Cavs 2021 NBA Draft: Corey Kispert’s potential fit with CLE

Gonzaga Bulldogs wing Corey Kispert shoots the ball. (Photo by Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)
Gonzaga Bulldogs wing Corey Kispert shoots the ball. (Photo by Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers were without that inside-outside game that most good basketball teams in the NBA need to be successful. The team was at the bottom of most NBA team rankings in shooting three-pointers this past season, ranking dead last in three point percentage and 29th in makes.

If the Cavs want to improve in this department, via the 2021 NBA Draft coming up, then they may want to dial in on Gonzaga’s guard Corey Kispert, a three-point sharpshooter.

Kispert would provide the Cavs with a knockdown shooter come the draft.

Locking in on Kispert would immediately give the Wine and Gold a reliable three-point shooter and help the offense overall, by spreading the team out on the floor and making defenses in the league respect the Cavs more on the offensive end.

Kispert played four years at Gonzaga, an oddity, in this day and age, where many players only suit up for a year or two in college before entering the NBA. With that experience, Kispert brings a savvier and more knowledgeable component to the game.

Kispert averaged 19 points this past season. In his senior campaign, he shot 53 percent from the floor and an impressive 44 percent from three point land. Moreover, what really stands out about Kispert’s numbers are his consistencies from game to game.

He’d usually shoot 12-15 shots a game, and he scored 12 or more points in all but one game all season long. And boy, did he shoot three-pointers, getting up 207 three-point shots, connecting on 91 this past season.

The Cavs are in desperate need of a good shooter and Kispert would fit the bill. He’s a very good catch-and-shoot player and can get his threes off screens as well. His release is quick, and with his size standing at 6-foot-7, he doesn’t risk his shot being disrupted much.

The last season or two, the Cavaliers’ three-point game has pretty much centered on forward Kevin Love, when healthy.

By selecting Kispert in the 2021 NBA Draft, Cleveland would have a much younger and steady presence in three-point land. Cavs players like guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland would have more opportunities to get to the paint and score because opposing team defenses would have to respect the three-point accuracy of Kispert.

Watching Kispert’s highlight reals also reminds me of a former Cav, who played back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and had a similar game, that being one Craig Ehlo. Ehlo, who also played out in the great Northwest at Washington State, was 6-foot-6 and developed a game where he was a pretty good three-point shooter but could also get to the basket off cuts and overplays by the defense.

Kispert has the three-point shot with that quick release. He’s also developing a nice game of cuts and back cuts to get open to make shots around the rim.

Kispert doesn’t have the ceiling to get a ton better but he does have a high basketball IQ and could help Cleveland in a notable way from the getgo; he’s reportedly a hard worker, too, for what it’s worth. That all suggests a long career in the league where shooting accuracy is important and hard work and desire also matters.

Kispert is a decent defender but might not have the footwork or lateral quickness that a few other draft prospects have. He did poke away 29 steals this past season, though. But he was, at times, slow to get back on the ball when helping on defense and slow to react to some backside of floor action.

Albeit more times than not, with that 6-foot-7 frame, he was at least able to mess up a shot or two of his opponent as they would try and score. What Kispert lacks in lateral quickness, he makes up for in the basics of sound defensive positioning.

Will that lack of quickness on defense hurt him in the NBA? It might, but the upside he’d bring on the offensive side of the ball would outweigh that.

When I consider the two 2021 NBA Draft prospects I’ve covered in-depth in relation to the team to this point, Kispert and Scottie Barnes out of Florida State, I’m trying to decide which is more important for the Cavs right now, defense or three-point efficiency?

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I’d lean to defense and take Barnes, but if he’s gone and off the draft board, then I’d take the wing in Kispert. The Cavs need three-point shooting to succeed next season and Kispert would certainly help them in that department.