SLAMonline Mock Draft: Dionte Christmas, No. 30
Having missed out on the original Michael Redd, Cleveland takes the next one.
by Farmer Jones
With the 30th pick in the 2009 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select…
Dionte Christmas. Based on their performance during the 2008-09 NBA regular season (a League-best 66 wins) and playoffs, where they came within two wins of reaching the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers theoretically posses a good enough team to have won a championship this year.
Alternately, based on their performance in the Eastern Conference Finals (which might theoretically have gone 4-2 in their favor but, more plausibly, could’ve gone 4-0 to Orlando), and the Magic’s ensuing NBA Finals loss to Los Angeles, the Cavaliers are still one or two modest but important pieces away, and shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking they are a title-worthy team until those pieces have been added.
I tend toward the latter opinion.
With that in mind: Looking at the Orlando team that beat Cleveland in the ECF, and at the Lakers team the Cavs most likely would’ve lost to if they had managed to get by the Magic, what do we see? We see a few similarities:
-An all-NBA-caliber post player good enough to demand either a) regular double teams or b) the full-time attention of a strong, mobile post defender.
-A minimum of two very long and relatively (if not exceptionally) versatile forwards whose length and relative/exceptional versatility allow them to exploit height mismatches at both ends of the court.
There are differences, of course, but the fact remains: To counter either of those opponents (or any other title challenger that might emerge in the next 10 months), Cleveland almost certainly needs to add a player (or two) in order to mount a serious title challenge of its own next season.
There is also reason to believe next season would be a good time for Cleveland to win a championship.
The question is whether the Cavaliers can, with the final pick of the first round, find a player capable of fitting such a need, especially as a rookie. History and common sense tell us it is unlikely. There is hope in later picks, of course — looking only at this year’s Finals, one could argue that the addition of either a Trevor Ariza or Marcin Gortat, both second-round picks, might have been enough to get Cleveland past Orlando — but neither was contributing much as a rookie. It seems unwise for the Cavaliers to count on a hidden gem from this year’s Draft making a difference next May or June.
There then seem to be three options: 1) Choose the best available player regardless of position; 2) choose a player who best fills team needs; 3) choose a player with the greatest potential value in a trade. Choice #1 seems logical, but also seems better suited for teams at the top of the Draft. Choice #2 makes sense, except in the unlikelihood of said player filling that need well enough as a rookie to make much difference. Choice #3 is intriguing but, for the purposes of this mock draft, highly impractical.
The point, if it wasn’t clear, is that the 2009 NBA Draft is unlikely to have much impact on the 2009-10 Cavaliers. But as “pass” is not, to the best of my knowledge, an acceptable answer when a team’s turn comes up, Cleveland will draft somebody. Today, they are mock-drafting Temple guard Dionte Christmas.
(Farmer’s note: I realize that Wake Forest forward James Johnson is still on our mock Draft board. Going purely on the “best available” criteria, it might seem crazy for me not to choose this borderline Lottery pick here. And indeed, Johnson might be a great fit on this Cavalier team. However, as I’m trying to keep this somewhat realistic, and as it is inconceivable that he will be available at No. 30 on Thursday night, I’m not going to pick him here.)
Back to Mr. Christmas: A long-armed, 6-5 shooting guard who has been compared by nearly everyone to Michael Redd for shared similarities in size, non-mindblowing-athleticism and dead-eye shot. Dionte was a four-year college player, so we like his chances of being able to contribute right away. We like his shooting ability, especially given the open looks he’ll get playing off LeBron. We like his length, which would come in handy trying to shoot over and defend the sort of long perimeter players who exposed Cleveland in the ECF (and would have in the NBA Finals). And we like that he seems to have a chip on his shoulder, in the best sense of that phrase.
This year’s Courtney Lee? Maybe. Mike Redd 2.0? Perhaps. The final piece of the puzzle and the guy who single-handedly keeps LeBron in Cleveland? Probably not.
But you never know.
|2009 SLAMonline Mock Draft Results|
|1||L.A. Clippers||Blake Griffin|
|2||Memphis Grizzlies||Hasheem Thabeet|
|3||Oklahoma City Thunder||Ricky Rubio|
|4||Sacramento Kings||Brandon Jennings|
|5||Washington Wizards||Jordan Hill|
|6||Minnesota Timberwolves||Demar DeRozan|
|7||Golden State Warriors||James Harden|
|8||New York Knicks||Stephen Curry|
|9||Toronto Raptors||Tyreke Evans|
|10||Milwaukee Bucks||Jonny Flynn|
|11||New Jersey Nets||DeJuan Blair|
|12||Charlotte Bobcats||Terrence Williams|
|13||Indiana Pacers||Earl Clark|
|14||Phoenix Suns||Jrue Holiday|
|15||Detroit Pistons||B.J. Mullens|
|16||Chicago Bulls||Sam Young|
|17||Philadelphia 76ers||Ty Lawson|
|18||Minnesota Timberwolves||Eric Maynor|
|19||Atlanta Hawks||Patty Mills|
|20||Utah Jazz||Gerald Henderson|
|21||New Orleans Hornets||Wayne Ellington|
|22||Dallas Mavericks||Austin Daye|
|23||Sacramento Kings||Omri Casspi|
|24||Portland Trail Blazers||Victor Claver|
|25||Oklahoma City Thunder||Tyler Hansbrough|
|26||Chicago Bulls||Jeff Teague|
|27||Memphis Grizzlies||DaJuan Summers|
|28||Minnesota Timberwolves||Slava Kravtsov|
|29||Los Angeles Lakers||Jeff Pendergraph|
|30||Cleveland Cavaliers||Dionte Christmas|