Cavs 2020 NBA Draft: 4 prospects seem to be well in-play at #5

Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images /

The potential draft selection for the Cleveland Cavaliers seems to be getting clearer.

In the 2020 NBA Draft, which is approaching us in a bit over a week on Nov. 18 virtually, the Cleveland Cavaliers are set to have the #5 selection. At that selection, the Cavaliers should be able to land a solid piece to add to their young core.

With the Cavaliers’ defensive struggles in recent seasons, I’d hope that would result in the Wine and Gold prioritizing that end. In the past two years, the Cavs have placed dead-last in the NBA in defensive rating, but thankfully, Cleveland should have the opportunity to help turn things around on that end at #5.

Before getting into the Cavs could feasibly select at their pick, though, we’ll just touch on some background/about what seems to be likely prior to that. Per a report from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (subscription required), most teams believe LaMelo Ball will go #1, whether the Minnesota Timberwolves ultimately take him or not.

And per Givony and as h/t Sam Amico of Amico Hoops and Sports Illustrated, the Chicago Bulls (#4), Detroit Pistons (#7) and Oklahoma City Thunder (#25) are seemingly strongly considering trading up to go get Ball. The Thunder have a bevy of future draft capital that the Wolves might be drawn to, and as Amico hit on, Chris Paul trade rumors could add into that.

From there, Givony alluded to how while the order might not be certain, though, but Ball, James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards are set to be the first three prospects selected.

Granted, according to a report from’s Chris Fedor in a recent mailbag set of responses, Ball “falling wouldn’t be a surprise.” Fedor stated if the Wolves went with Edwards or Wiseman and the Golden State Warriors didn’t go with Ball, that could set it up some, as the Charlotte Hornets he noted at #3 are believed to be “earmarked for a big,” with Wiseman/Onyeka Okongwu in the conversation, really.

As far as the Chicago Bulls/more on the Cavs’ options, here was more from Fedor.

"“Chicago has been linked to playmakers Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes and Tyrese Haliburton. Would the Bulls be willing to take the risk with Ball, adding a ball-handler who would force a role change for Zach LaVine?Take a closer and there’s a path to Ball being on the board at No. 5. I wouldn’t classify it as a no-brainer pick if that happens. The Cavs would likely try to field offers, seeing if the New York Knicks, Washington Wizards or Phoenix Suns would be interested in moving up. Still, it would be tough seeing the Cavs pass — even though they have more pressing needs. Ball would bring size and playmaking to the backcourt.”"

To be clear, however, it still seems likely that Ball being off the board, given Givony’s report and Wiseman, Ball and Edwards’ seeming to be in the top tier for quite some time it appears, would be a reasonable outcome. So where would that leave the Cavs, then?

We’ll hit on the four prospects that’d seem to be well in-play for the Cavs here.

In that same Fedor mailbag, even after his comments about Ball, and Tyrese Haliburton a bit, he said, if the Ball/Edwards/Wiseman prospects aren’t there, the fifth pick he believes “will come down to, in no particular order, Avdija, Okongwu, Isaac Okoro or Obi Toppin.”

Furthermore, Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman, who reported as of Nov. 5, that Okongwu was set to meet with the Cavs this week, so seemingly this past week, hit on that pre-Okongwu visit, he’s “been hearing the Cavaliers would be choosing between Avdija, Obi Toppin and Isaac Okoro at No. 5.”

The Athletic‘s John Hollinger (subscription required), did state in a recent mock draft how he’s exclusively heard Toppin and Avdija in regards to the Cavs, and that Larry Nance Jr., to open things up for Toppin and/or Avdija, to an extent, he “could see” being traded.

Hollinger, whose a former NBA executive, then suggested that Nance could perhaps be moved to the Boston Celtics come draft night for their #14 selection and I’d assume salary filler, albeit given Nance’s growth in recent seasons, I wouldn’t expect that to happen. Hollinger did hit on how he’s heard to “keep an eye on” Toppin’s medicals, at any rate.

But, factoring in Givony’s report, along with Fedor’s thoughts and Wasserman’s update from a few days ago, it looks pretty likely that it’ll again come down to Deni, Onyeka, Isaac or Obi for the Wine and Gold. Frankly, I’d definitely be on-board with the first three, who could really aid the Cavaliers defense, whereas given major defensive concerns, I’d personally rather the Cavs pass on Toppin.

In relation to Avdija or Okoro, both could be better starting 3 options than Cedi Osman for the long-term, with Avdija projecting better defensively, and having notable pull-up and playmaking potential.

Okoro meanwhile is arguably the best defensive prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft, is very switchable defensively, and though the shooting concerns are there, which are with Avdija as well, Okoro is an elite finisher. He could be a good pick-and-roll playmaker for Cleveland, too.

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When projecting what could play out involving Okongwu if the Cavs selected him, he could be an impact defender, too, and he’s really switchable for a big on-ball if needed, also.

Okongwu needs to develop a perimeter game offensively, in the ideal sense, but his playmaking potential is particularly appealing, as is his post game/feel inside as a finisher/roller. And so was him averaging 2.7 blocks per contest in his lone collegiate season at USC.

In a backup role behind Andre Drummond it’d seem before a potential move of Drummond near the trade deadline (based on Fedor’s report), should he eventually opt into his $28.7 million player option, that could be crucial for Cleveland. We could see Okongwu in an expanded role eventually, too.

In Toppin’s case, the defensive concerns if needed on the perimeter at times are concerning, along with the defensive IQ issues, but Cleveland seems interested in him as a potential Kevin Love replacement long-term, if they were to trade him down the road.

Toppin could reportedly be more in-play factoring in Tristan Thompson potentially not being back/maybe not being around for multiple years, too, anyhow, though. And for more on TT’s upcoming unrestricted free agency/maybe coming back, you can view more reported details on that here.

Regardless, I do acknowledge that Toppin, who had 20.0 points per outing on 63.3 percent shooting, including hitting 39.0 percent of his 2.6 three-point attempts per game in 2019-20 and was the Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year, is a polished offensive player. And if he were able to develop into a viable rim protector down the road, that’d be a big plus for the Cavs, albeit I have my reservations about that.

Moreover, for the Cavs in the upcoming draft, while it’s not a certainty, it seems apparent that it could very well be one of Avdija, Okongwu, Okoro or Toppin for the Wine and Gold’s selection.

Next. 2 realistic expectations for Isaac Okoro if he's drafted by the Cavs. dark

But we’ll keep an eye out for more reports/rumors leading up to the 2020 NBA Draft set to commence next Wednesday.