A Cavs’ trio that could potentially have considerable impact next season

Cleveland Cavaliers wing Dylan Windler handles the ball. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers wing Dylan Windler handles the ball. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Looking ahead to next season, a trio of players could potentially have a considerable impact for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

We’re not sure if we’ll end up seeing the Cleveland Cavaliers back in action this season, and while some will be allowed to participate in voluntary workouts on Friday, according to prior reports, it’s again unclear if the Cavs will be back in action in the 2019-20 season.

Looking ahead to the 2020-21 season, though, Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Kevin Porter Jr., Kevin Love would appear to be key pieces, and while Cleveland could use an upgrade as the year progresses, Cedi Osman would seem to be a floor spacer of use for Cleveland.

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Plus, considering Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor reported that Andre Drummond, of possible options, is “most likely” to pick up his $28.8 million player option for next season, whenever the free agency period ultimately is, I’d expect the Love-Drummond frontcourt pairing to get their share of minutes together.

Could Drummond be an expiring trade piece as 2020-21 wears on? I could very well see that being the case, but I’d still expect the Cavs to want to see how Drummond fits in with more experience alongside the likes of Sexton, Love and others.

Clearly, we know who will likely be getting big minutes next season and seemingly could have key roles among feasible starters and with Porter mixed in.

One potential trio to me could have a considerable impact for the Cavaliers next season, though, and we’ll detail that here. The trio could seemingly consist of Dylan Windler, Larry Nance Jr. and a 2020 NBA Draft prospect in USC’s Onyeka Okongwu.

Of course, we have not seen what bring to the Cavs yet, and he’ll likely not appear at all for Cleveland this season due to complications involving a stress reaction in his left leg.

I’m confident that Windler, who shot 40.6 percent from three-point land in his four-year collegiate career at Belmont, per Sports Reference, can be a functional floor spacer early on as he gets his legs under him in the NBA, though.

More. Cavs fans must be patient with Dylan Windler. light

Windler moves off-ball well as a cutter, off-screen shooter and is polished in the pull-up game, and seemingly as a bench contributor next season, he should mesh well in minutes playing alongside a variety of pieces, such as Garland, KPJ and I believe quality passing bigs in Nance and Love.

Nance has proven to be the Cavs’ best all-around big, factoring in both ends of the floor, and combined with him having a career season to this point from three-point range in terms of efficiency (35.2 percent) and volume (2.8 attempts per game), Windler, a wing with good passing feel, should be able to find Nance on the perimeter via ball-swings.

Coupled with that, Nance and Windler could form a nice Cavs’ bench pick-and-roll/hand-off duo, and Nance flare and back screens should free up Windler off-ball, realistically via relocation, too. Plus, I’d expect Okongwu to help in that way, if he were to selected by the Cavs in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Even though the Cavaliers are currently projected to have the second overall pick in the upcoming draft, per Tankathon, it’s anything but a certainty that they’ll receive a pick that high.

Regardless if they do land that sort of selection, though, with the uncertainty regarding the 2020 NBA Draft and with social distancing affecting scouting of the prospects/workouts, I could very well see the Cavs going with a player with seemingly a more clear-cut role.

That could possibly mean they’d steer clear of prospects such as LaMelo Ball, previously of the NBL’s Illawarra Hawks, Georgia’s Anthony Edwards or James Wiseman, who played briefly with Memphis and then withdrew from school due to a suspension ruling by the NCAA, as KJG’s Corey Casey hit on back in December. Those three are likely in the Cavs’ top tier of prospects, per Fedor on an appearance on 92.3 The Fan’s “Bull & Fox,” but again, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Cavaliers went with a player with a more carved-out role.

That’s even with the draft feasibly being pushed back to August or September, according to a report from The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, and the NBA already pushed back the draft lottery and draft combine, as was h/t The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania.

Those potential prospects could be along the lines of prospects such as Okongwu, Auburn’s Isaac Okoro or Dayton’s Obi Toppin, for instance, or perhaps a knockdown shooter in Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith, although, he was not healthy this past season.

To me, with the expiring Tristan Thompson seemingly likely to play elsewhere next season, and with Drummond being a reasonable trade piece, Okongwu would be a particularly wise selection by Cleveland. Okongwu is a superb athlete that runs the floor well, and had 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.2 steals per game in one collegiate at USC, per Sports Reference.

At 6-foot-9, 245 pounds and as a terrific post presence, along with being a good roller/lob and putback threat with face-up potential, he’d fill in early on as a rotational 4/5, and him, Windler and Nance should mesh harmoniously with all three being willing and able passers with size.

1.1 assists per outing in college doesn’t necessarily highlight that from Okongwu, but he did display promise as a passer, and I’d imagine he would be able to hit kick-outs to Windler, KPJ, Garland or a bit via passes up to Nance or Love if opponents double down.

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Okongwu could hit some big-to-big passes to a great cutter in Nance, too, and that threat could over time lead to weak side defenders cheating down, which could free up Windler in the corner/move to the opposite break and be open.

From there, Windler could also likely have some playmaking opportunities open up in minutes with Okongwu and Nance on the floor with him with the two cross screening for each other, of which Windler is more than capable of finding with his 6-foot-6 size.

Flipping to the defensive end a bit, a player with tremendous switchout potential in the 19-year-old Okongwu, who also has outstanding team defensive instincts, would help the likes of Windler and others, such as Garland and Sexton, as a help and/or weak side rim protector.

In turn, the Cleveland Cavaliers could allow Nance, who has great anticipation in playing passing lanes and as a rotator to shooters, to probe a bit more as a player to jump passes, which could enable the Cavs to force more live-ball turnovers and lead to more transition chances.

Windler could have more help on the perimeter, too, with solid point-of-attack defenders such as KPJ and Sexton on the floor with him, and/or play more against spot-up 2’s with occasional minutes alongside a good all-around defender in Alfonzo McKinnie at the 3.

Next. Projecting the Cavaliers' 2021-22 starting lineup. dark

Moreover, while I could see a Garland-KPJ-Windler trio also providing good production in coming years for the Cavs, keep an eye out for a potential Windler-Nance-Okongwu trio, which could give the Wine and Gold plenty of energy minutes and production next season.