Tag Archives: Kansas

Big 12 Satellite Camps

The Big 12 has been in the news for one subject the past few months .I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the Big 12 meeting to be over. As we all know there are other subjects in regards to college football but with all Big 12 fans they have been swept under the rug. One of those subjects being satellite camps.

Earlier this year the NCAA banned satellite camps. The Big 12 was not really news about the banned camps because the majority of the schools did not really give their opinion on the matter. The Big Ten was the main conference that spoke up about it. The SEC and ACC banned these years ago. Banning these camps effected the Big 12 more than people think. Satellite amps involved the NCAA football programs and their coaches co-hosting camps with lower division colleges or high schools outside of their home state.

When satellite camps became really popular when coaches found a loophole in the rule the NCAA made. The rule was that the schools were limited to hosting camps within fifty miles of their campus or within their home state. Satellite camps help coaches find players who have yet to be recruited and have some hidden talents that have yet to be discovered.

Many of the Big 12 coaches are glad that the ban was raised. One of the many reasons is that it helps the athletes that don’t necessarily have the means to travel to be seen by coaches at certain schools. Coach Beaty at Kansas stated “If we truly care about kids and what is best for them, and giving them great opportunities, I think (overturning the ban) is something we have to look at. Even though it has been overturned I agree. I really think that satellite camps benefit the kids because it gives them opportunities to show coaches how they play and practice. This is much better than sending them highlight videos, that some of the coaches do not even watch or showing up to camps at the university where there are many other players competing for coaches attention.”

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State host a lot of satellite camps in Texas so when they heard the news about banning them they were one of the most upset schools in the Big 12. Another school that would have been highly upset if the ban stayed was Texas. Texas, the past two years, did not hold camps in Texas. The Longhorns held camps in Florida in 2015 and Louisiana last year. Going to these states helped Strong gain many great recruits for Texas. Strong thinks that gaining strong recruits from different states will help Texas look solid for recruits in the state of Texas. Which is why this year the Longhorns decided to stay in Texas, which could mean major competition for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Texas is trying its hardest to get back on top of the recruiting ladder in their home state, especially since Texas A&M is struggling in many aspects. Strong is really hoping that recruits in Texas will want to stay close to home and go to the more dominant school and not go to the schools who host satellite camps in Texas.

I am very pleased that the NCAA lifted the ban for satellite camps. Nothing will really change since the ban did not last long enough for any effects to really take place. It is good for the student athletes who will not have the opportunity to go to the college football camps that are offered at the Universities. Hopefully schools do not take advantage of these and they will last for a long time.

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Not Enough Red Bull for Holgorsen

There have been some interesting things going on in the Big 12 recently. Obviously, expansion talk is still the number one topic in people’s minds, but there have been contract extensions being turned down, pay raises for coaches who maybe don’t deserve them and players getting kicked off of their teams, just to name a few.

ESPN Big 12 reporter Jake Trotter gave his opinion on the Big 12 expansion. Trotter thinks the Big 12 will expand. One of the main reasons Trotter thinks this is because the Big 12 will have a higher percentage of making the playoff if it has more teams competing and there is a championship game to be played. The best model was the old way  so they are trying to go back to it. Trotter also mentioned how difficult it is going to be to gain a television network when Texas isn’t even close to being 100 percent on board and getting rid of theirs in order to do so. Hopefully Texas will agree to switching soon, but I highly doubt it.

With football season quickly approaching the conference networks are announcing their prime time games. Since the Big 12 doesn’t have that luxury, writer Sean Cordy decided to make a list of what he thought the prime time games in the Big 12 should be. I don’t agree with some of the games on the list and here is why. He picked three games where Kansas is playing. How Kansas, who didn’t even win a game all season, can be picked for even one “prime time” game is beyond me. But I guess he thought these were the best games of the week. Kansas should be better this year but I don’t think it will be that competitive in only a year. I look forward to the day when the Big 12 has its own network just so we can see what the prime time games will be that season.

At the beginning of the 2015 season many people thought that Dana Holgorsen would lose his job. The season turned out to be a positive one after the Mountaineers finished the strong. After the season ended, the Athletic Director at West Virginia realized that he did not want to let Holgorsen go. The Mountaineers wanted to extend his contract but Holgorsen did not accept it. Holgorsen has two years left on his contract and will probably be offered another extension after next season, or after his contract is up. He needs to coach well these next two seasons or I don’t think West Virginia will take him back after he did this. I also don’t see another big name school picking him up, so he better hope for the best.

Texas Football hasn’t made a statement on the football field in a while, until now. This time it has to do with coaching. After two losing seasons the regents decided to give pay raises to some of the assistant coaches. Yes, you read that right. To be an assistant coach at Texas, that must be the life. The assistant coaches that will receive raises are: Brick Haley the defensive line coach, tight ends and special teams coach Jeff Traylor, strength coach Pat Moorer, and new assistants Charlie Williams, Clay Jennings and Anthony Johnson.

The specific reason is unknown as to why three Texas Tech players were kicked off of the Red Raiders football team. Kliff Kingsburry, the Texas Tech head football coach said it was “due to failure to uphold student athlete expectations.” Sophomore linebacker Dakota Allen, sophomore offensive lineman Robert Castaneda and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Trace Ellison were the three Red Raider players involved.

Running back Alex Ross announced this week that after he graduated from Oklahoma this week he will be transferring schools. Ross didn’t make much of an impact these past two years because he was overshadowed. He did make a large impact in the Sooners’ kick return game though.  Ross will be able to play immediately for whatever school he chooses. As of Sunday, it has been reported that Ross made a visit to Columbia, Missouri to visit MU. The Tigers need a running back so this could be the perfect fit for Ross this coming season.

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Expansion or No Expansion…That is the Question

Maybe it’s because I am a K-State fan, but this article made me laugh out loud. Does it really surprise anyone that no Kansas football players were drafted? De’Andre Mann, Taylor Cox and Larry Mazyck have been picked up in free agency. Mann signed with the Atlanta Falcons, Cox has been invited to Cowboys camp and Mazyck will be attending free agent tryout camp with the Houston Texans. It will be interesting to see if more KU players can make in impact in the NFL like Harris and Talib did this year. I just don’t really see players from these past few years making it very far considering what their record has been.

The contract from Brad Underwood has been approved. Underwood will make a total of 6.3 million the next five years with a starting salary of $1 million for next season. This doesn’t include the incentives he will be receiving from the Big 12 and Oklahoma State if he wins. As I said in my article earlier this year, Underwood is a great coach and deserves a large contract. I am very happy he is in the Big 12 again, I just wish it was with a different team.

Memphis President M. David Rudd released a promotional publication on his twitter account. He is really pushing for his school to join the Big 12. I think this would be a very interesting move by the Big 12. I wouldn’t be opposed at all. Memphis is progressively getting better in football and, of course, is very good in basketball. It is also somewhat close to other schools so people would travel, which is always important. I am not sure how much people who actually make these decisions pay to twitter and make their decisions off of promotional videos.

Bob Bowlsby finally spoke up about when decisions are going to be made in regards to expansion. He said “we need to move ahead and make decisions. I just think we need to move ahead expediently.” At this point I am somewhat indifferent about what happens. I am just ready for them to make a decision and hope it is the bet one for the conference. It sounds like they will have a decision made in the next ten days.

The Big 12 needs votes from eight schools to expand. I have heard they currently only have votes from seven schools. I have never liked Texas, nor will I ever like Texas. I feel like Texas is a very selfish school. Texas wants to keep the Longhorn Network so the Longhorns are pressuring TCU and Texas Tech not to vote for expansion. So, instead of thinking about what is best for the Big 12, the Longhorns are just thinking about themselves and what their TV contract will do for them. The Longhorn Network has lost money the past few years. So in the long run Texas is losing money for something they are so adamant on keeping.

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Stick to the Basics, Kansas State

Commitment: to common goals and to being successful.

To say that Bill Snyder’s reign as the most celebrated college football coach in Manhattan, Kansas is coming to an end would be ridiculous. Commitment to common goals and being successful is the first goal of sixteen in Snyder’s “16 Goals for Success” that he made the players revisit after a rough loss to Texas Tech. The Kansas State Wildcats currently sit at the same conference play record as one of the worst teams in college football, the Kansas Jayhawks.

Snyder’s tenure at Kansas State isn’t just because of his age or his legacy there at Kansas State University. Snyder’s tenure is because consistently each year, he produces winning teams with little to no established talent and makes them look great doing so.

 

Unselfishness: there is no ‘I’ in TEAM.

There may not be an “I” in TEAM, but there certainly is “TAME” which seems to be what the Kansas State Wildcats seem to be this year. “Tamecats” would be a much better way of describing this team on either side of the ball. The players showing heart week after week would be a sign of comprehension of Snyder’s goals, but sadly they fall short of that as well.

 

Unity: come together as never before.

This means like, win a game? I think that would be pretty #neat at this point. Not only are they winless in conference play but they will not be making a bowl game for the first time since I can remember. I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed in a team, and when I said I would be happy for them going 7-5… I would have been. Instead they face going 3-9, a record previously reserved for Iowa State and Kansas teams.

 

Improve: every day as a player, person and student.

Is this happening on a daily basis? Who knows. The only people that can really tell would be the personnel surrounding this team. Instead, we have questions about commitment and dedication to football. At least we aren’t in the news for arrests and sexual assaults? That is really the only upside to this season, so please don’t let us down, Wildcats!

Be Tough: mentally and physically.

This goes without saying, the team cannot win because of the play calling and the issues on coaching staff. The only thing they CAN do is be tougher than the criticism and tougher than the other guys on the other side of the ball. Preparing for someone to be more talented than you is easy when you are in the best shape of your life and truly mentally and physically prepared for the game. And really, this is the only hope at beating a team this year. Not only do we have some of the worst play calling in the history of Kansas State football, there is NO change coming from the staff. To see a team crumble from the inside out is torture for Bill Snyder, but he has to realize where the crumbling pieces are on his coaching staff and remove them in order to preserve all that he has done at this school.

 

Self-Discipline: do it right, don’t accept less.
Would this apply to trying to force our team to pass when clearly there is no sign of this team being able to move the ball downfield in the air? Would this apply to people in the stands being able to see the flaws in this team but the coordinators refusing to make changes that we so desperately need? Where does this goal fit in with the team we’ve seen week after week beat themselves? I clearly have so many questions that will go unanswered, but the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results… so why does the coaching staff of one of the most consistently prominent teams in America feel the need to run the same plays that the opponent has studied all week and expects? The same three plays seem to do nothing but get us knocked around and go a quick three & out, so WHY?! Alright, I’ll stop with the questions there, but self-discipline needs to show up not only in the players but the coaching staff. Do your job. Do it right, don’t accept less.

 

The Kansas State Wildcats/Tamecats host Iowa State in Manhattan, Kansas this year and instead of looking forward to the game like so many others… I will be bracing for impact of Iowa State potentially clobbering the team I love so much. Please Coach, don’t exit this team on a note of defeat and sadness. 2016’s team looks brighter than ever and with the help of firing your stuck in the mud coaches, we can be great again.

How the Cavs’ Rookies Fit into Blatt’s System

Last Thursday night, after months of debate and wonderment, the basketball world finally saw the Cleveland Cavaliers use their number one pick in the 2014 Draft. That pick turned out to be Kansas star wing Andrew Wiggins over Duke forward Jabari Parker or trading down. The Cavs also made two more picks in the second round that resulted in Virginia wing Joe Harris and (unofficially) Stanford big man Dwight Powell via a trade with the Charlotte Hornets – they also acquired center Brendan Haywood for wing Alonzo Gee.

There’s always talk after the draft about value and grades that are handed out. But that doesn’t have an affect on anything going forward, it’s just fun-talk that we like to have. The real question is how these guys fit with the current roster of talent the Cavs have now. Obviously there will be more movement along the lineup as we get into free agency; this involves possible trades (Tristan Thompson/Dion Waiters?), our own free agents (Spencer Hawes, C.J. Miles, and Luol Deng), as well as other teams’ free agents (i.e. Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons). But for right now, we can only focus on what we know.

The next thing we can look at is how these new Cavalier draftees fit with new head coach David Blatt’s philosophy. For that, we have to know somewhat about how Blatt likes to run his offense. Last week, “Coach Nick” (@bballbreakdown) highlighted what Coach Blatt has tended to focus on, on offense:

Since Blatt has coached overseas all of his career, this breakdown was a Godsend to basketball fans and was really well-done. Blatt stated in his press conference “there’s two kinds of coaching: there’s systematic and then there’s learning from what you have.” Blatt said he falls under the latter and just because Pete Carril (his college coach at Princeton) coached him under the Princeton offense doesn’t mean that’s what he’ll be teaching the Cavs. This is refreshing because you’ll see a lot of coaches come in with their own systems, both offensive and defensive, and try to fit the players they have into that specific system. I think in a lot of cases it’s more efficient to mold your system around the players’ strengths, which is what it sounds like Blatt intends to do.

Though it was only a short breakdown, Coach Nick was able to highlight some of the integral parts of Blatt’s offense. Keep in mind; while Blatt says he’ll mold his system to his players, I think it’s likely that he’ll still have ideals he’d like his players to play with. For instance, it looks like the Cavs will be moving away from the Midrange Township (h/t to Ben Cox of WFNY) to taking better shots above the arc and in the paint.

Last year, the Cavs were 2nd in the league in FGA from 10-14 feet away from the rim – 38% FG%, 18th in the league – and 5th in the league in FGA from 15-19 feet – 41% FG%, 11th in the league. While they were okay in the latter category, only teams with guys like Dirk Nowitzki and LaMarcus Aldridge – players who make a living shooting from there – should be focused on scoring from mid-range. Having mid-range poster boy Jarrett Jack heaving 312 long-range two’s for a 39% shooting percentage is not productive in any offense. It seems as if adding Blatt will cut down on mid-range jumpers, especially one’s that are unassisted (Jack’s mid-rangers were 62% unassisted).

Before I get into the fits with Wiggins, Harris, and Powell, I just want to preface by saying I’m not an expert on NBA offenses and I won’t pretend to be one. Does that mean I want to come in and just spew off nonsense? Not at all (or at least I won’t try to). But I look forward to learning more about the types of offenses that are run in the NBA and also what David Blatt has planned for the roster this year.

 How Wiggins Fits

Andrew Wiggins shot At the post-draft presser, GM David Griffin said “if Andrew ever finds greatness in this league, it’s going to be as a very big 2-guard.” I thought this was interesting and may not totally mean anything at the start. This could also spell doom for Dion Waiters, but that’s a whole other discussion for a different week. I’m assuming whether or not Waiters is on the team, Wiggins will split time between the 2 and 3 spots on offense (defensively he’ll most likely be able to guard at least three positions, depending on the opponent’s personnel). I think Wiggins would be able to play the 2 spot in “Two Down” where the 2-guard comes off the screen in the frontcourt to spot up for a 3, if he chooses. As I highlighted in Wiggins’s prospect profile a few weeks ago, one of his strengths was playing off the ball. He’s also a pretty good shooter and I think it would be a smart move if he were integrated into the NBA as spot-up shooter/transition player as his main way of getting points. The more things he can do without the ball in his hands (at least right away), the better.

Something else I touched on in that article was that I’d like to see Wiggins use a ball fake more often. Of course, his shooting ability will only take the effectiveness of this move so far, but it would go a long way in terms of improving his already-solid ability to drive.

Another thing I think Blatt should implement with the Cavs is backdoor passing from the bigs to the wings. Keeping Spencer Hawes, who has a knack for finding open teammates, would make this work. We saw this a little bit with Luol Deng last year, but pairing Hawes with Wiggins could make for some easy buckets.

How Harris Fits

Joe harris shot Virginia sharpshooter Joe Harris was taken 33rd overall with what turned out to be the Cavs’ first of two picks in the 2nd round. I wasn’t entirely familiar with his game, but the name I knew from somewhere. When I looked him up, I remembered. He was the dude that kept taking shots from deep against Clemson (who’s basketball and football programs I follow). Harris shot 4-9 from 3 in that game, one of which put the VACavs (I’ll just call them this to avoid confusion) up by four with three minutes and some change left in the game.

After reading more on Harris, it turns out he was Virginia’s go-to sharpshooter for all four years of his collegiate career. He averaged 4.8 3’s per game for his career, making just about 41% of them. There’s no doubt this is what he was drafted to do for the CLECavs.

David Griffin said Harris was a “hell of a pin-down shooter, really good off of screens, a very tough kid, (and) an overachieving personality type.” To me, that fits the 2-guard in Blatt’s ideology above to a tee. I said Wiggins would be a good contender for being the 2-guard coming off screens, well Harris was in all likelihood brought in to do just that. It would be a huge help to the Cavs’ floor spacing if he could keep shooting at a 40% clip from long-range. Of course there are adjustments that he’ll have to make, i.e. the longer NBA 3, but Harris also has a length advantage if he is to play as a 6’6 guard.

As an aside, it sounds like Harris has great intangibles too, which could help his value as a high 2nd round pick. Nbadraft.net’s “Outlook” on Harris sounds somewhat like CLECavs guard Matthew Dellavedova, who, despite huge athletic limitations, made a name for himself on the team because of his intangibles – I mean, this guy was asked to guard Kevin freaking Durant for crying out loud. If Harris can bring the same intensity as “Delly,” on top of having great shooting ability, he has a chance to fit Griffin’s goal to “under-promise and over-deliver,” just like Delly did as an undrafted free agent.

How Powell Fits

(I know this is just a workout, but man, he moves and shoots like a small forward during it.)

Technically, until July 10th, Dwight Powell isn’t quite a Cav. But draft day trades are almost always approved. With that, I’m going to talk about him like he’s on the Cavs for the sake of this article. The Cavs must really like Powell because they traded away Cavaliers legend Alonzo Gee and also acquired the contract of Brendan Haywood (who most are assuming won’t even play in a Cavs uniform).

As I said in my draft recap a few days ago, the only real exposure I’ve had with Powell was when Stanford beat Kansas in the NCAA Tournament this past year (he had a block on Andrew Wiggins). If Powell ends up making the team, he will have earned it with a log jam right now at power forward with Thompson, Anthony Bennett, and Anderson Varejao (depending on who’s on the floor with him). Although, maybe Blatt could operate under these circumstances by playing the 6’11 Powell at center some. I’ve linked this article by A.J. Mitnick before when Blatt was officially hired. In it he says some things about how he ran his offense at Maccabi Tel Aviv that makes me think there was a good reason the Cavs traded to get Powell: “This season’s Maccabi Tel Aviv team has gone through the season without a traditional power forward in its rotation, playing wing oriented players at the four position. While many viewed Maccabi’s lack of a power forward as a disadvantage, Coach Blatt implemented a system that resembles that of the current Miami Heat, and the Brooklyn Nets since New Year’s Eve.” Ironically, nbadraft.net compares Powell to Nets center Miles Plumlee.

Powell’s strengths seem to be his athleticism, face-up game from the post, and feel for the game. Adam Ganeles of nbadraft.net also seems perplexed at the lack of development from Powell over his 4-year collegiate career. Unless he sees a huge spike in his progression, I think Blatt could get Powell to be a pretty good role player. Though he won’t be a prototypical big man who performs back-to-the-basket post moves or protects the rim, it sounds as if he’ll be able to do the things that will fit this offense – which will likely include passing the ball and spreading the floor. Powell has the potential to have deep range, shooting 35% from 3 in his last two years at Stanford. Powell might turn into a nice consolation prize should the Cavs lose out on Spencer Hawes.

With the NBA Summer League starting a week from Independence Day, I cannot be more excited for “meaningless” scrimmages. Coach Blatt decided he will coach the Cavs during that time as well, so we’ll get to see the initial stages of what he’ll be like at the helm. If Wiggins, Harris, and Powell play, that should be more fun than allowed during Summer League.

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:

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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

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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:

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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).

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.

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.

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.