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Should the Cavaliers take Derrick Williams at No. 1?

Jun 21, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

Arizona v Connecticut Getty Images

Danny Granger, Andre Iguodala and Joe Johnson are all very good basketball players. In fact, they’re All-Stars. But they’ve all been asked to be “the man” on their prospective teams, which hasn’t worked out too well, as they appear to lack that leadership gene.

And whether Derrick Williams deserves to be drafted No. 1 over point guard Kyrie Irving may depend on what kind of leadership skills he possesses.

Although point guards are all the rage in the NBA right now, the two teams in the Finals this season weren’t exactly stacked at the position.  As Derrick Rose, Deron Williams and Chris Paul all watched on television, the Heat’s offense was “directed” by Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers, while Jason Kidd, who is at least 70 years old and averages less than 10 points per game, led the Mavericks’ offense to the title.  Meanwhile, both teams had dominant forwards in Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James.  Yes, James disappeared, but the Heat were there because of his play up until the Finals.  And if you add Kevin Durant to the discussion, forwards are arguably more important to championship teams than point guards.  Or at least they were this season.

Williams, a power forward, is obviously a gifted player, capable of power dunking from two feet at a standstill, or burying a 3-pointer.  In fact, his ability to play both under the rim and outside the 3-point line gives him the chance to be a true superstar in the NBA (and fantasy stud down the line). The Cavaliers, who hold the No. 1 pick, already have Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions on their roster, so finding a point guard in the draft is not a top priority.  And if it is, they could possibly get Brandon Knight at No. 4 if the Jazz pass on him at No. 3.  J.J. Hickson, Antawn Jamison and Samardo Samuels are the power forwards that would stand in Williams’ way in Cleveland, but Hickson can play center (along with Anderson Varejao), while Jamison’s career is starting to wind down.  I’m not sure the Cavs are even going to look at their roster before making their selection, as finding the guy with the right attitude and the leadership gene is going to be key, regardless of his position.

This reminds me a little bit of the 1998 NFL draft, when the Colts were desperately trying to figure out whether to draft Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf.  And believe it or not, folks were pretty torn on which guy they should take.  Both players possessed similar skills in college, but were completely different animals in the pros when it came to mental and physical skills.  Obviously, the Colts made a great decision by taking Manning, who is one of the best leaders we’ve seen in professional sports.

Almost every mock draft you look at has the Cavaliers taking Irving over Williams, but I’m pretty sure that the Cavs have yet to make that decision.  And then there’s this Twitter tidbit from Brian Windhorst, who is a Cavaliers expert: “Heard enough stories about Cavs in-depth research into Derrick Williams to convince me they’re considering him for No. 1 pick.”  If Williams showed up for his Monday’s workout and said all the right things, he could easily be taken No. 1.  After all, it’s one thing to get a dynamic player, like the ones I listed at the start of this post, but a completely different game when looking at guys with heart, who know how to lead/win, versus guys who simply pile up numbers and are quiet in the locker room.

If Williams has a strong interview and leads the Cavaliers to believe that he can be a better leader both on and off the floor than Irving, I think they’ll pull the trigger.  And then the fun will begin, as the Timberwolves might be forced into taking Irving despite Ricky Rubio arriving in Minnesota on Monday.  There have been conflicting reports on whether the Cavs are set to draft Irving with the No. 1 pick on Thursday, but if they don’t, Williams will be the guy.

  1. silk32 - Jun 21, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Regardless of who Cleveland drafts, they will still be a player or two away from being able to compete in their division. When you have an “obvious” #1 choice psychologically you start to over think and find flaws in the obvious choice and start to talk up other candidates. But like they say “think long and you thing wrong”.

  2. kingjoe1 - Jun 21, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Yes, they should. They can still come back and get the PG in Brandon Knight at 4. They would be on their way to appearing respectable again. Possibly even closer to the idea they will win a title b4 LeBron.

  3. ljl2 - Jun 21, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Windhorst has lost inside acces to the Cavs. That was made clear when a couple days before he made that tweet he said the Cavs had decided on Irving and Sam Amico said Cavs insiders said that was not true and anyone who made the claim was “not dialed in” anymore. Come on guys, use the actual local reporters who have access to Cavs inside sources.

    • kinggw - Jun 21, 2011 at 8:35 PM

      Yeah because the Cavs could not have possibly been lying because GMs and team insiders are always so trustworthy at this time of year.

      • ljl2 - Jun 21, 2011 at 8:46 PM

        It wasn’t an issue of whether he happens to be right, its an issue of Windhorst would not be the one to get that info anymore.

  4. sknut - Jun 21, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    I like Williams’s moxie he seems to have that swagger that will help him at the next level. I hope the Cavs take Irving while the T-Wolves can grab Williams.

  5. captainwisdom8888 - Jun 21, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    It would be a mistake to take Irving #1…time will prove that to be true. I see Derrick Williams and Brandon Knight both as better options for the 1st pick overall.

  6. trbowman - Jun 21, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    Yes. Derrick Williams and Knight at 4.

    They might be worried about Knight going to the Jazz at 3, though. Then I’d take Kemba at 4.

    • aldashex86 - Jun 21, 2011 at 2:33 PM

      Williams is a 4, and a small 4 at that. We already have Hickson, Jamison, and Andy at the 4. He is not a 3. No thanks. I’d rather take a PG where we have injury prone Baron and inconsistent Boobie and Ramon (gone). Plus Kyrie is the clear cut best player in this draft. Irving at #1 and either Kanter or Jonas at #4 (shipped over to Europe next year). That way we can suck again next year and continue to build through the draft. Williams is a great athlete without a real position.

      • lebronsinsecurity - Jun 21, 2011 at 2:54 PM

        I agree.. I thinks it’s a little too risky to take Williams #1 based on exactly what you just said.. He’s a tweener, he even said on ESPN radio this morning that he’s not quite sure what his position is, though he claims he’ll create match up problems because of it, which I have a hard time believing.. If anything, he may create a match up problem for his own team.. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’ll bea really good player, just not an all star type due to all of this.. Kyrie is the safe pick to me, even though I’m not 100% certain he’ll turn out like everyone expects.. It’s a strange draft.. I have a feeling some of the most impact players will come from the 7 – 20 picks…

      • ndirishfan1 - Jun 21, 2011 at 8:40 PM

        I’m not quite sure what everybody’s hang up on Kyrie Irving is… Coach K–a proponent of the Bobby Knight motion offense for decades–completely revamped his offense when he found out he was going to have Kyrie Irving running it last season. Duke was blowing through people when Irving was healthy. His injury was nothing more than a freak thing–similar to Derrick Williams’ broken finger. I’ve heard people compare Irving to other Duke flameouts like William Avery, but that couldn’t be more ridiculous. Coach K was angry with Avery when he left early, where he practically opened the door for Irving and told him to go pro… and Coach K has gotten to know the pro game well with his recent work with the USA National Team. I guess what I’m saying is, I’m trusting Coach K’s instincts on this one.

  7. r0llinginthedeep - Jun 21, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    Should the Cavs draft Williams over Irving?

    No. They shouldn’t.

    Not only does Williams not have a defined position at the NBA level, but Irving is a better player. They aren’t in a position where they can afford to take players that fill a need (Apart from the need to get the best player available). Who’s their best player? Varejao? Sessions? Davis? Jamison? Hickson? Every single one of them is replaceable. They can get some half-decent pieces for a guy like Sessions, Hickson or Varejao, as well as being able to take Irving and maybe Kanter or Valunciunas (Depending on which one of Hickson or Varejao went, or simply who they value higher). Williams is great, and if they could somehow package the No. 4 pick and one of these aforementioned players (Although I somehow doubt the T’Wolves would take Sessions back) and send them to Minnesota (Minny wouldn’t necessarily say yes of course) then that would give them a couple of terrific building blocks.

  8. cosanostra71 - Jun 21, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    Isn’t Windhorst the guy who took his pen and paper to South Beach with LeBron? I get the feeling that the Cavs sources he had would tune him out after that…

  9. themanchine - Jun 21, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    Williams #1, Kanter #2, Irving #3, Walker/Knight #4

  10. lucky5934 - Jun 21, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    I personally would take Williams. He is proven his worth throughout the season. He can play some 3 depending on the team, and can draw big 4’s to the outside with his range. Or draft him and trade him for some veteran players (take the wind out of the sails for Minnesota and their trade offers) and then select a point guard at #4 either way.

    • lebronsinsecurity - Jun 21, 2011 at 3:04 PM

      Having the Cavs take Williams would only benefit the Wolves.. Kyrie has more trade value at this point.. All the rumors you hear with the wolves are teams that might be interested in Williams, if Kyrie falls, a ton of teams would come calling.. Highly rated pg’s are not easy to come by..

  11. lucky5934 - Jun 21, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Well, I guess that is where I differ in opinion in regards to player’s potential. Kyrie is just another Cory Maggette in my opinion. He had a few good games at Duke. But I don’t see him as being anything special in the NBA and not much better (if at all) then Walker or Knight. Mark my words, Williams will have the better pro career than Irving.

    • lebronsinsecurity - Jun 21, 2011 at 3:45 PM

      I think Walker, Knight, & Irving all have the potential to be pretty good… I don’t get the Corey Maggette thing at all, the only thing they have in common is that they went to Duke.. Maggette is a SF that plays a completely different type of game..

  12. ginnitti - Jun 21, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    You don’t have to look much farther than the salary breakdown to see this team lacks a long-term core of productivity. Their top salaried players are aging, and/or question marks. I agree with many of these comments that no matter the drafts, this youth will need more help. It’s possible that the right picks in this draft will attract at least 1 productive free agent though.


  13. kinggw - Jun 21, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    There is no way Derrick Williams should be the 1st overall pick. First of all, he doesnt have a definite position. He is too small to play the 4 and nowhere quick enough to play the 3. Secondly, he beasted on very weak competition. Look at Arizona’s schedule last year, its pretty weak. The only decent teams they played were BYU and Kansas. They lost both of those games. I honestly believe the only reason Williams is being considered is because of his performance against Duke in the tournament. Havent GM’s learned from Tyrus Thomas? Williams is a good player, but he is this decade’s Al Harrington and thats not a bad thing, it just means he has no business going number one overall.

  14. ndirishfan1 - Jun 21, 2011 at 8:35 PM

    I’m conflicted on Derrick Williams. I loved watching Williams play at Arizona but it’s hard to see him as the go-to option for a true contender. Watching him in the Elite Eight against Connecticut, he seemed awful hesitant to drive to the basket late against quicker defenders. For him to truly reach an elite NBA level, he’s going to have to be much more explosive than that off the dribble.

    However, I can definitely see him being an excellent professional, especially given his development over the past two years at Arizona after coming in lowly recruited and leaving less than 21 months later as a heralded All-American. He became a terrific perimeter shooter in just over a year, dramatically improving from his freshmen to sophomore season. That type of development shows tremendous heart, passion and work ethic. Plus the guy played the last two months of the season with a broken finger, pushing off surgery and not saying a word about it. Tough player to dislike.

  15. purplenurpls - Jun 22, 2011 at 12:01 AM

    Derrick Williams will be better than Kyrie Irving…I believe that if the Cavaliers take Derrick Williams #1 and hopefully Brandon Knight at #4 (or the next best PG available)
    Then Baron Davis can groom B. Knight which helps Willliams b/c it’s all about team work & Knight getting the ball to where it needs to be! Hickson can play and groom Williams as well. Williams has the outside trey, while Hickson doesn’t, so that works for the Cavs as far as fitting the pieces.
    Derrick goes #1 to the Cavaliers or to the smart team who needs him and that will trade up for him.
    With Derrick to the Cavs we are looking at a starting lineup of B. Knight/Sessions, Baron Davis, Derrick Williams, JJ Hickson, Gee/Samuels (There will probably be a shake up at Center)

  16. 00maltliquor - Jun 22, 2011 at 1:24 AM

    YES. Williams is going to be a lot better then what people think and will most likely be ROY so as long as he gets drafted by the right team that actually needs his services (not the T-wolves). Plus getting either Walker or Knight is not that huge of a downgrade to Irving. Williams is going to be a really good #2/3 guy for some lucky team. Cavs can just pick up a real #1 next year who will probably just be a PG anyways seeing as how that’s been how tides have changed with the abundance of good PGs recently. (maybe Austin Rivers??) It isn’t like they won’t get a top 3 pick next year no matter who they draft now.

  17. 00maltliquor - Jun 22, 2011 at 1:28 AM

    And I swear Williams is a 3. I don’t see him being a 4. Unless a team is trying to go small ball all the time (D’ Antoni!!!).

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