What the Cavaliers should do with their draft picks

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derrick williams nba draft

The Cleveland Cavaliers are coming off a dismal season in which the team created new records for futility (losing 26 games in a row, in case you forgot). However, with the first and fourth pick the 2011 NBA Draft, the Cavs have been handed a golden opportunity to right the ship. Now, all management has to do is not mess it up.

Most are predicting that the Cavs will take Kyrie Irving, the stud freshman point guard from Duke, with the first overall pick. And with Irving’s numbers – 17.5 points per game, 4.3 assists per game, 46 percent shooting from beyond the arc – it’s difficult to argue against this choice.

But is it the right move for the Cavs?

Personally, I say no. The Cavs certainly can’t go wrong with Irving, and it won’t be a disappointment to see him in Quicken Loans Arena next year, but it is a risky pick. Irving played half a season at Duke because of a foot injury. While his numbers are off the chart good, and his potential is sky-high, its still a risk.

And if the Cavs take Irving, the next likeliest pick, Derrick Williams, will be gone by the time the Cavs’ 4th overall pick roles around. So what should they do instead?

The Cavs should take Williams first. Williams put up ridiculous numbers at Arizona, scoring 19.5 points per game while grabbing 8.3 rebounds, all while shooting an extremely efficient 59 percent from the field.  He has athleticism and size at the forward position, something the Cavs desperately need. And he shot 56 percent from behind the arc for the Wildcats, showing versatility.

Irving can certainly run an offense, but Williams may have the biggest upside in the draft. The real key in picking Williams, however, lies in the 4th pick. While Irving will likely go to the Jazz if the Cavs pass on him, that leaves Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight in the mix. While Knight is untested and, for the most part, unproven as well, Kemba Walker has proven himself time and time again.

Walker is an explosive scorer, averaging 23.5 points a game with 4.5 assists and 5.4 rebounds. He showed experience, discipline, and all kinds of clutch in Uconn’s legendary run through the Big East and NCAA tournaments. His game is NBA ready, and he has the skill set to be an explosive scorer and skilled passer in the NBA.

Will he be a better point guard in the NBA than Irving? It’s hard to say. Irving may have the edge over Walker in skill, but Walker certainly has the edge in experience, and probably has the edge in naturally scoring ability. And Williams and Walker would almost certainly be a better duo than Irving and Ines Kanter or Irving and Jonas Valanciunas.

Either way, the Cavs are sitting pretty come draft day, and can’t go wrong. But while the consensus is that Irving will go first, that may not necessarily be the smartest move for a Cleveland team looking for a quick rebound from a disastrous 2010/2011 campaign.

–Jamie Arkin

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