The Cleveland Cavaliers had two top-4 picks in the 2011 NBA Draft and used them on Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. Kyrie was an instant star and the Rookie of the Year. Thompson took a bit longer to show the promise Cleveland saw in '11, but came around as the 2012-13 season wore on. He looks like a solid power forward, and he's incredibly young.
Now he has a partner in crime ... or a competitor. The Cavaliers shocked the world by picking Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft on Thursday. Bennett is also a power forward, though you can never put it past NBA teams to try to pound a big man into a wing role. The Cavaliers came in with a hole at small forward and, in theory, one at center. And they took a power forward.
There are a few ways this can resolve. Bennett could become a star. He could turn Thompson into a solid third big man, a guy to come off of the bench and play 30 minutes while providing some insurance. Or, Bennett could progress along as Thompson has and stay behind him on the depth chart. New coach Mike Brown could turn to smallball and play Thompson at center for longer stretches, along with Bennett. Or, we could have that usual nightmare: Bennett gets pushed to play small forward despite having the basic skillset of a power forward. It's been tried a million times; it rarely works, especially in the smaller, faster NBA.
Most of this depends on just how good Bennett can be. Cleveland general manager Chris Grant has done really well to rebuild the Cavaliers to date -- the team picked Sergey Karasev later in the first round, and has a future Kings pick in the hopper, too. So trusting Grant on the Bennett selection makes sense. You must draft for talent, not fit.
But with such a young prospect at Bennett's position, the questions are going to come up. How Grant, Brown, Thompson and Bennett work it out could make a huge difference in how quickly the Cavaliers are revived.