With the buzz around the 2013 NBA Draft settling down as free agency gets ready to take over the NBA summer, it is now time to reflect on how well the Cleveland Cavaliers did in the draft and how the experts graded Cleveland’s draft. Grades from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and Yahoo! Sports are used in comparison as to how well we thought the Cavs fared on Thursday night with their three new additions and trade with the Portland Trail Blazers. We will be giving grades for each individual pick and an overall grade of the Cavs’ draft. Before we get started, here is how the four aforementioned publications graded Cleveland’s 2013 draft class:
The Cavs kept everyone in suspense for six weeks. They talked trades with everyone. They wrung their hands over whom to take. And then they shocked just about everyone by taking Bennett with the No. 1 pick. I understand the reasoning. Cleveland wanted a pick-and-roll partner for Kyrie Irving. Bennett has the potential to be a 20-and-10 guy, perhaps the only one in the draft.
On the other hand, I think Noel, Victor Oladipo and Otto Porter were better prospects, and I would have liked their fit in Cleveland as much as or more than Bennett’s. With the No. 1 pick, the Cavs needed to get the best talent, and I’m not sold on the idea that they did.
I loved the Karasev pick. They needed a shooter with a high basketball IQ, and I think he has a chance to be a solid player in the NBA. That’s all you can ask for at No. 19.
Felix is a tough defender and should be able to get minutes coming off the bench. He’s not an upside player but should play right away.
No one saw Anthony Bennett coming as the No. 1 pick, which isn’t to say it was a bad call. Bennett may be the most talented player in the draft. He’s a tweener, but if he finds a position, look out. Sergey Karasev was projected as a lottery pick on most boards. He’s another guy that could come in and play right away.
USA Today: B
No one expected this. That said, it’s not bad. Bennett ranks right behind Noel for most upside in this draft, and he gives the Cavaliers a scoring complement to Tristan Thompson. They should be able to play together, either in small lineups with Thompson manning center or big ones with Bennett sliding to small forward. Noel is much more similar to Thompson than Bennett is. Karasev may be the best shooter in the draft, and Felix may be the best one-on-one wing defender. Neither was a great pick, but they could both have roles off the bench next season. The Cavs also came out with two future second-round picks in a trade of the No. 31 pick. This wasn’t a great draft for the Cavaliers, but they were in a tough spot and came out OK.
Yahoo! Sports: A-
Bennett will contribute right away. He will use his long arms and good touch to immediately set to scoring, putting up great per-minute numbers, as some sort of (and this isn’t a shot) David Lee and Ike Diogu combo. I understand that you don’t draft for need, but I still would have liked to see the Cavs take a chance on Noel while working with their slow and smart rebuilding plan, and while I understand you have to take the best player available in the lottery, the presence of the “pretty good, he’s aiight” Tristan Thompson still has to be considered.
Will Bennett end up being the best player in this draft? Right now, I don’t believe so, because defense matters to me (and the Cavaliers were 27th in defense last year). Because of his overall gifts, though, he’s not far off even in these early stages, and that’s all you can ask for in the crapshoot that was the 2013 NBA draft. Meanwhile,
Karasev is a fine scorer to find waiting on your doorstep with the 19th pick.
And here is how Right Down Euclid graded Cleveland’s 2013 draft:
Pick No. 1: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
Many were confused about this pick at first before warming up to it and hearing explanations as to why Cleveland and general manager Chris Grant were so high on the freshman power forward, and I was one of those confused suspects. I have now become pretty content with the pick that saw Cleveland pass on bigs such as Nerlens Noel and Alex Len, defensive standouts such as Victor Oladipo and positional needs such as small forward Otto Porter. Hearing how much time Grant spent around Noel and seeing him pass on the Kentucky center says a lot about his offensive potential and concern for his ACL injury, and like most Wine and Gold fans, I have come to trust Grant with the rebuilding of this team through the draft. Nerlens was going to miss time no matter what, and Bennett is going to be ready by training camp even with his shoulder injury. Bennett has a tremendous offensive game that will open up Cleveland’s PnR offense, as he can shoot from anywhere inside the arc with great efficiency (53.3 percent shooting from the field), from the charity stripe (70.1 percent from the free throw line) and even from three (37.5 percent from beyond the arc). Even though his defense is questionable, he has a great mentor in head coach Mike Brown, and he proved that he could rebound at a high rate (averaged 8.1 rebounds per game) despite standing at 6-7. Besides the question marks surrounding his defensive game, I also am concerned about his agility on the court. Even though the Cavs went with a player with a high offensive ceiling instead of a big because elite centers are no longer producing championships, he’s going to have matchup problems right off the bat with the athletic threes and fours in the League. But his height won’t be too much of a problem due to his 7-1 wingspan, huge hands and broad shoulders, which will be a good tool for Brown to help mold Bennett into a proven defender. This makes me content with this pick, for now.
Here is how I graded the Anthony Bennett pick initially.
Pick No. 19: Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
The Cavaliers need shooters, and that’s one of the first things that Karasev said when asked how he will fit in on this rebuilding squad. As a member of Triumph, the left-hander shot 49.0 percent from three in the Eurocup (11 games) and shot above 80 percent from the charity stripe in the 2012-13 season as a 19-year-old. Because of Karasev’s size (6-7, 197 pounds), he has room to grow and won’t have too much difficulty dealing with other NBA small forwards. Even though his passing and dribbling skills are raw at the moment, he still has more to offer in those capacities than Alonzo Gee. If the Cavaliers don’t sign a starting SF this offseason, I could see a similar situation where Karasev surpasses Gee as the starter like how Gee took Omri Casspi’s starting job two seasons ago. If Karasev can come off the bench and be the scorer that he has been during his time being the leading offensive producer on Triumph, then this is a definite possibility. The Cavaliers needed to address this positional need through the draft, and getting a player that was supposed to go anywhere in the 10-15 range as far as picks go, this is a great find for the Cavaliers who were thinking about trading up for possibly the draft’s best international prospect. Plus, even though he’s not competing in the Summer League due to Russian obligations, he’ll be rearing to go by training camp. No holdout from Karasev, which is something I love to see from international prospects.
Here is how Chris Manning graded the Sergey Karasev pick.
Pick No. 31: Allen Crabbe, SG, California traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for two future second-round picks
Crabbe was possibly the best player available with this pick and shooting guard is far down the list of needs for the Cavaliers, so it made sense that the Cavaliers flipped this selection for two future picks since they went with another two guard with their second second-round selection. Stockpiling draft picks seems to be Chris Grant’s thing, but I want to see him actually make something out of these. With two second-round picks from the Orlando Magic and the Memphis Grizzlies on the way in next year’s draft, a package needs to be set up soon to actually get value from these moves.
Pick No. 33: Carrick Felix, SG, Arizona State
I love that the Cavaliers actually addressed a defensive need for this pick (one of the best rebounding bigs in college basketball last season), but I just thought there were better options here. Another shooting guard, Jamaal Franklin, who I thought would have been gone by the first round was still around for Cleveland to snag. Bigs who developed well in college like Mike Muscala and Colton Iverson were still on the board, but I could see why the Cavs would stay away from these guys due to defensive concerns. Buttttt the concern I wanted to see addressed here was backup point guard, so that’s why I’m not too high on this pick despite the defensive energy Felix “The Cat” could bring off the bench. Guys like Erick Green, Pierre Jackson, Ray McCallum and Isaiah Canaan, who could all have been viable backups to Kyrie Irving, would have fit quite nicely here. Even if Shaun Livingston comes back, his production just isn’t effective, especially if Irving keeps struggling with missing time.
2013 NBA Draft
Overall Grade: B+
We’ll see how free agency goes with two or three spots left to fill on the roster, but I feel like for this draft to be A-quality Cleveland had to stress the defensive side of things more thoroughly. The Wine and Gold front office must trust Mike Brown an awful lot to assign him so many projects to work with on defense. We saw one of our biggest needs at SF addressed with the sliding Karasev and Bennett has a lot more to offer than a player like Otto Porter, even if Grant is persistent on saying that Bennett is strictly a power forward. His ability to stretch the floor will really help the Kyrie-ran PnR offense, giving him a threat that can produce from almost any place on the floor despite having 70 percent of his offensive production in the paint. The Cavaliers continue to do the unexpected during drafts, but now is the time to see if those decisions are going to pay off long term.