Cavs owner Dan Gilbert still haunted by passing on Draymond Green in 2012 Draft

The whole league passed on Draymond Green in the 2012 NBA Draft, even the Golden State Warriors. Green was their third selection that night after Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, and they risked losing him by taking Ezeli with the No. 30 pick, five spots before Green. Since Green has transformed into an All-Star and arguably a top-10 player, it has become trendy for people around the NBA to claim that they wanted him back then. The latest to do so publicly: Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

In an interview with ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Gilbert said that he learned to listen to his gut because of his mistake on draft night. The Cavaliers had picks No. 33 and 34, right before Green was taken, and traded them to the Dallas Mavericks in a deal that landed them Tyler Zeller, who was picked No. 17 overall. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had called Gilbert that night to rave about Green, but the organization went a different direction.

From ESPN:

Izzo had told him, "You gotta take my guy." The Cavs had two second-round picks, and Izzo was calling Gilbert, a Michigan State guy, to tell him that Draymond Green was the real deal. "I still wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat that we didn't take him," Gilbert says of Green, who torched the Cavs for 28 points in the Warriors' 110-77 win in Game 2 of the Finals. "I didn't listen to my gut."

A few thoughts:

  1. It's easy to go back and say stuff like this now, but framing things this way is dangerous. What other decisions, over the years, did Gilbert's gut tell him to make? How did they work out? What did his gut say about taking Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall in 2013? Everyone in the player evaluation business gets draft projections incredibly wrong and incredibly right, and it's silly to conclude that going with your gut is always the best route to take. Also, Gilbert is an owner, not a front-office guy.
  2. It's funny to think of how Green falling in the draft changed the landscape of the league. CBS Sports' Bill Reiter looked at how the potential Kevin Love-Klay Thompson trade would have altered the trajectories of the Cavs, Warriors and Timberwolves, but Golden State wouldn't have become this juggernaut without Green a) slipping to the No. 35 pick and b) getting an opportunity to start in his third season because that Love trade wasn't made and David Lee got injured.
  3. Let's forget about the butterfly effect and the Warriors' culture of player development and just imagine if Cleveland's starting lineup was Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, LeBron James, Draymond Green and Tristan Thompson. Just imagine it for a second. I guess it's sort of understandable that Gilbert is still waking up in a cold sweat over this.
Dan Gilbert attends a first-round playoff game
Dan Gilbert wishes he could have a do-over on the 2012 draft. USATSI
CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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