As we get nearer to the NBA Draft, the number one pick becomes less of a lock by the hour. Even after ESPN’s Ric Bucher reported yesterday that the Cavs have committed their #1 pick overall to Kyrie Irving, the freshman phenom PG from Duke, something still doesn’t fit. I understand upside & potential & any other poison pill terms that you want to apply to players in the NBA Draft, but one thing is clear. In any equation or transaction, supply & demand are the major controlling factors…and those factors are screaming some warnings that are NOT to be ignored.
Options dictate choices. This is key in any walk of life, much less a decision that defines the next 3-5 years of your enterprise. If what you need in this draft is a PG, there are arguably 3 viable options in this draft: Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight, and Kemba Walker. All of them have obvious gifts & obvious questions as well. For Irving & Knight, the sample size of their body of work has to be an issue. Having only seen both of them for only a season or less, you question how much you really know about how they’ll perform at the next level. For Walker, the issue is far less about experience (3 year player) than it is about size & how his build projects to the NBA. But for all these questions, there are some things that we KNOW.
Derrick Williams (sophomore SF/PF, Arizona) is 6’9, 245, and can play. He can score in a variety of ways from numerous spots on the floor and, most importantly, no one else in this draft can do the entire scope of things anywhere near as well as he can do as well as he can do them. At the PF, he is an explosive athlete with an NBA body right now. Drafting in a transition year as the Cavs are, and being in need a new franchise face, as the Cavs are, you cannot draft “safe” here. Cleveland needs a franchise player of a calibur that no one else has; Williams gives them that. Also, having the 4th overall pick as well, one of those PG’s will still be on the board at #4. Unless you’re convinced that in 3 years any of these PG’s will be in the rare air of “best in the league,” or even in that conversation, you have to take the one thing you can’t get later. The pick with the highest value & the pick that changes your franchise right now is clearly Derrick Williams.