Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Who will Cavs pick No. 1? Theories abound
By Chad Ford
When the Cavs had the first pick in the 2011 draft, Kyrie Irving didn't find out he was going No. 1 until his name was called by David Stern.
Two years later, the Cavs are back on the clock with the No. 1 pick and they're still not giving any hints on who they'll draft.
But that hasn't stopped rampant speculation around NBA circles about who they'll take No. 1. Over the course of the past few weeks I've heard elaborate theories from NBA scouts, GMs and agents about what the Cavs will do. While I don't particularly put stock in any of these theories, here are the arguments being made:
Argument: The Cavs will take Nerlens Noel with the No. 1 pick
I went into depth on Monday about why I have kept Noel as the No. 1 pick in my mock draft, but I'm also hearing this:
The theory: Cavs GM Chris Grant scouted Noel heavily all year and, for most of the season, Noel was atop their Big Board. Grant also recommended Noel's surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, to Kentucky head coach John Calipari and has been keeping a very close eye on the rehab.
Argument: The Cavs will take Alex Len with the No. 1 pick
Len is the hottest name on the Internet right now thanks to several unsourced reports claiming the Cavs are taking him. Would the Cavs really pull the trigger on Len after just a so-so sophomore season? Here's where the speculation is coming from:
The theory: In early June, the Cavs hired Vitaly Potapenko as a development coach for big men. Potapenko is from the Ukraine. Len is from the Ukraine. People are connecting dots. The reports are also claiming that both Potapenko and former Cavs big man Zydrunas Ilgauskas are pushing hard for Len. Ilgauskas is from Lithuania, not the Ukraine, but you get the picture.
Argument: The Cavs will take Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick
While Bennett isn't getting the buzz at No. 1 that Noel and Len are, the Cavs are considering him despite the fact Bennett doesn't appear to be a great fit in Cleveland. He, too, has a tie to the Cavs, however:
The theory: Head coach Mike Brown is pushing for Bennett. Brown's son, Elijah, was recruited by UNLV last year (but ultimately signed with Butler) and Brown made visits with his son to watch the Running Rebels play. Brown fell in love with Bennett and wants to coach him. He has support in the Cavs' front office, because Bennett might be the most offensively talented player of the top six in the draft and would add scoring punch to the Cavs' offensively challenged frontcourt.
Argument: The Cavs will take Otto Porter with the No. 1 pick
Porter was the guy we had the Cavs taking in our mock drafts before Cleveland landed the No. 1 pick. Is there still a chance he goes No. 1?
The theory: The Cavs have a gaping hole at small forward. Porter is the perfect fit for a team that already has two ball-dominant guards. Porter fits the culture in Cleveland, rates highly on virtually every analytical test and the Cavs still have lingering regret for passing on Harrison Barnes in last year's draft. They see Porter as a perfect fit.
Argument: The Cavs will take Ben McLemore with the No. 1 pick
McLemore was widely regarded as the second- or third-best prospect in the draft for most of the season. His stock has only slipped recently because of some poor workouts and some off-the-court issues involving his representatives.
The theory: The Cavs either believe that Dion Waiters' game is better suited to a sixth-man role or are trying to trade him (I've heard both). They want better shooting in the backcourt, and with an established star already on the team (Irving) they feel the pressure will be off McLemore. McLemore has as much upside as or more upside than anyone in the draft and the Cavs aren't worried about his off-the-court issues.
Argument: The Cavs will take Victor Oladipo with the No. 1 pick
Actually, of all the six players the Cavs are seriously looking at, very few in the league believe they'd take Oladipo at No. 1. There isn't a running theory out there about him going first. So ... here's mine:
The theory: He's my favorite player in the draft and the favorite player of many GMs (see our Secret NBA Draft Big Board for proof). The Cavs have been using the other five players as smoke screens to ferret out trades. But if they can't get a trade, they'll shock the world and take Oladipo. One can dream, can't they?
UPDATE: I finally found a theory on Oladipo for No. 1 that bears repeating. I've heard somewhat convincingly that owner Dan Gilbert loves Oladipo. And then I found out that Oladipo is the only draft prospect that Gilbert follows on Twitter!
Argument: The Cavs will trade the No. 1 pick
There is plenty of evidence that they are trying. And there is plenty of evidence that they really don't have a viable deal so far.
The theory: The reason different names are being floated to the media ("It's going to be Len!" ... "It's going to be Porter!") is because the Cavs are trying to gauge trade interest for the various players at the top of the draft. That's why we are all so confused!