2014 NBA Draft: Cleveland Cavaliers and Duke’s Rodney Hood Could be Perfect Match

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Updated: May 16, 2014

With the NBA Draft Lottery less than a week away, the Cleveland Cavaliers are hoping for one more lucky draw to land the No. 1 overall selection for the third time since 2011. However, with just a 1.7 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick, a two percent chance of landing the No. 2 pick and a 2.4 percent chance of landing the No. 3 pick, it seems the team’s focus should be more on players who will be available between the No. 9 slot (81.3 percent chance) or later.

Luol Deng didn't exactly step up for the Cavaliers this season.

Luol Deng didn’t exactly step up for the Cavaliers this season.

Though the state of the Cavaliers roster is currently in flux, the one position they have failed to address through the draft since 2011 is small forward. As it happens, the 2014 NBA Draft class is full of young, talented prospects at the position. And while the Cavaliers likely will not be in a position to land the likes of Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, the second tier of small forwards has plenty of prospects to play alongside of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.

While many mock drafts have had UCLA’s Kyle Anderson mocked to the Cavaliers at the No. 9 spot, do not be surprised if Duke’s Rodney Hood finds his way into the wine and gold if the Cavaliers are picking later in the lottery. Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders confirmed the Cavaliers possible interest when he tweeted, “Rodney Hood met with the Lakers, Cavaliers, Bobcats and Thunder today (Wednesday).”

Standing 6’8” and 208 pounds, the sophomore from Duke was seemingly the forgotten man with all of the Parker coverage. Last year for the Blue Devils, he averaged 16.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists on 46.4 percent from the field. He also displayed a very good three-point shot, shooting 42 percent from behind the arc. What’s even more impressive than those numbers was his 80.7 percent from the free throw line, which was well above the collegiate average.

A left-handed shooter, Hood’s offensive ability has never really been in question. He can score from anywhere on the court, utilizing his range to stretch the floor unlike many of the top small forward prospects in this class. This would be an asset when on the floor with guys like Irving and Waiters who command defensive attention thanks to their ability to get to the hole with ease. Hood would give defenses nightmares while stretching the floor for either player.

When he isn’t knocking down shots, Hood has the ability to take defenders off the dribble with his quick first step. He can also make plays when necessary for his teammates, showing off an unselfishness that would be a welcome addition to the Cavaliers roster. Add in his ability to play multiple positions thanks to his size and quickness, and the fact he is rated so far down the first round is truly shocking.

One of the main reasons for that lower rating is that many question his ability to play defense well at the NBA level. He could stand to add some bulk to his frame in order to defend bigger small forwards (would give up 40 pounds minimum to a LeBron James type). He also does not exactly “dig in” on the defensive end, as he has shown poor positioning and effort on that end of the court from time to time.

Despite those negatives and his shorter wingspan than the other small forward prospects, Hood would be an excellent addition to the Cavaliers in this draft. His ability to be a solid scorer from the small forward position fills a major need for a team who thought they were getting that when they traded for Luol Deng. And with a more dependable option at the small forward position, the Cavaliers could find themselves firmly in the playoff hunt next season.

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