Cavs Win the Lottery: Draft Noel or Trade the Pick?

Say it with me, boys and girls… TRADE THAT PICK!!! TRADE THAT PICK!!! TRADE THAT PICK!!!

Okay, let’s back away from that for a second. We’ll get back to it though.

Lightning struck again for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night as they won the NBA Draft Lottery, securing the rights to the no. 1 overall pick. They will have a slew of options with this pick. Here’s a quick rundown in no particular order:

  1. Nerlens Noel
  2. Otto Porter
  3. Ben McLemore
  4. Trade back a few spots
  5. Trade for an established star

I absolutely love the idea of just standing pat and taking the consensus pick in Noel and plugging him in with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and (hopefully someone replacing) Alonzo Gee. That is an athletic lineup that can run the floor and play some exciting basketball. Kyrie and Dion are great at getting into the lane and finishing at the hoop. As they continue to improve at breaking their man down off the dribble it’ll open up lobs and dump-offs for Tristan and Noel. And then there’s Noel’s defensive, especially his excellent shot-blocking ability, which is sorely needed. I mean, let’s be honest, Kyrie and Dion have proved that they’re both really good at funneling the guy they’re defending into the lane. All of sudden you have a guy that’s there protecting the rim and forcing either kick-outs, low-percentage floaters, or swatted shots. I’m actually giddy thinking about that young talented squad learning and growing together for the next decade.

But here’s the rub for me…Noel is still recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in February meaning the Cavs won’t be able to work him out at all.[1] He probably won’t be back on the court until Christmas at the earliest. And even then, he’ll be recovering from a torn ACL!!! There are a lot of people who are totally fine with just letting Noel recover slowly and allowing this Cavs team to develop at a slow pace. Translation: no rush on winning actual basketball games.

I struggle with this big time. I’m sick of losing basketball games. I’m sick of caring about the Draft Lottery. I want to root for a winner. I want to watch the Cavs in the playoffs again. Drafting Noel means we’ll be doing more waiting and developing, less winning and playoffing.

Porter and McLemore are guys who would have a bigger immediate impact and contribute to winning games in 2013. You could plug Porter in right away into the small forward role and you have an athletic wing with incredible reach who plays good defense and is excellent on offense working without the ball to get his own and other’s shots. With McLemore you get a guy who’s not a great defender and isn’t awesome at handling the rock, but DANG can he shoot. You’ve got to love the drive and kick possibilities with Kyrie and Dion dishing it out to B-Mac for 3’s.[2] He’s still really young and has a ton of potential to grow into a terrific NBA player, maybe even the best player in this draft. Both of those guys make you a better team from Day One and will help you get back to the playoffs.

The most common philosophy when it comes to the draft is that you can’t go wrong if you just take the best player available. And that’s probably true. But if the Cavs really like Porter, who they’d be more than fine taking at no. 2, because he fills a huge three-year hole on this team then what’s the problem taking him no. 1? I’ve seen people on Twitter say that you can’t take him “because he’s not a no. 1 pick” which is asinine thinking in my opinion. The only goal for a team every time you enter a draft is to make your team better with the picks you have. If you feel that Porter makes you a better basketball team than taking Noel would, then just take him. I’m not saying that’s what Chris Grant and the Cavs believe, but I just get so annoyed by fans who think that the only option is Noel. He has some pretty major red flags and is about as far from a lock to be a great player as we’ve seen from a potential no. 1 pick in a long time. But we’ll get into more of that down the road.

Another option for the pick is a short trade-back scenario[3] where the Cavs move back a couple spots, pick up some assets, and take Porter, McLemore, or Alex Len. I won’t spend much time here because I think the chances of this happening are very slim. Most people believe there isn’t much of a drop-off after Noel in terms of talent so there won’t be much of a market for one of those other teams right behind the Cavs in the drafting queue who will want to spend anything of lasting value to move up just to take Noel. This is actually part of the reason that I didn’t want the Cavs to win the lottery; I didn’t want to essentially get stuck with Noel because whoever has the no. 1 pick simply cannot pass on him, because that’s how the NBA works. I was kinda just hoping that the Cavs would get the no. 2 pick and we could just debate Porter or McLemore for the next month. Oh well.

This brings us to the scenario that I am most fully willing to support: TRADE THAT PICK!!! TRADE THAT PICK!!! TRADE THAT PICK!!!

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m just so sick of losing. I want the Cavs back in the playoffs and competing next year. They way that this can most speedily happen I believe is by trading the no. 1 pick and possibly some other assets for a star player. The guy that I most want above all others is Kevin Love. I think you could trade the nos. 1 and 19 picks, along with maybe Tristan Thompson to get Love that you’d have a very good playoff team next year. And if you could upgrade the SF position in free agency then we’d really be onto something. Anyone who’s watched the NBA over, oh I dunno, the past forty years knows that the best way to win a championship is by having multiple star players. We already have one in Kyrie. I like both Tristan and Dion but I’m not sold that they’ll ever be stars in this league. I don’t think Noel really has star potential. He’ll really have to develop his offensive game before he’ll be anything close to a star player. Kevin Love, on the other hand, is a star. This is a guy who actually finished sixth in MVP voting last year despite his team not making the playoffs. He’s a two-time All-Star who’s lead the NBA in rebounding and has also won the three-point contest. And he was an integral member of the gold medal winning USA basketball team last summer. Oh yeah, and he already has amazing chemistry with Kyrie:

However, there’s a good chance, or a bad chance for us I guess, that with Flip Saunders now running the show in Minnesota that they will not move Love and will try and make him happy by adding more pieces around him. The fact that they sent him as a representative for the team to the lottery is a good sign for Timberwolves fans that he’s probably not going anywhere. I miss David Kahn already. But if they are open to discussions about a trade, and I’m the Cavs, I’d give up just about everything short of Kyrie to bring him to Cleveland. If you can get two stars on one team you can figure out the rest later.

A couple other names that were discussed on the Twitters as possible trade targets could be LeMarcus Aldridge and DeMarcus Cousins. I can’t say for sure right now if I’d do either of those but I’d certainly be willing to discuss it. I’m basically open to any and all scenarios that can make the Cavs a better team next year. I’m not saying that I want to mortgage the future for a couple years of the playoffs. So don’t misread my desire to be better faster. I want it to be something that’s long-lasting and sustainable. Right now today I feel like if the Cavs could add Love that would make them better for longer than if they added Noel. That’s just how I feel right now. I’m open to having my mind changed though over the next month.

I wrote yesterday about how big of a role luck plays in sports and how being successful is often predicated on events and decisions that are out of your control. Well luck has been favorable to the Cavs again in giving them the no. 1 pick twice in three years.[4] The Cavs have been very lucky[5] in where they’ve picked and in some of the extremely favorable moves they’ve made. Now it’s up to Chris Grant and his boys to figure out how to maximize the assets that he has and mold this roster into one that can contend for championships. He has some very tough decisions to make, but that is his job after all.

So good luck, Chris. We’re all counting on you.


[1] The lack of workouts doesn’t bother me too much on its own. They didn’t work out Waiters or even talk to him but still felt good enough about his ability to take him at no. 4.  The problem for me is that they won’t be able to really see if he’s fully recovered from the injury, because he won’t be there yet. That’s a dicey situation.

[2] Do they call him “B-Mac”? I need confirmation on this. It sounded good so I just went with it.

[3] Browns fans recoil in horror.

[4] For the record, I did wear my maroon boxers as well as a Cavs t-shirt under my work uniform on Tuesday evening. I’m not saying that these actions got us the no. 1 pick, but I’m also not saying that they didn’t have anything to do with it. If ya know what I mean?

[5] With the obvious exception that they’ve had four top four picks in three drafts that are mostly devoid of elite talent. At least we got the best player out of all three. So we’ve got that going for us.

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2 thoughts on “Cavs Win the Lottery: Draft Noel or Trade the Pick?

  1. Pingback: Reaction to Zach Lowe’s piece on the Cavs Lottery Crew | Cleveland the GOAT

  2. Pingback: Breaking Down the Cavaliers Trade Assets | Cleveland the GOAT

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