The rumors started bouncing around just days before the draft, with seemingly everyone asking the same question: would the Cleveland Cavaliers really take Syracuse’s Dion Waiters with the fourth pick?
Our questions were answered at quarter to eight, as David Stern announced that Cleveland had, in fact, picked Waiters to join Kyrie Irving in their back court. I like Waiters a lot as a prospect. He’s a strong, athletic combo-guard that can really attack the basket. He’s got an attitude and a toughness about him (he is a Philly kid), the desire to have the ball in his hands in the clutch. It’s a bit of an unfair comparison to make, but think Dwyane Wade.
The shocking part about this pick has nothing to do with how good of a prospect Waiters is. It has everything to do with the fact that the Cavs probably could have traded down and gotten him in the second half of the lottery. The Cavs did the same thing last season when they reached for Tristan Thompson at the No. 4 spot, which probably was the reason they didn’t pick Thomas Robinson, who was still on the board.
It wasn’t all bad for the Cavs on Thursday night, however. They did manage to grab Jared Cunningham at the 24th spot, flipping him to Dallas (along with Bernard James and Jae Crowder) for Tyler Zeller. Cunningham is a scintillating athlete (you remember this, right?) and a lock-down defender that will be able to guard either back court spot. His offensive repertoire is still developing — he needs to become a better ball-handler and shooter — but there is no doubt that Cunningham has an NBA ready skill.
Another pick that was a bit of a surprise was Terrence Ross, who was gobbled up by Toronto with the No. 8 pick. Again, I think Ross is a good prospect at the wing spot — he’s got size, he’s got length, he’s athletic and he can shoot the basketball — but Ross was the last addition to the Green Room and expected to be a borderline lottery selection. Toronto didn’t need to use the eighth pick to get him.