CLEVELAND -- Despite laying claim to a coaching career that's spanned the course of the past 44 years, John Beilein is lacking in NBA experience.
But as the 66-year-old prepares for his new job as the Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, there may not be a task he's more qualified for than his first one.
Following the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday, the Cavs now know they'll be picking fifth this June. And while that may not be ideal given the top-heavy nature of this year's draft, Beilein's connection to the college level could prove useful as Cleveland attempts to bolster its young core with selections at No. 5 and No. 26.
“He’s going to be able to make phone calls to head coaches and get the immediate respect and the knowledge that we need to make some of those decisions," Cavs general manager Koby Altman said of Beilein, who was the head coach at Michigan from 2007-19. "We’re fortunate and we’re going to use him as an asset during this process."
Take one look at the Wolverines' schedule from last season and you'll find evidence supporting Altman's claim. Of the projected first-round picks in this year's draft, no fewer than six faced Beilein last season, including Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver, who scored 22 points in the Red Raiders' win over Michigan in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
In addition to Culver -- who is projected by many as a top-five pick -- Beilein coached against North Carolina's Coby White, Nassir Little and Cameron Johnson, as well as Indiana's Romeo Langford and Maryland's Bruno Fernando within the last year. Furthermore, his time on the recruiting trail and lengthy resume -- that also includes stops at West Virginia, Richmond and Canisius -- gives him an endless supply of contacts to help vet prospects over the course of the next month.
“I think this is a pretty good draft and throughout the whole first round. At 5 or 26, we’re going to get two good players," Beilein said. "I’ve gone down the list and I’ve played against many of those guys or I’ve watched them on TV or I saw them playing AAU."
As for what the Cavs will be looking for in their draft picks, Altman didn't reveal much, other than to reiterate he'll prioritize skill over position.
"We’re going to find the best talent and make that fit to our roster,” he said.
But he also noted that now that Cleveland has its new coach, he wants to pick a player who will fit his system, something that Beilein will have no shortage of resources in helping determine.
“I can tell from sort of watching them play from afar what he values," Altman said. "But we’ll see. I mean, we’ll see.”