Well fellas, it’s been another (relatively) disappointing season. Despite still having a slim chance to make the Eastern conference playoffs (because it’s the Eastern conference), the Cavs still are headed toward a middle to back-end lottery pick. With that presumably where they are going to end up, I’ve compiled a list of guys who I think the Cavs could logically have a chance of taking, with a focus on the Cavs greatest need positions, SF and Center. Although the draft order is not known, I’ve split-up possible picks with a good draft draw (around the 5-9 range) and a bad one (around 10-14), as I see this as the most possible place where the Cavs would draft at.
Note that I did not include picks such as Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins because there is a very low chance of them being available when the Cavs draft. As cool as it would be to see them in a Cavs jersey, the chances of it happening are almost nil.
If the Cavs get a middle lottery position (Projected final number of wins: 28)
Marcus Smart: PG, Oklahoma State
Smart is a tough defender and a capable scorer, and could definitely give the Cavs an offensive and defensive boost, but will need to improve on his outside shooting to truly succeed at the next level. The Cavs have to make a couple decisions with their backcourt if they want to draft a guard this year, namely cutting the play time for Matthew Dellavedova and / or C.J. Miles and / or Jarrett Jack. If the Cavs do draft Smart, I would start him as the backup to Irving, with some time at SG, and slowly transition him to starter at the two with Waiters being the “instant offense” guy off the bench, as I don’t see Smart being a good enough passer to be a PG in the pros.
Julius Randle: PF, Kentucky
Randle is considered one of the most NBA ready big-men in the draft and is still young (at just 19) so there is room for him to grow. If Randle can grow to play the center position, then I think he could be a great pick here, but since he appears destined to be a PF, I struggle to see him getting much play time with Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett already getting time at that position. If he can play the center position, he could back up Anderson Varejao and given his injury history, he could be pressed into duty quickly.
Aaron Gordon: F, Arizona
Nobody knows what Gordon will amount to in the pros. He has elite upside due to his motor and athletic ability, but has been a work-in-progress offensively and a dreadful free-throw shooter (this reminds me of the American equivalent of Jan Vesely). He’s also very young (just 17) so whatever team drafts him will have a project that may take a few years to develop. As far as the Cavs go, I think they need a player that is NBA-ready, so I would shy away from taking Gordon.
James Young: SF, Kentucky
Chad Ford’s latest mock draft has the Cavs drafting Young at ninth overall and the pick makes sense. It’s unsure whether Luol Deng will re-sign with the team, the Cavs will likely be back to square one with their SF position. Praised as an elite shooter,Young has been VERY inconsistent with his jump shot this year, but has huge potential and should be ready to play right away. To start the year they could have him backing up a (hopefully) slimmed down Anthony Bennett, slowly increasing his time as the season goes on.
Noah Vonleh: PF, Indiana
Much of what I said about Randle applies to Vonleh. He is also young (18), and very talented for a big man. The Cavs biggest need besides a SF is a presence in the middle, and although billed as a PF, I think Vonleh could grow into the Center position, which would be fantastic for the Cavs, but if he is destined to be a PF, a play time problem could occur. With a lack of true big-men in this year’s draft, a guy like Vonleh might be too good to pass up.
If the Cavs get a back-end lottery draft position (Projected final number of wins: 33)
Dario Saric: SF, Croatia
Saric was a guy that, when the draft came around last year I thought would be a good fit for the SF void for the Cavs. A year later, and the situation appears to be the same. A good shooter with great court vision, Saric has top-10 potential, but people are questioning whether he will come over to the NBA, but I think the risk is worth the reward if the Cavs can land Saric.
Doug McDermott: SF, Creighton
Not many people think that McDermott will be an exceptional NBA player, but not many people think he’ll be a waste either. An accomplished college player who can really shoot, McDermott would be a solid pickup that could start right away at SF, albeit with little apparent upside.
K.J. McDaniels: F, Clemson
A very athletic wing who’s shooting up draft boards, McDaniels represents a good mix of being NBA ready and having good upside. The Cavs could really use McDaniels scoring, rebounding, and blocking skills and he could be a sneaky-good pick for the Cavs here. The only real questions concerning McDaniels are his overall polish on his offensive game (chiefly his jump shot) but I think McDaniels could be a long term solution to the Cavs problem at SF.
Chris Walker: SF, Florida
This pick is ALL about upside. Again, I’m not big on the Cavs taking a risk on an unproven guy, but the young man from Florida may be too good to pass on if the Cavs fall to the back of the lottery. There’s very little to base drafting Walker on other than his athleticism and raw ability; it would have been great to see a full season out of him at Florida. But, with Anthony Bennett rapidly improving, if he could get in better shape he could start at SF while Walker is slowly eased into play time.
Willie Cauley-Stein: C, Kentucky
Once again, it’s about size and upside here. Taking Cauley-Stein would definitely be a reach, but the Cavs could really use a young interior presence and if the Cavs get stuck at the back-end of the lottery, Cauley-Stein could be an effective pick. As with most big-men available at the back-end of the first round, Cauley-Stein is raw and not NBA ready, but unlike the SF position, the Cavs have Tyler Zeller and Anderson Varejao to carry the load in the middle while Cauley-Stein develops. Given Varejao’s injury history, another young big man could be a very good investment.