Andy Baskin: Cleveland wins draft lottery, but when will top picks take Cavs to playoffs?

CLEVELAND - If you happen to be someone who likes working with numbers then try out this equation. Is 23 greater than 1 + 4 + 4 +17+ 1+19?

The math doesn't matter. The answer will be whether the Cavs can make the playoffs next season.  

"Our goal should be in the playoffs. There will be a massive difference between last year and this year," Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said after the NBA Draft Lottery.

The massive difference is the back end to my twisted math.

It's been three years since number 23, LeBron James, took his talents to South Beach. In turn, the Cavs have now made moves in the first round to try to rebuild the franchise.

Rather than numbers, will Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller and this June's number one and 19th picks take the team to places that James used to?

"We were hoping, regardless of what pick we got, that this would be our last lottery. We thought originally after everything had to be reset that it would be a three-year process. You never know. It could be two or it could be four, but we thought three years. With the No. 1 pick this year, and we also have No. 19, we think this will be the last lottery for a while here," Gilbert said.

You can throw names up against the wall left and right. Those names and around 20 million dollars in cap space give team General Manager Chris Grant the power he needs to let other teams cheer at the draft lottery.

Gilbert is now putting the pressure on his general manager.

"Thank God that none of us are Chris Grant right now. He's got a tough decision. As everybody knows this year is a little bit different than most years, where there's a clear No. 1 pick. This year can go several ways." 

"Chris and the staff have got a tough job in front of them, but they've been doing a lot of research and working hard all year to figure it out. I think for Cleveland it means a lot, because if we pick the right guy that fits into the young core that we've got right now, we can be a very good team for many years."

If you look back at recent history after Michael Jordan left the Bulls for good, it took them six years to get the back to the playoffs. No Jordan made for lean times from 1999-to 2006 in the Windy City.

Even the Boston Celtics had to rebuild. They sat out of the playoffs from 95-to-2001. Six years with no playoffs until Paul Pierce put life back in the Garden.   

If the Cavs can get back in the fourth season, then subtracting the post-23 years will be simple math.

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