The DEFEND Cleveland Show

Drafting Season: Keep It Simple Stupid



Episode 2: Whoa…I did not expect that to happen.

(To read Episode 1 of this ongoing saga…click here)

I got to admit that going into this draft I was none too excited about the lottery itself, mainly because I did not expect to win it.  I’d begun organizing my big board and talking myself out of Nerlens Noel under the assumption that a draft board would actually be needed and that I would need to make myself feel better about not getting the one true exceptional talent in the draft.  I focused on Noel’s injuries and lack of an offensive game.  Mike likes to call me “Joe the Justifier”1 and it held true in this case.  I expected the best possible outcome would not occur and already had begun concocting a narrative as to why it didn’t really matter.  I wanted to believe the Cavs were better off not getting saddled with the proposition of having to select Noel.  Honestly though, that just isn’t true.  The Cavs won big and I fully believe that a Nerlens Noel “Flat Top Wig Day” is going to be headed to the Q here soon.

If we look back to the Cavs securing the #1 pick two years ago the situation is fairly similar.  Both drafts lacked much superstar talent and the most highly touted talent in both drafts suffered injuries midway through the season.  The main narrative against selecting Kyrie back then and will be used against Noel during this drafting season is their injuries.  Just like in 2011 though, the Cavs shouldn’t talk themselves out of the CLEAR top pick just because of an injury concern.

“This is a weak draft” has filtered down from the NBA scouts to general public as media coverage of this draft heightens.  What does that really mean though?  This draft has NBA talent, but it is hard to project any of these players into becoming 1st or 2nd options without a ton of development.  Noel though is clearly a step above the rest of this pool.  He is younger than most of the prospects being touted as lottery picks, he is a legit 7’0 footer with a 7’4 wingspan.  Oh and he grew an inch in the past season and could still be growing.  His sly frame has its disadvantages, mainly in defending some of the bulkier post players in the NBA, but this same frame is what will allow him to defend the pick n’ roll better than the majority of the lumbering centers in this league.  As much as people want to point to Roy Hibbert and Memphis’ bigs as reasons you need a bulky center, the small ball Heat will probably prevail over the Pacers and Tony Parker is pick n’rolling Memphis’ bigs to death, particularly Zach Randolph on their way to a 2-0 series lead.

Despite the injury and one sided game there is no one as talented as him in this draft.   Not only does he possess the physical tools, height, length, and leaping ability, but he possesses a certain defensive acumen that is ahead of most freshmen.  He knows defense is his bread and butter and as such already understands that at this next level it will be his main role.  There is obviously hope he can learn to utilize his natural talent on the offensive end, but even if he only makes minor strides there, taking a defensive minded super talent is not such a bad thing.   Joakim Noah is not what you hope for with the #1 overall pick, but if Joakim Noah is the best player in a draft then you want him because he is going to help you win a ton of games.  And Noel has way more potential than Noah.  We have the talent to score consistently in Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving.  We saw it at times last season when the Cavs were healthy.  They don’t need a ton of help on that end when compared to the defensive end.  Noel is great fit.

The Cavs won’t come out and say they are drafting Noel, but I’m 99% sure they are.  Why even leave the 1%?  Two reasons,  if some team comes in and blows the Cavaliers away with a trade proposition they might take it, but I honestly can’t think of what that trade might be.  The other possibility is I’m underestimating the amount of pressure Chris Grant is under to win this year.  This won’t stop people from going to the NBA Trade Machine and plugging in every trade in the book, but as of now no one has thrown a trade at me that really makes a ton of sense.  Most of the teams in the lottery who would have the time to wait for Noel to come back from injury and develop don’t have the players needed to acquire the pick, and I’m not sure why a team currently in the playoffs would trade for him considering they’d have to give up a lot and it’s rather uncertain when he’ll be ready to contribute.  If you’re trading Noel for a lottery pick next year is something else that might even be tough just because of how highly touted the 2014 Draft is.  Oh, and we’re not getting Kevin Love so please stop.  Kevin Love is a top 10 player in this league with two years left on his contract and David Kahn, who Love supposedly wasn’t fond of, is out as GM of the Timberwolves.  Let’s spare ourselves a lot of time and end that discussion now.

In Cleveland sometimes we come to expect the worst even when gifted with something like the #1 overall pick.  We think the gift must be tainted, that it’s fool’s gold.  We can overthink crucial points in our team’s histories and look only to what could go wrong.  The next few weeks will be full of this type of thinking all over Cavalier radio, blogs, and print media.  In the end though the right decision is to pick the best talent when afforded the opportunity and I believe Chris Grant will do just that.  As for the biggest bummer out of this whole affair?   We’re going to have to wait until January to see our new toy at play.


-Joe Mastrantoni


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  1. A reference to “DCF with Mike and Joe” podcast, where Joe is often never wrong because he always finds a reason to justify his rational. No matter how crazy it may seem to anyone other than Joe. It’s actually a super power of his as determined by Mike, thus the moniker. []

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Posted by on May 22 2013. Filed under Featured, Hands Down, Man's Down. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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