Cleveland Picking 8th is the Cleveland Cavs.  Cleveland's Net GM is John Popp.  John uses the 8th pick to select

Joel Pryzbilla, C, 7'1", Minnesota

Cleveland Cavaliers: Monsters of Mediocrity

John Popp (, One of the few fans left of the Cleveland Cavaliers

Despite the ill-advised selection of Trajan Langdon with their second first round selection (#11) the Cavs on paper looked to be fielding a competitive team. The Lamond Murray for Derek Anderson trade brought the team the much needed small forward. Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas looked sharp and fit in the teams pre-season open scrimmage. Kemp looked out of shape but somewhat lighter than he showed up for camp the previous season, and as out of shape as he was you couldn't argue the numbers he put up. Andre Miller looked like a strong and sizable point. Sura was pushing the ball again, attacking the basket and looked totally relieved to be out from under Fratello's thumb. All looked intact for a formidable team and maybe even as much as a shot at the second round of the playoffs, but then the wheels came off before the season even began.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas was the first to fall to injury after opting out of the same surgery that had corrected the problem he had with his other foot. Murray was soon to follow and Kemp's conditioning had finally began to take its toll. With a handful of new players, a new Coach and a new General Manager, not nearly enough continuity to pull the team through the valleys created by the injuries.

Cavalier Draft History 

Former General Manager Wayne Embry

1986 - Brad Daugherty 1st, Ron Harper 8th, Mark Price 25th 

1987 - Kevin Johnson 7th 

1988 - Randolph Keys 22nd 

1989  - John Morton 25th 

1991 - Terrell Brandon 11th 

1993 - Chris Mills 22nd 

1995 - Bob Sura 17th 

1996 - Vitaly Potapenko 12th, Zydrunas Ilgauskas 20th 

1997 - Derek Anderson 13th, Brevin Knight 16th

General Manager Jim Paxson

1999 Andre Miller 8th, Trajan Langdon 11th

As good as the Miller pick was at 8 the Langdon pick was bad at 11. Paxson certainly heard about it from the fans at the draft party and the first in attendance to make a hasty exit was a dejected Derek Anderson. Paxson tried to quickly cover his tracks and in his first interview after the selection tried to dupe the fans. Somehow, Paxson now had Langdon at 6'5" when he was measured at 6'3" just a few weeks before at the Chicago pre-draft camp.

The team, as it stands, is in nearly complete disarray. Without Ilgauskas, lacking interior defense and the newly installed faster pace made for a ton of individual play. Very little team defense was played and in games where the offense wasn't carrying them they would routinely blow double figure second half leads.

Player Analysis


Zydrunas Ilgauskas An oft injured but stronger Rik Smits. Good post moves on the blocks, decent jump shot out to 18', strong and the ability to block some shots. A real talent and the steal of the 1997 draft. He'll need to return to health for the team to be real competitive and could possibly be an All Star.

Andrew Declercq Gets up and down the court well and is an adequate rebounder. Seems to have hands of stone and often mishandles even the softest passes. Is best suited to power forward and a consistent bench player to spend minutes behind Kemp and Ilgauskas. Currently signed to a fairly low salary contract he should be able to for the next few years

Power Forwards

Shawn Kemp - The lack of off-season conditioning has clearly shown its wear on Kemp. The wind is out of the sails and bounce out of the step. Even so, teams regularly sent double and triple teams his way any time he touched the ball. He has publicly vowed to improve his game this offseason, and is currently in Houston with a personal trainer. With a healthy Ilgauskas returning, perhaps we can see a reinvigorated Kemp, but don't hold your breath.

Danny Ferry (FA) - Able to bury the three but not much of anything else. Danny doesn't get to the free throw line, has no post game and didn't provide the extra help needed on the boards. His contract is finally over after ten long years where only twice did he average double figures.

Mark Bryant - A physical presence forced to spend the majority of his time out of position at center. The Cavaliers had brought him in as a reserve to help on the boards and defensively but never really planned for him to move into a starting role or collect more than 20 minutes a night. With Mark starting 50 games at center, you don't need to look any further as to where your team needs to improve in the offseason.

Ryan Stack (FA) - Ryan was so glued to the bench that there is very little hope that he'll return. So slim that he can't get his offense or defense going inside and even his nice touch from outside leaves him little hope of being here another season.

Small Forwards

Lamond Murray - Started the season on the IR although being very durable through out his career. It figures that he needed to come to Cleveland to get his first serious injury. Didn't get a good feel for the team until the second half of the season and then his game started to open up. A big frame and a reliable jumper from the perimeter. The thing that impressed me most was his ability to play the game almost effortlessly, clearing room for his shots with very polished moves and then getting to the front of the rim with a simple shoulder shrug. A great year for him and an even better second half, the Cavs can feel secure for a few years down the road with him occupying the spot.

Cedric Henderson - Cedric battled pretty tough with Murray in the off season for a starting role. They were neck and neck throughout, but when opening night rolled around Henderson disappeared. A decent defender on the wing, can get out and finish on the break and a decent 18 footer (if you can only get him to take the shot).

Shooting Guards

Wesley Person - Can knock down the long range bomb and plays pretty decent defense for an offensive minded shooter. Doesn't put the ball on the floor much and rarely gets to the charity stripe. Wes is at his best when opposing teams double the post from the 2 spot. Sorely missed the post presence of Ilgauskas and was in a deep funk for most of the season as he was removed from the starting line up.

Bob Sura - After having his confidence so badly shaken by Fratello and his frustrations playing point guard Bobby had a season that returned some of potential people saw after the 96/7 season. Best suited to playing off guard he excelled without having the responsibility of playing the point. He had a good season behind the arc, shooting .367 and was even invited to participate in the Long Distance Shootout. Suffered a late season injury that somewhat stifled his numbers showing that he needs to be near 100% health to be effective.

Point Guards

Andre Miller - First team All NBA Rookie Team, good showing in the rookie game (despite not appeasing the shallow fans that can't appreciate anything but a dunk) and finished the season as the Cavs starting point, unseating Knight. Miller is as strong as any point in the game and looks to draw contact when attacking the rim. Solid playmaker and even showed the ability to play some minutes at the two guard. Will make a couple of All Star game appearances in his career and the Cavs seem to have the point guard slot overflowing with talent.

Brevin Knight - A true point that has quick hands and averages 1.6 steals per contest. At only 5'10" he sometimes becomes a defensive liability. His offense is a bit shaky as he has limited range although this season he pulled the trigger enough to keep defenders from totally sagging to the post. Now moved into a bench role with the emergence of Andre Miller giving the Cavaliers one of the leagues best combinations at the point.

Earl Boykins (FA) - At 5'5" it goes without saying that Earl has some special talents or he wouldn't be here. Lightning he has the ability to get into the paint and get some easy buckets for teammates. He also doesn't hesitate to put up the open jumper and can shake up a game off the bench. A real defensive liability, he'll probably be able to stick with the club if the Cavs make a deal involving Knight.


Randy Wittman - suffered the bumps and bruises of a first year coach. Often at odds with Kemp who never bought into the up tempo style of play or being inserted at center. The running game added some instant offense but bread contempt amongst the players who were quick to use the new style to boost their personal stats. Their was a lot of freelancing going on but not much team defense and a bogged down half court offense. The team couldn't sustain leads through dry offensive spells and often gave up double figure leads.


Wayne Embry did the honorable thing and resigned as General Manager and inserted Jim Paxson in the position. Paxson has already placed his signature on the team with the drafting of Langdon and will need a good off season to feel comfortable in his employment status. Too early to predict what kind of a General Manager he'll make, but if the Cavs again fall short of the playoffs the team will feel a lot of pressure to replace him.


Gordon Gund has always ran a first rate club. He restored a team that had traded away most of its future and inserted good management and coaches. Never afraid to spend money on quality he has bellied up to the bar to keep the team competitive despite some very untimely injuries. The pressures created by the salary cap and some questionable contracts could now be holding the club back, but its hard to see where the future lies when you have a 7'3" center sitting out the entire season.

A team in turmoil and this season will tell a lot of what the future holds. With 11 players under contract the Cavs are committed to winning with the talent on board. The teams future rests primarily in the hands of a few players that have sorted injury tales from their pasts. You can't over emphasize the effect that Ilgauskas missing the season had on the team. A shoe in for the playoffs and once there a chance to reach the second round. So much of the promise was wasted away when Ilgauskas went down and the season started with the very sturdy Murray missing 8 games.

Draft Needs

I'll start off with the 5 targeted areas for improvement that Paxson stated in a letter to season ticket holders.

  1. SIZE - We must get bigger. The recovery of Zydrunas Ilgauskas is going well, and we expect to see him in a Cavs uniform in the 2000-2001 season. We will have a true gauge of his progress after he has had a chance to go through an entire training camp. Regardless of his status, we must increase our size and physical presence at center. Our front-court players gave us everything they had, but they need help to compete against Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Rick Smits and Eldon Campbell in the east, or Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson and Rasheed Wallace in the west. We will aim to improve our post defense, shot-blocking and rebounding.
  2. ATHLETICISM - While the additions of Andre Miller (Just named to the NBA's All Rookie First Team) and Lamond Murray increased our athleticism this year, we still see the need to improve in this area. These two players helped us take the first steps toward the open-court, running style basketball that we want to play. We also are encouraged by Shawn Kemp's public evaluation of his season. He knows how important he is to the success of our team. We believe that the pride he has in his game will be reflected when he comes to camp in October.
  3. COMMITMENT AND DISCIPLINE - During this past season, we emphasized that as a young team under Randy Wittman, a first year coach, we were learning together and growing together. Our team is very young; we ended the season with 9 nine players on our roster who were 26 years old or younger. We believe that they now realize what it takes to be a championship team - both on and off the floor - is much different than what they expected. The players we have on our team going forward will understand that commitment to success is a full time job.
  4. LEADERSHIP - Successful teams have strong leadership across the board; on the floor, in the locker room and off the court. One of the reasons New York, Indiana and Miami have been successful for so long is that they have kept their core group of veterans together, and those players have been their leaders. In our situation, we have a group of young players who are establishing their identities. But we expect that as our players mature and become more confident, our leaders will come from our core group. Our older veteran players are also a part of that, and they must help set a tone of accountability. Additionally, Randy's growth as a head coach will help create a locker room environment that will breed success.
  5. DEVELOP MORE CONSISTENCY - This is true in a lot of areas: effort, enthusiasm, mental toughness, concentration, and competitiveness. The teams with experience have an identity and consistency: everyone knows that the Knicks, Pacers and Heat are going to battle and compete every night. Again this year, injuries had an impact on our consistency. Our players lost 270 games to injury, one of the highest totals in the league. But we saw positive signs to build on, such as the way we played against New York, one of the leagues best teams. In every game against the Knicks, we were focused, gave great effort, made clutch plays and beat them three out of four times. Teams that contend for the NBA championship play this way every night.

With these points in mind I set out to evaluate the talent in the upcoming draft.

Possible selections 

(working under the assumption that Stromile Swift, Kenyon Martin and Chris Mihm have already been selected). I must say that I would have put Przybilla on this list as well as I believe he won't be around at 8 but that's not exactly how things unfolded.

Darius Miles

Very athletic and the ability to play multiple positions. Needs to develop some strength to actually compete at the NBA level but a few years down the road could be the steal of the draft. Not much of a chance of him being around at 8 and even so doubtful that the Cavs would select him as they have had a hard and fast rule about drafting players that can make an immediate contribution.

Marcus Fizer

Big body but came up short when they pulled the tape in Chicago. Strong rebounder and decent jumper the question now becomes will he be able to succeed as a small forward in the NBA. The Cavs having a very similar player already on the roster in Lamond Murray making it doubtful that they would select him. His shifting weight over the last few seasons will also scare a few teams off. My choice for the player who slides the farthest in this years draft.

Olumide Oyedeji

Having only seen him play one time, at the Goodwill Games, I was impressed by his effort and size. He clearly outplayed Miles, has good size and was a monster around the basket. Will be able to compete inside at the pro level and has all the physical attributes along with the mental toughness to hang around for a long time.

Mike Miller

Decent size and an all around game that plays well into the NBA. Has been deemed somewhat slow of foot by some and others have mentioned he has the ability to play at guard. Not very athletic and certainly doesn't add size to the Cavs roster. Doubtful if the Cavs would select him as he will also need a few years to be NBA ready.

DerMarr Johnson

Adds size at shooting guard and can play some small forward. Has good range and even some ability behind the arc. The problem with the Cavs drafting him is that he proved to be inconsistent and somewhat lacks effort. Will be a project but very athletic.

Courtney Alexander

A true scorer and the best guard in the draft. Decent range although he'll take a while to adjust to the longer 3 pointer. His past indiscretions are well documented but seem to be behind him. Could very well be the best player on the board at #8 but with 5 guards under contract the Cavs would need to make a move of one of the other guards, which most of them would add negative value to a deal because of their prohibitive salary.

Jerome Moiso

A quick leaper with the ability to block some shots. Also has decent range and nice touch on the jumper. The problem is, can you get him motivated enough to play night in and night out. Enough of a concern that I see the Cavs passing on him

Morris Peterson

Solid all around game. Passes well, shoots the rock, rebounds, has size for the two guard slot and can finish on the break. His skill set will make him a solid contributor in the NBA and four years of college ball will make him productive out of the gate. Being able to get decent production from rookies is always something the Cavs look for. There is some merit to that as well, but if a big man is on the board I don't see the Cavs drafting another guard.

Joel Przybilla

Good size and a tough defender. Will definitely disrupt and block a few shots at the NBA level. His offensive game is lagging a bit, but there is so little quality at the center position that he is definitely a high lottery pick. Passes well out of the post, but it remains to be seen if his offense can draw some double teams making that a real weapon.

Iakovos Tsakalidis

Perhaps a long shot at number 8 with his possible contract problems with AEK of Greece. His Agent says it isn't an issue and that he is not under contract with the team although according to the rules of FIBA and Greek law that his last contract allows them to retain the rights to him beyond its completion. Its all speculation in the media thus far as to what will happen, but let me assure you the hey is already in the barn with how the NBA and FIBA will deal with the situation. There have been a number of reports claiming that he is only 220lbs, but I never took stock in them after looking at the pictures on the AEK site. I thought he was at least 265lbs and he weighed in at Chicago at 279lbs. He also stretched the tape at 7'2" making him a very formidable opponent at center. A tremendous athlete that was on the Greek National swim team until 16, and sports a mere 9% body fat. Very raw on the basketball front and played with a team that had a great supporting cast and a couple of front court players who spent time in the NBA. His wingspan looks a little short to be a great shotblocker, but with that kind of size he'll be a presence in the lane.

Future Considerations


With Randy Wittman taking over for Mike Fratello, there was a drastic change on the style of play. The Cavs pushed the ball up the court, routinely outscored the opponent in fast break opportunities and took shots early on the 24 second clock. For all the work done on offense, in the halfcourt things bogged down and defensively there was little that resembled team defense.

Wittman struggled with Kemp not buying into the new scheme and Wes Person looked less than interested at times. Things will change a bit this season and with the offense tuned up a bit, the defense will follow suit.

Free Agents

The Cavs will definitely be seeking some veteran help this off-season. They will either use their draft choice to acquire some size or provide some depth by using their $1.1 million salary cap exceptions to add some roster depth.

The Next Couple of Drafts

The Cavs won't have a selection in the first round next year if they crawl out of the lottery. If they are a lottery team they should be better suited to taking the best player available instead of filling holes.


Joel Przybilla, Center, Minnesota, 7'1" 245lbs

The Cavs have a couple ways they can go but so much will be predicated by who's on the board when they select. The front runners are Joel Przybilla, Iakovos Tsakalidis and Olumide Oyedeji. If these players are gone it becomes a situation of who the best player left might be which could include Peterson, Miles or Alexander. Some other outside possibilities would include Johnson, Miller or Moiso.

The obvious choice for the Cavs is Joel Przybilla if he's still available. If Joel goes early the Cavs will likely draft the next best size available.

With Joel Przybilla the Cavs get the interior presence so sorely missed in the absence of Ilgauskas. His defense will have an immediate impact on the club. The extra bonus is that if Ilgauskas returns to good health very few teams have that kind of size at center.

If Przybilla is gone the choice may very well be Iakovos Tsakalidis. All through my analysis when I looked at the available guards and their flash, I would pull myself back to reality by saying 8 points and 6 boards makes you a top 20 center.

The third alternative would be Olumide Oyedeji. Not exactly the collegiate experience the Cavs are looking for but a solid back up in the frontcourt and providing some insurance should Ilgauskas remains injured. Beyond Olumide the Cavs will just be looking at players to be used as trade bait which is a distinct possibility as management has affirmed the need for some frontcourt size. The exception could be an early flyer on Miles or Johnson who both add to the teams frontcourt depth.

What will actually happen

The Cavaliers will walk away from the draft with a bigger or more athletic player than what currently fills the starting roster. They won't care how they arrive with one be it a trade of the choice or Joel Przybilla landing in their lap. The goal is to field a competitive team in 2000 and return to the playoffs. Not a stretch by any means, but not exactly where the team looked to be heading a year ago.

Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner
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