Analyzing The Cavs Chances in the 2011 NBA Draft

The Cavs are bad.  We all know this.  There is no false hope that we can make a playoff push as an 8 seed, no coulda, woulda, shoulda, about the season that has been.  The Cavs are just bad.  Plain and simple.  Of course being this bad has its perks.  If the Cavs can finish with the worst record in the NBA they will guarantee themselves the highest odds of obtaining the first overall pick in the NBA Draft.

(For those who may not be aware, the NBA does a draft lottery to determine the selection order for teams who missed the playoffs.  The worst team has the best odds, 25%, and the best of the worst has the least odds, 0.5%.  Essentially the draft lottery is meant to protect the integrity of the sport by preventing teams from tanking in order to get the top pick.  Tanking just ensures the best chance to get the top pick)

As of Tuesday the current NBA Draft Lottery odds break down as follows:

  1. Cleveland  25%
  2. Minnesota  19.9%
  3. Sacramento  15.6%
  4. Washington  11.9%
  5. Toronto  8.8%
  6. Utah (from New Jersey)  6.3%
  7. Detroit  4.3%
  8. Cleveland (from L.A. Clippers)  2.8%
  9. Milwaukee  1.5%
  10. Charlotte  1.4%
  11. Golden State  .8%
  12. Utah  .7%
  13. Phoenix  .6%
  14. Houston  .5%

Thanks to the Cavs inability to play offense, defense, and even successfully drink from water bottles… ok i made that last one up, but I wouldn’t doubt if it were true… they have all but guaranteed themselves the best possible chance to select the best possible player available.  The only way things could get better is if the Clippers lost every game from here on out, dropped in the standings, and increased the odds that their draft pick will be higher than #8.  It’s the Clippers, anything is possible.

To go along with the NBA Draft Lottery, ESPN’s NBA draft expert Chad Ford has the “NBA Draft Lottery Machine.”  Basically it’s a webpage that plays the lottery odds, takes into account team needs, and predicts possible scenarios for the first 14 picks.  I’ve provided the link below.

Chad Ford’s NBA Draft Lottery Machine

What I decided to do was play the lottery and do some crude statistical analysis of my own to better determine who the Cavs are likely to take based on their potential positions with both of their picks, their needs as a team, and the needs of the teams most likely to draft in front of and behind them.  In order to do this I knew I had to run the Lottery Machine a substantial number of times.  More than just five times, but also not a million (I don’t have that kind of time).  I decided on a nice round number of 100.  I figured by running the draft 100 times I would be able to discern where the Cavs are likely to pick and who they are most likely to select.  It also serves for easy math.

After running the Lottery Machine 100 times this is what I came up with for the Cavs regarding positioning:

  • #1 pick 29% of the time, about on par with the odds
  • #2, 3, and 4 picks 18%, 26%, and 27% of the time (This was a bit troubling)
  • Never received the #5, 6, or 7 position with either pick (I felt this was a bit odd, how is that not at all possible?)
  • #8 pick 63% of the time (Seemed to be a lock)
  • #9 and 10 picks 23% and 3%

From this the most likely scenario based on current positioning is for the Cavs to end up with the first overall pick and the eighth pick.  The one discovery that was a bit disturbing was the amount of times the Cavaliers ended up with the third and fourth picks.  Despite being the best odds to get the #1 pick it didn’t translate gradually downward.  One would assume from 2 to 4 the percentages would have been 27%, 26%, and 18%, but that wasn’t the case.  However, it’s not terrible.  In all of those simulations the Cavs were still able to secure one of the top projected players in the draft.

Speaking of players, who does it seem like the Cavs are most likely to draft come June?  That’s why I did this and why you’re reading this aren’t you?  Again I have to emphasize nothing here is for sure.  Draft stocks for players are sure to fluctuate between now and then.  Also, there is no guarantee all of the players currently in the mock draft will be in the real draft.  For example, Kyrie Irving could very well return for a second season at Duke.  Unlikely, but it’s a possibility.

So who do the Cavs take?  From what I gathered, when the Cavs have the #1 pick in the draft they took Duke point guard Kyrie Irving 100% of the time.  It’s a solid pick.  He’s regarded as the second coming of Chris Paul by most analysts and would be instrumental in rebuilding the Cavs in a league dominated by superior point guard play.  Look at all the best teams and they have one thing in common… all-star point guards.  Hope is not all lost though if the Cavs don’t get the #1 pick.  The Cavs were able to draft Kyrie Irving 4 times with the #2 pick.  For this to happen though, one of the lottery teams with established point guards would need to land the top pick.  The three teams with elite point guards in the lottery, Washington, Golden State, and Milwaukee.

The other options, should the Cavs lose the top pick to a team needing a point guard appear to be Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones, and Harrison Barnes.  All three players were picked multiple times with the Cavs first pick.  Sullinger and Jones were both selected as high as #2.  Barnes was selected only at #4.  Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly depending on your point of view, the Cavs selected Sullinger 40 times out of 100.  He would appear to be the most likely plan B should Irving be off the board.  Perry Jones was selected 20 time and Harrison Barnes 7 times.

The tricky part however is you have to take a look at where these players were taken in the draft order.  The Cavs received the #2 pick 14 times with Irving off the board.  Perry Jones was selected #2 overall by the Cavs 13 out of those 14 times.  The reason Sullinger was selected so many time is due to how many more times they received the #3 and #4 picks with both Irving and Jones off the board.  In some instances they were able to get Jones with the #3 or #4 pick, but that spot was overwhelmingly dominated by Sullinger.  Harrison Barnes appeared to be the worst case scenario pick with only the #4 pick 7 times and the three previous players off the board.

For the Cavs second pick from the Clippers things get a bit interesting.  While the Cavs pick appears all but guaranteed to be a top 4 pick, the Clippers pick could fall as high as #3 and as low as #10.  In fact in a strange twist after I completed my 100 mocks, I was able to get the Clipper pick to hit at #1… twice.  In both instance the Cavs received the top two picks and took Irving and Jones.  That wouldn’t be bad.  Anyways, the most likely position for the second pick appears to the #8 pick.  with the #8 pick the Cavs always took Kentucky freshman power forward Terrance Jones.  At #9 the Cavs always took Jan Vesely, an import from the Czech Republic who is only 20 years old and possess absurd athletic ability and tremendous upside.  But as is usually the case with foreign players, he is very raw and would need time to develop his game and his body.  I’m instantly skeptical.  For every Dirk Nowitzki there is are a 100 Darko’s.  Remember Sasha Pavlovic?  He was supposed to be a game changer.  Yeah, OK.  Moving on…  The three times the Cavs selected #10 they took Uconn point guard and tournament standout Kemba Walker.

So, from all of this what have we learned.  As of right now, it would appear that the most likely combination we will see on draft day will be Kyrie Irving and Terrance Jones.  It’s not a bad combination.  Irving is the stud point guard and Jones is a freaky athletic big man would could play both forward spots.  Is it a recipe for an instant turn around?  I doubt it.  The Cavs will need to fill in a lot more pieces before they are a good again and both players will need to learn the NBA game.  It’ll take a few seasons and a good bit of tinkering, but it can be done.

There are other interesting pieces to take away from this.

  • At no point did the Cavs ever get into a position to Draft Derrick Williams despite the fact he was consistently taken 4, 5, or 6.  This was a bit disappointing as I feel he may be the most NBA ready player of the bunch.
  • The Cavs never ended up with a pick below #10, so that’s a positive.
  • Some of the more intriguing scenarios occurred when the Clippers pick hit big.  Possible combinations when that happened were Irving/Sullinger, Perry Jones/Barnes, and Irving/Perry Jones.
  • As I mentioned above, any scenario involving John Vesely worries me.  The worst case scenario in my opinion would be Barnes and Vesely.
  • Sullinger and Terrence Jones occurred a lot.  It’s intriguing simply because Sullinger is very much a low post threat while Jones can take his game to the outside and shoot with range.  Could they coexist with the right point guard?  I think so.
  • The most intriguing scenario in my mind was whenever the Cavs hit #4 and #10.  All three times it happened the Cavs selected Sullinger and Kemba Walker.  I wouldn’t mind seeing that combination.
  • Should the Cavs hit spots 6, or 7, the most likely picks appear to be centers Enes Kanter and Jonas Valanciunas.  Kanter was ruled ineligible by the NCAA and sat out his entire freshman year at Kentucky.  He is considered a highly effective scorer and much more polished than most European born players.  Kanter originally hails from Turkey.  Valanciunas is Lithuanian and lacks athleticism.  He is a rebounder and a banger inside, but would require time to develop in the NBA.

For anyone looking for a quick but detailed summary of a lot of the players I listed here, feel free to take a look at Yahoo sports writer, Marc Spears, most recent draft prospectus.  Here is the Link.

So there you have it… a very detailed draft analysis that probably doesn’t explain anything to anyone because like I said, there is still time and plenty of games left to be played.  The one thing we all did learn from this is that I am a huge dork.  So there’s that much.  Regardless, I think it did serve a purpose to get an idea of where the Cavs could fall and who could and should be there to pick in those places, so it can’t be all bad.

Well, not as bad as the Cavs… they suck.

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3 thoughts on “Analyzing The Cavs Chances in the 2011 NBA Draft

  1. I think Walker should be higher than #10. Interesting post. You never know what happens. I don’t really like the idea of a lottery, because look at the Nets last year. They had the worst record, but got the THIRD pick! That’s pretty unfair, if you ask me.

    1. I agree. I think by the time the draft comes Walker will be slated for higher than the #10 pick. He’s that good. The only thing that will keep Walker from being picked higher is his size, or lack there of. He’s listed as being 6′ 1″ but supposedly might be closer to 5′ 10″. Regardless I still think he’s a stud.

  2. I would like to see the Cavaliers get Irving and take a chance on Burke.
    The Cav’s need a shooting guard, and with B.D and Irving and Burke they would have a nice rotation of guards. Burke is a solid scorer who has the skill to handle the ball, which is what Scott wants. He can push the ball and will develope a shot working with Chris Jent.

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