Cleveland Cavaliers 2012 draft preview
BY EDDIE DILWORTH
The NBA Finals concluded this past Thursday in an inglorious fashion for most Cleveland Cavaliers fans. But for all the Cleveland fans who have longed for an NBA championship to arrive off the shores of Lake Erie, this Thursday's NBA Draft will go a long way in determining if the Cavaliers will hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy in the near future.
The Cavs are one of 13 NBA franchises to have never claimed basketball's ultimate prize, but the organization seems to be on a path that could eventually cut that number to 12. The process started in the 2011 NBA Draft when the Cavs selected point guard Kyrie Irving with the first-overall selection, and power forward Tristan Thompson with the fourth-overall pick. Irving an Thompson are the first building blocks for a franchise in the midst of a rebuilding process. As possessors of the fourth overall, 24th overall, 33rd and 34th picks in the 2012 Draft, Cleveland could speed up its retooling process exponentially.
It's vital to the Cavaliers success that the team leaves Thursday night with at least one perennial All-Star. Whether that selection is made with the fourth pick, or the Cavs commence a trade and move into the top three, anything short of acquiring an All-Star caliber player would be a crushing setback in the team's plans for the future.
Nevertheless, Cleveland will likely make their first selection no lower than fourth overall. In desperate need of athletic shooting guards and small forwards, here are the likeliest players the Cavaliers could select with their first pick:
Bradley Beal (6 feet, 4 3/4 inches (with shoes), Freshman, University of Florida)
Beal is widely considered to be the top shooting guard prospect in this year's draft. The concern regarding Beal was his height, but the freshman from Florida measured 6 feet, 4 3/4 inches in sneakers at the NBA Combine in Chicago. Beal isn't expected to get past the Washington Wizards, who pick 3rd overall, but there is a possibility he could slip to Cleveland at four. Beal would give the Cavaliers a solid running mate to pair with Kyrie Irving in the Cavaliers backcourt. As a freshman at Florida though, Beal didn't produce exceptional results, shooting 44 percent overall and 34 percent from 3-point range.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (6 feet, 7 1/2 inches (with shoes), Freshman, University of Kentucky)
Kidd-Gilchrist is one of the more intriguing players in the draft. The Kentucky freshman is an ultra-athletic, do-everything player with tremendous upside. Kidd-Gilchrist is primarily a defensive player that is athletic enough to slash to the basket and finish. Concerns regarding Kidd-Gilchrist are his aptitude for scoring and his shooting ability. He averaged 11.8 points as a freshman on a loaded Kentucky team, shooting a respectable 49.1 percent from the field. However, Kidd-Gilchrist managed just a 25 percent clip from 3-point range. He also pulled down a solid 7.6 rebounds per game.
Harrison Barnes (6 feet, 8 inches (with shoes), Sophomore, University of North Carolina)
Harrison Barnes is on most NBA general manager's draft boards because of his size and shooting ability. The 6-foot-8 small forward averaged 17.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in his sophomore season at Chapel Hill. His sophomore act was slightly underwhelming, however, considering his scoring average rose less than two points from a 15.7 points per game output in his freshman campaign. Barnes though, is considered a pure three-man that could matchup with the NBA's upper-echelon small forwards.
As the 2011 Draft materialized, some eyebrows were raised when the Cavaliers selected Thompson fourth overall. There are a few players the Cavs could select with their first pick that could come as a somewhat of a surprise. Freshman center Andre Drummond and sophomore shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, both from the University of Connecticut, could be on the Cavaliers radar at four. Others with an outside shot of being taken with the Cavs first pick are University of Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson and Syracuse University shooting guard Dion Waiters.
If Cleveland decides to keep the 24th pick, here are a few players that could be on their draft board:
Royce White (Sophomore, Power forward, Iowa State University)
Fab Melo (Sophomore, Center, Syracuse University)
Quincy Miller (Freshman, Small forward, Baylor University)
Festus Ezeli (Senior, Center, Vanderbilt University)
Draymond Green (Senior, Power Forward, Michigan State University)
Marquis Teague (Freshman, Point Guard, University of Kentucky)
Andrew Nicholson (Senior, Power Forward, St. Bonaventure University)
Doron Lamb (Sophomore, Shooting guard, University of Kentucky)
Tony Wroten (Freshman, Shooting guard, University of Washington)
Will Barton (Sophomore, Shooting guard, University of Memphis.
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POSTED 06/24/2012 20:37