Tuesday, May 24, 2011

#1 Pick in the 2011 NBA Draft: Obvious... Isn't it?

The NBA Draft Lottery passed a couple of weeks ago, and the Cavs won the #1 and #4 picks. This seemed like the obvious result about 4 months ago, but was actually a bit of a surprise considering they no longer had the best odds to get the pick, and even more surprising considering that they one the top pick with the Clippers' unprotected lottery pick they received in a trade for Mo Williams (totally worth it by the way). Well now that this is all out of the way, the number one pick is obviously going to be Derrick Williams out of the University of Arizona... wait a second...

Well according to the Walterfootball 2011 NBA Mock Draft Database (pictured above), a lot of people that talk about basketball don't watch basketball. To explain, let's look at the Cleveland Cavaliers' depth chart (bold indicates starters):

PG - Ramon Sessions, Baron Davis, Daniel Gibson
SG - Anthony Parker, Manny Harris,
SF - Alonzo Gee, Joey Graham, Christian Eyenga
PF - J.J. Hickson, Antawn Jamison, Samardo Samuels, Luke Harangody
C - Anderson Varejao (injured for most of 2011), Ryan Hollins, Semih Erden

So between these five starters, which position could be improved the most? Well the answer is actually SG or maybe even C, but considering that Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams are the only two realistic options at the top spot, let's look at just the PG and SF positions. 25-year-old Ramon Sessions held season averages of 13.3ppg, 3.2rpg, 5.2apg, and 46.7 FG% on 26mpg. 24-year-old Alonzo Gee held season averages of 7.4ppg, 3.9rpg, 0.8apg, and 46.2 FG% on 24mpg.

To try and get a sense of each player's potential, let's look at each player's best month during the season. Sessions' best month came in February, where he averaged 19.9ppg, 4.3rpg, 8.8apg, and 56.4 FG% on 35mpg. Gee's best month was April, where he averaged 11.6ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.0apg, and 56.5 FG% on 29mpg.

In both of these comparisons, Sessions has been much, much more impressive. So why is everyone saying that the Cavs need to improve their PG position more? It must be a financial issue right? Well, this is one area where Gee actually beats Sessions. Gee only has a $760,000 salary while Sessions' salary is just under $4 million. But even though he costs much less, is Gee actually more valuable at his position? During Sessions' month of February, the only month where he got legit starter minutes (35mpg or above), he averaged 20ppg-4rpg-9apg. Deron Williams, star PG for the New Jersey Nets, averaged 20ppg-4rpg-10apg. Sessions productivity is just a shade below Williams' when he gets the same minutes. Now here's the kicker: while Sessions only gets $4 million a year, Williams' salary for the 2010-11 season was $15 million!

So in every facet we've measured so far, Sessions has proven to be a much better asset than Gee. So since it obviously can't be about the current Cavs roster, it has to be about how much better Irving is than Williams... right?

Sophomore Derrick Williams averaged 19.5ppg and 8.3rpg while also shooting 60% from the field and 57% from 3pt range. His second leading scorer on the team averaged 9.7ppg, so it's not exaggerating to say that Williams carried his Arizona Wildcats to the Elite Eight, where they still only lost by 2 to the eventual NCAA Champion UConn Huskies. Freshman Kyrie Irving averaged 17.5ppg, 3.4rpg, and 4.3apg while shooting 53% from the field and 46% from 3. Irving played on the Duke Blue Devils, who entered the season as the favorites to win it all, and was arguably the reason why Duke got pummeled 93-77 in the Sweet Sixteen against *dum dum dum* the Arizona Wildcats let by Derrick Williams.

Well Derrick Williams was much more productive at the college level, but Irving must be a much better athlete... right?

Derrick Williams, at 6'8 and 240lbs, is considered to be one of (if not the) most explosive athletes in the draft. Kyrie Irving, at 6'2 and 180lbs, hasn't shown the speed that many were expecting coming out of high school, and has been athletically underwhelming in regards to the top PGs of years past (John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, etc.). Irving also has some injury concerns, as he suffered a toe injury 8 games into the season that took him out of a majority of the season, and only returned for the NCAA Tournament, where he was obviously not at 100%.

Now take in mind, this is not an "I hate Kyrie Irving" post, this is a "Draft Philosophy 101" post. In summation, start watching more basketball, NBA and College Basketball pundits. Also, common sense doesn't hurt.