For all but the select few that still watch the NBA religiously, basketball is owned by the NCAA Tournament this time of year.
And rightfully so. I would argue that it may be the biggest spectacle in all of sports. I got the chance to witness that first hand last weekend as my George Mason Patriots traveled to Cleveland, played in the Q, and competed in March Madness. It’s a special time of year. It really is.
But it’s also a time for NBA fans across the world to get the opportunity to see some young kids play ball and make their decisions on who their beloved NBA franchise should take in the draft. I know, personally, I’ve run through a variety of different scenarios through which the Cavaliers could snag Jared Sullinger and Kemba Walker. Or how they could snag Derrick Williams and Kyrie Irving. All probably impossible – or at least improbable – scenarios, but scenarios nonetheless.
With Sullinger’s most recent announcement that he will not be declaring for the NBA draft following the Buckeyes’ season-ending loss to Kentucky last night, his recruitment will likely have to wait another year. But supposing he is the only one that makes that decision, the Cavaliers are still set up pretty well to obtain some difference makers early in the draft.
–My personal favorite, after watching the tournament, is Arizona Wildcats swingman / power-forward Derrick Williams. Williams will likely play the three-spot at the next level, but he has a very high ceiling. He is extremely athletic, very long and can run the floor and finish with the best at the collegiate ranks. He would be an absolute dream in Byron Scott’s Princeton style offense. Defensively, he’s got significant upside but definitely has some work to do. He could be a special player and would be an outstanding pick early in the draft for the Cavs.
–Assuming Jared Sullinger is telling the truth, the next best option for the Cavaliers would be either Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker. I do like the Baron Davis / Ramon Sessions combo on this team right now, but Davis could be a valuable trade piece. His skill-set does not fit this team, especially at his age. Irving or Walker could step in and make an impact right away – the same way John Wall has in Washington. Quite honestly, I think both Irving and Walker could be better than Wall. Both guys are much more efficient scoring the basketball and Walker, especially, has proven this month that he is a big time player. He’s clutch.
–JaJuan Johnson from Purdue may be the third best option on the board for the Cavs. He is long, athletic, can block shots and can finish at the rim as well as anyone in the country. He would be a valuable asset in Scott’s system, working with Anderson Varejao underneath. A starting front court consisting of Varejao, Johnson and Derrick Williams could be potent for years to come – if both of those pan out like I expect.
The Cavaliers are definitely in prime position to make a splash in the NBA draft this offseason. They could acquire some very dangerous weapons, making them a much better team for the 2011-12 season.