Cavs draft: Deni Avdija to CLE in The Ringer, CBS Sports mocks jumps out

Deni Avdija of Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv looks on. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Deni Avdija of Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv looks on. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers are set to pick #5 in the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday, which will commence virtually.

At this juncture, the Cleveland Cavaliers are slated to pick #5 in Wednesday’s draft, and a few names we’ve consistently seen for the Cavs there have been Obi Toppin and Deni Avdija.

There’s been some instances in which Cleveland has gone with Isaac Okoro, but those haven’t been as often as of late, and more and more, it’s been Toppin from outlets such as CBS Sports, The Athletic, Bleacher Report, The Ringer and, for example.

A report from The Athletic‘s Jason Lloyd (subscription required), also was on-script with the Toppin-to-Cleveland likelihood.

In that report, Lloyd stated how he gets the sense that for the Cavs, it’s down to Avdija and Toppin, but that Cavs general manager Koby Altman is really high on Toppin. To me, that, and other mocks going with Toppin, made it seemingly increasingly likely Cleveland will draft Toppin to me.

That said, Tuesday mocks from The Ringer and CBS Sports going with Deni Avdija to the Cavaliers at #5 in the 2020 NBA Draft jumped out.

First, we’ll hit on what Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer stated for his rationale for Avdija to the Cavs.

"“Executives around the league believe Avdija won’t fall past the Cavaliers; they’re said to be high on the Israeli forward, who provides playmaking and defensive versatility. Avdija must improve his jumper, but he’s the most natural fit on a roster loaded with bigs and guards. If Avdija isn’t available, Dayton big man Obi Toppin could be the Cavs’ choice.”"

Next, we’ll note what CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger said involving his prediction of Deni to Cleveland, which echoed O’Connor’s sentiment, really.

"“The Cavs are in need of a facilitator since it seems Collin Sexton is more of a two-guard, and Avdija is a great passer and playmaker from the three or four spot. His shooting upside means he should be a great fit for Cleveland’s rebuilding efforts.”"

This projection of Avdija to the Cavs is an interesting development.

It’s interesting that these Tuesday mocks had Avdija going to Cleveland, and again, not Toppin, most notably. At this point, the draw for Avdija with the Cavs would be the playmaking capabilities, and him being capable of feasibly playing stretches both at the 3 and 4, although I’d imagine more so the 3 earlier on.

Now, as O’Connor alluded to, Avdija’s jumper needs to be more consistent for his near future outlook, and Avdija hitting only 58.8 percent of his free throws across all leagues in 2019-20 for Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv was a ghastly number. And Avdija hit just 27.7 percent of his three-point attempts in EuroLeague play, which was anything but exceptional.

However, on the bright side, Avdija did hit 35.3 percent of his three-point attempts in I-BSL play, in which he had a far more significant role and had 12.9 points per outing as compared to 4.0 per game in EuroLeague play.

Avdija had 2.7 assists in those I-BSL appearances, too, which though it doesn’t exactly jump out, it’s apparent that Avdija has a high ceiling as a creator for his teammates, such as would be in this case, Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and others.

In addition, it’s clear that Avdija projects as a very heady defender, and even if he’s not set to a lockdown guy on the wing, could I’d imagine even pretty early on, be a considerable upgrade over Cedi Osman as Cleveland’s starting 3. That’s factoring in better on-ball creation, more pull-up capability and Avdija being a legitimately viable point-forward type player.

Avdija could mesh particularly well with Cleveland’s young guards, as Ward-Henninger emphasized, and I’d think could open up plenty of easy looks for a variety of others such as Kevin Porter Jr. and Dylan Windler, additionally.

If Avdija were to be selected by the Cavs, though I’m not suggesting it’d happen soon, it’d seem that Cedi Osman could eventually be a potential trade candidate for Cleveland in a potential package, also.

And perhaps that could happen more so near the 2021 trade deadline, for example, of which it’d seem more realistic for Andre Drummond, who is exercising his $28.7 million player option, to be feasibly traded, of which you can view more about based on recent reports here.

Moreover, even with’s Chris Fedor (subscription required) mocking Obi Toppin to the Cavs in his latest mock, Fedor stating how if Deni were to be there, “he would likely be Cleveland’s pick” further proved how it seems Avdija now more so to me could be heading to Cleveland.

Fedor had the Chicago Bulls going with Avdija at #4, which I could very well see, although they are rumored to be very high on Patrick Williams, along with it still seems Deni. Chicago is reportedly looking for playmaking help, anyhow.

So to tie this together more, it seems more and more clear, based on reports, that it will likely come down to Toppin and Avdija, of which the latter I’d be on-board with, whereas although the offensive polish is there for Toppin, the defensive question marks are tough to look past.

That’s when you factor in the Cleveland Cavaliers have been last in defensive rating the past two seasons, and also, Toppin, although he had 20.0 points per game on 67.4 percent effective field goal shooting, is already 22.

Avdija, such as is also the case with Okoro and Onyeka Okongwu, is 19 and at #5 in the 2020 NBA Draft, that is a seller to me as well, especially considering Avdija, like those latter two, is such an intelligent player on both ends.

Lastly, while I’m a big fan of both Okoro and Okongwu, I’d rather Cleveland not potentially look to acquire another top 10 pick in this draft for them, and give up valuable trade pieces and/or future draft capital, seemingly, in the process. Per a report from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (subscription required), he noted in a mock how Cleveland could be looking to get back into the top 10 along with taking their #5 pick, in which he had them going with Toppin, and seemingly target Okoro or Okongwu.

Again, though, I’d rather Cleveland not do that; for what it’s worth, Okongwu went #3 to the Charlotte Hornets in both O’Connor and Ward-Henninger’s Tuesday mocks.

Overall, it’s an interesting development that Avdija went to the Cavaliers in these mocks from The Ringer and CBS Sports, and as a Cavs fan, to go with Fedor’s comments, that’s a plus. We’ll see what shakes out throughout Wednesday with mocks from there/alterations given rumors, etc.

Next. Cleveland Cavaliers: Top 15 draft picks in franchise history. dark

Maybe Cleveland could go with Okoro even at #5? Albeit that’s probably less likely.