[Note: In the waning days of 2013, Grantland’s Zach Lowe delivered mankind The Wheel. Well, a discussion of it, anyway. The Wheel is the first replacement to the NBA’s draft lottery system that the league has been using since 1985 to receive, as Lowe says, high level support. The basics are simple: over a 30-year span, every team will receive each of the 30 picks in the first round once and only once. The article goes into more depth, so read it if you haven’t already. Since Lowe’s article, several “fixes” to the NBA’s tanking “problem” have been bandied about (including Lowe and Bill Simmons, who discuss tweaks to The Wheel on the B.S. Report). I have my tweaks. You probably have yours. But, instead of more of the same, I thought it would be fun — however terribly unscientific — to look at what the Cavs drafts would have been like had the league instituted The Wheel in 1985 instead of the lottery. I took the Cavs’ actual 1985 draft pick (number nine) and then let The Wheel take it from there, using the players actually chosen in the slots where the Cavs would be picking. Just like the real Cavs, the Bizarro Cavs of Wheel World had their ups and downs. Curious who you’d have spent your days rooting for? Take a look, true believers…]
Cleveland kicked off its new era choosing hometown boy Charles Oakley at number nine. Oak, while never an all-star caliber player, provided defense, rebounding and toughness. Scoring was addressed the following year when the Cavs, with the number four overall selection, took “The Rifleman,” Chuck Person. The 27th pick in 1987 yielded only Nate Blackwell, whose rookie season in the league proved to be his last. But the Cavs were able to find something in the lower part of the first round the next year, drafting combo guard Brian Shaw out of UC-Santa Barbara with the 24th pick. Oakley’s toughness rubbed off on his teammates; the Cavs were Oakley’s team. By 1990-91, Person’s scoring was down slightly, but he was still firing it in at an 18.4 PPG clip, Shaw, building on a solid rookie year, put up nearly 14/8 in his second go-around, and Oak was Oak, going for 11.2 points and 12.1 rebounds a game. The Cavs, though, while balanced, continued to just miss out on the playoffs, as the team whiffed on the 13th and 12th picks in back-to-back drafts, trying to help Oakley up front with PF Michael Smith and PF/C Alec Kessler, both of whom were not long for the league.