Cavs 2021 NBA Draft: 3 ways prospect Jalen Johnson could help CLE

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

2021 NBA Draft prospect Jalen Johnson could be a name to watch for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers currently slotting in at #29 currently in Bleacher Report’s NBA Expert Power Rankings, it appears Cleveland may find themselves in lottery position again. After three straight lottery picks Cleveland has covered multiple positions. Left from there is the Cavs power forward and center, looking onward.

Thankfully, the upcoming class of rookies is seen as the best in years, in relation to the 2021 NBA Draft.

With that in mind, enter Jalen Johnson, the possible replacement for Kevin Love, when looking at the long-term. Johnson, a few weeks back, sat at #7 on the top 60 prospects to watch for the next draft according to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated.

As a brief note, Johnson is currently sidelined indefinitely with a foot injury, albeit he has shown promise early on for Duke, and still looking at the near future, he has the makings of a potential difference-maker for Cleveland.

Here, we’ll highlight three ways Johnson could help the Cavs if they were to draft him.

Let’s get started, beginning with #1.

#1: Johnson’s athleticism could really help the Cavs

Johnson will be a refreshing change from Kevin Love. The 6-foot-9 Duke product does everything with athleticism. Johnson, who has averaged 11.5 points in 23.8 minutes per outing, and has hit 61.5 percent of his two-point attempts, can handle the ball well, is a very good defensive rebounder (8.3 in total thus far on average) and can make things happen in the open floor.

His passing when he’s able to get out on the break/if he has ample room to operate could definitely make things for other Cavs easier, and/or in settled offense if he can continue to progress in that way.

But Johnson can be a player who is everywhere, doing some of everything, although his shooting does need work, admittedly. He’s a well-rounded player, though, and his athleticism consistently jumps out.

As Cleveland’s speed and game plan changes, Kevin Love, conversely, could lose value. Now, the lottery isn’t where Cleveland wants to be, but Jalen Johnson would be a pick to help avoid that spot looking at years to come, should the Cavs select him in the 2021 NBA Draft.

#2: Johnson could be an impact defender for the Cavs

Athleticism usually means defense. Johnson has already helped Duke change the way opposing teams try to score. Johnson has the makings of a potential impact defender for Cleveland, can effectively guard 3’s and 4’s, and has shown encouraging feel as a team defender/rotator.

Now, it’s been only four games, but him posting 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per outing in those to begin the season has been notable, and has helped Johnson seemingly gain some of a defensive label.

Cleveland can use two straight draft picks on a defensive player. Cleveland sees Blake Griffin, Domantas Sabonis, Lauri Markkanen and Giannis Antetokounmpo often, and potentially still could see all of them regularly looking onward.

Help with the Eastern Conferences’ top power forwards should most certainly be addressed. The Cavs have already seen Isaac Okoro’s defense look to have a good possibility of being able to translate, and more defense can be in the Cavs future in the draft.

#3: Johnson could help the Cavs’ culture

The Cavaliers have lost more and more from their championship roster each year, as Tristan Thompson is now on the Boston Celtics, for instance. The is hope is incoming players have talent to help re-establish a winning culture, of which guys like Collin Sexton, and Larry Nance Jr. are hoping to help build currently.

The will to win comes with winning and success in the past, too. Johnson’s resume shows winning then, now and in the future. And with him previously involved with Team USA, the Jordan Brand Classic, and now Duke, that could play out more. Granted, Duke will look to pick things up.

But Cleveland will be getting a guy that can help impact winning/aid Cleveland in potentially taking the next step.

Nonetheless, maybe down the road saying good bye to Kevin Love won’t be easy, should Cleveland eventually look to trade him. Getting a player like Jalen Johnson via the 2021 NBA Draft should bring the Cavs some relief to an exit of a Cleveland legend at some point in the near future.

If Love isn’t dealt following that point/soon after, though, Jalen Johnson can develop an incredible set of skills without pressure.

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

The next draft is a ways a way, in any case. So enjoy the Cleveland Cavaliers 2020-21 season, but keep an eye on Jalen Johnson.