NBA Draft: Life After LeBron James


Kyrie Irving
Irving brings optimism after LeBron left with disappointment

The Cleveland Cavaliers were the worst team in the NBA last season. It’s not easy to compete when your best player, and best in the league, decides to leave and you get nothing in return. LeBron James certainly damaged the Cavaliers, but there is reason for optimism.

Cleveland selected Duke point guard Kyrie Irving with the first pick in the 2011 draft. It was a big risk, too. Irving only played in 11 college games, so the Cavaliers didn’t really know what to expect from him in his rookie season. Turns out, Irving is the favorite to win Rookie of the Year and has a bright future. Cleveland is also looking to make some more progress this offseason. They have first round picks and two second round picks.

I understand the Cavaliers finished 21-45 this past season, but I actually like what this roster could look like in the near future. Looking at their current contract situation, their highest-paid player who is guaranteed money next season is Anderson Varejao at $8.6 million and I really don’t mind that contract. Varejao gives you a lot of energy and is a good defender and rebounder. I really hope that the Cavs don’t re-sign veteran power forward Antawn Jamison because they have Tristan Thompson waiting in the wings. As it stands, the Cavs only have eight players under contract for next season, so there will be a lot of new faces on this team next season. They have $31,612,209 under contract for next season and if the current salary cap stands at $60,000,000 next season, the Cavs would have $28,387,791 to spend on draft picks, free agents and re-signing players. You can check out the rest of their contracts by clicking here.

Some of their teams needs are shooting guard, small forward and possibly center. Irving is their point guard for the next decade. I think Varejao is a viable option at center, but I could see the Cavs wanting to upgrade that position. I think Thompson can become a good power forward if the Cavs feel comfortable letting him start next season. So, like I said earlier, their glaring needs are shooting guard and small forward. I think they will be drafting in the top five with their pick, and their second first round pick is from the Los Angeles Lakers that they received when they traded Ramon Sessions. I have fallen in love with the idea of the Cavs drafting Florida Gator star shooting guard Bradley Beal with their pick. Beal would do more than fill the void at shooting guard. Pairing him alongside Irving would give the Cavs one of the best young back-courts in the league. With their second first round pick, the Cavs need to look to add depth. Looking at some draft projections, I have seen the Cavs projected to take Syracuse’s center Fab Melo and St. Bonaventure’s power forward Andrew Nicholson. I don’t disagree with those projections. I think targeting Nicholson would be their smartest move. Nicholson is a senior and had a great year averaging 18.5 pgg and 8.4 rpg for a team that made the NCAA tournament. With their two second round picks, the Cavs should keep adding veteran college players. I have seen on draft boards the Cavs are projected to take Draymond Green. I love that pick but I don’t know if he will be left. If he is, then they should take him. And with their last pick, the Cavs should look at Georgetown’s center Henry Sims. I liked what Sims did in the NCAA tournament. He should be a serviceable player in the NBA.

To recap, I have the Cavs taking Beal, Nicholson, Green, and Sims, filling and adding depth to four positions.

Now let’s discuss some possible free agent targets for Cleveland. They need to find a starting small forward because I wouldn’t expect [Draymond] Green to start. Some possible small forward targets are Mickael Pietrus, Matt Barnes, Carlos Delfino, Gerald Wallace (he has a player option for next season), and C.J. Miles. Some other possible free agent targets are Jamal Crawford (SG; Crawford has a player option for next season), Carl Landry (PF), Jordan Farmar (PG; Farmar has a player option for next season), and Ian Mahinmi (C).

After LeBron left, a lot of people thought the rebuilding process would take a lot longer. Cleveland will be entering the second year of the rebuilding process.

Irving was a nice start, but this season will be even more crucial if Dan Gilbert wants to guarantee his promise of winning a title before LeBron.

I don’t know Mr. Gilbert, the Miami Heat is looking pretty good right now.

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