It has been said a thousand times that this year’s NBA Draft is “weak.” That is not true. People often look at the very top picks of the draft and determine whether it is a good draft, but just because there is no one who stands out as a Number 1 Pick doesn’t mean that the draft is weak. It is essential that you look at the 10th to 20th picks to determine how good a draft is. The 1996 Draft is considered to be one of the greatest draft classes of all-time, but it would be merely considered a good one if it wasn’t for the great players who were drafted in the middle of the 1st round. Kobe Bryant was drafted 13th overall, then immediately after him it was Peja Stojakovic, then Steve Nash right after him. Jermaine O’Neal followed at 17th, then Zydrunas Illgauskas was 20th.
Some years the players that are drafted higher are huge busts, and the draft looks awful. But one player can always save the draft. Look at 2006, where Adam Morrison, Tyrus Thomas, and Shelden Williams were all Top 5 picks. That had to be an awful draft, right? No, not at all. In addition to LaMarcus Aldridge, who was picked 2nd overall, Brandon Roy (6th), Rudy Gay (8th), Rajon Rondo (21st), Kyle Lowry (24th), and Paul Millsap (47th) are all solid players that came out of this draft later in the rounds. If a team likes a player that much, they should take him no matter how much they think it is a stretch. If you think that he isn’t going to make it to your next pick, and he is going to be a star, TAKE HIM.
Of course there are going to be busts and sleepers, but that will happen every year, and it will continue to happen every year. Teams decide to take players with “A lot of potential”, but these players don’t often pan out. Other times a player is just not evaluated correctly, and he is not the type of pro that they thought that he would be. Either way, it usually sets the franchise back.
I’m not saying that Noel is going to be a bust. He blocks shots, and is athletic. But where is the scoring? Where is the rebounding? Athleticism can get you a lot of rebounds, as Dwight Howard proves, but Nerlens weighs 206 lbs! That is about the same weight as Jrue Holiday, who is 7 inches shorter. He is still a kid out there, and he is not ready to bang down low with the likes of Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, and Marc Gasol. I would have assumed that he would have hit the weight room when he was out for the last portion of his freshman season, but apparently not. I don’t see his potential that everyone else does. Right now he looks like a tall Small Forward who can’t shoot or play perimeter defense, but teams are scouting him as a Power Forward/Center. I would stay away if I were the Cavs.
So if not Noel, then who? Otto Porter is an all-around player at the position the Cavs need to address the most. Ben McLemore has the highest ceiling of anyone in this draft, but he hasn’t become the player who takes over a game yet. Victor Oladipo is efficient and is a great defender. But the Cavs just took Waiters last year, so why take another Shooting Guard in Oladipo or McLemore? And Anthony Bennett has the most NBA-ready body, and can play on the blocks, while also being able to shoot outside. These four players seem like the only other choices for the Cavs, but are any of them a better choice than Noel? Yes! In fact, I would all take all of these players with the first pick instead of Noel.
But of these choices, which player should the Cavaliers take? It is pretty simple, Ben McLemore. The biggest weakness of his game (not taking over games) wouldn’t be a problem in Cleveland because Kyrie Irving is already the star of this team, and McLemore would have time to develop while playing alongside Irving. As for Waiters, he would be able to go back to his sixth man role, which is where he prospered in his days at Syracuse. McLemore will spread the floor and allow for space for Irving to drive in the lane. The Cavaliers will be contending in the Eastern Conference within the next 3 years if they draft McLemore.
Don’t mess around with the first pick of the draft. Take the best player. And if teams have learned anything over the last 30 years in the Draft, it is that a great skill player is better than a big man with a lot of risks. Whether is was Perkins over Jordan, Darko over Wade and Melo, or even Oden over Durant, franchises thought that they would take the risk of getting a “Franchise Center”, when they could have picked very good players that could have changed their franchises.