Cavs should be primed to land a defensive playmaker in 2020 NBA Draft

Auburn Tigers forward Isaac Okoro blocks a shot. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Auburn Tigers forward Isaac Okoro blocks a shot. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers need to prioritize the defensive end in the upcoming draft.

At this juncture, it’s no secret that the Cleveland Cavaliers have been anything but stellar on the defensive end in recent seasons. In the last two seasons, for instance, they’ve finished out with the league’s worst defensive rating.

Andre Drummond, considering he’s reportedly likely to pick up his $28.8 million player option for next season, I’d imagine could aid the Cavs on the interior some. He has good team defensive instincts as a rotator as well, albeit he’s not a big that’s going to be switching on occasion.

Nonetheless, even while Collin Sexton improved on-ball defensively in 2019-20, Cleveland, given their limited crop of key impact defenders outside of potentially say, Larry Nance Jr. and Alfonzo McKinnie, needs to prioritize the defensive end in the upcoming draft. That’s also factoring in how it’d seem to be a good possibility the expiring Tristan Thompson is not back next season as well, for further context.

For Cleveland, with their fifth selection in the upcoming draft, of which will firmly be on November 18, per a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, they should be in position to add a high quality defensive player, though.

The Cleveland Cavaliers should be primed to land a defensive playmaker in the 2020 NBA Draft.

It’d appear to be a good possibility that the Cavs should be primed to land a high quality wing prospect such as Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, Florida State’s Devin Vassell or Deni Avdija of the I-BSL’s Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv.

Each of the three of those prospects would seem to be a defensive upgrade over Cedi Osman, who has struggled mightily against starting 3’s, and I’d expect could take over at the starting 3 spot fairly early on next season even.

The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Okoro is as switchable as it gets in this upcoming draft, and if the communication can work through matchups off-ball around him, that could aid the Wine and Gold if that capability is needed at times.

Okoro, who had 0.9 steals and 0.9 blocks per outing in his lone collegiate season at Auburn, has great team defensive feel as well, and so does the 6-foot-7 Vassell, who had 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per contest as a sophomore at FSU.

Both of their abilities to deter drivers/pull-up threats can’t be overstated, and with Cleveland’s wing defensive need, that’d put Cleveland’s team defense in better situations throughout games as opposed to Osman, who routinely gets compromised on and off-ball. Cedi has trouble navigating through screens off-ball to contest under control, too, for instance.

Avdija’s team defensive instincts are a key selling point for him, also, and he has the capability to guard 3’s and 4’s at 6-foot-9 at a pretty high level I believe in coming years. Now, Okoro and Avdija have question marks regarding their shooting, and that’s fair to say. And Okoro, in particular, hit only 28.6 percent of his three-point attempts per game in 2019-20.

But they are both highly capable secondary playmakers, Avdija has flashed some pull-up shooting and Okoro will be an impactful driver/finisher and both cut very well, whereas Vassell is a polished pull-up shooter and hit 41.7 percent of his three-point attempts at FSU.

More from King James Gospel

In any case, I’d be more than on-board with any of the three for the Cavaliers, especially with their defensive capabilities and how I believe each could, and even more so Okoro and Vassell, could be high impact defenders.

That could help generate easy baskets going the other way in transition for pieces such as Sexton, Porter and/or others, too.

Last but not least, if the Cleveland Cavaliers elected to go with a big in the 2020 NBA Draft at their #5 spot, I’d think they should strongly consider USC’s Onyeka Okongwu if he’s available.

Okongwu has drawn comparisons to the Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo, as KJG’s Tyler Meitin hit on, mostly given his impressive on-ball switchability for a big and ability to protect the rim.

Now, part of that comparison is due to Okongwu’s promising passing feel, too, which at USC, wasn’t really showcased, but that will be at the next level, many pundits seem to firmly believe. Okongwu is a promising post-up player/roller that flashed some face-up ability and had 16.2 points per game in his lone collegiate season, too, though.

But again, defensively, he would qualify as a playmaker as well, and I’d imagine early on. Okongwu I could possibly see as a player that’d fit into Cavs closing lineups more so than Drummond with his switchability/more versatile offensive game, albeit again, with him, his switchability stands out.

And as a rim protector, Okongwu could make things happen, which could aid pieces such as Garland, Sexton and Kevin Love; Okongwu had 2.7 blocks per outing in 2019-20. Plus, his feel for getting into passing lanes was noteworthy, too, as evidenced by a healthy 1.2 steals per game.

So to further drive it home, the Cleveland Cavaliers should be primed to land a defensive playmaker in the 2020 NBA Draft, which should help them progress in their rebuild in coming years. I just really hope Cleveland does not end up going with Dayton big Obi Toppin, frankly, who they’ve been rumored to have seemingly a ton of interest in, but has major defensive question marks.

Next. 3 reasons the Cavs should avoid drafting Obi Toppin. dark

Anyhow, in the upcoming draft, from my perspective, I hope the Wine and Gold add a defensive playmaker, of which there should be great options in that realm on the board.