Thomas Robinson, No. 4 (Mock)
The Cavs look to start their run back into the Playoffs.
by Franklyn Calle / @FrankieC7
In the 2008 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder (then still the Seattle SuperSonics for about another two weeks) held the fourth and 24th picks of the first round. Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka became their two selections, respectively. And now just four years later the team has clinched their ticket to the NBA Finals and developed into a model-franchise of how to build a team from the ground up into a Championship contender.
In this year’s Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers stand in the same position that the Thunder once did in ’08, having control of the fourth and 24th picks.
The previous year, before Westbrook and Ibaka, the Thunder (SuperSonics) chose Kevin Durant with the second overall pick in the 2007 Draft and he went onto win Rookie of the Year. Last year, the Cavs chose Kyrie Irving with the top pick and he also went onto win ROY.
What am I trying to get at with all these comparisons?
This year’s Draft could be the Cavaliers’ opportunity to start writing their own Cinderella story where a small-market team rises into a contender, just like Oklahoma City did four years ago at the Draft with the same picks. A little wishful thinking wouldn’t hurt the city of Cleveland considering the amount of luck their sports franchises have had over the years, would it?
The Cavs now have a franchise-caliber point guard and future All-Star in Irving, who lived up to expectations as the No. 1 pick, averaging 18.5 points and 5.4 assists, and ultimately named the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year. And that was despite having missed 15 games due to injuries.
Tristan Thompson also showed potential, having averaged 8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds. But if the Cavaliers have any hope of bringing back the good old days when they were contenders during the LeBron James era, the team will have to find players who can compliment their rising star guard the way Westbrook, Ibaka and James Harden have to KD.
And so with all of that in mind:
With the fourth pick of the SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select…
Thomas Robinson from Kansas.
Let me start off by saying that I don’t believe Thomas Robinson will still be available when the Cavs’ pick rolls around at No. 4. Brad Beal or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will probably be there most likely options. Maybe even Harrison Barnes will get some consideration. But with MKG and Beal both no longer on the market in SLAMonline’s 2012 Mock Draft, I think TRob would be the obvious choice here.
Although the Cavs saw some improvements this past season, they still finished with the third worst record in the League. And at times it looked like they could use an extra big in the paint, and yes also a wing! But Robinson’s can do a bit of the both.
This past season, Robinson averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds for the Jayhawks as a junior, leading Kansas to the National Championship game—where he posted 20 points and 18 rebounds. Thomas also shot 50.5 percent from the floor.
His physique is NBA-ready. TRob, at 6-9, can put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. His handle is very impressive from someone his size and position, but it wasn’t surprising to see him bring the ball up the court every now and then in transition for the Jayhawks. Thomas has a jumper that now extends out to the arc. He isn’t afraid to guard guys out on the perimeter or sacrifice his body. And well he’s only hands-down the best rebounder in the year’s draft class. What is there not to like about him? He hustles for the ball continuously and has some pretty notable leaping abilities. The D.C. native possesses an admirable spin move and hits the J off the dribble or the catch. He can turn out to be a nightmare matchup for some power forwards in this League due to his ability to handle the ball out on the perimeter, which will force many bigs to step out of the paint and play some defense.
Now, some of you may say they already have help at the power forward in Thompson and Anderson Varejao, but Thomas is by far a substantial upgrade over both. If anything, TRob allows the team to put one of the other two on the trading block, where they can attempt to get a wing.
Once again, I want to reiterate that I don’t believe TRob will still be available at No. 4, but nothing is for certain and being that he was available in this mock draft, he became the next best choice. Some would argue for the other available bigs in Andre Drummond or Jared Sullinger, but Drummond shot a dismal 29.5 percent from the free-throw line (26-88) and seemed like he might be one of those bigs who will develop over the years, while Sullinger just wasn’t the double-double machine that Robinson was.
Another option that I contemplated over was North Carolina’s Barnes. There is word out there that he’s one prospect that the Cavs are seriously considering. He did his thing for the Tar Heels, averaging 17.1 points and 5.2 rebounds this past season, but it was his NCAA Tournament performance that gave me (and most likely others?) something to think about. Barnes shot 20-61 (33 percent) from the floor during the Big Dance and that’s something that seems to have left many scouts in doubt. To his defense, he just turned 20 and therefore still has lots of upside and will only get better. I just wasn’t sure if he was the best player to draft with TRob still on the board. There’s always the chance that TRob might still be on the board come June 28 and the Cavs will pass on him since they already drafted a power forward in last year’s Draft, but that will definitely be taking a risk.
The Cavs will be back again with the 24th pick, where it would only seem appropriate to draft a wing. Hopefully small forwards like Quincy Miller and Maurice Harkless are passed by a couple of teams, giving Cleveland the chance to land a much needed three-man.
The Cavs might not end up being in the Thunder’s position in four years, after all they would need to draft a scoring machine like Durant, but they can definitely become an Indiana Pacers-type team in four years—who also built their team from scratch through excellent draft picks.
Cleveland’s road to being a contender starts in exactly three weeks.
|2012 SLAMonline Mock Draft|