Picks Held: 5th overall
- Entering year 3 of the rebuild following Lebron James’ departure
- Excess guards may hinder timeline if they don’t make a trade
- Likely 2 years away from looking to compete for a playoff spot
- Cavs are a candidate to enter the Cade Cunningham sweepstakes in the 2021 draft
Team Needs: Defense, guard playmaking, wing
Current players under contract for next season:
Guards: Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr, Collin Sexton, Dante Exum
Wings: Cedi Osman, Dylan Windler
Bigs: Larry Nance Jr, Kevin Love
Options: Alfonzo McKinnie (non-guaranteed), Dean Wade (non-guaranteed), Andre Drummond (player), Jordan Bell (non-guaranteed)
Upcoming FA: Matthew Dellavedova, Tristan Thompson, Ante Zizic (signed overseas)
Past 5 drafts:
2015: Cedi Osman, Sir’Dominic Pointer
2016: Kay Felder
2018: Collin Sexton
2019: Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr, Dylan Windler
#5 potential targets: Landing at 5, the Cavs are in a unique position. While the top of the draft is guard-heavy, which is far and away Cleveland’s lowest position of need, they have a variety of options to counter that. The first option is to simply stay put and take the best available player, regardless of position. The second option is to take the best player available after filtering out guards from the big board, which would result in a wing or big. Another alternative at 5 is to pick for need, even if it is a reach of a pick.
The second avenue Cleveland can explore is to trade up to the top 3 of the draft. It’s doubtful that Cleveland wants to forfeit draft capital, so if the Cavs move up, maybe they try to clear one of their guard slots to replace a future first round pick that would normally be used to move up. Conversely, the Cavs could simply trade back, which allows them to accumulate draft capital and take a player that fits their ranking. For example, if the Cavs trade close to 10, they have a chance at someone like Isaac Okoro or Devin Vassell, both candidates for the 5th pick.
Other options: Cleveland currently only owns 1 pick this year in the draft, which is the #5 pick. They’d be wise to buy into the second round, given the fact that they only have two wings, overlapping guard traits, and no long-term big man (All of Kevin Love, Andre Drummond, and Larry Nance Jr are older than 27). One pick is not enough for a draft as deep as this, and they should be able to easily buy into the second round with owners scrapping for money more than normal.
Areas of concern:
- Allowed 2nd most assists per game
- Barely forced turnovers
- Struggled to put up defensive stats
- 2nd Worst defense in the NBA; worst defense in the league in 18-19 season
- 2nd least opponent FTA per game
- LaMelo Ball, PG, USA/Illawara Hawks
LaMelo Ball may have the best upside as he is the best passer in the draft with incredible raw talent and an exceptionally high understanding of the game. He needs to re-work his jump shot and improve his release point, but he should still be able to be a passable offensive player with his shot creation and passing combination. While the Cavs may be hesitant to take another guard with their top draft pick, Ball is the highest upside guard of the bunch, and the most likely core centerpiece of the guard group. I am in the camp that Cleveland should be looking for a franchise changing player before finding a player that fits their current young core.
- Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC
The way that Cleveland initiates offense through their bigs as frequently as they do, Okongwu could strongly develop his passing in Cleveland, which may be the most effective version of Okongwu. Okongwu is a defensive minded player that can anchor a defense by both protecting the rim and easily able to switch on the perimeter. As the Cavs continue to search for defensive improvements to their core, Okongwu can be the best defensive player on the team on day-one with long-term upside.
- Killian Hayes, PG, France
Another point guard that would be redundant with the current core, Killian Hayes has an all-star ceiling that the Cavs may struggle to pass up. As I said with LaMelo Ball, the Cavs need to search for a franchise cornerstone player, and Hayes may have that ability as a high-level second option. While Hayes lacks defensive strength currently, as he continues to add strength, his defense may get closer to average in the NBA due to quick feet and long arms. Offensively, Hayes is one of the best shot creators in the draft and should be able to score with ease, despite being left-hand dominant. Hayes has a mild floor, but a very high ceiling that Cleveland should take a hard look at.
- James Wiseman, C, Memphis
Wiseman might be the best blend of talent & need for Cleveland. Once considered the top prize in this draft class, Wiseman’s stock has dropped since he withdrew from Memphis due to lack of visibility. In three games at Memphis, Wiseman showed off incredible raw talent, but also had his awareness exposed against Oregon. However, not much can be taken from 3 games of film, making him one of the most difficult reads in the draft.
- Deni Avdija, Forward, Israel
A prospect who I have described as a two-way playmaker, Avdija is very unique and compliments the Cavaliers roster quite well. He moves well on defense and can play both up and down in the lineup, and also has excellent vision for a forward. While he has a quick first step, he is limited with his left hand and also needs to prove his new-look jump shot can consistently translate.
- Anthony Edwards, Guard, Georgia
The number one player on my board, Edwards has fit concerns in Cleveland, as he is a combo guard with potential motor issues. If Cleveland selects a guard, they need an alpha lead-guard or a guard that can be a perimeter lockdown. Edwards checks neither of those boxes, so unless the Cavs make a draft-night trade involving Garland, Sexton, or Porter, Edwards is an awkward fit in Cleveland.
- Devin Vassell, Wing, Florida State
The best team defender in the class, Vassell would be a great help to the Cavs’ defensive woes. The hope with Vassell is that he can step in from day-one and make his teammates better defensively, thanks to his elite ability to rotate, read defenses, and guard his man one-on-one. Offensively, Vassell is intelligent, a willing passer, and a solid shooter off the dribble. He needs to be more consistent as a shooter from a standstill to potentially reach his highest upside as one of the best two-way players in the class.
- Isaac Okoro, Wing, Auburn
While Okoro fits the dire defensive needs of Cleveland, his jump shot is worrisome. His off-guard playmaking in combination to his defense, similar to Avdija, is appealing to the Cavs on the wings, but they need to be confident that they can either develop his jump shot or, at the least, make sure they can neutralize his lack of a jump shot. Okoro has an NBA-ready body, so his defensive prowess, including his ability to guard point guards and up to power forwards, can be utilized immediately.
- Patrick Williams, Forward, Florida State
Patrick Williams said a big part of why he chose to attend Florida State was to learn how to play defense properly. This is particularly impressive because he showed several flashes as a freshman in reading plays both as they happen and before they happen. However, he still needs to improve as an on-ball defender, but his physical tools are impressive and relevant enough to be optimistic in his upside on the defensive end. Offensively, his shot is a swing-factor, but even if it isn’t dangerous, he should still be a rotation player.
- Cole Anthony, Guard, Cole Anthony
Again, the Cavs are in a tough position with a guard-dominant class at the top, and Anthony simply doesn’t make a ton of sense with the current core. He’s an excellent scorer, but lacks much defensive upside. Unless Cleveland finds a way to shake up their roster construction and hit the reset button again, which remains heavily unlikely, Anthony should not be a realistic option for the Cavaliers at 5.
- Obi Toppin, Forward, Dayton
While Toppin is a top 10 prospect on my board, Toppin has major concerns as a fit in Cleveland for a top prospect. He’s well-rounded offensively, but still has concerns regarding shooting consistency. Defense is where most of the concerns come into play: he’s historically slow laterally for someone his size and is going to be hard to hide. Cleveland already competes with negative defensive records since Lebron’s departure, and Toppin furthers that weakness.
- Tyrese Maxey, Guard, Kentucky
Maxey is the first defensive minded guard on this list, and his ability to play both guard slots offensively while likely being able to guard both guard positions and small forwards in the NBA makes him desirable for Cleveland as a complimentary guard. His best offensive role early in his NBA career is likely to be a slasher and playmaker that is most effective on the defensive end. As Cleveland tries to improve their perimeter defense, Maxey will get plenty of opportunities to develop his offense in-game due to likely playing significant minutes for his defensive impact.
- Tyrese Haliburton, Guard, Iowa State
Another defensive-minded point guard, Haliburton would be a complimentary core piece that is arguably the best guard fit with the guard group currently in place in Cleveland. Haliburton is incredibly active defensively and, despite a skinny frame, should be able to guard multiple positions. Offensively, he sees the floor well and should open up the floor for his teammates despite a lack of a reliable jump shot for himself. He’s best shooting spot-up 3s, so his low-usage dirty work role could help Cleveland rebuild smoothly.
- Aleksej Pokusevski, Forward, Serbia
The youngest player in the draft, Pokusevski would be a pure swing for upside. While not a target in the top 10 for a team like Cleveland, Pokusevski would be a good target if the Cavs acquired an additional first round pick. He is very raw and far from being NBA ready, but if he hits his upside, he could be a high return on investment as a combo forward with the upside to be a complete offensive player.
- Kira Lewis Jr, Guard, Alabama
Lewis is a high upside guard that can run an offense well right now, plus has high upside being the youngest sophomore in the draft. He’s lightning fast, has room to still improve as a shooter, and should become a better defender as he fills out his frame. Lewis is another easy fit with any of the other current guards, but may not be desirable given the guard depth in place already.
- Josh Green, Wing, Arizona
Josh Green adds to the thin wing depth for the Cavaliers as a high upside pick that will also serve as a strong defender from day one. He also could compliment both Collin Sexton and Darius Garland with his passing ability. Green doesn’t help the Cavs’ shooting issues, but he can compliment both of the other Cavs wings by limiting their defensive woes.
- Aaron Nesmith, Wing, Vanderbilt
Arguably the best shooter in the draft, Nesmith is not an option for Cleveland unless they trade out of the top 10. Cleveland was in the bottom 10 of both 3 point efficiency and 3 point attempts, so this would give Darius Garland and Collin Sexton another option offensively. Nesmith doesn’t address much else, and will likely be a negative defensively with the current core.
- Precious Achiuwa, Forward, Memphis
Achiuwa would have to be selected following a trade down in the draft, but he would immensely help as a core defensive piece that could make Kevin Love’s final years as a Cavalier much easier. He’s a safe defensive prospect, but his offense is boom-or-bust, so Cleveland would have to utilize the right lineups around him to keep him as a positive on the court.
- RJ Hampton, Guard, USA/ New Zealand Breakers
Hampton is a pure swing at upside for Cleveland, hoping to find the combo-guard of the future. Hampton has excellent quickness and open-court speed, but still needs to refine his jump shot and become a stronger decision maker while filling out his frame. If Hampton hits, he could be one of the best return on investment players in the draft.
- Killian Tillie, PF, Gonzaga
Tillie would probably be a top 25 prospect if health was not an issue, but the Cavs can’t afford to miss his talent. If the Cavs end up trading back for multiple picks on draft night, Tillie would make a great fit in the frontcourt and serve as a strong glue piece. Tillie does just about everything at a high level, including moving his feet, decision making, shooting, passing, and creative finishing at the rim. He fits with Cleveland because of his versatility he provides, and both long-term upside with immediate short-term gain.
2nd Round Buy-in Targets:
- Jordan Nwora
- Josh Hall
- Robert Woodard
- Abdoulaye N’Doye
- Malachi Flynn