Picks: 1 and 33
Needs: This is a critical draft for the Cavaliers, for a variety of reasons. After using the number one overall pick in last year’s draft to go with a risky selection in Anthony Bennett, the team can’t afford to take a chance on anyone who is not widely viewed to be as close to a sure thing as possible.
The only thing Cleveland doesn’t need from a player standpoint is help at either guard position, with there barely being enough basketballs to go around for Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters who are already in place. The Cavs need to select the best overall player here regardless of position, and the one most likely to be a franchise cornerstone for many seasons to come.
What the franchise needs more than anything, however, is simply stability. There will be a new head coach in place, after Mike Brown was fired with four years (!) remaining on his deal. Irving is likely to be offered a max contract extension this summer, but he’ll need to believe things are headed in the right direction before signing it. And what the Cavaliers end up with out of this draft may have a lot to do with Irving’s decision.
Trade possibilities: The Cavaliers reportedly had at least one team calling about getting that number one pick in the Sixers, but Philadelphia wasn’t willing to give up both the 3 and 10 picks to get it just yet. The third pick along with Thaddeus Young might be an option Cleveland would consider, depending on who they’re eyeing with the top pick. Joel Embiid seems to be their choice now, but remember, initially he wasn’t.
There’s also the option of trying to get a veteran superstar in exchange for a package involving that top pick (Kevin Love, anyone?), and while there’s a new GM in place in David Griffin, it’s worth noting how aggressive the organization was a season ago in trying to add pieces to make a run at the playoffs in a watered-down Eastern Conference.
Predictions: The Cavaliers have a lot at stake. If they’re not 100 percent sold on taking a player like Embiid with the top pick, then moving down to let Philadelphia draft someone like Andrew Wiggins might make a lot of sense. Dealing for a superstar like Love would only make sense if he were to commit to stay long-term before a deal was done, otherwise they’d just be getting a rental like they did with Luol Deng last season — and we saw how that turned out.
Expect a more conservative approach from Cleveland this time around. If there is a trade, it likely wouldn’t involve moving down more than a few spots, so that a widely-viewed impact player could still be selected, thereby giving the franchise hope while the fan base has something to get excited about.