Fast 5: Tracking This Year’s NBA Draft Class, Vol. 8

Each Wednesday, we’ll be assessing how the top prospects of the 2013 NBA Draft are faring in college and overseas. Stick with us each week for assorted thoughts, including the biggest risers and fallers, the standouts, the sleepers and what we know and don’t know about the next NBA Draft class…

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Last week we reviewed the Washington Wizards and this week we are looking at the Cleveland Cavaliers to get a feel for who they are what they need to become a contending team.

Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.


ONE: What Do We Know About The Cleveland Cavaliers?
There is no doubt that the Cavaliers have an exciting team with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, but outside of the perimeter duo they are lacking in overall talent. The team has only Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller, Alonzo Gee and Anderson Varejao locked up past next season.

Irving is a special talent in his second year. He’s the leagues sixth-highest scorer and is 20th in assists, showing the versatility he provides on the court as well as his explosiveness.

The team is adding pieces, but if they are leaning on the core of Irving, Waiters, Zeller, Thompson, Varejao and Gee, that still isn’t enough. As a group, they need more outside shooting to stretch the floor and big men that can score on the block in isolation situations. Byron Scott has a wealth of talent and thanks to a disappointing season, they get to add to that with another top five pick. Hopefully it is not the fourth pick, again.

TWO: What Do They Need?
As described above, the Cavaliers need more shooters to space the floor for Irving and Waiters to get into the lane and cause all the problems for a defense they are known for. The team is 21st overall in scoring and 18th in three-point percentage this season.

In the paint, they get 32.9 points a game from a trio of big men (Thompson, Zeller, Varejao). That puts quite a lot of pressure on the guards to score between 60-70 points a night to be competitive. Irving would benefit from having a low post presence to alleviate some of the scoring burden.

THREE: Stock Rising
Over his last seven games, Isaiah Austin has struck a nice balance of three-point shooting (42.9 percent) and interior defense (9.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a night) compared to earlier in the season. Before he was floating around on the perimeter on offense and was not as effective or efficient. Now he has developed his game to be one of the top 7-12 prospects in this class.

FOUR: Stock Falling
Archie Goodwin has all the tools to be a very good combo guard on both ends of the floor, but this has not been a banner freshman campaign. He has struggled to balance scoring and distributing all the while the Wildcats have struggled. In the end, the freshman may benefit more from a second year in college more than his peers and teammates.

FIVE: Quick Hitter
Knowledge is power. That is a simple truth to carry around with you in life on a day-to-day basis with nearly every subject imaginable. The reason I bring that up is that a lot of the time casual basketball fans knock the unknown, which in this case is the bulk of the 2013 NBA Draft class.

International prospects are unknown because they are not advertised on NBATV, TNT and ESPN as often as these college kids. But there are a lot of talented players that come from overseas. Every year, there are a group of international prospects that can really play the game of basketball. Many of them can play – they are just unknown. That is not the fault of a casual fan, but it is one thing to say a certain prospect can’t play, or that his competition is weak. It’s another to just admit you haven’t seen enough of him to digest his skills. That is a very different take.

The same can be said for a lot of freshmen and young prospects in college basketball. Perspective is needed, but a lot of that comes from knowledge, which is power.


Top 5 Fits For Cleveland Right Now

1. Anthony Bennett: 6-7, 239 pounds – Fresh., UNLV
Stats: 18.5 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 56.2 percent FG, 40.0 percent 3PT (22-55)
In terms of a position of need, adding Bennett makes sense as a three/four that can move between the spots fairly easily. He adds toughness, defense, and a scorer from inside or outside.

2. Ben McLemore: 6-5, 185 pounds – Fresh., Kansas
Stats: 16.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 51.0 percent FG, 44.6 percent 3PT
More of a two, which means he will take minutes from Irving or Waiters, but he has the size, touch, and defensive intangibles to be a star at the next level.

3. Shabazz Muhammad: 6-5, 225 pounds – Fresh., UCLA
Stats: 17.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.8 APG, 46.9 percent FG, 45.8 percent 3PT
Muhammad can switch between the two and the three at the NBA level, and, most important, he thrives off the ball in catch-and-shoot situations from all over the court.

4. Cody Zeller: 6-11, 220 pounds – Soph., Indiana
Stats: 17.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 62.5 percent FG, 72.8 percent FT
They already have one of them so it is a long shot they will add another Zeller to the equation. He is a good shooter, efficient on the block, and gives them presence inside to balance the offense.

5. Isaiah Austin: 7-0 200 pounds – Fresh., Baylor
Stats: 14.3 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 50.3 percent FG, 37.2 percent 3PT (16-43)
Or they can kill two birds with one stone adding a three-point shooting big man. Austin is a combination of Nerlens Noel and Mike Moser as an intimidating shotblocker and shooter with range.

Regardless of where the Cavaliers are picking, they will add another young piece to the puzzle. They should eventually look like a contender in the Eastern Conference. All Irving needs is some help. He already has defenses eating out the palm of his hand as one of the better young stars in this league. Period.

Who is the best fit right now for Cleveland?

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