The way I see it, there’re two ways to look at the Cavs:
1.Being the eternal optimist.
If what they told us last year is true and they thought they were good enough to be a playoff team, then they have to be happy with No. 5. Did they tank for a chance at a generational talent like Zion? What difference would it make when you only have a 14% chance of landing the No. 1 pick? Maybe they were just plagued by a ton of injuries. How many more wins are we talking with a healthy Love and Tristan?
After all the moves they made, including firing Ty Lue after one week, it pretty much screams REBUILD! in the wake of the lottery, Houston’s No. 1 and plenty more draft picks. They really need to embrace a TOTAL rebuild and find a way to move Tristan or Kevin Love, or…
Let this sink in…
Rodney Hood looks pretty good right now, George Hill looks pretty good right now, forget about Kyle Korver; he’s 90. Who else did we trade? Alec Burks…more on him in a second. Had these deals not been made and Love and Tristan stayed healthy, (by the way, I haven’t even mentioned the J.R. Smith debacle), you’d still have to win another 22 games to get the eighth spot to make the Eastern Conference playoffs. Do you really think a team “post-LeBron” could win 41 games? NO CHANCE!
2. How good can the Cavs become with more good, young talent?
Now you have a nice, young core:
Marquise Chris is a nice player.
If they don’t trade Love or Tristan, they’ll also add to the lottery pick plus Houston’s No. 1. That’s right, the Alec Burks trade got us Houston’s No. 1.
At No. 5, keep an eye on Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech guard). He took his team to the championship game last year. At times during the tournament, he looked like if not the best player in the nation, a guy who’d be a stud NBA player. Get him at No. 5, move Tristan and add Tobias Harris (Philadelphia) in free agency.
Having two first-round picks in a draft is great for a rebuilding team because it’s a fast track to moving out of the cellar. Obviously, the No. 5 pick is key — getting the chance to take the players perceived as potential stars is preferable to sifting through projects and probable role players. The second pick can end up being just as valuable if used on a player who can develop and embrace your culture.
Supplemental picks end up being just as important to winning as the big names. You need the stars to drive your team, but you need the role players, too. And with the sliding salary scale, you need a cost-controlled role player who can help the team play consistent strong basketball.
The 2019 draft class gets a bad rap for being weak, but what it really is is top heavy. The list of players worth a top-five pick probably stops at a few, for the consensus — Zion, R.J. Barrett and Ja Morant — but the middle of the class of the 2019 draft is actually quite large. There are probably 20 players outside of the top three that you could argue as potential lottery guys, and not every one of those guys are going to be rated equally by NBA teams. Go back to LeBron’s draft class in 2003. He dominated headlines (like Zion), but Dwayne Wade came out that year, too. Know where he was drafted? Yep, No. 5!
Either way, the 2018 version of the Cleveland Cavaliers was nightmarish. That being said, and upon watching entertaining playoff basketball recently, I’ve got to imagine the blueprint for the “new and improved” Cleveland Cavaliers is set.