The Cavaliers have a beautiful clean slate in front of them. It’s too bad they’ve apparently placed the wrong artist to work upon it. Not that choosing to select Duke point guard Kyrie Irving at the top of the 2011 NBA Draft is going to doom them to the Eastern Conference basement for years to come; rather, they will likely love having the savvy leader in Cleveland for years to come. The problem, instead, is that they could have maximized their return with such a rare opportunity instead of going the safe route.
Consider it akin to taking a wide receiver in the first round of a fantasy football draft. Sure, he will undoubtedly provide you with great value, but there’s a time and place for the right selection, and the guy who always selected Randy Moss year after year in the first round was always the first guy not interested in the league anymore.
Perhaps that comparison doesn’t hold much weight, but that’s in essence what the Cavs are doing. They’re getting a great player who is considered the safest selection in the entire draft. They’re getting a marketable guy who will be embraced by fans in Cleveland who could use a hero. Irving also happens to play arguably the most important position on the court. All of those things are true.
But the Cavs already have some in-house options at point that aren’t half bad (check the numbers last year on Ramon Sessions or Baron Davis). They’re incredibly weak on the wing and in the post, lacking any dynamic scoring presence at all there. This draft is also deepest at the point guard position, where even some recent mock drafts have UConn’s Kemba Walker falling to the midpoint of the first round.
The bottom line is that the Cavaliers can find a good-to-great young point guard for the future (and present) at lower points in the draft. If they only had one selection, then this would be a moot point. In that instance, the best advice is to go with the guy that you want. However, here they can easily grab Brandon Knight or Walker and still walk away with the best scoring forward in the draft in Derrick Williams.
In the end, they’ll get Irving and a European big man, someone who fans will read a lot of exciting things about but the flameout rate is exceptional on so many highly-touted forwards and centers who don’t have the stamina or the stomach for playing in the NBA. Instead, they must cross their fingers and hope that Enes Kanter, Jan Vesely or others end up becoming what they project to be.
Ultimatley, the choice that the Cavs are making now will keep them from maximizing their draft picks as well as they could have. They’ve fallen in love and love makes you do crazy things — apparently that includes passing up a golden opportunity.