Tag Archives: Rodney Hood

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.

How the 2014 NBA Draft Combine affects the Cleveland Cavaliers

With the NBA Draft Combine taking place in Chicago this week, this seemed like a perfect time to take a closer look at the measurements, workouts and interviews of potential prospects for the Cleveland Cavaliers to consider with their likely 9th pick in the draft.

Last week, I outlined five prospects that would fit well with the Cavs roster: Dario Saric, Jusuf Nurkic, Doug McDermott, James Young and Rodney Hood. Most of the international prospects were highlighted during today’s combine, but unfortunately Saric and Nurkic didn’t attend. McDermott, Young and Hood were here all week though and there are finally some updated measurements for them.

via article.wn.com
via article.wn.com

McDermott’s measurements were a bit of a letdown as he only measured 6’ 6.25” without shoes. I was already hesitant about his defensive abilities in the NBA, so these measurements didn’t help. He’s likely too short to guard NBA power forwards and too slow to guard most small forwards. Due to his lack of lateral quickness, there’s a short list of NBA players that he’d likely be able to guard. There’s no question that he’s extremely talented offensively. He’s very versatile on offense and a great outside shooter. The Cavs desperately need outside shooting and he would provide that. I’m not sure if his positives outweigh his negatives at the next level, however, and I would look at several other prospects over McDermott if the Cavs keep the 9th pick.

Young measured 6’ 6.75” with a 7’ wingspan. At only 18 years of age, Young could potentially still grow some and eventually become a natural small forward. If that were the case, he’d be a good fit for the Cavs, especially if he continues to improve his outside shot. Hood measured 6’ 7.25” without shoes and was up to 208 pounds (last measured around 200 pounds). If he continues to bulk up and improve his defense, Hood would likely be the best small forward option for the Cavs. He’s a tremendous outside shooter–with one of the best performances at the combine–who needs to improve and give much more effort on defense to be a true fit with the Cavs.

One prospect that improved his draft stock at the combine was Adreian Payne. Payne was projected to go in the 20’s of the first round, but his measurements this week might just move him closer to the lottery. Payne measured 6’ 9.75” with a 7’4” wingspan. For comparison, these measurements are just shy of Dwight Howard’s pre-draft measurements from 2004. Basically, this means that Payne could play power forward and some center, which makes him a very dangerous prospect due to his range. We all know that the Cavs new general manager, David Griffin, is all about fit and spacing the floor. Payne would definitely give the team more floor spacing and would contribute rim protection as well. A player with the combination of those two skills is rare and teams with mid to late lottery picks will have to take a long, hard look at Payne. Griffin was at the combine this week and there’s no doubt that Payne will continue to be on his radar over the next month. Tristan Thompson, Spencer Hawes and Anderson Varejao’s futures in Cleveland remain to be seen, but adding Payne to some sort of that mix with Anthony Bennett and Tyler Zeller is a good recipe for a solid frontcourt.

via lansingstatejournal.com
via lansingstatejournal.com

The Cavs are unlikely to retain and sign two rookies from this draft with so much youth already on the roster. Assuming they do keep and sign their 33rd pick, however, there are a few small forward projects that the Cavs could pursue for cheap. Glenn Robinson III’s draft stock has taken quite a hit since last season and it’s entirely possible he falls to the second round. It’s even more possible after he measured just 6’ 6.78” at the combine. Robinson has the potential to become a solid 3 and D guy in the league, but it may take him awhile to get there. With the 33rd pick though, he could be a good value small forward project for the Cavs. Another option could be DeAndre Daniels, a 6’8” small forward who just turned 22 years old. Daniels shot 42% from three this season to help the Uconn Huskies win a national championship. He’d be another good value pick for the Cavs here.

With the draft combine wrapping up this week and just over a month to go until the draft, everything will start to become clearer over the coming weeks. The NBA draft lottery takes place on Tuesday, May 20th, which will better illuminate which prospects make the most sense for each team. The Cavs have a 1.7% chance of winning the lottery and Nick Gilbert won’t be attending this year, so we can go ahead and count on that 9th pick.

The 3 Most Likely Draft Scenarios for the Cleveland Cavaliers

There are 3 scenarios the Cavs are most likely to explore come draft time.

The NBA Draft Combine is less than a week away and representatives from every NBA team will be in Chicago to make some of their final evaluations on the draft prospects. Most of the projected lottery picks will be working out and interviewing in Chicago, but unfortunately for Cleveland Cavaliers fans, Dario Saric, Jusuf Nurkic and Clint Capela won’t be in attendance. These three names have been associated with the Cavs–especially Saric and Nurkic–since it was determined the Cavs are likely to pick ninth and they are likely to be drafted somewhere in that vicinity.

Jusuf Nurkic, via soaringdownsouth.com
Jusuf Nurkic, via soaringdownsouth.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

The five most likely prospects for the Cavs, which I wrote about last week, included Saric, Nurkic, Doug McDermott, James Young and Rodney Hood. Fortunately, McDermott, Young and Hood will be at the Combine. Now, from the vibes given off by Dan Gilbert and David Griffin, it seems as though the Cavs roster will go through some changes this offseason. The magnitude of those changes remains unknown, but with Gilbert placing so much emphasis on winning now and appeasing Kyrie Irving, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were immense.

Whether the Cavs retain their draft pick, whom they draft, and whether that player comes over immediately or is stashed overseas largely depends on the moves the Cavs make (or don’t make) over the next six weeks. For instance, if the Cavs re-sign Spencer Hawes and CJ Miles, but not Luol Deng, then they will have 12 players signed for next season. Most teams have a steady rotation of 12 players or less throughout the season, so it’s highly unlikely that the Cavs bring in two rookies next season. If we assume that the Cavs either trade or buyout Anderson Varejao and end up signing a free-agent small forward, as well as signing their first-round draft pick, then they will be set with 13 players. Carrick Felix likely won’t find his way into the rotation yet, and depending on whom the Cavs sign or obtain through trades, the final two roster spots will probably be minimum deals.

With this current scenario, there are three draft options that would make the most sense for the Cavs. The first is that they draft either Dario Saric or Jusuf Nurkic with the ninth pick and stash him overseas. The Cavs would then roll with Hawes and Tyler Zeller as their centers for next season (possibly picking up a cheap third big). Then, in a year or two, they would have a talented big man coming in and adding to an already solid core.

The second option would be drafting McDermott with the ninth pick. This option would succeed trading Tristan Thompson and moving forward with Anthony Bennett and McDermott as the Cavs’ power forwards. This is the only scenario where I see the Cavs taking McDermott because I’m skeptical of his ability to guard most small forwards in the NBA. I’m also not high on this option because the Cavs’ defense would become much more susceptible in this scenario. McDermott is one of the most gifted offensive players in this draft and could some in and score right away, but his glaring weaknesses make me wary of adding him to this roster.

The third option would be trading back in the draft to acquire a player like Young or Hood. The Cavs could end up using both of their draft picks (9th and early second round) in a trade to acquire a veteran talent and a later pick. For instance, the Cavs could package both of their picks and Varejao to a team looking to move up in the draft. This way, the Cavs could acquire a veteran player and then draft a player like Young or Hood who is likely to go later in the first round. Depending on what the Cavs can get from a team looking to move up in the draft, I’m a big fan of this option. Young or Hood would be solid backup wings with great potential and the Cavs would be adding experience to their young roster as well.

Out of the three options, I would prefer seeing the Cavs go with option one or three. I just explained why I like option three, and option one would allow the Cavs’ core to grow together and likely gain playoff experience while also improving the outlook of their future.

Unless Nick Gilbert does his thing and somehow obtains a top three pick for the Cavs again, they aren’t going to draft a franchise-changing talent. Thus, these three options make the most sense for the Cavs at this point. Everything has been quiet on the Cavs front since their season ended, however, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire landscape changes by the time the draft rolls around.

The 5 Best 2014 Draft Prospects for the Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs will have plenty of options to consider with their first-round draft selection.

 

While NBA fans around the world witness the best first-round of the playoffs that I can ever remember, Cleveland Cavaliers fans are already looking to the draft. With the ninth worst record this season, the Cavs will be picking ninth in the draft unless Nick Gilbert brings them some lottery magic once again.

The eight players most likely to be gone by the time the Cavs pick are: Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Dante Exum, Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh and Aaron Gordon. So, assuming the Cavs have the ninth pick and don’t trade it away, I will outline the players whom are both most likely to be on the board at nine and who fit well with the Cavs roster.

Cavs Draft Prospects:

 

Dario Saric, PF (6’10”, 223) – The Croatian forward just turned 20 years old and led Cibona to an Adriatic League Championship. He was named the MVP of the tournament and seemed very confident in his abilities. Saric is an interesting prospect. He withdrew from last year’s draft at the last minute and still sounds unsure of when he’ll actually play in the NBA. According to DraftExpress’ conversation with Saric’s agent, Misko Raznatovic, “He cannot wait to become a NBA player, and this is his ultimate goal. He will be in the league no later than 2016, and with good chances to start earlier.” Unless a team is willing to stash Saric for two years, this could be a tough pick to make in the lottery. There’s no doubt about his talent and potential though. Saric has impressive offensive versatility for a big man and has improved his outside shot over the past year. He has a good-looking stroke and shot very well from three throughout Cibona’s run to a championship. He uses his size well, which makes him a talented rebounder and defender. He also appears to have good court vision and great passing instincts, especially from the post. One of the most surprising facets of Saric’s game is his lateral quickness. He does well at staying in front of his man on defense and is a good shot-blocker. He also has a good handle for his size, which makes him an intriguing small forward prospect. I still see him as a power forward in the NBA, but playing some small forward isn’t out of the question. The Cavs will obviously need to have deep discussions with him to attempt to determine exactly when he plans on actually coming to the NBA, but he’s a great option with the ninth pick.

Jusuf Nurkic, via Deia.com
Jusuf Nurkic, via Deia.com

Jusuf Nurkic, C (6’11”, 280) – One of the most intriguing prospects in this draft, the 19-year-old Bosnian has caught everyone’s attention with his efficient play in the Adriatic League. In just 16 minutes per game, he averaged 13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. He also shot 63% from 2-point range, 33% from three and 80% from the foul line. He’s a physically dominating presence down low who is likely still developing. He has good scoring instincts and immense potential on the offensive end due to his size and ability to hit outside shots. He also uses his size to rebound and defend at a good rate with the potential to become elite at both. With a 7’2” wingspan, soft touch and excellent spin moves; Nurkic could both dominate down low and run the pick-and-roll exceptionally well. He needs to continue improving his spot-up jumpers, but he has all the potential to become an absolute dominate NBA center on both ends of the court in due time. I doubt he’ll come to the NBA next season, but he’d be a fantastic draft-and-stash pick for the Cavs.

Doug McDermott, PF (6’8”, 225) ­­–Dougie McBuckets is a player I’m very wary about at the next level. While he and Saric could both possibly play some small forward, I still see them as mainly power forwards, which the Cavs have plenty of at the moment. McDermott is a born scorer. He has tremendous offensive versatility and range, as well as impressive efficiency from all over the court. One thing he’ll definitely be able to do in the NBA is shoot. The thing that worries me is he appears too slow to guard most small forwards and too small to stop most power forwards. He isn’t athletic or a great rebounder, but he does have a high basketball IQ and is constantly aware and competitive. There’s no doubt he’ll work hard to improve his current deficiencies and the Cavs could use his scoring and shooting, but I don’t see him as a very good fit in Cleveland right now.

James Young, SG/SF (6’7”, 215) – Young will turn 19-years-old right before the start of next season and has some of the biggest potential of all the wings in this draft. He has a 6”11” wingspan and should be able to play a lot of small forward at the next level as his frame continues to grow. Young attempted more spot-up jumpers than any college player this season. His size and quick release allow him to get his shot off over most defenders, but he needs to work on his shot selection and decision-making. He shot 35% from deep this season, but his efficiency should improve playing alongside NBA playmakers. He isn’t very explosive, but was able to get to the rim, finish inside and rebound due to his size (will be tougher for him to do in the NBA). Young is a poor defender and hasn’t developed the ability to consistently create his own shot yet. With two ball-dominant guards in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, the Cavs need a wing that can primarily knock down spot-up jumpers. Young has the ability to do that right away, but will need to improve in many other areas to consistently see the court. The potential is there for the young player.

Rodney Hood, via maizeandgoblue.com
Rodney Hood, via maizeandgoblue.com

Rodney Hood, SF (6’8”, 200) – I am higher on Hood than most, but he is one of the best fits for what the Cavs immediately need to improve. Hood is similar to Young, but will need to bulk up some. He also is a better three-point shooter, hitting 42% of his threes for Duke this season. He has excellent shooting form, deep range and can spot-up or shoot off the dribble. He’s efficient, has great court-vision and a low turnover rate. Similar to Young, his defense needs drastic improvement. Unlike Young, however, he only has a 6’8” wingspan and will turn 22 after the start of next season. He doesn’t have quite the potential ability to improve as much on the defensive end, but there’s no doubt his effort can be improved. The Cavs desperately need a long wing that can play off the ball and knock down spot-up threes. Hood can immediately do exactly that. Everything else will be a work-in-progress, but Hood would be an immediate fit with the Cavs without making them much younger.

 

 

These are the most likely prospects for the Cavs in the upcoming NBA draft. If they want to use their ninth pick to draft-and-stash a talented euro big with immense potential, they’ll take Saric or Nurkic. If they end up trading Tristan Thompson or think McDermott can play small forward, they’ll likely go with him for immediate help next season. If they want to fill their greatest need and obtain immediate help at the wing next season, they’ll trade back in the draft and pick either Young or Hood.

Important Upcoming Dates and Decisions for the Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers have some important decisions coming up over the next few months.

 

As another year seemingly flies by at full-speed, May is already almost upon us. This means that the NBA playoffs are in full swing and the NBA Combine is slowly approaching. So far, the first-round of this year’s playoffs has been the most exciting opening round in recent memory. Immense upsets appear to be on the horizon and there’s been a plethora of exciting overtimes. The best part for Cleveland Cavaliers fans, however, might be the simple distraction from a frustrating regular season and the ability to watch top-notch basketball.

Cavs fans can forget about the current state of their team for several weeks and simply enjoy basketball being played at the highest level. Then, after the playoffs have concluded and a team has been crowned champion (hopefully not the Miami Heat), everyone can turn their focus to the NBA draft taking place on June 26th. I have already begun to dive into all of the draft prospects that have declared for this heavily acclaimed draft and will be taking a deeper-look at some of these prospects next week.

Cavstheblog.com
Cavstheblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am also planning on attending the NBA Combine May 14-18 in Chicago to get a closer look at some of the prospects. With the Cavs most-likely drafting somewhere in the 9th-12th range this year, I will be sure to observe and detail the prospects likely to get drafted in those spots and have a write-up posted here about them that week. After the combine has concluded and NBA executives have been able to evaluate all of the prospects, the NBA Lottery will take place on May 20th. After guaranteeing that the Cavs wouldn’t be back in the lottery this year, Dan Gilbert finds his team doing exactly that. It has to be embarrassing sending his son, Nick Gilbert, back to the lottery once again, but with the luck he’s brought over the past few years, it seems like a given that he’ll make another appearance. This time, however, the Cavs only have a 1.7 percent chance of obtaining the number one pick and a 6.1 percent chance of picking in the top three.

As of right now, it seems likely that the Cavs would be drafting 9th overall in this year’s draft. The prospects most likely to be there at 9th that also fit the Cavs’ needs are Rodney Hood, James Young, Clint Capela, Jusuf Nurkic, Nik Stauskas, Dario Saric and Doug McDermott. As an already very young team, the Cavs should be looking to add veteran talent over additional youth. This means that it’s possible the Cavs end up using their lottery pick in a trade for a proven player. On the other hand, adding someone like Hood–who will be 22 years old when next season commences–wouldn’t make the team that much younger. For instance, he’s only seven months younger than Kyrie Irving.

The Cavs will have plenty of options to consider with their lottery pick, and like I said earlier, I will go into more detail about the draft prospects in the coming weeks. Before the Cavs can address all of those decisions though, they will need to determine the status of David Griffin and Mike Brown. The Cavs will have to decide whether to name Griffin the permanent GM of the franchise and follow his direction into the future, as well whether to keep Brown on as head coach. Personally, I feel as though Gilbert will retain both of them for next season. A young team like the Cavs needs continuity in order to grow and become successful. Part of that continuity comes from keeping their young core together and the other part comes from keeping the coaching staff together. Now, obviously Brown has some holes in his offensive strategies and those need to be improved for next season. Still, it would have to be hard on young players like Irving to go through three coaches in four years. If you look at most of the teams in the playoffs right now, they have continuity. Most of their cores have been playing together for many years and have also grown accustomed to their coaching staffs. I’m not the biggest fan of Brown and I haven’t seen much from Griffin yet, but I am a big believer in continuity.

After these personnel decisions have been made, the Cavs will focus on contract negotiations with Irving and Tristan Thompson. Those will be two huge, ongoing points of the summer for Cavs fans to follow. Once those are wrapped up (by October at the latest) and the Cavs have completed their draft/trades/free agent signings, fans will have a pretty clear picture of where this team is heading over the next couple of years. Gilbert will undoubtedly declare that the Cavs will not return to the NBA Lottery for quite some time. Let’s hope he’s right this time.

Guide to the Cleveland Cavaliers Offseason and Draft

Cleveland Cavaliers look to the future after being eliminated from the playoffs.

 

Cleveland.com
Cleveland.com

After a dreadfully slow start to the season for the Cleveland Cavaliers–and constantly toying with fan’s emotions–they are now officially eliminated from the playoffs. With only one week left to the season, it appears that the Atlanta Hawks should have the eighth-seed in the Eastern Conference locked up. The only question remaining for Cleveland is whether they finish in 9th or 10th place in the East (currently 1 ½ games behind the New York Knicks). The Cavs take on the Bucks tonight in Milwaukee and then conclude the season at home with the Boston Celtics tomorrow and the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.

 

 

 

Now that the Cavs are eliminated, we can all turn our focus to the offseason and the upcoming draft. One of the biggest questions to be answered this summer is whether Kyrie Irving signs a max-extension. He’ll initially be able to sign after July 1st, but has until October to make his decision. I wholeheartedly think he’ll sign the max, but there’s no doubt constant questions will be flying his way this summer until he does.

 

There’s also been a great deal of talk about the Cavs making a big splash via trade and/or free agency before the draft, partly due to their underachieving this season in the owner’s eyes. I’ll go ahead and break down some likely scenarios regarding who will remain on the roster for next season, some trade targets, and smart draft choices.

 

Hypothetically, if the Cavs re-sign Hawes for $8 million and Miles for $4 million, this would put the team total at just over $44 million. Once you add in Dellavedova and Felix’s minimum salaries, it would put them close to $46 million with 11 players signed.  Assuming they pick around tenth in the draft this year and sign that player, that would be an extra $2 million (approximately), making the total $48 million. The salary cap is likely to be around $60 million next season, which would give them approximately $12 million to work with before going over the cap and approximately $22 million before exceeding the luxury tax. This means that they would be able to offer a max-contract to a free agent. Assuming Deng leaves, filling the starting small forward position should be the priority. After signing their rookie and free agent, the Cavs would have 13 players signed and approximately $68 million invested.

 

If all of that comes to fruition, the Cavs would only need to fill the roles of small forward and backup center. Zeller could step in as the backup to Hawes, allowing the Cavs to sign a cheap third big. That would also allow them to use nearly $20 million to lure an all-star caliber small forward. Obviously LeBron James would be the number one target for every team here. With ties to Cleveland and ESPN constantly bringing it up, it makes sense financially and roster-wise for him. I have my doubts about this though and will take a look at a few other free agent small forwards that the Cavs could target.

 

After LeBron (unlikely) and Carmelo Anthony (not happening), the Cavs could target Gordon Hayward, Lance Stephenson, Trevor Ariza or re-sign Deng. Hayward is a good shooter with good size who can also pass and rebound. His shooting percentages have been down this season, but I think they would improve if better players surrounded him. The Cavs could use his shooting and he’d be a good plan B or C. He’s making just under $3.5 million this season, but will likely be asking for over $10 million next season. Stephenson has exceeded expectations the last couple of years and plays a big part in Indiana’s success. He’s averaging over 14 points, 5 assists and 7 rebounds this season. He’s not a great three-point shooter, but improves every year. He would give the Cavs much-needed scoring and toughness, and would likely only cost between $8-12 million. Ariza has similar stats to Stephenson with better three-point shooting (best year of his career at 42%). Ariza has pleasantly surprised me this season and seems to be better as a role player. The Cavs could probably sign him for around $10-12 million/year. If the Cavs aren’t able to sign one of these guys, they could still look at trying to re-sign Deng for around $12-14 million/year. Signing any of these guys would keep the Cavs closer to $60 million rather than $70 million.

 

The Cavs added some floor spacing with Spencer Hawes. Irving, Miles, Waiters and Karasev are also all capable three-point shooters. Still, I would like the Cavs to have at least one more efficient, long-range shooter. They could explore a trade for Denver’s Randy Foye, who is a combo guard able to score, set up teammates, and shoot fairly efficiently (38% from three). The Nuggets could trade Foye and use their exception from Andre Igoudala for Jack. Aaron Brooks is a free agent after this season and Nate Robinson has a player option for Denver. They could use Jack as their backup point guard behind Ty Lawson, and the Cavs could use Foye as a backup point guard/shooting guard. The best part for the Cavs would be that Foye makes less than half of Jack’s salary and there’s a team option after next season.

 

Another player that the Cavs should pursue come next season’s trade deadline is Kevin Love. Now, obviously many teams will be trying to lure Love away from Minnesota, and it’s likely he would favor a large market, but the Cavs should still make an attempt. If Minnesota gets the sense that Love isn’t going to re-sign after next season, they may look to see what they can get for him before he bolts in the offseason. The Cavs could potentially offer Thompson and Jack for Love, which works financially. This is a lopsided trade for Cleveland, but if Minnesota gets desperate at the deadline, it’s a possibility. The Timberwolves might prefer Bennett, Waiters and Karasev, which would also work financially. Love would provide the Cavs with even more spacing, a dominant rebounding presence and another star to pair with Irving.

 

The final aspect of the Cavs management that I will focus on is the upcoming draft. The Cavs are currently 32-47, which is good for the tenth worst record in the league. Assuming the Cavs pick somewhere in the 8th-12th range, I will outline some of the best options.

 

Rodney Hood is a 6”8” small forward who could backup whichever starting small forward the Cavs sign in the offseason. He is a very good catch-and-shoot player and shot 42% from three with Duke this season. He’s long, good defensively and should be able to guard multiple positions. Once he adds some bulk, he has the potential to be a very good player.

 

James Young is 6”7 and could play either shooting guard or small forward in the NBA. He’s long with a solid frame and has good defensive potential. He plays with a lot of energy and gets his teammates involved. He shot 34% from three this season for Kentucky and has the potential to improve from that area. He could be an intriguing wing for the Cavs to consider.

 

Dario Saric is a 6”10”, 220-pound Croatian combo forward who is about to turn 20 years old. He’s versatile on the offensive end and can hit the three. He’s a talented passer, ball-handler, rebounder and has good court vision, as well as promising upside. Depending on whom the Cavs sign in the offseason, this could be a great draft-and-stash pick for Cleveland, assuming Saric doesn’t come to the NBA right away.

 

Jusuf Nurkic is another interesting draft-and-stash option for the Cavs. He’s a 6”11”, 280-pound center who is only 19 years old. He averages 12 points, 6 rebounds and a steal in 16 minutes per game in the Adriatic league this season. He has great scoring instincts, promising rebounding ability and great defensive potential. He’s an efficient scorer, and really an efficient player all around due to his limited minutes. I fully believe Zeller is capable of being the Cavs main backup center next season, so Nurkic could be a great stash for the Cavs and give them a lot to look forward to in the future, when they are truly ready to compete.

 

Willie Cauley-Stein is a much more developed center who could help the Cavs right away. He’s 7’, 240-pounds and an intimidating defensive force. He shoots 60% from the field with over 6 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. He would instantly improve Cleveland’s interior defense and rim-protection, but has a ways to go on the offensive end. He has a high motor and would bring a great deal of energy off the bench. One of his main flaws is his abysmal free throw shooting (48%), which would have to be greatly improved. If the Cavs desire to add a third big who can help contribute right away, this is their best option at the end of the lottery.

 

Re-signing, signing and drafting the players I discussed would put the Cavs’ roster at 13 players and somewhere between $58-$68 million. The Cavs’ young core would remain intact, a veteran starting small forward would be added, a shooter or two could be added, and a promising rookie would join the squad (either this year or in the future). It’s still early and a lot of variables could change, but this is the foundation the Cavs will be building on for the near future.