The last SB Nation mock draft featured the Cavaliers taking a point guard an a European big man, and they didn’t waver from that stance in their latest crack at predicting the 2011 NBA Draft.
Tom Ziller, an SB Nation writer, thinks that it’s a near lock that the Cavs will take Duke point guard Kyrie Irving:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke
It’s fun to consider what excuse the Cavs could give for going with Williams over Irving. “We really like Ramon Sessions.” “We really like Manny Harris.” “We want to be back in the high lottery next season to grab Austin Rivers, so we’re going to pick some forwards this year and trade for Sebastian Telfair.” No offense to Williams, who is an excellent prospect, but to pass on Irving, there needs to be one helluva skeleton in his closet (or, again, X-rays).
The reasoning is sound. The NBA is quickly becoming a point guard driven league, and the Cavs don’t want to be left in the dust. Thus, they take Irving, the former prep-school superstar who only played in a few games last year for Duke. Irving is a guy who reminds me a lot of a young Chris Paul. He might not be the same kind of scorer at this point, but he definitely has that kind of a ceiling. The more I think about it, the more I think Irving is the smart pick for the Cavs.
With reports that Cleveland is dangling the fourth overall pick for Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay, it’s clear that not taking Derrick Williams is a tough decision for the Cavs. In an ideal world, they would have the 1st and 2nd overall pick and get both their guys, but they almost have to take the point guard first overall.
Even though I personally believe Williams to be the best overall player in the draft right now, I don’t think the Cavs are making a mistake by taking Irving. However, I’m not a big fan of taking Euro big men early in the draft, and it seems every mock has the Cavs doing so. Ziller’s latest is no exception:
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
The Cavaliers would send <3s to the Heavens if they could land Irving and Kanter; as a back-up plan, Valanciunas could work beautifully. The next great Lithuanian has one predominant concern: his buyout in Spain. We’ll no doubt hear more as Eurocamp approaches; never underestimate the power of Fran Vasquez to kill a player’s draft stock. Other options here could be Bismack Biyombo or even Jan Vesely; the Cavaliers are thinnest at small forward, believe it or not.
The ideal scenario for the Cavs would be to nab a guy like Rudy Gay by dealing this pick and possibly future picks. However, if they are unable to do so, taking a Euro with size and upside isn’t the worst alternative. There are question marks surrounding most prospects in any draft, but for me, there’s just something about Euro big men that scares me off, especially in the top ten.