The Cleveland Cavaliers have been here before, but that doesn’t make a decision any easier.
Cleveland owns the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft for the second time in the last three years, but several reports indicate the club is torn between selecting a big man to play alongside all-star point guard Kyrie Irving or shipping the pick out of town.
To their credit, Cleveland has chosen wisely the last two times it had the top pick . Taken in 2011, Irving blossomed into an already top five point guard in under two years. And in 2003 the Cavs picked future four-time MVP LeBron James.
But this draft class doesn’t have a bona fide star like those years, which only makes the Cavs decision more difficult. According to Fox Sports Ohio, should Cleveland keep the pick they will go with either Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel or Maryland’s Alex Len, both of whom are currently injured.
Noel tore the ACL in his right knee and won’t be ready to start the season, while Len had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle in April and he could also begin his career on the injury list.
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Rather than choose an injured big man, Cleveland general manager Chris Grant has also actively shopped the pick, with a move for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love being the most recent. The Cavaliers would have packaged Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and the No. 1 pick for Love, as reported by ESPN. Minnesota turned the trade down.
The Cavs, tied with the Atlanta Hawks with four picks this year, can set the tone for the draft and surprise everyone by going with Kansas guard Ben McLemore or versatile Georgetown forward Otto Porter.
The Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards own the next two picks, and both could welcome Noel into their rebuilding processes. However Indiana two-guard Victor Oladipo has reportedly impressed teams with his hustle and athleticism and is in the mix for a top three selection.
Many teams will have to decide between need and talent, but there could be several trades throughout the night, with a special eye focused on free agency.
The Dallas Mavericks, who have the No. 13 overall pick, are reportedly trying to clear enough cap space to offer big man Dwight Howard a maximum level contract when free agency begins July 1.
To do so Dallas has reportedly been trying to move Shawn Marion and the one-year $9 million player option left on his contract. However there are conflicting reports about Marion. According to ESPN Dallas writer Tim MacMahon, the Mavs won’t deal him during the draft.
Still, rumors and reports will continue to float throughout the day with teams jostling for leverage.
The draft is scheduled to start on Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern, and will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
ESPN will have a live online stream of their telecast at Watch ESPN here.
1) Cleveland Cavaliers, C, Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
2) Orlando Magic, SG, Ben McLemore, Kansas
3) Washington Wizards, SF, Otto Porter, Georgetown
4) Charlotte Bobcats, C, Alex Len, Maryland
5) Phoenix Suns, PF, Anthony Bennett, UNLV
6) New Orleans Pelicans, SG, Victor Oladipo, Indiana
7) Sacramento Kings, PG, Trey Burke, Michigan
8) Detroit Pistons, PG, Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
9) Minnesota Timberwolves, SG, C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
10) Portland Trailblazers, C, Cody Zeller, Indiana
11) Philadelphia 76ers, C, Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
12) Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors), C, Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
13) Dallas Mavericks, SF, Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
14) Utah Jazz, SG, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
15) Milwaukee Bucks, SF, Sergey Karasev, Russia
16) Boston Celtics, PG, Dennis Schroeder, Germany
17) Atlanta Hawks, SF, Giannis Antetokoumpo, Greece
18) Atlanta Hawks (Via Houston Rockets), C, Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
19) Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers), PF, Tony Mitchell, North Texas
20) Chicago Bulls, SG, Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
21) Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors), PG, Shane Larkin, Miami
22) Brooklyn Nets, PF, Mason Plumlee, Duke
23) Indiana Pacers, C, Rudy Gobert, France
24) New York Knicks, C, Jeff Withey, Kansas
25) L.A. Clippers, SG, Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
26) Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies), SG, Glen Rice Jr., Rio Grande
27) Denver Nuggets, SF, Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
28) San Antonio Spurs, C, Lucas Nogueira, Brazil
29) Oklahoma City Thunder, SG, Allen Crabbe, California
30) Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat), SG, Alex Abrines, Spain
1) Cleveland Cavaliers (via Orlando), C, Mike Muscala, Bucknell
2) Oklahoma City Thunder (via Charlotte) PG, Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
3) Cleveland Cavaliers, SF, Tony Snell, New Mexico
4) Houston Rockets (via Phoenix) SG, Ricardo Ledo, Providence
5) Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans), PF, Livio Jean-Charles, French Guiana
6) Sacramento Kings, PF, Romero Osby, Oklahoma
7) Detroit Pistons, PG, Erick Green, Virginia Tech
8) Washington Wizards, PG, Peyton Siva, Louisville
9) Portland Trailblazers (via Minnesota), SF, Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
10) Portland Trailblazers, C, Colton Iverson, Colorado State
11) Memphis Grizzlies (via Toronto), PF, C.J. Leslie, N.C. State
12) Philadelphia 76ers, PF, Erik Murphy, Florida
13) Milwaukee Bucks, PF, Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State
14) Dallas Mavericks, SG, Archie Goodwin, Kentucky
15) Portland Trailblazers (via Boston), SF, James Ennis, Long Beach State
16) Utah Jazz, PF, Ryan Kelly, Duke
17) Atlanta Hawks, PG, Myck Kabongo, Texas
18) Los Angeles Lakers, SG, Nemanja Nedovic, Serbia
19) Chicago Bulls, C, Marko Todorovic, Montenegro
20) Atlanta Hawks (via Houston), PG, Phil Pressey, Missouri
21) Orlando Magic (via Golden State), PF, Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota
22) Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn), PG, Lorenzo Brown, N.C. State
23) Indiana Pacers, PG, Ray McCallum, Detroit
24) Washington Wizards (via New York), PG, Pierre Jackson, Baylor
25) Memphis Grizzlies, PG, Raul Neto, Brazil
26) Detroit Pistons (via L.A. Clippers), PG, Grant Jerrett, Arizona
27) Phoenix Suns (via Denver), PF, Joffrey Lauvergne, France
28) San Antonio Spurs, PG, Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
29) Minnesota Timberwolves (via OKC), SF, Solomon Hill, Arizona
30) Memphis Grizzlies (via Miami), C, Bojan Dubljevic, Montenegro