Cavs 2020 NBA Draft: LaMelo Ball is best option of team’s reportedly likely top tier of prospects

LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks brings the ball up. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks brings the ball up. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images) /

At this point, the Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly likely have Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, previously of Memphis, and LaMelo Ball of the NBL’s Illawarra Hawks in their top tier of 2020 NBA Draft prospects. Of those three, Ball would be the best and most logical selection.

At this point, it was unclear as to if the Cleveland Cavaliers and other teams might be playing again this season. Now, according to a recent report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on Friday (and h/t Bleacher Report’s Paul Kasabian), the NBA is “angling” to cancel the 2019-20 season after the Chinese Basketball Association shut down due to complications regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Windhorst essentially said in his report (and h/t Kasabian) about how the NBA is “not having talks about how to restart the league, they’re having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down, and I think there is a significant amount of pessimism right now.”

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Even before this Windy report, we weren’t sure if the 2019-20 regular season was going to resume at all or if the NBA potentially would go to a shortened postseason format. With how the league has such a massive draw, though, you’d think the NBA will still try to resume its season at some point, for both owners and players and its fans.

That’d also feasibly be with all postseason games played in Las Vegas, per Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix; Vegas is a key venue for NBA Summer League.

Most notably from a Cavs’ perspective, it’s uncertain when the 2020 NBA Draft will ultimately be, given concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the upcoming draft, though, they again will likely have a top five selection, and while lottery projections are not at all a guarantee, Cleveland is currently projected to have the second overall pick, according to Tankathon at this juncture.

This upcoming draft, there is not a clear-cut top prospect or two, such as in the 2019 NBA Draft, with Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, but to me, in relation to the Cavs, I’ll pass on Georgia’s Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman, who played briefly for Memphis.

Wiseman played three games but was eventually ruled ineligible by the NCAA and then withdrew from school, as KJG’s Corey Casey previously alluded to.

While I am well-aware both Edwards and Wiseman are very talented, in Edwards’ case, I’m skeptical of how he’d mesh alongside Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Kevin Porter Jr. and potentially Kevin Love, as another player that will command a considerable amount of shots will be tough to work in next season.

Edwards did have 19.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per outing this year at Georgia, but his shot was fairly underwhelming for a top recruit at only a 47.3 percent effective field goal shooting rate, as noted by Sports Reference, and his shot selection is a cause for concern. I’m also not sure about Edwards’ potential as a secondary playmaker, either.

In Wiseman’s case, he did have 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game, but that was again in just three contests and his inside-out scoring potential is a major question mark.

Even while he could be a good rolling presence early on and be a capable rim protector at 7-foot-1 and could help salvage some of the loss of the expiring Tristan Thompson, who is reportedly likely to be playing elsewhere next season, I’d much rather Cleveland go with a much more switchable defender in USC’s Onyeka Okongwu. Dayton’s Obi Toppin is another big man option I’d also prefer for Cleveland over Wiseman if both were on the board for the Cavs at their selection.

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Other options I’d be more than fine with the Cavaliers selecting in the 2020 NBA Draft would be LaMelo Ball of the NBL’s Illawarra Hawks, who has immense playmaking potential and at 6-foot-7, theoretically could have notable positional versatility, along with Auburn wing Isaac Okoro and feasibly wing Deni Avdija of the I-BSL’s Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv.

Furthermore, on the topic of Ball, he seems to be well on the Cavs’ radar, per’s Chris Fedor on a radio talk show appearance on Friday on 92.3 The Fan’s “Bull and Fox.”

In that appearance, Fedor hit on how Cavs players want the season to resume, though Larry Nance Jr. was emphasizing how his Crohn’s disease is leading him to being especially careful in relation to limiting his potential exposure to COVID-19, but one of the key things was Fedor also essentially saying how he believes the Cavs will be going “best player available, regardless of position” with their upcoming draft selection.

From there, Fedor did note how “position’s going to matter, maybe to break a tie,” but it’s again more so that Cleveland will be taking the best prospect available according to them.

The biggest takeaway was this bit from Fedor on who he believes, after getting as much information as he can, the top tier of prospects at this point includes for Cleveland, though, with that being the following three mentioned, per Bull and Fox.

"“I think right now, their top tier is James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards of Georgia.”"

Fedor would then basically say how there’s pretty much a whole bunch of 2020 NBA Draft prospects in the tier below those three in the Cavs’ eyes, “five or six” feasibly. Then, Fedor stated how he thinks, while he’s not certain, if Cleveland landed the top pick, he thinks they’d go with Edwards at this juncture.

Nonetheless, to me, of the top tier Fedor mentioned as those he believes Cleveland has in its top tier, Ball would be by far and away the most logical selection.

As was stressed above, I’ll personally pass on Edwards and Wiseman, and even more so of those three, Ball would be the best option, to me, for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He averaged 6.75 assists per game in NBL play this season before his year ended due to a foot injury, per Real GM, and while Ball only shot 37.7 percent this season en route to averaging 17.0 points and does need to get stronger and hopefully be mostly healthy in coming years, he has a tight handle that I believe will allow him to consistently get separation. His range is promising, too.

Plus, he again I believe will have positional versatility and his playmaking feel/prowess could make things so much easier for Sexton, Porter, Love (if he’s still around) and others, and though I think Cleveland will have vastly improved playmaking next year anyway, Ball would just solidify that even more. If the Cavs selected Ball, there’s no way they’d be just 24th in assists per game, as they are currently with the league’s season on hiatus and perhaps, given Windhorst’s report, potentially cancelled.

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Moreover, of those three Fedor believes the Cavs have in their top tier of 2020 prospects in Edwards, Wiseman and Ball, I would firmly see Ball as being the best and most logical option from general manager Koby Altman and the Wine and Gold’s perspective.