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Looking Back — Grading the Cavs 2011 Draft

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Updated: August 26, 2013
2011NBADraft_Irving_Thomson

They usually say you can’t grade a draft until players have played three full seasons.  But when Jimmer Fredette goes in the top 10, there is no need to wait the three full years to come up with a verdict.  Take a look at the results of the 2011 NBA Draft.  I dare you to find a team that had a better draft than the Cavs.  It’s okay, you can admit that you were thinking it might be cool to draft Derrick Williams and Brandon Knight.  I was too.  We just got done watching Derrick Williams punish Duke and Brandon Knight make clutch shots in the 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tourney.  We just wanted a quick fix to the post-LeBron era.

How many times did we have the “he’s only played 11 games” conversation about Kyrie Irving?  Can you imagine if we passed on him?  Chris Grant would not have a job right now if that occurred.  But our draft success didn’t stop at number one.  You should always hit on a number one pick.  3-4 teams hit on one player in the draft.  Kenneth Faried, Klay Thompson, and Kawhi Leonard to name a few.  But you will struggle to find a team that drafted two strong contributors.

There were so many rumors with the 4th pick.  Once Williams and Kanter were off the board, we started looking at guys like Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely, or even a possible trade. It was well known that Valanciunas was going to sit out the 2011-12 season and there was no way Dan Gilbert could sell the fans (at least me) on waiting a year on a possible star.

Vesely looks super psyched for space camp this summer

Vesely looks super psyched for space camp this summer

Jan Vesely was dubbed the “Dunking Ninja” before the draft.  I think the Wizards were hoping for a little more than 3.4 ppg and 3.6 rpg after two seasons.  Instead Chris Grant selected Tristan Thompson with the 4th overall pick.  I want you to watch this video and remember your initial reaction to the pick:

Fast forward to present day.  Tristan is averaging 10.2 ppg and 8.2 rpg over his first 142 games.  He nearly averaged a double-double last season.  I’ll take those stats paired with the success of Irving any day.

Kyrie was the guy they were supposed to take and TT was the guy Grant wanted.  Grant has proved that he is not afraid to select his guys no matter the draft position (e.g. Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett).  I am not saying that Tristan is better than Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson or Kenneth Faried, but we all had our concerns about him and have been proven wrong at this point in time.

Current Draft Grade: B+

Follow me on twitter @RCFJLockwood

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