The Cleveland Cavaliers have the #1 pick in the NBA Draft. With that pick they are expected to draft either Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid, but is it possible for them to draft both players? No this isn’t some fantasy idea that since we have such great Lottery luck that we can just take 2 players with 1 pick, instead it is born out of a couple thoughts from numerous interactions on Twitter today.
The Cavs have been linked to trading for Kevin Love, without using the #1 pick. Whether that could or does happen is up for debate. Do the Cavs want to surrender that much for a player who could leave in a year? Are the T’Wolves able to find a better package then the Cavs can put together? And finally, and most important for this article, could the Cavs make a different trade with similar assets? Lets walk through the scenario where the Cavs draft both Wiggins and Embiid:
With the First Pick the Cavs select Andrew Wiggins
With Wiggins on board the Cavs can either place him at the 3 spot and keeping Dion Waiters as the start shooting guard or now can look to move Waiters in any move. Wiggins has been hyped for years, has extreme athletic abilities and is still growing into his body. It is possible that Wiggins could challenge Kevin Durant for tallest off-guard/small forward in 2 to 3 years.
With the Second Pick the Bucks select Jabari Parker
The Milwaukee Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo, will now be called The Greek Freak to save from spelling that name too many times, as their starting small forward of the future. They also have Larry Sanders, a personal trade target of this writer, whose extension kicks in this year, that they were once high on as a defensive center. With that they add Parker whose defensive position is more suited to play the 4 spot while giving them great offensive production from the wing or the post. With The Greek Freak, Parker and Sanders the Bucks front court is set for years to come. Drafting Embiid would duplicate Sanders, though Embiid’s offensive ceiling is much higher and character doesn’t seem like an issue. Instead of taking a risk the Bucks take a more certain thing that fits with the talent already on their team. O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight round out a interesting starting 5.
With the Third Pick the 76ers…
Last year the 76ers traded for injured Nerlens Noel, a defensive minded center who sat out all last year. With Embiid the only one of the big 3 left on the board the 6ers feel a bit trapped by their options. Embiid and Noel couldn’t play together with any spacing. (Side note: Anthony Davis and Noel would of been a perfect fit on both ends of the floor, if the Pelicans didn’t make this trade.) None the less the 76ers now sit with a prime pick that doesn’t fit a need. They could look to move it to a team wanting to move up or could trade to move the pick for a young player, depth for their roster and future assets to continue their rebuild. Enter the Cavaliers:
The 76ers pick up the hometown boy in Waiters who slides in next to Michael Carter-Williams for a dynamic backcourt that fits together better then Waiters and Kyrie Irving. MCW looks to pass and has improved his jump shot. Waiters can play on or off the ball and shoulder the wing scoring load for the 76ers, who have zero wing players of note at this time. Thompson, or Anderson Varejao, give the 6ers more depth in their front court and allow them to move the money Young is owed, both this year and next. The 3 first round picks may seem like a lot but the Cavs see a rare opportunity to build a young squad cheap, in the best draft in years, and sacrifice 1 year of their own pick and the extra picks they acquired. The 76ers still have the 10th pick as well as multiple 2nd round picks to build their team on youth while letting the core of MCW, Waiters and Noel grow together. They could have a Top 5 pick next year as well as two middle of the first picks and a later first to finish their youth movement quickly.
For the Cavs they lose some depth but add the dominate 2 way center they desperately need. If they are willing to give up a ton to get Love, who could split in a year, it would make a ton of sense to move the same amount, or a bit more, for Embiid who would be around for at least 5 years. The Cavs would then build around a perfect “fit” team of Irving, Wiggins and Embiid while still having Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev, Anthony Bennett, Tyler Zeller, Young and Varejao around. They would also have a good amount of money left to spend:
The Cavaliers sign…
A small forward. Any small forward. LeBron James would be a fun dream, with the youth and talent on the team he could be interested. Luol Deng could return to provide defense at the 3 and 5 positions allowing Bennett to grow as an offensive 4 man. Deng’s return is much more likely if the Cavs do sign Adrian Griffin to coach the team. The Cavs could sign restricted free agent Gordon Hayward to a big deal. Karasev could develop into a player in the next year or two as well. For this article we will assume signing Deng as Griffin is the only coach we know for sure will interview for the job.
The Cavs would then roll out a starting 5 of Irving, Wiggins, Deng, Young and Embiid. The Cavs would have solid to great defenders in Wiggins, Deng, and Embiid and good to great offensive players in Irving, Young and Embiid (at least for a center in the league today). Wiggins’ offensive development would be huge for this starting 5.
Coming off the bench the Cavs could roll out Jack, Karasev, Bennett, Varejao, Zeller and Matthew Dellevadova as well as whatever other free agents they can draw to their young super team. While not a huge amount of wing firepower the Cavs would depend on Jack and development from Karasev and Bennett to carry the offensive load. Zeller is a solid pick and pop player who can really run the floor, something this team would want to do regularly, while Varejao would be a solid veteran presence as well.
Exciting? Unrealistic? Scary good? Scary bad? What is your feedback?