The Cleveland Cavaliers sit in great shape with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. But with the top pick comes a lot of pressure. The Cavaliers might have missed big time with their number one choice in last year’s draft after surprising many by selecting Anthony Bennett. Bennett had an awful start but showed some progress later in the year. With this year’s draft pool one of the strongest in recent years, the Cavaliers must hit a home run no matter what they decide to do with the top pic.
The Cavaliers have a ton of options at number one. They can draft Jabari Parker who can come in and start right away alongside another Mike Krzyzewski product in Kyrie Irving. Andrew Wiggins is a star talent and would form one of the strongest young backcourts in the NBA. The player with the most upside is 7-footer Joel Embiid who would give the Cavaliers an anchor in the post for years to come — baring back problems. But there is also another option and maybe the most enticing one: trade the pick and move down.
If Cleveland trades the No. 1 pick:
The goal for Cleveland should be to put together a team that can convince Lebron James to come back and win a championship for his hometown of Akron, Ohio. Grandpa agrees. In order to do that, the Cavaliers have to make a splash that would capture James’ attention and give him a solid option if he elects to leave Miami this year or next. For Cleveland, that would mean trading the No. 1 pick and former first rounder Dion Waiters for Kevin Love. Cleveland may have to include veteran Anderson Varejao in the deal, but if Love is willing to sign an extension with the Cavaliers it is well worth the loss (Ed. note: not likely). Love’s coming to Cleveland would mean Kyrie Irving most likely stays on board even if he becomes a free agent next summer; he might even sign a max extension, they may – or may not — offer before October 31. Love and Irving would create a tandem of two up-and-coming stars and that would probably be pretty hard to pass up for James. Irving and Love have given us a little fabricated taste of what this trade would bring Cleveland.
If Cleveland selects Andrew Wiggins:
The selection of Andrew Wiggins would mean Dion Waiters will most likely be on his way out. Waiters and Irving have not played well together and rumors of their friction led to the talk of Irving leaving Cleveland after next season. If Cleveland can move Waiters, Wiggins would allow Irving to have a running mate who can defend the toughest opposing guard and light up the stat sheet in a number of different ways while he improves his offensive game. Wiggins’ selection could mean the Cavs bring back Luol Deng in free agency, or pick up free agent Trevor Ariza, to address small forward and bring some veteran leadership to the team. Wiggins and Irving could be the next John Wall – Bradley Beal tandem that can lead Cleveland back to the playoffs. Passing on Embiid means the Cavs would have to address their holes down low. Anderson Varejao is constantly injured and Cleveland has a $9.7 million option to bring him back next season. If they opt to let him walk, they can sign players such as Marcin Gortat who is a free agent and showed his potential this postseason. Spencer Hawes and Pau Gasol are other options for Cleveland to sign if they opt to draft a guard to team with forwards Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller.
See what other options the Cavs have with the top pick…
If Cleveland selects Jabari Parker:
Parker might make the most sense for Cleveland because of their current roster. Parker would come in and start at small forward, forcing last year’s No. 1 pick, Anthony Bennett, to come off the bench and take another year to get in shape and stay healthy. Waiters would not have to be traded and even if he is, Bennett can help at the 2-guard and free agents such as Lance Stephenson, Evan Turner and Shaun Livingston are possible replacements in free agency. The Cavs potentially have a little over $20 million to spend this offseason and could opt to make a run at players such as Chris Bosh (Ed. note: not likely) or Greg Monroe to play power forward. The 6-8 Parker would allow Cleveland to have a player like Lebron James who can play out on the wing and in the post as Parker did for Duke all season. Irving, Parker and Bosh/Monroe would give Cleveland a very powerful offense.
If Cleveland selects Joel Embiid:
Cleveland has big men in Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao but must find help down low to win in the East. Varejao isn’t guaranteed to be back on the team, either. Embiid would give Cleveland an athletic big who has a ton of upside. No matter what, Cleveland must address its frontcourt this offseason and doing that through the draft would be the best decision unless they can acquire Love. Embiid wouldn’t necessarily help Kyrie Irving right away, and may even push the young star out of Cleveland next season, but that’s a risk anyway. The 7-foot Cameroonian still has to learn the intricacies of the game (he’s only been playing organized basketball for four years) and gain some girth on that slight frame to have a big impact in his first season. He has issues surrounding his back and the Cavaliers would likely bring back Varejao to help mentor the center. If Embiid is drafted, the Cavs must decide what to do with Waiters and Luol Deng. The team did not play well with the two paired with Irving last year and it may be time to give Irving a new cast in the backcourt. Lance Stephenson would give the Cavaliers the edge they’ve been missing and still leave cap room to bring in a player, such as Gordon Hayward, to play small forward.
Cleveland must first find a coach that is not only respected by Kyrie Irving but that has ties to big-name players. The goal is to acquire a roster suitable for Lebron James to return for a shot at a championship. The choices are available to win in Cleveland, and now whichever head coach decides to sign will determine the future of the organization. Wiggins, Parker and Embiid all make sense and potentially $20 million could allow the Cavaliers to finally take the next since watching Lebron James head south.
What should the Cavs do with the No. 1 pick?
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