The Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly very interested in the services of Texas Tech wing Jarrett Culver, but it could be your classic smokescreen.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have two selections at fifth and 26th overall, as you probably know, in the 2019 NBA Draft, and it’s essential for them to add players they can gradually develop in the coming years, and on the wing in terms of talent/depth, in particular.
Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, who had 18.5 points on 50.5% effective field goal shooting, along with 6.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game (per Sports Reference) in the 2018-19 season, would fit the bill when it comes to adding wing talent/depth.
According to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, it seems that the Cavaliers, along with the Atlanta Hawks, could have Culver all the way up at number two on their draft boards based on them maybe even having ranked higher than Murray State’s Ja Morant or Duke’s RJ Barrett.
“Before the unveiling of the lottery results, some scouts and personnel execs said that if the Hawks had won the No. 2 pick, they would focus on wing Jarrett Culver – and that the Cavaliers might have done the same, passing on outstanding guards Ja Morant and RJ Barrett.
Rumors have even cropped up about the Knicks considering Culver over Barrett with the No. 3 pick. At the least, the Knicks will weigh the option.
At No. 5, though, there’s a pretty good chance the Cavs can get their man, if the Lakers pass on him at No. 4 – though that is no guarantee. Culver had good numbers at the Chicago pre-draft combine, measuring 6-6.75 with a 6-9.5 wingspan.”
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Sam Amico of Amico Hoops also mentioned that the Cleveland Cavaliers met with Culver previously, and as Amico essentially noted, it seems that Culver has great intangibles as well, which fits even more so with head coach John Beilein and Cleveland’s organization as a whole, who seemingly value those as much as anyone in the NBA now.
Culver is one of what will likely be a number of prospects in play at five, and he likely stands out because of the Cavaliers’ desperate need for wings. He is a terrific defender and saying the Cavs need better defenders on the wing would be an understatement.
Adding Culver would also form an exciting backcourt with Collin Sexton, who came on really well in his rookie year in 2018-19 and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Watching the two of them run the floor next season at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse could really be something to watch.
Furthermore, I’m sure Culver is definitely in the mix, but it could be a smokescreen, too.
Based on what Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor said recently in his latest set of Twitter mailbag responses, it seems just as likely that Duke’s Cam Reddish could be the pick based on where the Cleveland Cavaliers are drafting and who could feasibly be off the board by that point, along with Fedor’s hunch with their big board.
“The Cavs set their big board every couple of weeks. They will keep doing that leading up to the draft on June 20. Here’s my best guess, based on numerous conversations, on their top 5 at the moment. Remember, this can — and likely will — change with interviews and workouts. Heck, the view of 4-7 changes daily.
OK, now the rankings:
1. Zion Williamson
2. Ja Morant
3. RJ Barrett
4. Cam Reddish
5. De’Andre Hunter”
Playing off this list, Fedor also projected Cleveland to pick Reddish in a top five mock draft as well on Tuesday (h/t Cleveland.com’s Dave Andersen), where he also picked Cleveland to draft North Carolina wing Cameron Johnson, too, by the way, and according to Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler, it seems that the Los Angeles Lakers like Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and Hunter (of Virginia).
Moreover, the Cavaliers are a team that in the past was willing to go off the beaten path with their key team decisions, such as with their head coach, as Fedor has noted often.
That was again the case when they hired a longtime college coach with no NBA experience, even as an assistant coach, in Beilein (who has most recently been with Michigan for the past 12 seasons), and Reddish is that kind of high-upside pick that Cleveland could be betting on just like they did when they hired Beilein.
Reddish is the type of player that is a risk, but with his talent that could end up being a huge steal. In my opinion, he has the second-highest upside in the 2019 NBA Draft and if Beilein can get the most out of him, the Cleveland Cavaliers may have found themselves a future star.
In a possible trade, it could be a team like the Atlanta Hawks who are very likely to target a wing player, and could target Culver.
Cleveland general manager Koby Altman has made it clear that this organizational turnaround won’t happen overnight, so perhaps trading down with Atlanta, who has both the eighth and tenth overall picks in the first round (in turn, collecting more picks/assets for the future) is the move the Cavs would make.
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If Reddish is indeed the Cavs’ guy, another trade partner to watch in my opinion is the Chicago Bulls, who have the seventh pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Bulls desperately need a point guard, but the problem is the team drafting one spot ahead of them, in the Phoenix Suns, do just as much.
The Cavs could then draft the talented Garland, while the Bulls draft Reddish and swap in a trade, with the Cavs also potentially adding Chicago’s second-round pick which is 38th overall, per Tankathon (from the Memphis Grizzlies).
That would likely be a developmental piece that could maybe come in play down the road, and of course with the willingness of Cleveland majority owner/chairman Dan Gilbert (who is reportedly recovering after suffering a stroke on Sunday, h/t the Associated Press’ Tom Withers), which we’ve hit on, that could work, and plus, Cleveland will likely be active this offseason in shopping their several expiring players, which could open the roster moving forward past the 2019-20 season.
This time of the year is when you start hearing about players getting promises in certain parts of the draft and you start hearing about smokescreens.
If Reddish ends up being the Cavs’ guy, you could hear more about other prospects in an attempt by Cleveland to entice teams to trade up, so Cleveland can collect future assets while they still get their potential target all along.