By: Chris Fedor
Throughout the pre-draft process, everyone knew the Charlotte Bobcats were the team that controlled everything. Yet no one knew exactly what they would do. After fielding offers for the second overall pick Charlotte surprisingly made the right pick when they took Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at number two. It was the Cavs who made the draft night shocker.
Once Bradley Beal went number three, the Cavs were left with a huge decision, a franchise defining choice. Dion Waiters or Harrison Barnes? Barnes has been a favorite of mine since last year and I had said numerous times leading up to the draft that if the Cavs could land either Kidd-Gilchrist, Beal or Barnes I would be thrilled. Notice that Waiters wasn’t included in that. When the fourth picked rolled around with only Waiters standing in the way of my dream scenario, pairing up Kyrie Irving with the sweet-shooting Tar Heel, I was feeling great and could barely contain my excitement. The thought of Kyrie Irving and Harrison Barnes sharing the court together in downtown Cleveland had me giddy. My dream was about to become a reality. Then David Stern went to the podium and made the announcement. “With the fourth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers take Dion Waiters, Syracuse.”
I’m not exactly sure what emotion came over me after that. It might’ve been shock. It might’ve been anger. It might’ve been disappointment. Pinpointing it has become too difficult. All I know is numerous feelings of negativity came rushing through me as my Cavs draft dream quickly turned into a nightmare with Chris Grant playing the role of the Boogeyman.
June 28th was supposed to be a great night for the Cavs but it wasn’t. It was supposed to be a night where the Cavs couldn’t miss but they did. I wanted to be able to say Chris Grant gave me more confidence in him as a GM but he left me scratching my head again. After months and months of research, Chris Grant made the wrong pick.
My feelings aren’t so much a reflection on Waiters. Even though he’s a shooting guard that struggles to shoot, he’s a good player. In fact, the powerful, athletic, slashing combo guard with an NBA body proved to be one of the best shooting guards in the country despite coming off Syracuse’s bench. There’s no question the Cavs got better but I can’t help but feel as if they didn’t improve as much as they could’ve and they left a better player on the board.
Barnes was what the Cavs needed. He would’ve been a perfect complement to Kyrie Irving. He would’ve been Robin. While his footwork needs some tweaking and his toughness came into question, his shooting stroke and ability to get buckets is something that can’t be questioned and something that is desperately needed in Cleveland. Kyrie Irving needs someone on the roster who can space the floor, open up driving lanes and keep a defense honest with his ability to knock down a perimeter jumper consistently. I didn’t just describe Waiters, I described Barnes.
The former Tar Heel came to North Carolina with crazy, unrealistic expectations placed on him that he never lived up to and yet he finished up his sophomore year as a First Team All ACC performer and one of the leading scorers in his conference.
Mark my words: Barnes will be a better pro than college player and passing on him will be a mistake.
Chris Grant always does his homework, he watches countless hours of film and you could hear in his voice just how exhausting this process was but I see more sleepless nights in his future. I have always defended the Grant, even when he shocked so many by taking Tristan Thompson at number four a year ago, but this is a decision I can’t get behind. I never watched Dion Waiters play at Syracuse and believed I was witnessing a top five pick or a future star.
The player I coveted the most in the wine and gold was there for the taking, everything played out perfectly for me and instead of going to bed with sweet dreams of Kyrie Irving and Harrison Barnes bringing the Cavs back to relevance, I’m left with nightmares of what could’ve been had Chris Grant made the right call and taken Barnes at number four.
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