Tag:2011 Draft
Posted on: June 23, 2011 10:21 am
Edited on: June 23, 2011 11:33 am
 

Rockets looking to trade up in draft for big man

Posted by Matt Moore

The Houston Rockets may have a dilemma at their spot, but they have no intention of hanging around to bite their fingernails over it. CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that the Rockets are shopping their two first-round picks, the No. 14 and No. 23, in order to move into the top ten. Specifically, Berger reports that talks have opened with the Detroit Pistons in a two-for-one swap that would allow the Rockets to get what they really want: a big man. Berger reports that late-riser Tristan Thompson is at the top of the list, along with Congolese phenom Bismack Biyombo.

The Pistons don't have an outstanding need beyond getting rid of their locker room-cancer vets, so this makes sense. It puts the Pistons in a position to gain more depth without getting stuck with a pick that's too good not to take, but only in a draft this low on star power. Still, that eight spot will have one of several good prospects available, especially with some of the reaches being discussed. However, it sounds like Detroit's not the only team Houston is chatting with in an attempt to move up. 

The Racine Journal-Times reports that the Rockets are also talking to the Bucks about the No. 10 pick, and this one is more than just a pick-swap, there are players involved: 
The teams have tossed around different trade scenarios with Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova being prominently mentioned.

It's hardly a secret the Bucks would be interested in Rockets forward Patrick Patterson, whom the Bucks were hoping to land in last summer's draft.
The Bucks could also have interest in Rockets forwards Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill, yet another player they liked in the 2009 draft.
via BUCKS NOTES: Milwaukee, Houston discussing a deal.

Ilyasova is a promising all-around player still with upside at 24, and would give the Rockets a talented big man to pair with Luis Scola. Patterson seems like a high cost, though, as he showed a world of potential in his rookie season. Budinger is just the kind of player that GM Daryl Morey often raises the value of and then sells high on, while Hill is still somewhat of a project. Draft Express reports that the Rockets may have sweetened their deal by including Courtney Lee, which would likely get the Bucks' interest considering their desperate need for backcourt depth.

The Rockets' pursuit of a big man makes all the sense in the world, considering Yao Ming's highly questionable return to Houston and their glaring need for height. Thompson makes for an odd fit next to Luis Scola, but Thompson has been the one player who has made the hardest charge up the draft rankings in the past 24 hours, with some reports pegging him as high as No. 4. Biyombo on the other hand is a freak athlete with great work ethic and the <a href="http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-pre-draft-measurements/?year=2011&sort2=DESC&draft=0&pos=0&source=All&sort=5" target="_blank">second-greatest wingspan of any prospect in the draft. Fellow workout prospect Chris Singleton described Biyombo as being able to scratch his knees standing up yesterday, which is just circus-clown freaky.

The Rockets need a homerun. In a draft without really any of those types of pitches, the Rockets seem dedicated to fighting their way into the batter's box anyway.
Posted on: June 22, 2011 6:34 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 5:29 am
 

Five GMs who face big dilemmas on draft night

Posted by Matt Moore

It's passed over because we're so far removed from it and because that's not how the machine works, but stop for a second and consider what it's like to be a general manager who actually has control, whose owner trusts him. It's draft night. The future of your franchise rests with you. A pick gone wrong and that can mean a pink slip. Questions from the media, from the fans. You've got to somehow not only see what these kids, and they are kids, have done, but what they will do. And that's not just on the floor, it's in the locker room and outside the halls of the arena.

You've got to look into a kid's soul and see what he's made of, out of basically a handful of workouts, some measurements, and maybe a psych profile, if he consents. And it's not a simple "yes or no," you have to choose someone. You've got hundreds of options, a dozen or so serious options, and you've got to hit the right one. Miss, and it's a black mark on your career that may follow you forever. And no matter how many people you bring in, no matter how much consultation is done in advance, at the end of the night, when it's time to make the call, it's got to be your say. You have to make the decision.

And we think shooting free throws is tough.

With that in mind, here are the top five GMs/front offices facing the toughest decisions of the draft.

1. David Kahn, GM, Minnesota Timberwolves: He can't miss every time, right? After drafting Jonny Flynn to go with Ricky Rubio, who didn't come over, essentially going 0-2 on viable point guard options until this season, then following it up by passing on DeMarcus Cousins and others to reach for Wes Johnson, the Wolves could really use a home run. So naturally Kahn is trying to trade this pick like there's no tomorrow. They've reached out to everyone, and so far no one is biting. So if they keep the pick, the Wolves have to decide whether to take the best talent available, Derrick Williams, even though he creates a logjam at small forward/combo forward position for them, or roll the dice on Enes Kanter. You know, because what they don't have is enough Euro centers with upside.

Kahn's in a bad spot, having to try and hit a home run to save his job by bringing in a veteran star. He announced at the end of last season that "rebuilding is over" for the Wolves, which is pretty insane for a 17-win team. He can't wait to see if Williams will be an impact guy, he needs one now. If he does have to take the pick, Williams is the best overall talent, but that doesn't jive with what he did throughout the past calendar year, bringing in Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph. It's a significant problem and not one you should envy. Even if the Cavs were to suddenly pass on Kyrie Irving for Williams, the Wolves still couldn't take Irving because of Rubio.

In the end, the Euro teen center who hasn't played in two years is the safe option. That's how tricky the Wolves' position is.

2011 NBA Draft
2. Bryan Colangelo, GM, Toronto Raptors: There's talk that Bryan Colangelo is under pressure, even after his contract extension, from above to stay away from a Euro. This is the kind of thing that happens when you draft Andrea Bargnani and then give him a bajillion dollars in extension. In doing so he's managed to create a problem because the best talent and fit at the No.5 spot is likely to be a Euro.

The Raptors need rebounding and size, and Jonas Valanciunas provides both. Sure, the big man is not coming over till 2012, but the Raptors also aren't going anwywhere until then. Another year of letting DeMar DeRozan, Jerryd Bayless, and Amir Johnson lead the team while trying to find somewhere to ditch Bargnani to isn't a bad option. Then when Valanciunas comes over, they'll have another high pick, and worst case scenario the ability to put Bargnani next to Valanciunas with Amir Johnson at the three for defensive coverage of Bargnani's limitations in space.

If not "Choonus" (as no one besides me is calling him), Jan Vesely is a great fit here. An explosive combo forward who won't need the ball and whose limitations in ball handling will be managed by low usage, Vesely brings size, athleticism and aggressiveness. A DeRozan-Vesely-Johnson 2-3-4 combo is just plain nasty.

But Colangelo may not be able to take either of those and may instead have to reach for... Kemba Walker. If the Utah Jazz aren't too spooked by Brandon Knight's attitude, Walker will be the best known-American talent in the draft at that point, and finding a replacement for Jose Calderon will be seen as a smart pick. No one will criticize them for taking Walker, despite Walker not being the type of defender Dwane Casey's going to want to work with and the fact that he's honestly a reach here. Not much of one, but a reach.

So does Colangelo take the Best Player Available or the Most Popular Available? That's the kind of thing impacted by your previous decisions which come back to haunt you.

3. Geoff Petrie, President of Basketball Operations, Sacramento Kings: This should be easy. There's a good chance either Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker falls this far, despite the above scenario. They take that guy, they're good. But for whatever reason, the Kings are still trying to figure out what to do with their backcourt.

Alec Burks has become the hot name to take but he's not a point guard in any way shape or form. He becomes redundant next to Marcus Thornton, even if Tyreke Evans stays at point guard. Jimmer Fredette is too much of a reach.

Kawhi Leonard is the safest pick possible, filling a need at small forward, a polished player who can defend, and leaving the backcourt questions out of the equation. But he may go higher. The Kings are in a danger zone that guarantees their options will be limited, but the decison tree is complicated by the wishes of the Maloofs. Fredette brings ticket sales, that's for sure, but he's going to be an awkward fit with both Evans and Thornton needing shots. What's going to win out, making money or the right decision? Let's just say we don't have high hopes for the voices of reason.

4. John Hammond, GM, Milwaukee Bucks: Hammond's got a lot of holes to fill and is just outside the ability to fill them in the draft. Meanwhile, he's trying to move down. Move down and not make an improvement, the team could slide even further backwards. Make the wrong pick and he's wasted all that opportunity. Power forwards are abundant at the No. 10 spot for Milwaukee, but Hammond's got Drew Gooden, Larry Sanders, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Jon Brockman,and Ersan Ilyasova (who he's reportedly trying desperately to trade). So that's not really viable. He sunk a huge portion of cash into John Salmons which didn't work out, so while drafting a shooting guard sounds like the right move, it comes with usage concerns.

Popular players like Fredette are there, but with Jennings it may only exacerbate a tense situation. And the other option is a fleet of talented but wholly incomplete combo forwards without a decent lock among them. All are long-term prospects, none are sure things. And that's relative to the entire draft process which is a crapshoot.

The Bucks have been active in trade rumors but are trying to find an identity. They seemed like they'd stocked their team with athletic, relatively young players and yet don't seem to have the right combination. The 10th pick doesn't provide them many answers and may leave them eying simply a chance to move out of the spotlight.

5. Daryl Morey, GM, Houston Rockets: No team with a real chance of competing needed a lottery win like the Rockets. With Yao Ming a huge seven-foot question mark and failed attempt after failed attempt at securing a star, they need a big name to put next to the versatile complimentary talent they have. But instead here they are with two picks that help them almost not at all.

Their options are a series of athletic threes and undersized fours (the Morris twins, Jordan Hamilton, maybe Tristan Thompson), when they already have Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, Chase Budinger, and Jordan Hill to go with Chuck Hayes. Their only real need is at five, and Valanciunas is almost guaranteed to be off the board. With Motiejunas more of a stretch four than a real five considering his defense and effort problems, there's simply not a fit here. Marcus Morris is the most surefire player available here, and he comes with huge question marks and a limited upside.

Morey is charged with somehow turning these elements into a contender, despite the best "star" on the market being Andre Iguodala, which would be like adding a Swiss army knife when you need a broadsword. His second pick in the first round leaves him only with the exciting possibility of drafting a Euro center who won't be available for several years, or a player like Jeremy Tyler who would likely spend at least a year with the Rockets' D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Morey's been considered a genius and a math wizard for years in this league. With the team stangnated and no help available in free agency or trade, the draft looks like his last chance to pull a rabbit out of a hat. And right now, the hat looks awful empty.


Posted on: June 22, 2011 4:49 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 5:22 pm
 

The Pistons have their guy... whoever that is

Posted by Matt Moore

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports:
With top prospects in New York Thursday for media and service responsibilities, a person familiar with the draft discussions said the Pistons appear to have zeroed in on Texas small forward Tristan Thompson with the eighth pick. Thompson canceled other scheduled workouts after working out for the Pistons with five other players Wednesday.
via Draft buzz: Nash, Smoove, and more - CBSSports.com.

There have also been reports that Kawhi Leonard has canceled his workouts after meeting with Detroit. Throw Marcus Morris and now Markieff Morris on that list as well.  Now, Leonard was expected to go top six regardless, but it's interesting that so many players are certain Detroit's going to take them if available. 

The quandary for the Pistons is a complex one. They clearly need to go in a younger direction, ditching the older talent they have. But they can't really upgrade in positions they need to because of how those players have killed their value. Greg Monroe is a huge part of the future. Austin Daye presumably is, but he played most of his minutes at small forward. Jonas Jerebko is also part of that future, but he split time between the 3 and the 4. So if they draft a power forward like Marcus Morris or Tristan Thompson, Jerebko likely moves to the 3 and Daye is then benched, and that's before you get to the issue of Tayshaun Prince and whether to bring him back. If they go with Kawhi Leonard (if available) Jerebko stays at 4 and Daye, again, remains on the bench and they still have the Tayshaun Prince problem. And they still have to settle what they're going to do at the 2 with Rip Hamilton needing a trade more than anyone in the league and the question of whether to retain Rodney Stuckey

It's a mess the Pistons have gotten themselves into, and it appears one they're prepared to compound.
Posted on: June 22, 2011 10:57 am
Edited on: June 22, 2011 11:44 am
 

NBA Draft LiveChat 12 EST

We're less than 36 hours from the 2011 NBA Draft so we thought we'd kick the tires and see what's what. We'll talk trade rumors, workouts, upsides, downsides, sidesides, length, athleticism, motor, the works. Ben Golliver is live in New York for NBA Draft media availability and will be sending in images and quotes from the prospects. Join us at 12 EST here on EOB! 

 
Category: NBA
Posted on: June 21, 2011 7:58 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 10:09 pm
 

NBA Draft: The joy and agony of combo forwards



Posted by Matt Moore

In every draft there's a gluttony at a position. It never seems to be point guards, though 2009 came close. This year, it's combo forwards.

First there's Derrick Williams, who projects himself as a small forward. But most of the kids project themselves as a small forward, thinking their jumper is good enough and they'll always have that lithe frame. As Williams puts on muscle (or fat) he's likely to morph into more of a stretch four model. His athleticism and explosiveness is good enough to keep him playing on the perimeter, but defensively he's likely to wind up defending bigger players. Which is problematic since he's not as tall as most power forwards. You can see why the movement to get Williams to the top selection (likely) fell short. On the other hand, if he manages to keep his weight down and play the 3 smoothly, his combination of range and athleticism combined with a nasty set of shoulders could put him in great position.

Jan Vesely is the underrated small forward with the height to play power forward. That's right. Derrick Williams will likely wind up playing power forward even though he's too short and Jan Vesely will probably play small forward even though he's 6-11. It's a weird NBA, really. Vesely has incredible explosiveness but needs to be on a team where he can be a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. He doesn't have a reliable jumper and can be turnover heavy. He actually translates well to a poor man's Josh Smith. Vesely will be a steal at his position while everyone flocks to Enes Kanter who has earned a living in the last three months scoring on chairs.

The Morris twins are both tweeneres that will spend more time at PF than SF mostly due to their more limited athleticism. They do have range (Marcus' obviously being higher), but lack the athleticism to get up and down the floor as a small forward. Still, without dominant size, they're looking at a struggle regardless of position, unless they hit another gear in the NBA.

Chris Singleton is yet another player that's going to drift from position to position. Unlike the Morris twins, he's got the athleticism, but not the range. His rebounding abilities are particularly alluring as a prospect, but he lacks a post game.

Are you sensing a patttern? There is a plethora of combo forwards available and the reason they're combo forwards is that they're incomplete. This is just inside the top 15, before we get to players like Tristan Thompson and Tobias Harris. It's a draft that's rife with holes in talent, and even the talent that is there is more fraught with concerns than the usual.

And still that talent is alluring. That's the thing with combo forwards. No type of player sucks in fans so easily as those with the ability to leap, muscle, hook, run the floor, swat, and still have range. For a long time the myth was based on a fictional player, some sort of hybrid between Magic Johnson and Moses Malone. Then LeBron James came along and made the prototype a reality. Then we all decided we hated him because he's a jerk. But the myth goes on. The idea is for a player with size, length, and athleticism to develop range, handle, and savvy. It's like asking Voltron to strap a transformer to his back. 

The bar has to be much lower for these players. It's often a struggle just to find a place for them, and for them to mold to that spot. This year's class is no exception with a collection of rare strengths and witnesses that make you think the forwards in this class grabbed their attributes blindly from a top hat. 

That's why in this draft, even moreso than in the usual crasphoot that is the yearly selection process, teams need to be cognizant not only of whether the player is a good fit for what they want, but if they are capable of defending that talent. Have an overstock of mid-range shooters but struggle with post scoring? Don't target a player who can't play back to the basket and hope he turns into it. Have issues with developing defensive personnel? Don't bring in the player who lacks awareness. It will only compound your problem.

Sounds obvious, right? Except that traditionally teams are resistant to these ideals instead opting to do what's best for them or aim for talent by default. But this draft allows for some creativity precisely because it isn't stocked, or even partially filled, with All-Stars. Having so many role players and tweeners can be a good thing because it makes every pick that much more crucial. There's no defense for not knowing this is a weak draft class. So teams which are gambling on these forwards need to have a set development plan in place. This is not a "stick them in and see what happens" kind of draft. The convenient part is knowing that ahead of time and planning accordingly.

The myth of the athletic big man is as old as the league itself. Tyrus Thomas, Stromile Swift, Anthony Randolph, even the league's recent history is filled with players of the prototype who can't put the tools together with any skill. They key in the 2011 NBA Draft isn't staying away from any and all combo fowards. It's merely recognizing that best talent available doesn't mean best talent available for your team. Maybe if they can learn that this year, it will become a trend they can use in all situations.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 11:09 am
 

Report: Valanciunas won't be stateside till 2012

Posted by Matt Moore

Drafting a Euro big always has its complications. Will he be able to adjust to the NBA style of play? Will he struggle with the physicality? Will his buyout be reached within a reasonable timeframe and will any of the core he was drafted into still be around then? Teams looking to draft Jonas Valanciunas will be faced with that last question it seems, if only for one more (possibly lockout-shortened) year.

Yahoo! and Draft Express' Jonathan Givony reports that Valanciunas' club Lietuvos Rytas has decided to stick with their demand of Valanciunas being unavailable until 2012 under any buyout agreement. That means that any team that wants Valanciunas will have to wait at least a year to get him, leaving him open to injury, second thoughts about coming across the pond, or any number of factors. More importantly, it means those teams looking to acquire a franchise center to build around now will have to have second thoughts. This has two consequences. 

One, Valanciunas may take a hit, as Ken Berger reports. A lot of the teams at the top of the lottery (Cleveland, Washington, Toronto) are looking for immediate impact players. They have antsy ownership wanting quick results. Telling them "You're going to love this guy we got... once he gets here." is not going to go over well, even if the lockout is going down next year. Sure, it makes no sense for ownership to be unhappy about a player missing out on a year they're not going to play, but you've already gone down the wrong path by assuming ownership is a set of rational actors. Shame on you.

Second, it helps Enes Kanter considerably. Kanter has allegedly slid a bit on draft boards because, well, he hasn't played anyone in a long time. Trying to figure out how good he is is like looking at a picture of a car on the internet. You don't even know if the thing is three-dimensional. With Valanciunas not available for immediate help, Kanter becomes the top Euro big in the draft, the top center overall. Expect there to be even more talk about the Cavaliers taking Kanter with the No.4 pick.

Valanciunas could still get picked up by a team with long-term prospects, like Utah, which is clearly willing to wait for things to develop. Someone in the top 10 will swallow the extra year on Valanciunas who will only be 20 when the 2012 season begins. But in a draft rife with disappointment, this is certainly an extra tough pill to swallow for those top-five teams looking to grab an impact player. 

There's still a chance Lietuvos Rytas could back down from its demands but with two days to go before the draft, they hold all the cards here.
Posted on: June 19, 2011 6:17 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Buyer Beware: 5 players to be wary of drafting

Posted by Matt Moore



Let's face it. The NBA Draft is a crapshoot. There are obvious mistakes, which should be avoided. There are obvious reaches, which if they don't work out look terrible and if they do work out, earn management awards. You can have the top pick one year and net a Hall of Famer, and the next year you can have the top pick and net nothing more than a pick you're trying to unload a year later. "Always draft the big man" works, unless that big man is Hasheem Thabeet. "Best talent available" is a great ethos, unless you create a logjam on your team which frustrates all the players involved. And sometimes, there are just guys you need to be leery of before you say that name into the phone in Newark. 

Here's a brief list of guys who could wind up great but also could have higher odds at busting. Fear factor is on a scale of one to five, with one being "sure-fire lock" and five being "you may wind up burning jerseys or your favorite GM in effigy."

Jimmer Fredette

Fear Factor: 3

When the tournament ended and it came time to analyze The Jimmer's NBA prospects, the talk was mostly about Fredette's diminutive frame. Players of his prototype do not tend to translate well. The college game is great, it's just dramatically different than the NBA and players who succeed with the kind of gunning Fredette did in college don't necessarily make the leap. Then, the scrutiny was so high you had a backlash like a rubber band snapping back. "Jimmer's just a great basketball player." "Anyone who can play ball like that in college can play in the NBA." It went on and on. Fredette and his people helped out by taking a bold and aggressive approach, gunning for Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight in workouts and impressing based on expectations. The key being "based on expectations." By exceeding the poor showing people expected, Fredette has gained traction to rise up the ranks. It's not about getting higher than Knight or Walker, it's just about getting as high as he can.

But the same elements are there that have always been there. The limited size, length, athleticism, the unfamiliarity with running an offense, the inability to launch without a conscience, they're all still there as concerns for how he'll adapt. But Fredette has college star power and that can blind. Maybe Fredette will smoothly transition to a new role and never environment. But the concerns should still be there. Sometimes removing context is a good thing.

Bismack Biyombo

Fear Factor: 4

Super-athletic foreign big comes out of nowhere, ramps up a ton of hype, then goes to workouts and .... wah-wah. Biyombo has talked about leading the league in blocks and rebounds. Bravado is excellent. But it can also belie an effort to gain a foothold on something other than ability. Biyombo brings great length and athleticism but no polish or offensive repertoire. So he's kind of the anti-Jimmer. But players in Biyombo's mold can either be a revelation or a colossal bust. Just for comparison's sake, the last player similar to Biyombo in terms of physical nature was Thabeet.

Good luck with that.

Kemba Walker

Fear Factor: 3

Similar concerns as Fredette, only magically shorter.

When Walker measured in at 6-1 vs. the 5-11 many scouts had him pegged at, the phrase "See, he's not short at all!" was used. This despite the fact that he's still short, he just plays and seems shorter than he actually is. Walker has a tremendous scoring ability, but defensively there are going to be questions. There have been plenty of players of diminutive stature to make it in the NBA and even become borderline stars. But few of them have been drafted at Walker's projected position or with his expectations. Walker was the college player of the year for a reason. He was also kept out of the top ten for most of the year until the talent stampeded out at the end.

Josh Selby

Fear Factor: 5

Highly touted high school project clashes with established, respected coach which results in him not playing at all down the stretch, then somehow vaults up the rankings. We've seen this one before. Selby's performances at workouts early in the draft process at Impact in Las Vegas have helped land him back in the first round. But Selby showed little more than perimeter shooting during Kansas' season, and the fact he couldn't get along with Bill Self raises a number of flags. Selby could be the type of player who just landed in a bad situation for him, but he could also be a headcase without an all-around game. 

Donatas Motiejunas

Fear Factor: 5

Might not come over from Europe, questionable defensive ability, questionable rebounding effort, questionable basketball ability beyond size. Motiejunas has the whole bag of concerns in one Euro Center package. Stick away from this one. 

Posted on: June 17, 2011 1:23 am
Edited on: June 17, 2011 3:46 pm
 

NBA Draft: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

Posted by Matt Moore




So the Cavs manage to hit the jackpot, win the lottery, and have a legitimate chance to start over. They've got a No.1 overall pick, the kind of asset that can become the next franchise player to lead a Cavalier rebirth, getting people excited about the team, taking them to the playoffs and eventually abandoning them leaving them crushed on national television.

Okay, that sounded mean. The point I'm trying to make, dear Ohioans, is that there's no way you get LeBron'd again. It was a once-in-a-lifetime screw-job and if Irving works out ability-wise, you don't have to worry about the utter demolition again thanks to ego and hubris. Now all you have to worry about is whether Kyrie Irving really is a franchise player.

At some point the overall diminished value of the draft started to have a weird effect on Irving's value. Despite the fact that Irving has been considered the top overall prospect since last summer when he blew doors off hinges in summer exhibitions, the fact that so many top players dropped out before next week's draft has somehow left Irving being considered less than other top picks.

The doubt isn't completely without merit. After all, Irving did miss most of his freshman year with an injury before returning for the NCAA tournament. If you don't think that can be a bad omen, please find the nearest Portland Trail Blazer Fan Support Group and sit in for a session. ESPN recently noted that Irving's assists decreased and turnovers increased in his latter games versus his earlier outings.

But given the context of Irving's games in terms of increased intensity on little to no practice and integration back into the team from injury, you have to look beyond just the metrics and more into the play style and approach. And both of those elements support the idea that Irving's going to be incredibly successful and well worth that Cavs pick.

Comparing a player to Chris Paul is pretty daring and will cause a great amount of "Whoa, ho, settle down there!" comments because, well, everyone freaks out if you qualitatively compare an unproven player to a player with high quantitative value. In other words, if you say that a patch of grass is like a $100 bill because they're both green, people freak out because the grass isn't worth the buck, despite that not being your point at all. You'll find the same phenomenon when you talk about LeBron James' post game, comparative religious philosophies and reality television shows.

But when you start to analyze Irving's game, you begin to figure out how those comparisons come about. Irving shows the smoothness of Paul's game, as well as the oh-so-rare established jumper entering the league. Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, all of the elite point guards of the last few years taken first at their position have lacked that jumper, with really only Stephen Curry a notable top point guard taken with the J already established. Irving on the other hand has a silk stroke but isn't just a shooter. He's got the playmaking ability. While he doesn't have Paul's vision (who does?), again, we're talking about qualitative ability, and Irving can play in CP3's role, even if he's not as incredible.

One of the minus points on Irving in comparison to Rose and the other Calipari star guards is Irving's limited athleticism. But really, it's only limited in comparison to those other super-freak athletes, and Irving has a shorter distance to go in terms of polish. While Irving doesn't have the straight-line speed of the other elite point guards, he does have great quickness which is just as valuable in the half-court set.

Beyond all this though, is an attitude that is key in establishing a franchise-player quality prospect. In the NCAA tournament, Irving had every reason to be passive, returning for the first time in months to an established team with more senior stars. Instead, Irving immediately gave the Blue Devils the necessary spark to make it as far as they did, even with Derrick Williams crashing the party (and making his own claim to that No.1 spot). Irving made plays at both ends, converting steals into scores and knocking down transition 3-pointers. (Imagine that, a point guard with range, in this day and age.)

The Cavaliers could use a player who doesn't have the kind of ego their last mega-star did. They could use a player who can make his teammates better without operating a frequency that makes him difficult to play with. They could use a player who can immediately act as a scoring threat and run the offense efficiently. Are Irving's turnovers a concern? They were a concern for all the great point guards in their first season (and continue to be for the MVP). They're a product of usage. And while Irving isn't the most pure of all point guards, he's still capable of running an offense. That's a different type of building block. Coaches constantly talk about consistency. Irving's curve for consistency is much shorter than other prototypes.

Maybe his highlight reel isn't as flashy, or his athleticism as knock-your-socks-off. But if we're examining talent and capability, Irving shows every sign of being the franchise player the Cavaliers need him to be. Now all they need is to take him. If they don't, with Minnesota committed to Ricky Rubio... chaos breaks out in the draft really quickly.

Irving began the year as the top overall pick in the mock drafts. When Thursday night rolls around, it should be his name said first, and the Cavs should feel good about trusting him with the wheel of the fortune-ravaged franchise.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com