The Cleveland Cavaliers have been on the clock for over a month now, eyeing a draft class that isn’t exactly drawing comparisons to the Draft of ‘03. That draft, if you don’t remember, started with LeBron James and included Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.
This years crop? Not quite on that level, at least it doesn’t look that way right now. However, there are a couple of studs who stand out from the pack, and the two I’m thinking of we’re by far the best two players in the NCAA Tournament this past season.
And the Cavs have a chance to snatch BOTH OF THEM. Because the Cavaliers have the first and fourth pick in this years draft. And a chance to grab Derrick Williams of Arizona and Kemba Walker of UConn, the two best players this past March.
But they won’t do it, because that would be very un-Cleveland-like. The chance to bring in two superstars and build around them? That just makes too much sense. But wait, it gets better for you Cleveland! One of them is a Point Guard, the other a Forward, so you can have one of your new stars be a distributor (who can score with the best of them) and the other a finisher (who can defend as well). And make no mistake about it, Kemba Walker hears all the negative talk, and he’s going to use it as fuel. He’s fast, can shoot, can drive and can finish. But he also has very good court vision and he envisions himself a PG, so you can bet your last dollar, he’s going to prove it as a pro.
But no, all the talk about the NBA Draft is about Kyrie Irving from Duke. Well, kind of from Duke. He did only play 11 games this season, does that count as playing for Duke? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this kid is talented, but do you really think he’s that much better than Kemba Walker? Did he lead his team to the promise land? No, he got bounced in the Sweet 16 by Derrick Williams and the Arizona Wildcats, as a ONE Seed. The same Arizona Wildcats that Kemba Walker defeated in the very next round.
I don’t see how you can bet your future on a guy who didn’t even play a third of his ONLY college season. And that’s exactly what the Cavaliers are doing, because if you go with Kyrie Irving, that means you’re not taking Derrick Williams, which means you’re not taking Kemba Walker either, unless you just want a ridiculous back-court.
So let’s say you go with Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 pick, who are you taking at No. 4? Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas? Really? So you’d rather have Irving and Valanciunas (will that fit on a jersey?) instead of Kemba and Derrick Williams? I don’t know, maybe it’s me, maybe I’m crazy here, but I just don’t see how this makes sense!
Look at what you get from Derrick Williams: Defense (ask Memphis in Round One), Scoring when it counts (Ask Texas in Round Two), the Ability to carry his team (Ask Duke about the 1st half of the Sweet 16) and the humility to allow his team to work as well (Ask Duke in the 2nd half of the Sweet 16). He’s big, he’s strong, he can shoot and play defense.
And here are the stats from the Tournament: An average of 23 points and 9 rebounds for the four games Arizona was in. Including 32 points and 13 rebounds against Duke, where he went 5 for 6 from behind the arc and scored 25 points in the first half alone.
Now for Kemba Walker, the 2011 Tournament MOP. In the six games it took UConn to win the National Title, Kemba never scored less than 16 points, never had more than 4 turnovers and in the first game, almost notched a triple-double, dropping 18 points, pulling down 8 boards and dropping 12 dimes. (That’s 8 rebounds and 12 assists for you old folk). His average for the tournament? How does 24, 6 and 6 suit you? Anyone else see Dwyane Wade comparisons or is it just me?
Now for the golden 1/3rd boy, Kyrie Irving. In Duke’s first game, he scored 14 points in 20 minutes. In their 2nd round game against Michigan, 11 points in 21 minutes, where he went 1-for-4 from the field, but 9-for-10 from the stripe. The Kyrie you always hear about, showed up against Arizona in the Sweet 16, scoring 28 points, yet only dishing 3 assists.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not so much a knock on Kyrie Irving, as it is the package deal of who do you get with him? Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas is being compared to Pau Gasol and maybe he’ll turn out to be like Pau, but I wouldnt put too much money in it, because there’s been quite a few Europeans playing in the NBA, but not too many with Pau Gasol’s 19 and 9 average.
So, for my money, the package of Derrick Williams and Kemba Walker just can’t be beat. They both have proven to be leaders during the biggest stage of their young careers. And the chance to have both of them could mean a chance for Cleveland. But all the hype is on Irving, so that’s probably the direction the Cavs will go.
But to me, the chance at two proven stars coming together on the same team, it’s just a no-brainer.