Roundtable: What should the Cavaliers do with the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft?
SI.com’s NBA writers debate the biggest question of the day. Today, we examine …
What should the Cavaliers do with the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft?
Phil Taylor: Trade it. Package the pick with, say, Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao and send it to Minnesota for Kevin Love. Let's say the Cavs really chase the dream of getting LeBron James to come back to Cleveland. What's more likely to entice him: Kyrie Irving and a promising but raw Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins, or the combination of Irving and an established star in his prime like Love? Remember, LBJ will be 31 by the time he would become a free agent (assuming he doesn't opt out of his Heat contract) and not inclined to wait even a year or two for the seasoning that this year's No. 1 pick would require before being championship ready. He'll want a team that's capable of winning immediately. Love has his flaws defensively, but he's an offensive force, a strong rebounder and a known quantity. As promising as the potential draftees are, there's always the possibility that the No. 1 pick won't live up to expectations. If that happens, the Cavs can say goodbye to any chance at James. Of course, there's the possibility that LeBron still won't come back and that Love then leaves as a free agent, but I consider that a risk worth taking -- since I'm not the one who'll get fired if it all falls apart.
Lee Jenkins: Draft Joel Embiid. If the reports they receive on Embiid's back are reassuring, the Cavs should snag him. Embiid and Varejao could form a potent frontcourt, keeping the ball in Kyrie Irving's hands and leaving open a space on the wing for a certain free agent from Akron. Maybe James doesn't make the move this summer, but there's little doubt he will be keeping an eye on Cleveland, and specifically the development of this pick. He knows the Cavs already employ a young perimeter star in Irving. They now need to find the interior equivalent. Assuming Embiid is healthy, and delivers early in his career, Cleveland could suddenly become an attractive destination for a native son.
Ben Golliver: Draft Andrew Wiggins. Good news: The 2014 No. 1 pick looks like a pretty foolproof place to be. There seem to be arguments developing for three prospects -- Wiggins, Embiid and Jabari Parker -- and outside of Embiid's possible health concerns there aren't many red flags at play. It's impossible to get into the Cavs' heads -- after so many weird recent picks and a change in management -- but almost any rationale they use should come back to one of those three players, and that will be significantly better than the unqualified disaster that was Anthony Bennett's rookie year. If I were drafting for Cleveland, I would take Wiggins and not think twice. He fills an obvious hole, he pairs nicely with Irving, he's got loads and loads of long-term upside and he restores some short-term hope to an organization that endured a rough 2013-14 season. With so many other questions -- Waiters' future, Luol Deng's free agency and Varejao's ability to stay healthy, among others -- looming, Cleveland shouldn't overthink this. Nab the guy who has the physical tools, the two-way game and the character to become a franchise talent.
Rob Mahoney: Fully investigate every possibility. As promising as the top few prospects in this year's draft class might be, the Cavs are in a position to go any number of routes. There's the choice between the consensus top three of Wiggins, Parker and Embiid, which is in itself a bit of a conundrum. Cleveland could go off the beaten path again (as it did by selecting Bennett with the first pick last year) in taking a player like Dante Exum. The Cavs are also in a position to trade the pick and come out better for it; Cleveland could rise in the East standings by acquiring an established star instead of a high-ceiling rookie, a course that undoubtedly appeals to a team behind its competitive schedule. What matters most in making this decision is diligence, given that there's enough room for maneuvering here to allow for multiple "right" decisions. Take every trade call. Chase leads on every star player who might not be locked in with their current team. Collect every bit of information on every prospect even reasonably within draft range and more still on those who might justify trading down. The answer for Cleveland isn't in drafting this player or trading for that player. It's in the space between -- that maximization of possibility on this gift of lottery luck.
Matt Dollinger: Just don't blow it! The Cavs landed the No. 1 pick of a lifetime in 2003, only to watch LeBron take his talents to South Beach and deliver two titles to the Heat. They drafted Irving No. 1 in 2011, only to see the point guard struggle to elevate the franchise despite strong individual numbers. And then the Cavs took Anthony Bennett at No. 1 in 2013, only to ... well, yeah, you know. Now, Cleveland has struck gold again, winning the top pick despite just a 1.7 percent chance. The Cavs have their choice of Wiggins, Parker, Embiid and no one else. You hear me, Cleveland? You are not allowed to draft anyone else. Do not get creative. After deviating from the consensus last season and daring to take Bennett No. 1, Cleveland can't afford to gamble two years in a row. If they do, the Cavaliers will likely end up in the lottery again ... which I guess isn't so bad given their lucky track record.
Chris Johnson: Draft Andrew Wiggins. The Cavs are picking first for the third time in the last four years, yet they still haven’t found a viable replacement for James at small forward. General manager David Griffin should solve that problem by drafting Wiggins. With Deng possibly leaving in free agency, the Cavs could use Wiggins' defensive versatility. Unlike Bennett last year, Wiggins would be an obvious pick at No. 1. Wiggins didn’t dazzle quite the way some expected he would during his one college season, but he still flashed tremendous athleticism and explosiveness, especially when attacking the basket in transition, and has plenty of room to get better. If Cleveland takes Wiggins, comparisons to LeBron will follow. That’s not exactly fair, because Wiggins is a different type of player, but he, too, should make the Cavaliers better right away.
Richard Deitsch: Draft Jabari Parker. Why? See here.