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Draft grades are all over the place

Chad Ford from ESPN gives the Cavs an A- (membership required to see link):

For the second straight year, the Cavs took a player at No. 4 who was ranked in the late teens on our Big Board in May. Like Tristan Thompson last year, Waiters had a meteoric rise the last month of the season. Unlike Thompson, his rise happened without ever doing a workout or interview with the Cavs. The Suns shut down Waiters early in the draft process, but it only seemed to start a Waiters feeding frenzy for teams ahead of them.

Waiters is the most dynamic scorer in the draft — his ability to get to the basket is truly special — and a handful of GMs felt that after Davis, MKG and Beal, he was the guy in this draft with the most star potential. He has NBA skill and, together with Kyrie Irving, should create a dynamic backcourt in Cleveland. Some will say taking Waiters at No. 4 was a bold pick, but I think it was a smart one with both MKG and Beal off the board. People said the same thing a few years ago when the Thunder took both Russell Westbrook and James Harden higher than expected.

I’m more agnostic about the Zeller pick. He’s not going to be a great NBA center, but he runs the floor well and can play right away. At No. 17, you can’t really ask for more than that.

Waiters did attend one workout according to one caller on the radio and he apparently dominated against other prospective draft picks. I like much of what I’m hearing about him, though I wish the Cavs had a chance to work him out.

At the other end of the spectrum, USA Today was not impressed, ranking the Cavs last with a D+:

The Cavaliers landed two good players in Syracuse guard Dion Waiters and North Carolina center Tyler Zeller, but they overpaid horrendously. Waiters was the first stunner of the draft when Cleveland took him fourth, ahead of several players who would have been better fits and better talents. Zeller, picked 17th, should be a perfect fit but came at the cost of the 24th, 33rd and 34th picks in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks. The Cavaliers had too many holes to fill to give up so many picks for an injury prone center.

I think this is overly harsh. Zeller at 17 seems like a great value to me, and the Cavs didn’t need to load up on more young players in the second round.

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Cavs look for pieces that fit with Kyrie Irving

The Cavs under Chris Grant certainly can be unpredictable, but that’s also a reflection of how the media narrows in a several potential scenarios in the draft.

The Cavs went with Dion Waiters with the fourth pick, leaving Harrison Barnes on the board. Then, they traded the rest of their picks in order to snag #17 selection Tyler Zeller.

If you look closely at both picks, you’ll begin to under stand what the Cavs are trying to do. The Cavs reportedly went after Bradley Beal but then chose Waiters. They obviously wanted an athletic 2-guard that could get to the rim and create his own shot who could compliment Kyrie. It’s critical to have multiple players who can slash to the rim in the Princeton offense, and not they can add Waiters to the mix with Kyrie and Alonzo Gee.

With Zeller, the Cavs fill an important need at center, so both Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao can go back to their natural position of power forward for the majority of their minutes. More importantly, Zeller runs the floor very well, and the Cavs clearly want to run with Irving and Waiters. Zeller won’t be a dominant player, but he also gives them another scoring option in the half-court game as Zeller plays well with his back to the basket. So the Cavs will be able to run while also keeping size on the floor. Imagine a rotation when you have Irving, Waiters, Gee, Thompson and Zeller on the floor. This unit can run with any team in the league, but can also match up with size in the half court. It could be very fun to watch.

I have no idea if Waiters was the right pick at #4. In today’s NBA, you’re picking kids with very limited resumes and you have to project out their skills to the NBA game. Remember last year when many pundits complained about Kyrie’s lack of experience at Duke? That said, Waiters avoided doing workouts, so there’s clearly some risk here with this pick.

But we can see what the Cavs are trying to do. Players need to fit together in a system, and it looks like Waiters and Zeller could be great fits with Kyrie and the system being run by Byron Scott.

ESPN gives Browns no respect

In one of the dumber features we’ve seen from ESPN, they decided to project out the NFL power rankings for 2015. Yeah, this seems like an idiotic exercise, but that’s ESPN these days. Everyone is desperate for content it seems.

Their panel of “experts” ranked the Browns 32 out of 32 teams. Here’s the write-up, though you’ll have to be an ESPN member to see the whole article.

Roster: RB Trent Richardson should be the best running back in the league in 2015 and young stars like LT Joe Thomas, DE Jabaal Sheard and CB Joe Haden should be in their prime. But there is still a lot of uncertainty with the Browns’ roster for the long term. — Williamson

Quarterback: Brandon Weeden has talent, but Cleveland will want to play him right away. The concern is if he struggles early. He’s older, but will they be patient with him if he takes time to adjust to the NFL game like most rookies? He doesn’t have more physical experience, just years. Bottom line: This is a totally unsettled situation headed into 2012. — Dilfer

Draft: If Weeden doesn’t pan out — and they probably feel compelled to know soon — the Browns will be set back. The draft isn’t the reason they’re this low; the Browns have made some really good picks. The problem is they’re still waiting on a good QB pick. It’s been a long time since they’ve had one. Weeden needs to be the answer, or they’re running in place. — Kiper

Front office: Color me skeptical of the Browns’ front office — and this organization isn’t exactly patient. Cleveland’s front office is now directly tied to Weeden’s future success. I can’t say that is the perfect position to be in. — Williamson

Coaching: Since rejoining the league, few teams have had turnover comparable to the Browns. So if things don’t improve in the very near future, what are the chances that this current staff retains its jobs for the next few years? Brad Childress has taken over the offensive coordinator job. With Richardson now to lean on, expect Childress to run the ball much more than the Browns did in 2011. — Williamson

So these geniuses assume that TRich will be the best back in the NFL and that the Browns have been drafting well recently. But they also realize that Weeden was just picked and they have no idea yet on how he will do. Then they assume that if things don’t improve we’ll see a change in the regime, even though Tom Heckert clearly has been doing a great job. Matt Williamson seems to be the dumbest of the bunch.

If Weeden pans out, this might end up being the dumbest ESPN article of the decade.

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