The Fast Break: Cavs Climb to Top of '11 Draft
Posted Jun 16 2011 1:07PM
"The Fast Break" is a weekly NBA notebook column that features interviews, insight, international news and more. New every Thursday on NBA.com/fastbreak.
Secaucus, N.J. – The Cleveland Cavaliers are back on top once again.
The Cavaliers landed the first overall selection in June’s NBA Draft thanks to a lucky lottery pull at this year’s event, held Tuesday in Secaucus, N.J. Based on the order using last season’s record, Cleveland was originally slotted to pick eighth, which was originally the Los Angeles Clippers’ selection. The Clippers, though, sent that pick to the Cavs in the Mo Williams deal. Cleveland will use its own selection at four.
Holding two of the top four draft picks could mean big things for the Cavaliers, who less than a year ago watched their hometown superstar, LeBron James, flee town. There’s no denying James’ leaving hurt not only the moral of the city of Cleveland, but the on-court talent level of the team. This is where Cleveland has a chance to right the ship.
“After the shocking events that took place last summer,” owner Dan Gilbert said. “For a lot of people, not just myself, it was a slow, long, painful haul to get through it. Maybe this will be the final straw in getting over the hump and getting to the other side.”
The consensus is Cleveland will use the top pick on Duke guard Kyrie Irving. In a rare move, Irving actually attended this year’s lottery. The 19-year-old sat first row near the Cavaliers contingency, watching along with everyone as to which team might be his next.
"I don't believe I'm following LeBron in Cleveland,” said Irving, who lives 20 minutes from Secaucus in nearby West Orange. “If I'm blessed enough to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers, I just want to start a new legacy there. Cavs fans are great, and I'm looking forward to wherever I go."
“Parties are happening in the city of Cleveland,” said Cleveland Browns kick returner Josh Cribbs, who along with Bernie Kosar and Joe Haden were guests of the team. “The number one pick is everything because they can build the organization around it. Whether it is a point guard or center, they're going to build around this pick. In basketball, it means a lot because there are only five guys on the court so this one pick could mean the difference between a championship.”
For a franchise that lost an NBA-record 26 straight games last season, there are several returning players who can serve as Irving’s supporting cast, including Baron Davis, Antawn Jamison, J.J. Hickson, Ramon Sessions, Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao.
"We have some very good young talent,” said Gilbert, whose son Nick represented the team at the lottery podium. “We have a couple great players who were hurt in the middle of the year so they're coming back. Hopefully we'll pick up some young talent at one and four. I just can't believe it's happening."
Gilbert wouldn’t say whether Irving is their guy, deferring that answer to his front office staff. He knows, however, there are zero guarantees no matter who his team takes.
"I think it's going to be a huge, huge amount of good fortune to at least get us to the point where we're going to be competitive again."
Pau Gasol (Spain) and Dirk Nowitzki (Germany) were both named to the All-NBA Second Team. Al Horford (Dominican Republic) and Manu Ginobili (Argentina) both received third-team honors. Nowitzki was on the second team in 2009-10, while Gasol was a third-team member…Speaking of Nowitzki, he went 24-for-24 from the free throw line against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday. The previous record was 21 straight, set by Boston Celtics guard Paul Pierce in 2003. Nowitzki also scored 48 points, most of them against Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (Congo)…Miami Heat center Zydrunas Illgauskas was inactive in Game 1 of their series against the Chicago Bulls. The 13-year veteran has said he’ll decide after the season if this is his last go-round. Coach Eric Spoelstra is going with Joel Anthony (Canada) instead. Anthony had no points and six rebounds in 31 minutes matching up against Joakim Noah. Jamaal Magloire (Haiti), who didn’t receive much playing time during the season, came off the bench…Houston Rockets guard Luis Scola (Argentina) is headed to China later this week to help promote the sport…One guy receiving tons of press this playoffs is JJ Barea (Puerto Rico), and deservedly so. The 6-foot guard dropped 21 points off the bench against the Thunder. His strong play has meant less minutes for Rodrigue Beaubois (France)…New York Knicks center Ronny Turiaf (France) says he’ll play for his home country’s team this offseason…Bulls forward Luol Deng (Great Britain) had 21 points, second best on the team, in Game 1 of the East Finals…Boston Celtics forward Nenad Krstic (Serbia), who is an unrestricted free agent, says he wants to return. General manager Danny Ainge said this week he’s “interested in bringing him back”…Final Gasol brother playoff stats: Marc: 15 ppg, 11.2 rpg; Pau: 13.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg…Bulls forward-center Omir Asik’s (Turkey) playing time has increased as his team’s run in the playoffs has continued. Asik played back-to-back 20-minute games in 5 and 6 of the semifinals. His best performance came in Game 1 of the East Finals though, dropping five points and grabbing two rebounds in 11 minutes.
Fire & Ice
•Dirk Nowitzki: The German did exactly what superstars are expected to do in big games: dominate. Nowitzki’s 48 points on Tuesday was a season high. He also set an NBA playoff record with 24 straight made free throws. Watch Serge Ibaka’s defense on Nowitzki and you’ll see just how good he really is.
• Kevin Durant: His team lost, but Durant wasn’t to blame. The league’s young superstar scored 40 points in a game-high 42 minutes. This was also his third 40-point game of the postseason.
• Chicago Bulls: The Bulls flat out embarrassed the Miami Heat in Game 1. Despite having fewer superstars, they ran all over a Heat team that couldn’t keep up. Game 2 didn’t end with the same results, but at least they proved they can hang with a veteran team like Miami.
• Serge Ibaka: There was a slight delay in writing Ibaka into this category. If you take a look at several of Nowitzki’s baskets on Tuesday night, Ibaka had his hand in the Mavs forward’s face like crazy. It didn’t matter. Time to make adjustments if the Thunder are going to have a chance.
• The Big Three: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade shot a combined 12-32 in Game 1, while still scoring 33 points. Chris Bosh’s 30 made the final score (103-82) closer than it actually was. The rest of the team had just 19 points. It appears it is Big Three or bust. Wade (24) and James (29) were much better in their Game 2 win, but Bosh (10) was worse.
• Minnesota Timberwolves: It’s never good when you head into the lottery with the best odds of landing the first overall pick and don’t. Picking second might not be such a bad thing though. With Ricky Rubio still debating whether or not to come to the U.S., they can add a big body in Derrick Williams to compliment Kevin Love.
NBA StatsCube Cruncher
3- Thanks to ,a href="http://www.wnba.com">WNBA.com’s Frank Della Femina for passing along this note. This past season, the Utah Jazz traded their former third-overall pick, Deron Williams (2005), to the New Jersey Nets for their former third-overall pick in the 2010 Draft, Derrick Favors, as well as some draft picks and other players. In Tuesday’s lottery, it was revealed that the Jazz’ pick they received from the Nets will be third-overall. It appears good things come in three. (StatsCube Index)
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