The poster child for all European big men has only increased the allure in the last week. That’s because the Dallas Mavericks MVP just claimed his first NBA Championship trophy. As good as Dirk Nowitzki is, however, certain teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers should not be swayed to reach for the next Euro star at next week’s 2011 NBA Draft.
The commonly held belief is that the Cavaliers will select Duke point guard Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 pick in the draft and then reach for some foreign star with the No. 4 selection, depending on how the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz make their own draft choices. Perhaps it’s Jan Vesely. Perhaps Enes Kanter might slip through. Could it be Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas? Possibly.
But any such reach would present an unworthy risk that doesn’t need to be taken. Vesely has a scoring touch and many scouts love his game. Valanciunas is a very projectable big man and the NBA has definitely displayed its love for big men — even ugly, lumbering ones — every year at this time. But the ratio between draft choices that boom and those that bust at this stage should also reveal a giant “Buyer Beware” sign that glows in the dark. It’s simply not worth the choice.
Even in a weak draft, other solid possibilities exist for the Cavaliers — players who would provide a sure thing in a draft likely filled with forgettable faces. Personally, I think grabbing a solid point guard — the deepest position in this draft — at the No. 4 selection makes more sense at the top so that they can grab the top forward value in Derrick Williams at No. 1. After all, I’d much rather have a scenario that gave me Brandon Knight and Derrick Williams as my draft imports than Jan Vesely and Kyrie Irving.
But even if Irving is the selection, the Cavs could also ignore commonly held notions about perceived draft value and go for a Marcus Morris or Kemba Walker. Either one would also present another value that’s been a proven product for years on winning traditions with the fundamentals in place. And for a team in need of several sure things, the Cavs have a chance to add two.