The annual SLAMonline Mock Draft begins today with a shock—SLAM 166 feature subject Otto Porter goes to Cleveland. Check back early tomorrow to see who the Orlando Magic select.—Ed.
by Brendan Bowers / @BowersCLE
The Cleveland Cavaliers have compiled a 64-166 record since LeBron James left for South Beach in the summer of 2010.
James has been replaced at the starting small forward position by a combination of Jamario Moon, Joey Graham, Jawad Williams, Christian Eyenga, Omri Casspi and Alonzo Gee over the last three seasons.
Despite Kyrie Irving’s emergence as an All-Star in ’12-13, an All-Rookie First-Team performance from Dion Waiters and an ever-improving Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers finished year two of the Irving Era with a lower winning percentage (.293) than they managed in ’10-11 (.318).
Highlighting this lack of collective productivity is the Cavaliers ranking last in opponent field-goal percentage (47.6 percent) this past season while also ranking 29th offensively (43.4 percent) in the same category.
Injuries to Anderson Varejao, Irving, Waiters and others took a major toll on this team to be fair, but outside of its young core, the roster desperately lacks NBA-caliber talent.
Byron Scott ultimately paid for the Cavaliers’ third-worst record in the Association last season, but the newly re-hired Mike Brown won’t fare much better without an upgrade in talent to complement Irving’s brilliance.
After winning the draft lottery, securing the right to select first overall, the Cavaliers can now improve that roster by adding Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore or Otto Porter to their young nucleus.
Despite there being no clear-cut No. 1 from this group, all three players would make the Cavs better as soon as they stepped on to the NBA floor.
There is a compelling argument to be made for why the Cavaliers’ general manager Chris Grant should spend his top pick on each, along with reasons to trade down—something that hasn’t been done in over two decades.
Assuming the Cavaliers do make the top selection, however, there is one player who projects to make more of an impact on both sides of the ball for a longer period of Irving’s remaining contract than anyone else.
He is the same player that John Thompson III once called “the most prepared freshman I’ve ever coached.” He is also the same baller that Syracuse’s Jim Boheim dubbed “the best small forward in Big East history” a year later.
With the first pick in the 2013 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select…
Otto Porter from Georgetown.
Otto Porter is a 19-year-old, 6-8 small forward with a wingspan that measured 7-1.5 at the NBA Draft combine.
As a sophomore at Georgetown, Porter demonstrated a well-rounded skill set that helped him improve his numbers to 16.7 points and 7.5 rebounds.
He also increased his efficiency from three-point range by connecting on 43 of his 102 attempts from behind the arc.
On a Cavs team where Irving will be the primary ball-handler and scorer—followed by Waiters at the shooting guard position—Porter is a player who can plug into the small forward spot and impact in the game in multiple ways.
He is not a ball-dominant wing who needs to put it on the deck with regularity to be effective, but he is also a capable ball-handler when needed.
In addition to running the break alongside Irving, Porter will also be able to capitalize on scoring opportunities in the half court. When defenses overplay Kyrie, Porter has the ability to make them pay on the catch-and-shoot as well as on dives to the basket.
That same dynamic would play well on the opposite wing when defenses collapse on Waiters.
Porter is also a young player who could impact the game on the glass at the next level. Only eight small forwards in the NBA averaged at least seven rebounds last year and Porter has the potential for that type of production.
While there is obviously no comparing Otto’s all-around game to the last small forward the Cavaliers selected No. 1, the way he fits defensively is important to consider as well with this pick.
The last time Mike Brown coached the Cavaliers’ defense, there was an uber-athletic small forward who lived in the passing lanes.
Porter’s long arms, athleticism and desire to defend could go a long way to helping Brown improve a perimeter that allowed opposing point guards, shooting guards and small forwards to post an effective field-goal percentage of 52 percent combined last season.
In selecting Porter No. 1 overall, though—and ultimately passing on Noel—it’s important to understand that I’m not suggesting Otto has the higher potential ceiling in general.
But what Porter does have is the ability to fill a need for the Cavaliers so dramatically that he defies the conventional logic of drafting size over need in almost any other circumstance.
The decision will not be an easy one to make, however, and expect the pro-and-con lists for each player to be littered across Chris Grant’s office leading up to June 27.
All trade possibilities will be thoroughly explored by that date as well.
But if Cleveland does make this pick, the healthiest way to approach the decision is by answering the question, “Which player do we like the most for our team?”
If they do that, instead of attempting to answer, “Which player looks most like a No. 1 overall pick?” They will end up addressing the small forward position with the selection of Otto Porter.
From day one, Porter becomes a starter for the Cavaliers alongside Irving, Waiters, Thompson and Varejao.
Alonzo Gee would be moved to the second unit, along with Tyler Zeller and whoever else ends up rounding out the Cavaliers rotation in ’13-14.
|2013 SLAMonline Mock Draft|