Will Barton, No. 24 (Mock)
The Cleveland Cavaliers receive much needed help at the wing.
by Franklyn Calle / @FrankieC7
I’ve decided to give this piece sort of the same intro as the one I wrote a couple of weeks back when the Cavs made their fourth pick selection since it correlates with how the Cavs would have to approach this second pick.
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 reached 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.
After selecting Thomas Robinson with the fourth pick, the Cavs have solidified their front court. Now they will need to land an available wing that could help them score baskets. Cleveland is in desperate need of a three-man. Someone who can handle the shooting guard slot as well as small forward would probably work best for them.
And so with all of that in mind:
With the 24th pick of the 2012 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select…
Will Barton from Memphis.
Although there are some very good players still left on the board, such as Tyshawn Taylor and Marquis Teague, the Cavs don’t need any more help at the point guard spot. They can really use a wing player though. Two suitable names that are still up for grabs at this point in the Draft are Tony Wroten and Barton. At 6-6, Barton has great size if placed at the shooting guard spot and shoots the ball better than Wroten. Also, Barton’s average of 18 points and 8 rebounds is better than any of the shooting guards that have already been selected, such as Brad Beal (14.8 & 6.7), Jeremy Lamb (17.7 & 4.9), Dion Waiters (12.6 & 2.3), Austin Rivers (15.5 & 3.4) and Terrence Ross (16.4 & 6.4).
Now I’ll be the first to admit that numbers don’t always mean everything but it does offer us an outlook as to where Barton stands in comparison to the other shooting guards that will most likely go before him. And the fact that he averaged more points and rebounds than those guys does help in making a case for him.
So why isn’t he as highly regarded as the other aforementioned shooting guards if his averages were higher? Most people didn’t get a chance to see Barton, or Memphis for that matter, as much as they did get the chance to see the other wings. In addition, one criticism that I’ve always heard about Barton is that his lanky frame will not allow him to thrive at the next level. But anyone that was witness to this year’s NBA Finals might recall that the same type of criticism surrounded Kevin Durant when he got drafted.
Because the Baltimore (MD) native shoots the ball very well like a shooting guard but has the size to also play small forward, he is an option that the Cavs can explore in various ways. An explosive leaper with a knack for scoring, Barton was a top-10 player coming out of high school. His weakness, sort of speak, which is his body frame, can always be taken care of with a full summer in the weight room. Either way, it will finally give Cleveland’s roster a true wing.