This past season, Anthony Bennett rewarded the Cleveland Cavaliers by producing one of the worst rookie seasons we've seen by a number one overall pick. Averaging just 15 minutes per night, Bennett scored in the double digits a total of four times this past season. In every single statistical category, he was never better than the ninth-best player on the Cavs roster.
To make matters worse, since the ’76 merger, Bennett posted the worst WS (Win Share) and WS% (Win Share Percentage) compared to any other number one overall pick for their rookie season. That kind of rookie campaign wasn't exactly the way to gain support from an already disgruntled fan base.
In Cleveland’s defense, Bennett looked like he could have been a successful dark horse in the league. His size, range and versatility allowed him to play as a hybrid small and power forward. Thanks to LeBron James, that’s exactly what organizations are looking for in today’s game.
But as of now, he's a massive bust. The question becomes - with the first pick in the draft once again - can the Cavs avoid last year’s draftsaster?
It seems obvious that this is the year to play it safe and pick up a college stud who’s proven his game can translate to the next level. After last year's risk, the Cavs need to reinstate confidence in the Cleveland fan base, and they need to do so with a surefire top pick.
The Cavs also need to make sure they select quality over quantity. By that, I mean they need to select a player who can fill one or two major holes very well rather than a player who can half-way fill five or six.
Although there's plenty of room for improvement in the post, Cleveland actually has a solid post game and plenty of players who are performing well down there. Both Anderson Varejao and Spencer Hawes provide plenty of experience at center while consistently producing solid numbers each night.
At the four position, Tristan Thompson has quickly grown into his role after completing his sophomore season. He played more minutes and pulled down more rebounds than any other Cleveland player.
Cleveland’s bigger need is on the perimeter where Kyrie Irving is dying to get some help. He hasn’t been able to rely on Dion Waiters on a consistent basis, Luol Deng is not as explosive as years past and last year’s number one pick is riding the bench.
So what does all of this mean for Cleveland and prospect Joel Embiid? Well, a quick analysis should prove whether Embiid is worth the first overall pick.
Embiid By the Numbers
There are positives and negatives for every NBA prospect, and that's no different for Embiid. Below are three things to note about Embiid in a good way, as well as three negatives.
1. His timing and leaping ability would be a huge asset to a team ranked second to last in the league in blocks.
2. He has a .629 effective field goal percentage
3. He had the number on defensive rating in the Big 12 at 90.9, and that would certainly help lower the Cavs' ranking of 107.7.
As for the negatives:
1. With Cleveland already sitting at 20th in the league, they don’t need Embiid’s 24.3 turnover percentage, which is nearly double Cleveland’s average from last year.
2. He averaged the most personal fouls per game on the Jayhawks last season (3.4).
3. He only averaged 11.2 points per game last year, and Cleveland averaged less than 100 points per game.
Once you get past Embiid’s foot injury - which is obviously the biggest concern of all - he has tremendous upside. For a big man who’s only been playing the game for a total of three years, he's done quite well for himself. He led the Jayhawks in player efficiency, defensive and total rebound percentage, block percentage, defensive rating, and win shares per 40 minutes during his rookie season. He’s also able to run the floor with the guards, and has a background in volleyball allowing him to have coordination once he’s taken flight.
So why should the Cavs avoid Embiid? His lack of experience and knowledge of the game leads to some basic mistakes. For every 100 possessions, Embiid turned the ball over 22 times. He also led Kansas in fouls per game.
Again, aside from his foot injury, it may actually be logistical issues that will prevent Cleveland from selecting Embiid number one overall. Their overabundance of quality bigs has simply left Embiid no position on the team to fit in. With proven centers slated to get the majority of minuets at the five position, and the young Tristan Thompson proving he can handle the starting role at power forward while being backed up by Tyler Zeller, there simply is not enough room on the roster for Embiid.
If he did get picked up by Cleveland, he would more than likely get benched for most of his rookie season simply waiting for an injury to open a position up.
This pick all comes down to Cleveland’s most important goals. If they're looking to lock down the post position for the long term, then Embiid could be the way to go. The problem is they risk losing Kyrie, having to spend more time rebuilding from scratch and Embiid not panning out. If they want to keep Kyrie, shore up their scoring and break into the playoffs, the Cavs need to look elsewhere for immediate success.