A lot of Cleveland Cavaliers fans are saying that life for the Wine and Gold would be a lot easier if they didn’t have the No. 1 pick. Some people may be reading this and thinking out loud, “Whatatatatatatat???” But this is a very true statement, as many are saying that since a lot of fans were thinking before that they wanted to, at best, land Otto Porter, having the chance to take a gamble on a player like Nerlens Noel seems like just too Cleveland of a thing to do. What happens if he doesn’t even get to play this season and the Cavaliers, once again, don’t improve on their standing in the Eastern Conference? This team can’t afford to wait in turmoil for another year while their star player gets frustrated with injuries and losing, and I’m not too sure if I’m totally sold on Noel now.
Passing on a player like Porter, who many believe isn’t worth a No. 1 pick value, could mean that he would land at No. 3 to the Washington Wizards – a team that is in a very similar rebuilding process to the Cleveland Cavaliers. How similar? Look at the future offensive building blocks for this team and their stats over during their time in the NBA:
Kyrie Irving – 110 GP, 20.6 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 45.9 FG%, 39.4 3P%, 86.2 FT%
John Wall – 184 GP, 16.9 PPG, 8.0 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 42.3 FG%, 24.3 3P%, 78.5 FT%
Dion Waiters – 61 GP, 14.7 PPG, 3.0 APG, 2.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 41.2 FG%, 31.0 3P%, 74.6 FT%
Bradley Beal – 56 GP, 13.9 PPG, 2.4 APG, 3.8 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 41.0 FG%, 38.6 3P%, 78.6 FT%
Now I really like Beal and I think he will turn into a great NBA player someday, as he has the tangibles to be a definite NBA All-Star. I feel the same way with Harrison Barnes, but I can’t just keep drumming up “what ifs?” I can look into the future and see how possible scenarios will work out for teams rebuilding in a similar way if the Cavaliers go with who most draft experts have at the top of their boards in Nerlens Noel. I will come up with three different scenarios (with the Orlando Magic selecting Trey Burke at No. 2 to make things less confusion due to Trevor’s pick in the RDE Mock Draft), and then I will let you decide if you could see one of those scenarios better benefiting the Cavaliers. Here is how I will rank Cleveland’s choice to pass on Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo and Ben McLemore and how their decision to take Nerlens Noel will make a team with a similar rebuilding model leaps and bounds better:
1.0/5.0 – 0-5 game win differential (between Washington and Cleveland and favoring the Wizards next season)
2.0 – 6-8 game win differential
3.0 – 9-12 game win differential
4.0 – 13-15 game win differential
5-0 – 15+ game win differential
1. Otto Porter becomes third cog in Washington’s Big Three rebuilding model – I think this is the worst-case scenario for the Cavs if they were to let Porter slip to No. 3 to the Wizards. This team is a few bench parts and cleaning up away, just like Cleveland, from being a threat to a lower playoff spot. People are speculating that by Dan Gilbert saying that Cleveland will be in the playoffs next season means that they won’t draft a player that would not be able to start the season. This could very well mean that the Cavs will pass on Noel, a player who may be ready to go until December and will probably have lost a lot of strength and weight by then, because of the uncertainties that surround him. You pretty much know what you’re going to get with Porter; his size and length will allow him to dominate the perimeter in all phases of the game, his high motor and athleticism, his ability to score both inside and outside and his quasi-positional nature. If Porter slips to the Wizards, then they would immediately become mentioned among teams with the best backcourts. We can switch these fortunes, of course, and there are very few questions surrounding Porter’s jump to the League.
How much will it affect the Cavs?: 4.5
2. Victor Oladipo sparks Washington bench with stellar defense and consistent scoring – If the Wizards were to make Oladipo’s new home Washington, I would assume that he would be slotted behind Bradley Beal instead of leapfrogging him for the starting position or creating a three-guard starting lineup. Now Washington’s bench ranked 10th overall in bench offense and 12th overall in bench defense and they won’t be losing too many of their “pieces” (if you even want to classify them as future pieces), but these aren’t guys that Washington will be looking to lockup long term. Oladipo would keep Washington’s bench solidified and would compliment a player like Beal extremely well. With that said, I think he would be a much better compliment to Dion. I’m not sure if Dion’s defense is going to develop into starter quality, so having an aggressive and unafraid young player like Dion backing him up will only make Dion’s love with pulling the trigger become a higher percentage shot. But, if Cleveland were to not listen to Dan Pilar and were to let Oladipo slip, then the Wine and Gold would be missing out on a perfectly good chance to up Cleveland’s middle rank in oppenent’s bench points per game.
How much will it affect the Cavs?: 2.0
3. Ben McLemore creates a three-guard starting lineup in Washington – McLemore has been argued as this draft’s most talented prospect and best shooter, so he’s going to make any team better no matter what situation he is put in. I think he’s best suited as a starter, and since Washington doesn’t want to slide Beal – who played great when he wasn’t injured and was playing with John Wall last season – to the bench, then they would have to resort to this three-guard set. I recently read an article in SLAM Magazine detailing the rise of NBA superstar Kevin Durant. The intro to the story included anecdotes from Durant and former No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden, and the reason this specific author thought Durant should’ve gone No. 1 was because of his response to a question asking why he should be the No. 1 pick (at the time). You can read for yourself here about Durant, but the reason why I bring that up is because of McLemore’s latest answer to a question about his drive: “I know deep down inside I can take over games. I know I have that dog in me to take over games.” McLemore, as a shooter, only struggled with long-range twos, which are usually undesirable shots to take in the first place. How he faded when Big 12 play started is concerning, but it was mainly just a decrease of shots that he put up between that time and the NCAA tournament. If he can keep that Ray Allen-like stroke up at a consistent pace, then we will see McLemore flourish as one of the best young shooters in the NBA. He would stretch the Washington offense, and Cleveland would miss out on brining in the most talented (and healthy) player in the draft in my opinion.
How much will it affect the Cavs?: 3.5
I still have Noel atop my board, but he’s hanging on by a thread. By my scores, I have Porter, McLemore then Oladipo trailing the Kentucky big in that order. In my opinion, picking Porter would improve Cleveland’s win total the most. He would be able to start right away on our roster as well, and would send a great defender in Alonzo Gee to the bench (so we’d somewhat be making up for some of the defense Oladipo would bring to our bench). Gee flourished on the bench when he was fighting to take Omri Casspi’s starting job two seasons ago. With the time he receives as a starter on this team, he’s just not getting the job done for the amount of minutes that he logs every night (31.0 MPG with a PER of 10.56). I’ll have a piece up on here in the next couple days detailing my ever-changing thoughts on what Cleveland should do with the No. 1 pick, but for now leave comments below trying to further convince me that one of the three aforementioned players in this post is a better option than Nerlens.