If you’re a diehard Cavaliers fan like me, you’ve probably spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks thinking about who you would like them to take first overall in the NBA Draft on June 26. Maybe you’re one of those fans who is strongly in the corner of Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. Or maybe you’re like me and you change your mind between which of those three you prefer a few times a day. Maybe you even prefer Australian point guard Dante Exum with the top pick.
In a few weeks you’ll find out who all of the writers here at Right Down Euclid would like to see the Cavaliers select so I don’t want to give anything away. In the meantime, both fans and “experts” will give their opinion on who the Cavaliers should take, acting as if it is the only logical choice. The truth however, is that no one really knows who the best player from this draft class will be.
That’s a hard thing more many people to accept. How is it possible, in this age of basketball analytics, Synergy, and worldwide scouting that we still aren’t sure who should be selected in what order of a draft with only two rounds? The fact of the matter is, even though NBA front offices are better prepared for the draft than ever before, there is still a leap of faith involved in this process.
One needs no further proof of this than to look at last year’s class. Early in the 2012-2013 college season, Shabazz Muhammad was viewed by many as a consensus to top-3 pick. By the time the draft rolled around, he was lucky to be picked in the lottery at all. Meanwhile, it’s highly doubtful that anyone thought Michael Carter-Williams and Giannis Antetokounmpo would be considered arguably the best players or prospects of the class. Even less likely were the odds that an undrafted rookie point guard (Matthew Dellavedova) would make more on an impact for his team than the first overall pick (Anthony Bennett) for the Cavs.
So maybe Parker is the next Carmelo Anthony. Or maybe he’s a volume scorer with mediocre shooting percentages and no defense, ala Rudy Gay. Embiid could be the next Hakeem Olajuwon, or his back could fold up like and accordion (Writer’s note: I once coached an athlete who had a stress fracture in his back, it was touch and go for a year). Wiggins could develop the first to become a two-way wing player somewhere between the levels of Luol Deng and Paul George, but he could also wind up being somewhat similar to Maurice Harkless or Gerald Green, two players who skill levels have never quite caught up with their athleticism. We don’t know the answer to these questions now and we won’t know for several years. Remember, Tyreke Evans was the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year, ahead of Stephen Curry and James Harden. The one thing we do know is that whatever decision the Cavaliers make with the number one pick, that decision will affect the team for many years to come.