April 19, 2014

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NBA lottery no sure fix, but it’s all the Cavs have left

The boss wanted a Cavaliers column for today’s paper. Since a completely accurate, all-encompassing, two-word sentence — “They stink” — probably wouldn’t suffice, we’ll turn our attention to this: Bring on the draft lottery.

An NBA-worst 8-29 after losing to Phoenix on Sunday — it was their 10th straight defeat and 20th in the last 21 games — the Cavs are No. 1 in one regard: If the season ended today and not 45 games from now , they would have the best odds in the league of winning the lottery.

Never mind that the team that finishes with the worst record in the NBA has only a 25 percent chance of securing the No. 1 pick.

Never mind that this draft is considered one of the weakest in many years, especially at the top.

Never mind that the Washington Wizards won the lottery last year, got John Wall and still stink.

Never mind that the Los Angeles Clippers won two years ago, got Blake Griffin and still stink.

.

.

Never mind that we don’t even know if there will be a 2011-12 season due to an impending lockout.

Cavs fans, from everything gleaned from those who still care, want lottery information.

And, really, who can blame them?

While Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was tweeting about undrafted rookie Manny Harris following a close loss to the Suns — “Insightful Cavs fans get strategy to build and compete for long run. Young, athletic guys & great picks. NEVER gonna waiver. Like Manny?! Yep!” — that’s not enough right now.

Sure, Harris has had two straight solid games. Sure, he’s young and athletic. But he hardly qualifies as a building block at the moment.

Ditto for Christian Eyenga.

And Samardo Samuels.

And J.J. Hickson.

And the currently injured Daniel Gibson.

And the out-for-the-season Anderson Varejao.

And, of course, Mo Williams.

This is not to say guys like Harris and Eyenga aren’t intriguing. They should be playing — and playing a lot — because the Cavaliers have nothing to lose other than more and more games, which is highly likely regardless of who coach Byron Scott puts on the floor.

All that leads us back to the very real possibility of the Cavs finishing with the worst record in the league.

Remarkably, Cleveland has so far accomplished this feat without even trying to stink, like it did in 2002-03 to increase its chances of landing You Know Who.

No, this team has stunk very much on its own merit, with Scott, until recent games and a rash of injuries, playing veterans like Anthony Parker (now injured), Jamario Moon (now in the doghouse), Joey Graham (now injured and seemingly in no rush to be brought back) and Jawad Williams (since cut) in an attempt to win and — gasp! — make the playoffs.

(Everyone, now, in your best Jim Mora voice: Playoffs?)

Those days are long over — if they were ever here in the first place.

Williams and Jamison will continue to play to maximize the opportunity of finding some sucker willing to take them in a trade — and Gibson is young enough to stick with once he’s healthy — but we’re going to see a lot more of Harris, Eyenga, Samuels and Hickson in the coming months.

The guess here is you won’t be able to stand the sight of most of them by season’s end, but if one or two turns out to be a diamond in the rough AND the Cavs get the No. 1 pick, Cleveland might have the opportunity to take someone like:
Perry Jones: Jones is a 6-foot-11, 235-pound freshman at Baylor who is 19 years old and projected to be a small forward in the NBA. His wing span is said to be 7 feet, 2 inches and he has perimeter skills, including the ability to handle the ball, shoot the three and get to the rim. That’s the scouting report, anyway. In reality, Jones is averaging 12.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and shooting .125 from beyond the arc (1-for-8).

Kyrie Irving: Irving is a 6-2, 172-pound point guard at Duke who was sensational while averaging 17.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists for the Blue Devils as an 18-year-old freshman. However, he has missed the last seven games due to a toe injury and could be done for the season.

Terrence Jones: Jones, who turned 19 Sunday, is a 6-8, 244-pound freshman at Washington and is projected to be a small forward in the NBA. He’s averaging 17.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting .316 from beyond the arc. One website compared him to Lamar Odom and Marvin Williams, both solid pros but far from franchise players.

Harrison Barnes: Barnes is a 6-7, 212-pound freshman small forward for North Carolina. He’s averaging 11.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting just .376 from the field.

Jared Sullinger: Sullinger, as most fans know, is the 18-year-old freshman averaging 17.9 points and 10.3 rebounds for Ohio State. He’s 6-9, 286 pounds and projected to be a power forward in the NBA, where he should have a long career.
Enes Kanter: Kanter is a 6-11, 261-pound center from Turkey who planned to play at Kentucky, but last week he was ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits while playing in Europe.

OK, there you have it, folks. Right now, those are considered the top prospects for the 2011 NBA Draft, though we currently have no idea whether they will even declare for it.

Hmmm.

Maybe a Cavs column that simply said, “They stink,” would have sufficed after all.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.