A friend raised a curious question the other day. He asked, “Isn’t it funny that the Cavs got the No. 1 overall pick again? I’m just saying, it could be Stern’s payback for them losing LeBron.”
“Stern,” of course, is NBA commissioner David Stern, and LeBron, well … he needs no intro. Neither, actually, does Stern. If you’ve gotta ask who, then never mind.
My friend is one of those conspiracy theorists. He raised this same question two years ago when the Ping-Pong balls — or whatever the NBA uses — fell right for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They used that No. 1 overall pick on Kyrie Irving, a fine talent but no LeBron.
Now, with the No. 1 overall pick again, the Cavs are poised to pick up another talent. Unfortunately for this star-starved team, no one in the 2013 draft is the next LeBron or the next Kevin Durant. So if Stern did fix those Ping-Pong balls to favor the Cavaliers, he didn’t pick the right draft to help ’em.
For whoever the Cavaliers pick, he won’t be an immediate game-changer, and if they don’t do more homework, the team could end up with the next Greg Oden, the big bust from the 2007 draft who was out of basketball last season.
With a No. 1 overall, a team can’t afford to swing and miss, which is the risk that comes with any draft pick. Most of the players that teams select in the first round are serviceable. They belong in the category of Tyler Hansbrough, Harrison Barnes, Enes Kanter, Arron Afflalo, Kemba Walker or, worst of the recent lot, Jimmer Fredette.
In too many years, the Cavs had not made great use of their first-round picks, wasting No. 1s on J.J. Hickson and Christian Eyenga. Now they seemed poised to get nothing much from this pick either, but for one reason: Ain’t much to get.
When the consensus No. 1 is Nerlens Noel, the Cavs might be wise to hand the pick back and plead with Stern to wait for another season to rig the NBA draft. They can’t possibly be excited about this shallow pool of talent.
But in Cleveland, the Cavaliers and their fans have a low quotient for excitement. They spent much of whatever excitement exists in this luckless city on the LeBron era. Now, they are stumbling along, firing coaches and trying to build a dynasty from mismatched parts.
They won’t find a dynasty-maker in this year’s draft, and if they use their No. 1 pick on Noel, they run the danger of needing yet another miracle from Stern next year to get back to being a team that NBA fans want to watch. Even a conspiracy theorist can’t expect him to make miracles two drafts in a row.
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