As the Cleveland Cavaliers are still trying to fill the void that LeBron James left 2 summers ago, the organization is dissecting each position carefully to ensure that the Cavaliers can build the best team possible.
By “build the best team possible” I’m putting a lot of emphasis on the “team” part of that statement. While already building depth in the guard position with young ball-handlers Kyrie Irving, Daniel Gibson and Ramon Sessions and 8-year veteran Antony Parker, the Cavs now look to fix a problem that dates back to the beginning of last season: finding a “center”.
The physical and tall presence that a center should bring to the court every night is lacking in Cleveland. While Anderson Varejao is playing with a lot of energy, he’s not nearly as tall and physical enough to cover the other centers in the league. Semih Erden, Ryan Hollins and Samardo Samuels are still young and improving, but they have shown no signs of stepping up against another center when he comes in the lane.
Before I contradict myself, I would like to point out that I would rather have a really hard-nosed center on my roster than have a tall center that backs down in the lane. Someone that I think is being overlooked in this next draft class is Cincinnati Bearcat’s power forward Yancy Gates.
So what does drafting a 6-9 power forward have anything to do with fixing the big hole in the middle of Cleveland’s team? As crazy as it sounds, I think the Cavs should snatch Gates in the second round or take the chance that he may become undrafted.
Yes, Gates stock fell as he took a swing at a Xavier basketball player during the closing seconds of the Crosstown Shootout, but I really believe that he was sorry when he aired his apology live in the coming days.
Besides from him showing his worse side and his soft side, Gates is a mean and dominant player, both in the paint and on the boards. Although he has struggled in the games after his six-game suspension, Gates averages over a block a game, about 9 rebounds and 12 points on the season. For the most part, these are his highest numbers during his four years in Cincinnati.
Gates ability to post-up and take a shot outside the key makes him a dual threat to teams, as he already is a menacing dunk artist. Also his knack to hit game winners (usually a center would not get the ball in the clutch) is one thing that sets him apart from almost every other center.
Since the suspension the Bearcats have actually been giving Gates more of a center role, as they look to switch to the four-guard system as much as possible during the course of a game. His scoring may be down for now, but his interior play has improved tremendously.
Weighing in at 260 pounds (Varejao and Samuels also weigh in at 260), Gates is determined to work harder in the gym to build up his muscle mass. This would also increase his physicality as a player too.
My final thought on the Cavs situation when it comes to Yancy Gates is this; Coach Byron Scott has become a lot more accustomed to addressing problems with his players, even though he did not do a good job of it last year. He now has a stern personality at times, showing players that he is not messing around. Scott has the knowledge to form Gates into a center, but a formidable backup plan could be to put him with forward Tristan Thompson and watch the young men blossom.