Still reeling from loss of LeBron James, Cleveland is torn between Kyrie Irving and Williams.
The NBA draft is less than a week away, yet the team holding the No.1 pick isn’t sure which way it will go.
Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott told Yahoo! Sports columnist Marc J. Spears that the organization is still torn between Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona sophomore forward Derrick Williams. The Cavs also own the fourth pick in the June 23 draft.
“We’re all keeping an open mind and understand we have a few more workouts to go through. Both of those guys are very, very good basketball players in our minds,” said Scott, who just completed his first season with the post-LeBron James Cavs. “Both are going to have a long career, but no way are we set on a guy.”
But the Cavs ought to already know who their guy is by now and the choice should be easy. The No. 1 pick should be used on Williams.
Both Irving and Williams are special players, but the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Williams has some intangibles that will be hard to find in the rest of this draft. Analysts keep calling him a tweener, but what is most important is he’s a winner. Just ask Arizona, where he seemingly willed the Wildcats to wins the past two seasons as a scorer/playmaker and defender on the other end.
It will take Williams a season or two but his ability to shoot, score and lead will make him a superstar in this league before long. And forget all the tweener talk, Williams has the skills to be an overpowering small forward in the NBA.
For an organization that hasn’t had a truly great point guard since Mark Price in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the pull to take a shot at Irving is understandable. Problem is, we just don’t know much about Irving yet. He played just 11 regular season games for Blue Devils – and was spectacular most of the time -- before a toe injury derailed his first and only college season.
Even more to the point, there are guards in the draft such as Kentucky’s Brandon Knight and UConn’s Kemba Walker who could fit the Cavs need at point guard. There is no other Williams, an athletic scorer, around.
Cleveland, which has been reeling since James infamously announced last summer he was taking his talents to South Beach, certainly needs to make sure they get a dynamic one-two punch with this rare opportunity.
“When you have to go through the process of re-loading with what we’re doing as a basketball team, it’s always great when you can start with two of the top five players in the draft,” Scott said to Yahoo! Sports. “They’re going to be young. Hopefully, they’re going to be hungry. We feel that there are 10, 12, 15 guys in this draft that are going to be very productive in this league if not next year, two years down the line or something.
“You’re going to have some guys that are going to surprise people in this draft. I don’t think it’s as weak as everyone says it is.”
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is said to favor Williams but is willing to defer to his more knowledgeable staff that seems to like Irving. A couple weeks ago it sounded as though they both might get what they want when it was rumored the Cavs were involved in a three-way deal with Detroit and Minnesota that could have netted them the No. 1 and No. 2 picks. That scenario could still be in the works but it has certainly died down.
But if doesn’t the Cavs should take Williams with the No. 1 pick and trust that either Knight or Walker – two special players – will be there at No. 4.
(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)