The Cleveland Cavaliers secured their second No. 1 overall pick in the three years since LeBron James left town Tuesday night in the NBA draft lottery.
In 2011, after securing the No. 1 pick through a midseason trade with the Los Angeles Clippers (D’oh!), they went out on a limb and took an injured Kyrie Irving from Duke after seeing the young point guard play only 11 games in college.
This year they are projected to take Nerlens Noel — a considerable favorite to be picked first regardless of who won the lottery — who tore his ACL midway through his collegiate season with Kentucky.
Noel averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and a staggering 4.5 blocks per game with Kentucky. He would fill a major hole in the middle for the Cavs, who finished 27th in the league in defensive efficiency this season and were routinely abused in the paint.
Since James’ departure three seasons ago, the Cavs have been unable to fill a gaping hole at small forward, which is why Otto Porter — the impressive 6’9 sophomore from Georgetown — could jump Noel based on need.
Cavaliers management is intent on making a playoff run in the upcoming season, and Alonzo Gee would be a tough sell to start on a playoff contender.
Taking everything into account, Cavs’ GM Chris Grant is in an incredibly envious position moving forward. Cleveland beholds an All-Star point guard in Kyrie Irving, a rapidly improving power forward in Tristan Thompson and a dynamic scorer in Dion Waiters. Add in Anderson Varejao, approximately $18 million in cap space and the No. 1, No. 19, No. 31 and No. 33 picks in this years draft, and the Cavaliers are prime for a turnaround in 2013-’14.
As for the rest of the lottery and possible selections:
2. Orlando Magic — Ben McLemore, Trey Burke, Alex Len
3. Washington Wizards — Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo, Alex Len
4. Charlotte Bobcats — Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, Alex Len
5. Phoenix Suns — Otto Porter, Anthony Bennett, Victor Oladipo
6. New Orleans Pelicans — Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Shabazz Muhammad
7. Sacramento Kings — Victor Oladipo, Anthony Bennett
8. Detroit Pistons — Shabazz Muhammad
9. Minnesota Timberwolves — Shabazz Muhammad, C.J. McCollum
10. Portland Trailblazers — C.J. McCollum, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
11. Philadelphia 76ers — Cody Zeller, Steven Adams
12. Oklahoma City Thunder — C.J. McCollum, Gorgui Dieng
13. Dallas Mavericks — Michael-Carter WIlliams, Dario Saric
14. Utah Jazz — Glen Rice Jr., Michael-Carter Williams
- For a better outlook on who your team may be interested in drafting where they are now officially slotted in the lottery, check out Joe Kotoch’s combine winners and losers: “May and June are the months when draft stocks plummet or soar. This past week in Chicago one player stood out in the first couple days above the rest, Pittsburgh’s Steven Adams. When polled by NBA GMs and scouts, the one-and-done big man from New Zealand stood out with improved skills offensively as well as explosive athleticism. In fact, Adams emerged as the clear “wow” guy while in Chicago. While group workouts and individual workouts remain between now and draft night, several prospects really helped themselves by participating in all the drills or exceeding expectations in Chicago, whereas several players missed out on a chance to boost their stock.