The Cavs are at a pivotal point in their rebuilding process, which continues at the NBA Draft on Thursday, live on ESPN. Last year, the Cavs took Kyrie Irving at number one, and he became the successor to LeBron James as the Cavs leading man. So if we go back to 2004, the year after the Cavs took LeBron, and look at who the Cavs took to compliment their then superstar, you’ll see they took Luke Jackson, a small forward from Oregon who went on to average 2.8 points in two seasons as a Cavalier. Obviously, that pick was a waste and it’s a mistake the Cavs probably don’t want to make again on Thursday. That considered, let’s take a look at who I think the Cavs will take on Thursday and who I think the Cavs should take.
Who the Cavs will take: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina, 6’8, 250 LBS
Harrison Barnes is an intriguing prospect for several reasons. Coming out of Ames (IA) High School, Barnes was rated the number one prospect in country over such players as Kyrie Irving, Jared Sullinger, and Tristan Thompson. He played two seasons at North Carolina where he didn’t quite live up to expectations, but he did average a solid 16.5 points a game on 43.7% shooting in college.
Barnes is undoubtedly talented – he was the best player on a North Carolina team that included Kendall Marshall, Tyler Zeller,, and John Henson, all who could be lottery picks. He was also a second team All-American and First Team All-ACC this past season. He could easily become a Danny Granger type player who is capable of putting up 25+ a night.
My problem with Barnes is that he didn’t rebound or assist well in college, as he only averaged 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in two seasons of college play. Those stats don’t bode well for the NBA, and he’d have to show drastic improvement in those areas in order to become a bona fide kick to Irving.
It’s likely that they Cavs will take Barnes, as they are rumored to be in love with him as a player. He is definitely an improvement over Alonzo Gee at the three, and would fit in nice, but he’s not the guy I’d take.
Who I’d take: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky, 6’7, 233 LBS
I’ll be honest: I love Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as a basketball player. He’s a hard worker, plays solid defense, rebounds exceptionally well for a small forward, and is only going to get better. He’s not great on offense – yet – but he is good at driving and cutting to the basket, as well as finishing in transition. He’d be great as a small forward in Cleveland, providing the Cavs with an upgrade at a position that understandably hasn’t been the same since LeBron left two summers ago.
Kidd-Gilchrist definitely will have to improve his shooting, as he only shot at a 25.5% clip from three-point range. He did, however, shoot at a 49.1% clip overall, as well as 53.5% from two point range, both of which are better than Barnes’s stats of 43.7% from the field and 46.9% from two point range. Kidd-Gilchrist also is more versatile than Barnes, as he could play either the two or three in the NBA.
The only other player who may be available for the Cavs to take that I really like is Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal. It may come down to what kind of player the Cavs want – a more talented Andre Iguodala in Kidd-Gilchrist, a Granger type in Barnes, or a Ray Allen type in Beal. They decision will probably be made for them, as the Bobcats and Wizards will probably take at least one of those players before the Cavs pick at number four. But either way, the Cavs will be adding a quality player to the mix – I just hope it’s Kidd-Gilchrist.
Final Predictions for the Cavs
Pick #1 (Fourth Overall) –Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
Pick #2 (Twenty-Fourth Overall) – Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
Pick #3 (Thirty-Third Overall) – John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt
Pick #4 (Thirty-Fourth Overall) – Miles Plumlee, C. Duke