RAISING THE CADAVALIER - many, many thoughts on the Cleveland Cavaliers by ROBERT ATTENWEILER

NBA Basketball

2012/06/08

We Can’t Possibly Screw This Up. Right, Jim Paxson??

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Hello, viewership. It’s been a while.

That while is due, partly, to that inevitable sinking feeling when a season like this past one ends. We had the third worst record in the NBA. Good for us. We found a new franchise cornerstone (and, Kyrie, you’ll forgive us for the mess as we attempt to keep the structure upright with a couple of jacks pulled from my old ’78 Pinto as we jam you into that very empty spot at the bottom corner of our franchise … forgive the concrete we hastily slather on like so much warm mayonnaise … forgive the way we blow and fan hoping that concrete will dry soon enough so that you don’t go anywhere – that this cornerstone stays put – that I can just go ahead and sell this damn Pinto and its jacks because I’m never going to need them again because you’re here and you love us and you will make every everything just plain okay). Good for us (that was where I left off, just in case you didn’t track it).

Everyone came out a winner. Kyrie validated his number one pick. We showed that we, maybe, can win some games behind him in the not too distant future. We lost just enough to get another high pick in this year’s draft. And we still weren’t good enough – or we suffered enough injuries – to have anyone feeling one way or the other about Byron Scott’s coaching job. Chris Grant hit a home run with Kyrie and Tristan Thompson. He whiffed on Casspi (though, and I’ve written it here before, it was a whiff that he had to at least try. Keeping Hickson would have been, likely, an unmitigated disaster.). He’s been calling a good game, so far.

So, the most that can be said of the Cleveland Cavaliers is that not much can be definitively said about the Cleveland Cavaliers. At least, not yet. Check back again next year.

And so we hit the end of the regular season and are all a twitter to start talking about who we’re going to draft. But then reality sets in and we realize that we have to wait another month until we know where we’re going to draft and then actually zero in on who might be available for us to draft.

So, I determined to let it all ride, viewership. I let it all ride until we found out that Nick Gilbert does not personally choose the draft order. I let it all ride until we found out that we got the number 4 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, a notch lower than our record slotted us and a coin-flip away from the number 1 pick, scooped up by the New Orleans Hornets who had tied us for third-worst.

Number 4… Number 4?! Number f**king 4?! But so many things could go wrong at 4. All of the teams ahead of us could actually draft logically and well and we will lose out on not only Anthony Davis, but also the top wings in the class, Michael Kidd-Gilcrest and Bradley Beal! At 4, Chris Grant might think it’s a good idea to gamble on Andre Drummond! He might try to sell us on Harrison Barnes or Thomas Robinson or even Jeremy Lamb!

We’re picking number 4, viewership … and I can’t think of a more interesting place to be.

This has been discussed by much more able talent evaluators than me, but after the Hornets select Davis, there’s plenty of questions and plenty of talent all the way into the second round. Drafts are often broken down into different tiers of talent, but the number of players in each tier is what fluctuates from year-to-year and what makes this draft particularly interesting. This year, we’ve got a consensus top tier – as last year we had a very shallow top tier of Kyrie and Derrick Williams. The top tier is the franchise cornerstone. Then you can argue that the next tier is from 2-6 and consists of, say, MKG, Beal, Robinson, Barnes and Drummond and could be argued to extend a few picks beyond that.

The second tier should project as potential All-Stars. The third tier players are projected as starters and high-end rotation players. This is the tier that runneth over in this draft. Teams will be looking to add players who can start – and many would start immediately – anywhere from 8 to 24, a pick that I did not, of course, pick out of thin air. And beyond that there is good value to be found well into the second round. There will be busts, sure, but it’s a good bet that there will be players who become much better than we expected.

So, yes, it’s possible that MKG becomes the next Scottie Pippen (who I like as a comparison more than Gerald Wallace which is, in many ways, a backhanded compliment for a guy you’re look at as, possibly, the second best player in the draft) and it’s possible that Beal becomes Ray Allen or, barring that, Eric Gordon. And it’s possible that Drummond becomes Kwame Brown with a poor work ethic (I just gave myself chills with that one) and Barnes could become Adam Morrison (a college scorer who lacks the athleticism to score in the pros) and Thomas Robinson could become Kurt Thomas, a solid, if unexceptional (save for his exceptionally crazy eyes), player.

What seems unlikely is drafting a player on the Diop/Wagner/L.Jackson Scale of Awful – and we have a fighter’s chance of adding two (if not three … or four … or five – sorry, bad reference right now) good pieces to go along with the three good pieces we have (which, if you’re curious, are Kyrie and Andy … Thompson and Gee combine to form one good piece – kinda the Voltron of NBA players). And the best part is how much there is to talk about. There are scenarios out there that net us any player outside of Davis, so it should be fun to see whose stock rises, who slips and how it all ends up playing out.

That’s the joy of 4 this year, viewership. Most years, the joy of one’s draft position comes only when there’s a sure thing waiting there. But this year, there will be talent available at 4 (talent that, I’m sure, Chris Grant will be able to talk me into), even if it’s not Savior #2 (but, maybe it is). So, let’s enjoy what could happen before and after our pick. Do you really expect the Bobcats and/or the Wizards to not do something completely boneheadedly ill-advised? Me either. Heh. This, I like.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be doing some mock-ups of what the team will look like with the various players in play for #4. Until then, viewership, embrace your inner 4.

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