Departures: Joe Smith, Anderson Varejao, Lorenzan Wright, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (can opt-out of his contract).
Needs: A big man. There were two things that lost them their series against the Magic that killed them: a) poor play from Mo Williams and b) no answer for Dwight Howard. Now, most teams don’t have an answer for Howard, but it was a lot worse for Cleveland. It was either wrap him up and get into foul trouble or try to stay in front of him. Big Z wasn’t quick enough to stand in his way and Varejao wasn’t strong enough.
The pick: At 30, most of the dominant power forwards will be gone. One guy that really impressed me during the NCAA Tournament was Missouri Tiger forward DaMarre Carroll. The Junkyard Dog averaged 16 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal in his junior year in college and put up a solid 1.43 points per shot. Although undersized the 6-foot-8 forward can play power forward off the bench because of his energy on the offensive and defensive glass. When LeBron hits the bench, Carroll can also fill in at the three, although his perimeter game still needs some development. I like him to replace Wally in the rotations and I think he can do a good job playing a hybrid four.
Other Options: Other power forwards that could be around at the end of the first, Derrick Brown of Xavier, Taj Gibson of USC, and Jeff Pendergraph of Arizona State.
Brown is a great athlete with a great body for the pros. He is explosive at the rim and surpises you when he attacks the boards. He averaged 14 points and six rebounds last season in college.
At 6-foot-10, Taj Gibson is extremely active for his size. He has a back to the basket and a face up game, which is a make or break skill in the NBA. He needs to get his body to about 225 pounds (214 now) by adding muscle to handle other power forwards in the league. Averaged 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks as a 23-year old junior.
Pendergraph is an excellent low-post scorer and he gets up and down the floor well for a big man. He is starting to develop an outside game and his long arms help him crash the boards well.