NEW YORK — The Cleveland Cavaliers were the winners of the NBA’s Draft Lottery for the second straight year, and the third time overall since LeBron James bolted in free agency in the summer of 2010.
“It was incredible,” Cavaliers GM David Griffin said. “When Cleveland didn’t pop up at nine, I knew obviously we’d moved up, and I had to gather myself for a second. But it was just a remarkable, remarkable feeling.”
The team had just a 1.7 percent chance of landing the top overall pick, and had the probabilities held to form, Cleveland would have had to settle for ninth. But good fortune smiled upon the Cavaliers once again, and while Griffin represented the team on stage at the ESPN Studios in Times Square this time instead of team owner Dan Gilbert and his son Nick, Griffin made sure to bring along one of the duo’s good luck charms.
“We talked about before, not having Nick here with us but having the bow tie,” Griffin said. “I didn’t wear it, because nobody else can swing Thor’s hammer. And I kind of felt like it was a good luck charm for us all along.”
Moving up eight picks to secure the top one in a very deep draft is certainly something to celebrate. But it won’t necessarily make Griffin’s job or the organization’s decision any easier, because of a lack of a consensus No. 1 overall pick — something Griffin believes is the case most seasons.
“I don’t think there’s a clear cut number one in most drafts,” Griffin said. “And I think people, when they say that, they have a really strong feeling for one player over another. But I don’t think it’s necessarily a consensus in most drafts.”
That means there isn’t a “best player available” strategy that the Cavaliers can realistically pursue. But it sounds like they’ll look at every possibility, in hopes of landing a player who can provide an immediate impact to the team’s winning chances.
“We’re going to try to get radically better much quicker,” Griffin said. ‘We really feel like there’s a sense of urgency about improving our team as a whole, and we’re going to look for the right fit in [accomplishing] that. We’re very open-minded in what that means.”
At present, it means the Cavaliers will make that decision without a head coach.
After firing Mike Brown (again) following season one of a five-year deal he signed when the team rehired him last summer, Cleveland will need to get a coach in place that can help mesh whoever is drafted on June 26 with the young talent already in place. But Griffin doesn’t expect the fact that the team now owns the number one pick to affect his search.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think if anything, it certainly makes us a more attractive destination. But that’s a process that really is sort of in its infancy right now, and I don’t think of them as being correlated.”
Much like the decision on who to draft, Griffin is looking for the right fit at coach to help lead what’s been an arduous process to turn his team around.
“We’ve got very clear criteria for what we feel makes us better as a team,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young talent — a lot of young talent that in some ways doesn’t fit terribly well together, and in some cases, has really helped each other grow. We just need to get the right mix. We need to get the right person to advance us the fastest, and we’re very open-minded to what that is.”