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Lottery brings Cleveland some building blocks, not a cornerstone

May 17, 2011, 10:44 PM EDT

Hampton v Duke Getty Images

This is a night to celebrate if you’re a Cleveland Cavaliers fan.

After a rough summer and a record losing streak this season, the Ping-Pong balls bounced your way. You won the draft lottery, so pop open a Great Lakes Brewing Company Edmond Fitzgerald porter and celebrate.

Rebuilding can be a long, slow painful process and the chance to get the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in one draft is a jumpstart in the process.

The question is just how much of a jumpstart for Cleveland. Because this is a down draft.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was high on winning the lottery and was not trying to tamp down expectations.

“We do happen to think there is significant talent at the top of this draft…” Gilbert said half an hour after finding out he would have two of the top four picks. “We do think we’re going to get two excellent players who will be building blocks.”

Building blocks? Yes. Franchise cornerstones? Probably not. If you are thinking a Derrick Rose or John Wall or a man-whose-name-shall-not-be-mentioned-in-Cleveland, then this draft is going to disappoint. There’s talent, but there is not that kind of talent.

The top pick is going to be Duke’s Kyrie Irving. Gilbert danced around the “who are you going to draft?” question after that lottery and Cleveland’s front office will do the same for weeks. But short of injury or him wearing an “I love the Taliban” T-shirt to his team interview, Irving is a lock. Coach Byron Scott has had success with Chris Paul and Jason Kidd and he needs a strong point guard to run his system.

While some scouts think Irving is a franchise changer, a majority tend to think he is a future borderline All-Star — a good player but a guy you are going to need more people around of quality. Basically, rather than Chris Paul think Stephen Curry or Chauncey Billups in terms of impact.

Then at No. 4 the Cavs will likely end up with one of the European big men, either Enes Kanter, Jan Vesely or Jonas Valanciunas (here is our man Steve Alexander’s mock draft at Rotoworld). All quality future rotation players, maybe eventually starters in the NBA. But not dominant big men inside. Kanter has shown real upside (which is why he may not fall to the four slot) but there are questions about a guy who basically has not played organized ball in two years.

Combine these to picks with the athletic J.J. Hickson and a returned Anderson Varejao and there are a few nice building blocks. That’s a team likely on its way to being something like the Indiana Pacers — good but lacking the one superstar player the team needs.

So celebrate Cleveland, winning the lottery is a big help in rebuilding. But there are a lot more steps to take.

  1. bhester1906 - May 17, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    Now they will win 25 games. Way to go!!!!

  2. bigtrav425 - May 17, 2011 at 10:59 PM

    Its alright all we need is a few parts…Next yrs draft is where its at!

  3. ljl2 - May 17, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    • savocabol1 - May 18, 2011 at 8:03 AM

      They will never acknowledge that their previous prediction is dead wrong.

      “They get a first-round pick this season that likely going to be in the 7-10 range and they said this is the primary motivation.”

      • cosanostra71 - May 18, 2011 at 12:05 PM

        It WAS likely in the 7-10 range. It had something like a 2% chance of jumping to #1. It worked out for the Cavs, but hindsight is 20/20. At the time, were you really a fan of the trade? Obviously, it worked out in the long run, but looking back now and saying that was a stupid idea is like looking back now and saying that Jay Williams was a bad #2 pick.

      • savocabol1 - May 18, 2011 at 2:00 PM

        Honestly, yes, most of Cleveland was a fan of the trade. We really didn’t want to see Mo go, but we loved getting a first round pick for him. Getting Davis’s contract wasn’t much of a deal for us because of having the trade exemption still in our back pockets. He literally got a standing ovation when he first game in during a home game. Whether he deserves it or not due to playing is not what I mean by that, I am saying the we gave him a standing ovation to let him know we are embracing him as one of our own.

    • ljl2 - May 18, 2011 at 1:23 PM

      it’s interesting how some of these can’t be replied to…but…

      Cosanostra – The trade was always about the pick. The Cavs said that from the beginning. Anytime a team gets an unprotected lottery pick without giving up a superstar, that is a win no matter where it lands. You are able to get younger for cheaper.

  4. volcom2143 - May 17, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    Way to steal points made in my comment in your last story …. And no mention of the old article where you trashed the cavs for the trade that involved baron davis , mo will and the draft pick . Great reporting …. Ha

    • ljl2 - May 17, 2011 at 11:14 PM

      don’t worry, I will be posting the link on every draft/cavs related story from now until who knows when.

  5. crimhollingsworth - May 17, 2011 at 11:30 PM

    The 4th overall in a very weak draft in exchange for accepting Baron Davis’ contract? Somebody got hosed. Get real Cleveland. And no, I’m not a “hata” I’m just a casual NBA fan in Missouri.

    • savocabol1 - May 18, 2011 at 8:09 AM

      Very weak draft to your standards. In total is the draft down this year compared to most…..who knows we wont know that till years from now. But there is definitly top ten talent in this draft (but the great reporters on this site will make you think otherwise).

      Baron Davis showed signs that at times he is worthly of at least some of that huge contract this year with the Cavs. He wasn’t a baby (or clubhouse cancer) once, as was incorrectly predicted in numerous articles on this site.

      At this point arguing that the Clippers got the better end of the deal is downright laughable. They would have gotten the number one pick.

    • ljl2 - May 18, 2011 at 9:47 AM

      Uh…they got #1 to take on Davis. #4 is their own pick. But hey, don’t let the facts get in your way!

    • ctownbrown84 - May 18, 2011 at 9:57 AM

      Get real hollingsworth. 2 top picks to a team that is in desperate need to rebuild and as Savocabol points out, they got the number one pick from the Clippers lottery draw… the 4th pick was with their own. Also, the price of Davis’ contract is a moot point since it’s basically like monopoly money to Dan Gilbert. So you’re right, you’re not a “hata”… just an idiot if you really think the Cavs got “hosed”.

    • cosanostra71 - May 18, 2011 at 12:06 PM

      They got the #1 overall for accepting Baron Davis’ contract.

  6. jstrizzle - May 17, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    Why should we assume what these players will become. Russell Westbrook was a head scratcher at 4 and is now 2nd team All-NBA. Too early to judge before they even step foot on an NBA court.

  7. bravin4evr - May 18, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    This lottery is BS. There has 2b a better way of doing. I am not the only one who thinks this is fixed!!!!

    • bleedhouse - May 18, 2011 at 1:09 AM

      and i dont beliveve osama is dead without some proof either!!!

    • cosanostra71 - May 18, 2011 at 12:08 PM

      The lottery prevents tanking.

      But I agree there should be some changes. I don’t like that over half the NBA makes the playoffs. The NBA should adopt a new playoff system where the top 10 teams make the playoffs, regardless of conference. The bottom 10 teams are in the lottery for the top 3 picks like usual. The middle 10 teams are slotted in the draft in order of record.

  8. trbowman - May 18, 2011 at 12:45 AM

    Cavaliers get it.


  9. pl4tinum514 - May 18, 2011 at 6:51 AM

    The clippers pick is the one that win the lottery.. you fail

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