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The View From Pluto: Cavs Must Practice Patience in Looking Beyond the Number One Pick

Despite the second-worst record in the NBA, the Cavs ended up with the 5th overall draft pick in last week's lottery
Despite the second-worst record in the NBA, the Cavs ended up with the 5th overall draft pick in last week's lottery

The Cavs officially introduced John Beilein from the University of Michigan as their coach on Tuesday. His main goal will be to help develop this young team following next month’s draft. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says all of the teams competing for an NBA title this year have done it by developing players. And that must be the Cavs new model, too.

No. 1 pick no longer necessary

"We've always been hearing about the 'super team' and the need to have a top-three pick," Pluto says. In fact, when you look back at the 2016 Cavs championshipteam, their top-three players were LeBron James (No. 1 pick), Kyrie Irving (No. 1 pick) and Kevin Love (No. 5 pick). 

But there's been a shift to that model. 

The final four teams competing for the NBA championship this year -- Golden State, Portland, Toronto and Milwaukee -- don't have a single top player who was picked in the top five of their draft class. (Pluto doesn't count The Warriors' Kevin Durant, because he's been injured and hasn't played in most of the playoffs). 

Not counting Durant, Golden State's top players are Steph Curry (No. 7 pick), Klay Thompson (No. 11 pick) and Draymond Green (No. 35 pick).

"Golden State actually built their team through the draft and then supplemented it with veteran free agents, not high-priced guys. They did it with developing and coaching. They actually are the model for the Cavs."  


Pluto says the number one thing the Cavs have to have is patience.

They will pick 5th in next month's draft, which was disappointing to fans who had hoped the team would win the NBA draft lottery after finishing with the second-worst record in the league. 

But, Pluto says the Cavs can still get a quality player. For example, the Cavs selected Collin Sexton of Alabama with the 8th pick in 2018. He started the season slow. "After the All-Star Break he averaged 21 points and he's starting to figure it out," Pluto said. 

Pluto says the Cavs believe John Beilein is a coach who can develop a team. But Pluto says another key is for owner Dan Gilbert to have patience. "The last coach to last three years was Byron Scott who was hired in 2010. They're going to have to give Beilein time."

No savior

Pluto says the team and the fans need to understand there's a new dynamic in the post-LeBron James era. 

"There is no quick fix. The idea that LeBron James or any other savior dropping down immediately to change the whole complexion of the franchise is over. And when you look at the teams that are in the final four, it's taken them a long time. I'm anxious to see if the Cavs can put together a basketball team that's going to be worth watching."

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Amanda Rabinowitz
Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. Her days begin before the sun comes up as the local anchor for NPR’s Morning Edition, which airs on WKSU each weekday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio’s sports scene.