B-B-B-Bennett and the Cavs: NBA Post-Draft Discussion

bennettWith the surprise pick of Anthony Bennett at No. 1, and the selections of Sergey Karasev at 19 and Carrick Felix at 33, it was quite a memorable night for Cavaliers fans. Andrew and I got together this morning and discussed last night’s events in the only way the two of us know how, in long form. So, without further ado, here is our NBA Draft fallout conversation.

Kirk: So, Andrew, what a night! We saw a hat trick with Chris Grant and surprising first-round choices, and saw the Cavaliers not pull off a first-round trade that so many expected. They even kept a second-round pick. Your opening thoughts on the night?

Andrew: I loved everything about that draft night. I cannot remember a more fun draft to watch unfold live and on Twitter. It was confusing, baffling, mesmerizing, full of anticipation. It had a little bit of everything.

From the Cavs’ point of view, I liked what they did at No. 1, actually. I was totally surprised by the Bennett pick. I never really talked about him because he was the one guy I never thought they would take. So, of course, that’s the guy they took. And Chris Grant once again not panicking with the No. 19 pick and being patient and getting his guy without having to trade up to get him was awesome. And my love affair with Sergey Karasev is well documented. I was even happy they kept a 2nd-round pick as well. All in all, I thought it was a good night for the Cavaliers. How about you?

Kirk: I was very surprised. I compare my reaction to Lieutenant Dan in “Forrest Gump” cackling as the thunderstorm ravages their ship. It wasn’t in an angry fashion, more of just a hat tip to Chris Grant for getting us all again. I gave Bennett only five of my 100 “Cavalier Draft Votes” and had him on my wishlist behind Porter, McLemore, Noel, Len, AND Oladipo. Still, as you start thinking about the warts on all these players, whether it be injuries, low ceilings, low floors, or positional concerns, perhaps Bennett’s lack of a true position and being a tad short and overweight is the least concerning of all of them. This guy can flatout SCORE!

Andrew: Yeah, I’m not going to sit here and pretend like Bennett was my guy, either. It’s not who I would have taken. But that doesn’t mean I have to HATE this pick. I’ve told Craig on the podcast multiple times that I have felt the one thing the Cavaliers lack more than anything else is an impact scorer in the frontcourt. Well, now they (hopefully) have that. Bennett does solve a major need, and there’s a chance he could end up being the best player in this draft. That’s why I can’t kill the Cavs for taking him. It’s a solid pick. Chad Ford keeps saying Bennett might be a 20-and-10 guy and he’s the only guy in this draft who could be that. Well, sign me up for a 20-and-10 guy with the No. 1 pick in this draft.

But let’s talk about this No. 1 pick and the Cavaliers going “outside the box” for it once more. Is Bennett as big of a surprise as everyone is making it out be? Is there reason for concern that the Cavaliers tried to out-think themselves and everyone else by going against the grain?

Kirk: I do believe it is as stunning of a No. 1 pick as there is in recent memory, but we knew this draft was so fluid without a true star. You start with Noel and Len, and I did like both of them, but you just never know how their bills of health checked out. FIVE teams passed on the “consensus number one”, and the sixth traded him away. Len didn’t have the advanced metrics or even commonly used stats on his side. I wanted Porter, and I think he’ll be a very good player, but the Cavs are trying for a homer here rather than a safe pick like Porter or Oladipo. I’m guessing that McLemore, as reported, just didn’t wow them at the workouts. My biggest concern with the pick is really how it affects Tristan Thompson. So, in the grand scheme of things, if that’s my biggest issue, I shouldn’t be complaining much. Bennett has range out to the 3-point arc, can bang inside with his wide frame, can pick and pop a little bit, and he draws fouls. He can even take it to the rack off the perimeter with either hand. How many power forwards can do that?! That was the stunning thing for me watching the film on him. I was wrong on being staunchly against him early in the process. I still do have concerns, however, about how Mike Brown gets this guy to play defense.

Andrew: I think the fact that six teams passed on Noel (even though New Orleans picked him, I count them as passing on him because they just wanted to trade him) is all the justification Chris Grant needs for not taking Noel. And if you’re not taking Noel, the “Consensus Top Player in this Draft”, then everyone else is fair game. That’s why, even though I was surprised, I wasn’t jaw-on-the-floor shocked. And I think there’s every bit as much reason to take Bennett No. 1 as there is anyone else not named Noel in this draft.

The defense thing will be interesting to see how it plays out. I expect to see Bennett play some small forwsard with Tristan on the court at the four, but Bennett is really going to struggle defending forwards like LeBron. But again, that’s where Mike Brown’s system helps. We know how great Anderson Varejao is at rotating into help defense, but if Coach Brown can get Tristan to learn to react quicker to help rotations as well, then the Cavaliers can mask Bennett’s defensive issues. People forget how essential Ben Wallace was with his help defense to get Coach Brown’s system to really click last time. They need Tristan to read and react that quickly on defense to cover up the defensive issues of guys like Bennett and Kyrie. Really, the key to all of this will be seeing how Brown uses his matchups and the rotations. Chris Grant has made this roster much more versatile with both Bennett and Karasev being able to play multiple positions, which should facilitate an easier transition between small and big lineups.

Kirk: No doubt about it, Rock. How Mike Brown sorts out all of these pieces into a rotation will be interesting. Can Bennett and Tristan coexist long-term? The odds are probably against it, but if Bennett drops a little weight, maybe he can play 6-8 minutes a game at the 3. He can CERTAINLY do it on the offensive end. Then, with Tristan’s defense improving a bit and given his already strong rebounding numbers and effort, you steal 6-8 minutes a game with Tristan at the five in today’s NBA with few legit 7-foot centers that are impact players. Split the minutes at the four down the middle, and boom, 30-32 minutes for each guy. The Cavaliers covered up the Mo Williams, Wally Szczerbiak, and Antawn Jamison types on defense with strong defenders in LeBron, Delonte West, Andy, and Ben Wallace over that span. One or two guys in the Mike Brown system being elite can cover up a lot.

Let’s go ahead and shift gears to Karasev, though, I know you love him. I didn’t watch film on him until earlier this week, but when I did, he just stands out. A 19-year-old with Olympic experience and three years of pro ball under his belt? The guy has a quirky shot, but is lights out from three when he’s set. He’s got that funky Ginobili Euro-step type thing going on too. He’s a willing passer and gives them a bit of that “point forward” thing I was looking for with Otto to mesh with a Kyrie/Dion backcourt. His defense was atrocious, but it looked like it was due to not knowing principles on closeouts and such rather than ability. Your thoughts?

Andrew: The first time I watched Karasev play basketball, I was blown away by what I saw. He is just so silky smooth in the way he plays and he looks like he was absolutely born to play basketball. He seemingly always play under control, doesn’t try to do too much, is decently athletic, has phenomenal court vision, and is an above average passer because of it, and he can knock down shots with ease when open. Now, can he play defense and can he create his own shot in the NBA? We’ll have to see. There’s a reason he went 19 and not in the top five. So, I don’t want to give the impression I think we’re looking at an All-Star. Rather, I just think this is a really, really, really good and solid basketball player who can be a firm part of the team when they start to contend. You need glue guys and guys who can make plays off the bench, and that’s what I think Karasev can be. I also think he can push Alonzo for the starting spot this season, depending on how quickly he picks up defense. But in terms of just being a natural born basketball player, this kid has that, and you see it as soon as you watch him play. I feel very confident in where his floor and ceiling are.

Is Karasev the guy you wanted at 19, or were looking at someone else? Bullock was admittedly an intrguing prospect, but I just think Karasev can do more things on the court than anyone else available at 19.

Kirk: As we got closer to 19, I was okay with getting Karasev or Bullock. Bullock is going to be an excellent 3-and-D guy who can rebound really well. However, Karasev has a higher ceiling and has age on his side. Bullock could make more of an impact this year, but I think he is a confirmed role player. Karasev could maybe be more. Chris Grant said he’s going to play more 2 than 3 at first, though he can play both. That’s interesting to hear. What about the second-round pick, Carrick Felix? Jamaal Franklin was still on the board, and both guys are wing players who can defend.

Andrew: I knew a lot less about these guys, but as the second round approached I really like Allen Crabbe, Franklin, Tony Mitchell, and Felix. I was disappointed that they traded Crabbe. I thought he was the best of the bunch. And to be honest, I preferred Franklin over Felix as well, but I did have Felix on my short list. I think Franklin looks a little more like an NBA skillset than Felix, but I do think Felix will make the team. I think his defense is good enough that Mike Brown will throw him some minutes later in the season. You can’t expect too much out of the second round, but finding guys with a niche that lets them stick in the association is a nice goal. I think Felix can give them that much at least. Was there anyone in the late first round you would rather the Cavs have packaged 31 and 33 to go up and get?

Kirk: I thought Jeff Withey as a backup center prospect with shot blocking ability was an option. I probably would’ve went Franklin too, considering the Cavaliers brought him in with the Otto-McLemore-Oladipo contingency to work out, but maybe they didn’t like what they saw. Crabbe could be a nice bench shooter. I do like the continuing of gathering assets with a two-for-one in second rounders. You can only have so many young guys on one roster, but this was a pick/pet project for Mike Brown. You have Felix and Gee for that last defensive stop needed on the perimeter to close out games. Final thoughts, Rock?

Andrew: I think the goal of this draft was for it to be the final Lottery Draft of this rebuild. I’m not convinced it will play that way, although the Celtics moves certainly seems to open the door for another team in the East to take their spot in the playoffs. But you can only draft from the players that are eligible, and with that in mind, I think Chris Grant once again did a pretty good job trusting his instincts and the staff’s metrics, and I think he got the players that he really liked. I can see all three of these players being part of this franchise for years to come, and I think the potential ceilings on Bennett and Karasev are pretty high. It’s just going to take some time for everything to develop and gel. All in all, I think the Cavaliers will be a much improved team next year.

Kirk: I’ve yet to see anything that doesn’t make me trust Chris Grant and his front office’s thought process. They got two forwards who can score as well as nearly anybody in this draft. The real question will be with a core as of now including Kyrie, Dion, Bennett, and Karasev, can Mike Brown get these guys playing defense to push this team into the playoffs and onward in their journey back to the top?

Photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

  • Guest

    I gave a big meh to all of the pre-draft speculation & mocks and I’m equally unenthused about the post-draft analysis & grades because it’s well, the silly NBA and who really knows in that crap shoot. Apathetic disclaimer being said, we got Tony Bennett, so that’s nice!

  • Guest

    I gave a big meh to all of the pre-draft speculation & mocks and I’m equally unenthused about the post-draft analysis & grades because it’s well, the silly NBA and who really knows in that crap shoot. Apathetic disclaimer being said, we got Tony Bennett, so that’s nice!

  • Kildawg

    I knew that Chris Grant was going to get the guys he wanted. Mildly surprised Karasev fell to 19, but that meant the Cavs could use the 2nd rounders this year. Eventually traded the 31 to Portland for 2 future second rounders. My question is does the Stepien Rule apply to 2nd round picks as well or no?

  • Robbie S

    I really don’t understand the ‘value’ of trading the top spot in the 2nd round, who would be a solid bench guy for us, for 2 second rounders who will no doubt be lower than 31 & 33…

  • In Chris Grant I trust. On to free agency. If we have any hopes of making the playoffs we’re going to need a 3 that can fill it up. Anyone jumping off the free agent list as a possible future Cav?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Irving and Waiters should both be happy. Irving now has a legitimate scoring threat in Bennett perfect for pick and rolls. Meanwhile Waiters job as a starter is safe. It’ll be interesting to see how Mike Brown works all of the puzzle pieces together. It’ll be interesting to see what if anything the Cavaliers do in free agency. They have a ton of $ and still plenty of places to spend it. My guess is don’t expect alot. I think something along the lines of what they did last summer probably.

  • dimoko

    I’m an Akron homer, so i’d love to see Zeke Marshall here.

  • DJM

    Roster just can’t handle 4 rookies. Its a numbers thing. not that the cavs wouldn’t want all 4

  • RGB

    I heard LeBron wanted McLemore.
    Just sayin’…

  • Harv 21

    “But let’s talk about this No. 1 pick and the Cavaliers going ‘outside
    the box’ for it once more. Is Bennett as big of a surprise as everyone
    is making it out be? Is there reason for concern that the Cavaliers
    tried to out-think themselves and everyone else by going against the

    No no no. I know you guys later cleaned this up but, for goodness sakes, next year can we approach the draft sanely? The “box” is something writers create based on nothing but what other writers say. Noel and Len and McLemore were “in the box” as #1 overall. But Zeller was the first center taken, Noel fell to #6, McLemore went at #7. The GMs didn’t create “the box” and then abandon it in panic on draft night. This box is a unicorn, a fairy tale made up by writers like you guys and echoed unthinkingly by readers like us guys. Grant didn’t outthink himself because his pick didn’t match the bloggers’ guess. No, the box is, by definition, precisely what Grant himself dropped in it at about 7:40 p.m.

    [end rant]

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    They could bring back Ellington if so that’s one spot gone. Other teams free agents of possible interest might be CJ Watson of Nets, Belinelli of Bulls, Iguodola of Nuggets, Calderon of Pistons, Jack and Landry of Warriors, Clark of Lakers, Allen of Grizzlies and Foye of Jazz.

    Obviously Iguodola, Calderon and Jack would probably be the most expensive of the names I posted. Calderon most likely would want to go somewhere he could start as well. Landry & Clark are both PFs but I’m sure one could fit. Tony Allen would be a great defensive guy off the bench and Foye can score off the pine as a backup PG.

    There are quite a few guys who can probably be had without using a ton of that cap space so it’ll be interesting to see what Grant does now that the draft is done. I’m hoping Karasev signs and is here from day one.

  • JHop

    The addition of Mike Brown looks a lot smarter after the draft. I’d much rather have a seasoned veteran coach trying to put these pieces together than some up-and-coming, inexperienced rookie coach.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    They said that on the telecast last night too. No worries.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I would hope so the only thing is Brown never excelled when it came to young guys. Brown, Hickson, Green I mean there is a long line of young guys who never really contributed or seem to play odd minutes. That being said alot could have been that Danny Ferry went after the more established guys in order to assist LBJ therefore there really wasn’t an opportunity for Brown to bring along rookies.

    This time around the team is basically all youngsters only Varejao remains. I think we’ll see different things from Brown starting with assistants who have alot more experience. Boylan especially.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    TGIF Harv!

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Nuts… he was coming to Cleveland next year if that didn’t happen! (sorry for the sarcasm… I’m tired of the LBJ talk after ESPN crammed it down our throats last night)

  • Steve

    Have to take issue with New Orleans “passing” on Noel. They got an all-star PG who is just coming into his prime for Noel. It’s not like they were scared off by him, they got blown away by a great offer.

  • RGB

    I just watched the live online ticker. The new episode of Chopped was on. 😀

  • Harv 21

    The Cavs re-hire Mike Brown, could answer “no way” to every LeBron question and fill up all their cap space with others and people would still pick at it like an itchy scab. This morning Mike and Mike were doing it again, in the guise of won’t happen/can’t rule it out. Let it go, folks.

  • Harv 21

    yeah, I’ll lighten up now

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It’s what they do especially since they couldn’t use all of the Nerlens Noel in Cleveland material they probably had produced. Grant was once again unpredictable so by default they relied on the LeBron James talk.

    When I mention how he’d look great on this current team (and I do and he’d fit) I’m just having fun. I wouldn’t mind if he came back but honestly I’m over it. I now have the Celtics giving the Nets Garnett and Pierce on top of the mighty Bruins losing the Stanley Cup. So you see it’s just not Cleveland.

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • BigDigg

    Wish i was feeling as confident in CG here, but this is a make or break draft for him IMO. I’ve been really impressed with his ability to restock parts to create a ton of flexibility. But the jury is still out on all the outside-of-the box thinking. Thompson and Waiters have had their moments and are legitimate NBA players, but it’s not clear if they are emerging stars or middling guys putting up stats getting a ton of play time and long leash on a bad team. There’s a big difference there. Also remains to be seen what CG can do through FA and potential trades, however these 2013 picks were a big part of our potential package so i’m not expecting as much there.

    Next year will provide answers. If this team sprouts then CG is a genius. But if it doesn’t then I think it’s fair to question where we think our window is.

  • Steve

    I ask again, what is there to suggest we should just trust him? I’m more than fine with Bennett, but we’re still waiting for the actual results to show that we’re going in the right direction.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Recorded it, so no spoilers!

  • So, you’re saying they preferred someone else more than Noel? Isn’t that the definition of passing on him? And even if you disagree with that, does it make a difference if it’s 6 or 5 teams who passed? The point is the same.

  • CB Everett
  • dwhit110

    And they had to add a likely lottery pick in the loaded 2014 draft to Noel to get Holliday anyways. Makes you realize why we weren’t able to turn the #1 into the 2014 pick + a player we wanted.

  • Harv 21

    astounding how you guys have the perfect clip for every occasion.

  • The Other Tim

    If LeBron wanted McLemore and Grant picked somebody else, than I am now Grant’s number one fan. Seriously, I demand a Chris Grant jersey and or bobble head.

  • Steve

    They preferred a guy who could make the all-star game at 22. I would take Lebron over Irving, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like Irving.

    And the point is that the drawing out every last inch of the anti-Noel argument is hilarious on its face. You have defended a move as good because the Washington, Charlotte, and Phoenix front offices thought so. I’m sure it inspires confidence that you have placed your stake on those superlative organizations.

  • The obvious answer, to me, would be this: what other choice do we have? I suppose rooting for a different team is always an option, but if we wish to be Cavs fans, then we don’t have much choice but to trust the folks in charge. Same for the Browns, same for the Tribe. I’d love to think my own opinions mean something in the grand scheme for the teams I love, but the reality is…they don’t. It’s not the most encouraging answer, I know, but I don’t see any other reasonable alternative.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Someone gets CHOPPED!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    LoL I’m waiting until the Cavaliers win more then 35 games and that’s at the low end of the spectrum.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I wonder what if anything this means for General Grevais?

  • “anti-Noel argument”

    That’s interesting, considering Noel is who I said I wanted and who I would have picked.

  • Steve

    I’m not saying we’re going to change things, I’m asking why we should fall in step with whatever he’s doing. A little constructive criticism isn’t a bad thing, especially when the results we’re hoping Grant can lead us to have yet to happen.

  • Steve

    Well isn’t that dandy. Whatever we want to call it, it’s a completely biased ‘whatever the Cavs did was a good move’ type of analysis.

    If the consensus is that we want the Cavs to operate with the same thought patterns as Washington, Charlotte, and Phoenix, I’m going to be the necessary sore thumb.

  • tt cray

    So… Bynum or Oden?

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Just an aside – I thought the line about not panicking at #19 (or at #1) was a good one, and I wanted to contrast it with the Mike Holmgren-led Browns (and in turn the Joe Banner-led ones).

    Christ Grant both a) doesn’t give away his thoughts and b) doesn’t overpay – in fact, he lets other people overpay. Mike Holmgren and Co. believed that they had to overpay to make sure they got what they wanted, and that was partly because they always gave away what they wanted. It’s comforting that Joe Banner is more in line with the Chris Grant approach.

  • JimmyDiDago

    Word has it that Earl Clark is already on the short list of Mike Brown.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I had heard that as well. You also have some undrafted guys like CJ Leslie, Vander Blue, Phil Pressey who I might kick the tires on as well.

  • Steve, I’m offended by the notion that we’re blindly supporting/agreeing with whatever the Cavs do. If someone has yet to make an obvious mistake, don’t they deserve the benefit of the doubt?

    If a guy is a consensus one, as so many said, a FIFTH OF THE LEAGUE doesn’t pass on him. I don’t care what their front office track record is.

    It’s not homerism, it’s trying to understand the plan. It doesn’t take much effort to bash.

  • Yup

    Dion was the 3rd best rookie this season and a 1st team-all rookie selection. TT showed large improvement in year two and has an ELITE skill in offensive rebounding. He also improved his FT% by something like 15%. Kyrie was an All-Star. See why we trust Grant now?

  • Yup

    You are bad at this. Seriously. Stop embarrassing yourself.

  • Steve

    We got pretty good players in spots that one would expect to get pretty good players? Color me unimpressed. When Chris Grant builds a roster that can win just one playoff series, I’ll start to be impressed. So far, he has topped out at a .318 win pct.

  • Steve

    If you have issues with what I say, I’ll wait for a logical response refuting my claim. Otherwise you are just whining because I’m not falling in lockstep with the groupthought.

    If you want to discuss the draft, I’m down, but I’m still waiting on you to actually contribute.

  • Cavs do not appear to have interest in Marshall at this point.