When the NBA Draft finally goes down on June 27th, the Cavaliers will (as you should know by now) hold the No. 1 pick. That pick is likely to be either Kentucky center Nerlens Noel or Georgetown small forward Otto Porter. 18 picks later, thanks to the Los Angeles Lakers for making the playoffs, the Cavaliers pick again at number 19 overall. That pick will eventually dictate how this draft grades out a few years down the road. If Chris Grant and his staff are able to snag a future starter or key reserve, then this draft will likely be viewed as a huge success. But if the pick ends up wasted, then this draft could result in another “what if” moment for Cleveland sports.
Historically, solid role players like Jamaal Magloire and NBA starters like Zach Randolph have been drafted at this selection. On the flip side, duds like Sasha Pavlovic (yes, that Sasha Pavlovic) and alleged gang member Javaris Crittenton have also been taken in this spot. When the Cavaliers last selected here, they selected J.J. Hickson, who has become a solid player in the league after a rough start.
Even with the duds, there is a real chance here for the Cavaliers to pick up a key role player that will join the young core led by Kyrie Irving. That is proven greatly by the last three years.
2012: Andrew Nicholson, PF, Orlando Magic
Career stats: 75 GP, 7.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 52.7 percent shooting, 16.7 MPG
Nicholson, not unlike Cavaliers center Tyler Zeller, came into the NBA largely developed as a player and quickly established himself as a role player for the lowly Magic. Even if he doesn’t ultimately develop into a starter, he’s going to have a real place in this league as a role player and a key big off the bench. That’s pretty good for a pick outside of the lottery.
2011: Tobias Harris, SF, Milwaukee Bucks
Career Stats: 97 GP, 8.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 45.8 percent shooting, 18.3 MPG
Harris, now a teammate of Nicholson in Orlando, only played 27 games last season but did average 17.3 points in those outings. He has developed into a nice player and looks to have a bright future in this league as a point forward type player. If he ends up averaging 17 points and 6-plus rebounds, that’s very good value from the 19th overall pick.
2010: Avery Bradley, PG, Boston Celtics
Career Stats: 145 GP, 6.9 PPG, 1.4 APG, 43.8 percent shooting, 20.4 MPG
Bradley’s offensive numbers won’t jump off the page at you, but he’s definitely the type of player every team needs because of his tenacious defense. Replacing Tony Allen as Boston’s defensive specialist, Bradley has carved out a real niche for himself in the league. It’s entirely possible that he never becomes a top-10 point guard in this league, but that’s okay. He can defend both the point and off guard while also committing few turnovers. He’s essentially the defensive version of Nate Robinson. I’d love for the Cavaliers to have a player like Bradley on the roster.
The 2013 Draft
As for this year’s draft, there are going to be some quality players available at 19 overall. If the Cavaliers elect to go with Noel at the top of the draft, then wings like Sergey Karasev and Dario Saric are going to get hard looks from the Cavaliers. IF they want to select an athletic tweener, Tony Mitchell could be the guy. And if they look to reach a little bit, names like CJ Leslie, Reggie Bullock and DeShaun Thomas could get the call. If the Cavaliers take Otto Porter, bigs like Gorgui Dieng, Kelly Olynyk and Jeff Withey could be targeted. All in all, there is a real chance for the Cavaliers to select a good role player at the nineteenth overall pick. As history shows, it’s entirely possible.