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Back in the Saddle: Cleveland Cavaliers Hit the Lottery

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | In the NBA, sometimes it takes a little luck to get a lot of skill.

With only a 15.6 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick at the annual NBA draft lottery Tuesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the odds to earn the right to pick first in the upcoming 2013 NBA draft.

It is hard to imagine the Cavaliers using their pick on anyone other than Nerlens Noel, the freshman center from Kentucky. Not only is Noel widely considered the best player in the draft, but he also fills a need at center for Cleveland.

Although Noel is raw offensively, his defensive prowess protecting the rim would be an ideal fit for a team looking to improve its defense after the hiring of Mike Brown.

If Noel is, in fact, the Cavaliers' pick, they would have to wait to evaluate their investment. Noel wouldn't be ready to join the Cavaliers' rotation until around Christmas due to an ACL tear that sidelined Noel midway through a freshman season in which he averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks in just over 30 minutes a game.

Noel would join Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson in the frontcourt, immediately making them one of, if not the best, defensive frontcourts in the league. And with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters comprising one of the best young backcourts in the NBA, the stage would be set for a possible playoff berth in 2013.

They do have other options, of course. Ben McLemore, the freshman shooting guard from Kansas and other name linked to the top pick could be a possibility, but it's difficult to imagine GM Chris Grant drafting a shooting guard after selecting Dion Waiters fourth last year.

The only other player that the Cavaliers could conceivably consider with the first pick would be Otto Porter Jr. from Georgetown. Although Porter would help to fill the Cavaliers' void at small forward, it would be difficult to find many analysts who think Porter is the No. 1 pick in the draft.

There is also the chance the Cavaliers trade the pick but unless they get proven stars in return, trading away a No. 1 pick for future prospects would be like a castaway turning away a rescue ship in hopes of landing on a yacht. In Cleveland, it's probably best not to press your luck.

No matter what the Cavaliers end up doing with the pick, landing this year's No. 1 gives fans a legitimate reason to have hope for the future.

For a franchise that has spent the last three years as a league punching bag, cashing in the top pick provides the chance for owner Dan Gilbert to fulfill his promise of making the Cavaliers a championship contender in the post-LeBron era.

Up until now, Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant have been content to implement the "tank for draft picks" strategy.

But after obtaining the second No. 1 pick in three years, which is also the Cavs' fourth top-five pick in that span, it's time for the Cavaliers' front office to do more than rely on Nick Gilbert's good luck in the lottery.

Not only do the Cavaliers need to hit on this year's top pick, but they also need to surround the Cavaliers' young nucleus with championship-caliber free agents -- something they couldn't do in the LeBron years.

They also must quickly assess whether Mike Brown has what it takes to win a championship. If Brown can't get immediate results in his second stint with the team, Gilbert can't hesitate to use the Cavs' new-found talent as bait for a top-level coach.

Winning the lottery can only take the Cavaliers so far. Now it's time for Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant to go to work.

Adam Redling is a freelance writer from Cleveland, OH. He covers the Cavaliers for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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