Dan Gilbert, Nick Gilbert

For second time in three years Cavaliers win NBA draft lottery


You need some luck if you’re going to build a winner through the lottery (just ask the Thunder). Cleveland has gotten it’s share luck lately. Or, it’s just Karma balancing itself out, if you prefer.

For the second time in three years the Cleveland Cavaliers have got the balls to bounce their way and have won the NBA Draft lottery — they will have the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. And just like last time owner Dan Gilbert’s son Nick was up there on the dais in a bowtie bringing the team good luck.

Orland0, which had the best odds in the lottery, came in second. The Washington Wizards had 4.8 percent chance of landing the three spot (the eighth spot was expected) slid up into the top three, a good break for an improving roster that can find some help such as power forward Anthony Bennett out of UNLV.

That means for the second straight year the Charlotte Bobcats (soon to be Hornets again) slid back in the draft. This time they will select No. 4. Tough break for the most depleted roster in the Association… except that they will struggle again and next year’s draft is much, much better.

Last time the Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving with that top pick, but this time there is nobody that good on the board. They have real needs at the three (Ben McLemore) but the bigger need is in the paint with defense and athleticism, so my first thought is they take Nerlens Noel out of Kentucky. (Yes, he’s out until likely Christmas with a torn ACL, but you don’t draft for this year, you draft for the four after it).

Or, they could trade the pick packaged with other players or the No. 19 pick they also own. Nobody loves this draft so don’t be shocked if they test the waters.

The Cavaliers also fired Byron Scott and brought back Mike Brown to coach the team next year, so he will get a say.

And if you want to know why Cleveland won

Here is the full draft order for this year.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Orlando Magic
3. Washington Wizards
4. Charlotte Bobcats
5. Phoenix Suns
6. New Orleans Pelicans
7. Sacramento Kings
8. Detroit Pistons
9. Minnesota Timberwolves
10. Portland Trail Blazers
11. Philadelphia 76ers
12. Oklahoma City (via Toronto Raptors)
13. Dallas Mavericks
14. Utah Jazz


15. Milwaukee Bucks
16. Boston Celtics
17. Atlanta Hawks
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston and Brooklyn)
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers)
20. Chicago Bulls
21. Utah Jazz
22. Brooklyn Nets
23. Indiana Pacers
24. New York Knicks
25. Los Angeles Clippers
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis and Houston)
27. Denver Nuggets
28. San Antonio Spurs
29. Oklahoma City Thunder
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami, Los Angeles Lakers)

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.