Cav’s Top 8 Possible Draft Duos
In the wake of Tuesday night’s Draft Lottery, the clear winner has to be the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team and their fans may have lucked into only having to endure one really torturous season of hoops. While this isn’t the best year talent wise for the Cavs to have seemingly cashed in on their post-LeBron karma in the Draft Lottery, with two picks in the top 4 it’s hard to complain.
Now the attention turns to what the franchise will actually do with their newfound wealth of picks. In theory, the Cavs should be able to obtain two franchise cornerstones, laying the foundation for the team’s rebuilding efforts. But which two players should they take? What two prospects go together like peanut butter and jelly in order to satisfy the fans’ appetite for Ws?
A conversation like this has to be framed by some parameters:
This whole discussion is based on the idea that the Cavs won’t trade one of the picks. They need an influx of young talent and projecting them to trade one of the picks falls into the category of rosterbation at this point; it’s just too hard and unlikely to project.
These rankings also operating under the assumption that Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams are the two consensus top players, meaning neither one of them will fall to #4. Since it’s too tough to call who the third player taken before the #4 pick will be at this point, all other players are fair game.
I’m also assuming Dan Gilbert doesn’t go Caps Lock/Comic Sans crazy and off the wall with the picks. (Though, that would be awesome. “I WOULD PERSONALLY LIKE TO INTRODUCE YOUR NEWEST CAVS SUPERSTARS: JIMMER FERDETTE AND JOSH SELBY! 2012 TITLE HERE WE COME! I PERSONALLY GUARENTEE WE WILL HAVE MORE PLAYERS WITH FIRST NAMES STARTING WITH J THAN THE HEAT WILL NEXT SEASON!”)
So without further ado, the top 8 potential dynamic draft duos for the Cavs…
8. Irving - Tristan Thompson
If the Cavs are intent on pairing Irving with a big with college experience (which admittedly would be a weird thing to be intent about), Tristan Thompson makes the most sense. Thompson has a good combo of length and athleticism and displayed double-double and shot blocking potential against many top opponents in his one year at Texas. Having Irving getting him the ball in open spots would likely help his questionable jump shot come along. Then again, it’d be hard to sell Cavs fans on using the #4 pick on a guy who only put up 3 points, 6 rebounds, and 0 assists in his final college game (losing to Arizona in the NCAA Tourney), especially when more skilled foreigners are on the board.
7. Irving - Jonas Valanciunas
Over the past year Valanciunas has become the top European prospect in the eyes of some scouts with his combination of length, size and upside that makes an ideal center. Irving dumping it down to Jonas for the next decade could certainly be a good situation. However, the Lithuanian is not a perfect fit considering the Cavs already have Anderson Varejo entrenched at center. Valanciunas simply doesn’t have the same level of versatility to play both the 4 and the 5 that someone like Enes Kanter possesses (we’ll get to him shortly). This pairing would probably be best be viewed as a fallback option rather than the plan heading into the draft.
6. Irving - Kemba Walker
This option is also known as “The David Kahn Special.” All joking aside, this drafting of two PGs makes much more sense then the Rubio-Flynn debacle. Walker has shown a great ability to play off-ball making it possible for him to slide into a SG role. For much of UConn’s title run he spent more time coming off screens then running point and that seems to have worked out. Having Irving distributing the ball as the point guard, Walker could focus solely on scoring. There might not be a better situation to help Kemba reach his offensive potential.
As for the duo’s defensive, the two could switch roles allowing the smaller Walker to take PGs and not be incredibly overmatched trying to guard SGs. It’s not a perfect fit, and more than a little gamble, but it this scenario could lock up Cleveland’s two guard positions for years to come. Walker also measured 6'1 in shoes at the combine giving his stock a boost.
5. Irving - Jan Vesley
In an Eastern Conference that is increasingly becoming defined by defense (see: Bulls, Celtics, Heat), the Cavs might decide they need another stopper. In that case, getting Vesley to pair with Irving would make a lot of sense. The weaknesses of Vesley’s offensive game could no doubt be lessened by pairing him with a PG like Irving who can get him the ball in his spots. More importantly, opposing offenses wouldn’t be keen on having to go up against the size and toughness of Vesley at SF and Varejao (back from injury) at C. Granted, Vesely has a ways to go but shows potential as a defender with his great length. Those two could help the Cavs forge a hard-nosed identity going forward.
4. Irving - Kawhi Leonard
Leonard would give the Cavs a truly balanced player to run alongside Irving for the foreseeable future. Kawhi is one of those guys who does everything well, but doesn’t have a clear skill you can point to and say that is what makes him special. That means he could develop into a Gerald Wallace type, but he also could end more in the Tony Allen mold.
In many ways, this is the safest option available, which again says more about how the Cavs seem to have ended up with high picks in the wrong year than anything else. There’s a decent chance neither player becomes a star (let alone both of them), but they’re the most likely combo to at least be solid contributors for years to come.
3. Williams - Enes Kanter
If the Cavs aren’t desperate for a PG and think Baron Davis can handle the spot for the time being, a pairing of Williams and Kanter could really solidify their front line. Slotting these two into the lineup alongside Varejao would give the Cavs some much needed size, scoring, and rebounding. Williams’ outside game would help draw bigger defenders away from Kanter’s area in the paint, giving both space to operate their offensive games.
By not picking up a PG, the Cavs would put off the search for their next floor general until next year, when they might grab a prospect like Marquis Teague, Myck Kabongo or Maalik Wayns(because let’s be honest, we all expect the Cavs to be picking in the lottery again next year). It might also open up a world of trade opportunities if the Cavs are willing to part with J.J. Hickson.
2. Irving - Kanter
At first glance, this draft duo appears to be the best the Cavs could hope for from the 2011 Draft. Many talent evaluators consider Irving and Kanter to be the most well-rounded and polished PG and PF/C respectively. In theory, their skill sets should mesh together seamlessly with Irving dropping dimes to Kanter in the post, and the big guy returning the favor with some kick-outs for 3s.
However, there is a major hurdle with this pairing, namely that they haven’t played much competitive basketball over the past year. Irving spent most of the college hoops season injured and Kanter spent the whole season ineligible. Since their agents will likely pressure them to play as little as possible against other prospects in the pre-draft stage, these two have to be drafted in large part on what the Cavs knew about them an entire year ago.
Still, it would seem this is the best guard-forward combo available, except…
1. Williams - Brandon Knight
If the Cavs are seeking an explosive impact, the combination of Williams and Knight might be just right. Unlike the pair at #2 on this list, Williams and Knight were both beasts on the court for the entire college hoops season.
While Knight may not be the “pure” PG that Irving is, he displayed consistent scoring ability while still getting his team involved (17.3 ppg, 4.2 apg). He also showed a knack for the moment, hitting big shot after big shot to propel Kentucky to wins. Teaming him up with Williams would provide the Cavs with two terrific scoring options that both are well adept at getting to the free throw line. The tandem would also be quite the 1-2 punch in the fast break game.
There are also some risks associated with this pairing. Knight lacks the polish of Irving and Williams is somewhat of a SF/PF tweener. But the unrelenting energy they’d bring to the franchise and to the downtrodden Cavs fans would be undeniable.
It may be a bit of a gamble, but together this dynamic duo could rule the vacated throne in Cleveland.
I wrote a similar article a few days ago about where the Cavs could go and I'd like to get your thoughts on a few things;
- Is there a reason you've included a Irving/Walker combo over a Irving/Burks combo? As the best SG prospect available and with next year's draft likely to be well-stocked with SFs (Gilchrist, Barnes, Miller, Perry Jones even) what do you think of the Cavs going for Burks and locking up their back-court?
- The Valanciunas combo should probably be higher; Anderson Varejao is already 28 and the Cavs aren't going to be contending for at least another three years at best, at which point Varejao is going to be 31 and is injury prone as it stands. Why not let Valanciunas learn behind the veteran player 8 years his senior, it seems like the perfect situation for a more raw player like Jonas.
- What should they do about Hickson? He's still young, has shown flashes, and could be very effective in a complimentary role, I say give him at least another year to prove himself.
Oh, and I definitely agree about the Williams-Knight combo being the best, I think Knight will be the better player between Irving-Knight when it's all said and done, but it seems like the Jazz are so enamoured with him he might not even be available at the 4th spot, which would be a shame.
Kanter with 1st pick and Kemba 4th.
i think they need to go irving at 1, and then take whoever falls to them between williams, kanter and vesely (in that order)
i keep thinking what if harrison barnes had declared and cleveland wound up getting irving and barnes....
Is Vesely really a defensive stopper?
Kemba & Irving?...Opposing team's two guards would eat them up. If you were going to go with the two point guard Kahn scheme and actually play them at the same time, I would think Irving & Knight would be leaps and bounds more efficient. Kemba can't shoot like Brandon, nor could Irving guard a 2 assuming Kemba guards the 1. I can see Brandon doing a much better job guarding a 2 then Irving/Walker. I also feel Irving should have shooters all around him with his knack for finding the open man. I would rather have Knight receiving kick-outs then Kemba.
in total agreement ive posted it a few times that williams at 1 and knight at 4 is the best option for the cavs
Williams and Knight wouldn't be a great combo because neither guy fits Byron Scotts Princeton offense which hes has had success with in the past. Williams is undersized and lacking bulk for his natural position at the 4 and lack the ball handles and lateral quickness to play the 3 and thats why there has been speculation that some teams have him as low as 5 or 6 on thier draft boards. Knight is a shoot first combo guard and Scott needs a true piont to run his system effectively like a Chris paul which is who Irving is being compared to. Cavs will take Irving at one and one of the Euro bigs at four.
The PF is actually the Cavaliers strongest position (they have Hickson, who was the top player for the team last year, Jamison, Samuels and Harangody). i would love a Irving-Kanter combo if kanter can play C, if he can't, i'd rather they went with a PG-SF combo.
Vesely has defensive stopper potential but wont be shutting dudes down from day 1.
Cavs: Swap picks with Minnesota for Darko Milicic.
Minnesota: Trades 1st pick to Miami for Chris Bosh
Miami: Picks Kyrie Irving
Cavs draft Williams, Knight, and have Milicic to restart franchise
Minnesota has awesome frontcount with Bosh and Love.
Miami has new 3 and more room to sign a big.
Utah will take knight in my opinion. other then that I like the combo of Williams and Knight.
I say take Kyrie, and hope either Williams or Kanter falls to them at 4. If not, trade down or take Valanciunas.