he’s 100% healthy, it’d be hard to pass on him with the number one pick.

Andrew Wiggins is a 6’8”, 200-pound; 19-year-old SF. Wiggins was fittingly Embiid’s counterpart at Kansas this season, as they’re likely battling for that number one spot. Wiggins is an athletic freak who also has tremendous upside. He also needs to fill out and put on some muscle, but that shouldn’t be a problem with his frame and 7’ wingspan. He’s an explosive player, elite in transition (1.3 PPP) and has great body control. He only shot 34% from three at Kansas but has good mechanics and can score off the dribble or spotting-up. His ball-handling skills need work, but fortunately, he doesn’t need the ball to be effective. The Cavs already have two-three ball-dominant guards and need a 3 and D small forward who isn’t ball-dominant. That basically describes Wiggins and it doesn’t hurt that he has all-star potential as well. Possibly his greatest strength is that he’s a lock-down defender with tremendous defensive potential. He uses his size, length and quickness to guard multiple positions. Wiggins’ defensive abilities, elite athleticism and scoring will earn him good minutes as a rookie, however, he’ll eventually need to work on creating his own shot, consistently hitting his jumpers, handling the ball effectively and playing with a “killer” instinct to become elite. He’s another perfect fit for the Cavs right now with tremendous potential for the future as well.

These three prospects will go one, two and three in the draft. The only thing left to determine is which order they will go in. Seeing as the Cavs have the first pick, it’d be shocking for them to take anyone other than Embiid or Wiggins. Their immediate fit and long-term potential make too much sense for the Cavs to overlook. Parker, however, is the best offensive player in the draft who can come in and immediately help a team win. He would fit perfectly with the Milwaukee Bucks (who have the 2nd pick), which could drop Embiid or Wiggins down to third (Sixers). It won’t be an easy decision for David Griffin and the Cavs (unless Embiid’s tests look bad), but one thing is for sure, the teams with the top three picks won’t be disappointed.