Cleveland Cavaliers: Dylan Windler must prove himself in 2021-22

Cleveland Cavaliers wing Dylan Windler shoots the ball. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers wing Dylan Windler shoots the ball. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

To this point, we have not seen much of Dylan Windler in action through his first two seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Windler missed all of what was formally his first year because of complicaations involved with a stress reaction in his lower left leg, for one.

Then in his second season, he did get in some outings and did show positive signs in his 31 games active. The problem was, Windler fractured his fourth metacarpal on his left hand in his first game, leading to a stretch of absences, and then he would then miss the last 27 games of the campaign later on due to what was first designated as knee soreness.

Windler was eventually shut down in late April though, and had left knee surgery to “address ongoing patella tendinopathy concerns.” He’s reportedly expected to not be available for Summer League, for further context.

Needless to say, after not having dealt with injuries really in college in a four-year career at Belmont, Windler has simply not been able to be well…available for Cleveland. That’s been very unfortunate for him, and the team.

But when he was in action last season, he did do some nice things game-to-game generally. Windler’s defensive feel jumped out, and his defensive positioning/timing as an off-ball player led to a notable 2.1 percent block rate, and his 1.3 steals per-36 minutes were nothing to sneeze at for a rotational wing.

Additionally, Windler’s cutting timing/movement off-ball and his finishing were positives, as were his 7.5 rebounds per-36 minutes.

Albeit what was fairly underwhelming from him was the perimeter shooting aspect, which was realistically the key reason why Cleveland ended up drafting Windler in 2019.

The injuries/lack of rhythm seemingly as a result didn’t do him any favors, but a 33.8 percent hit rate from three-point range wasn’t great. And in his last 11 games active, he hit just 16.7 percent from deep and that likely led to him only playing 12.4 minutes per outing in that stretch.

Next season, it’s evident that he needs to show more as a perimeter shooter/viable offensive player game-to-game, putting it plainly.

Windler must prove himself in 2021-22 for the Cavs.

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Windler’s 5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game were okay as a rotational 2/3, but he’s going to need to prove himself to be a quality catch-and-shoot threat/meaningful floor spacer for Cleveland.

The perimeter shooting from Windler had its ups and downs, which was understandable, given the injuries Windler has had to endure. He hasn’t been able to get into a rhythm consistently enough to truly establish himself when he’s been available.

Next season though, and I’d think pretty early on, Windler has to show what he’s capable of, in relation to the deep shooting off-the-catch via spot-ups off of ball-swings and off movement.

Windler again had flashes showing his deep range and touch/effectiveness from downtown, and if he can show that more earlier on in Year 3, it should lead to his share of rotational minutes. Of course, the likes of Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman/Taurean Prince and potentially another wing draft pick or free agent target factor into things, as an aside.

Osman and Prince were previously mentioned in trade rumors before the past deadline, however, so perhaps Prince and Osman, and Osman more so in this case, could be dealt at some point or Windler could cut well into Cedi’s minutes maybe.

Prince, when healthier, was a capable shot creator/shooter for Cleveland last season, though, and could still play minutes alongside Windler; maybe we’ll see that with some involving Cedi too, anyhow.

In any case, it’s seemingly paramount that Dylan proves himself to be a quality shooting presence for Cleveland on the perimeter in his minutes/looks to find his rhythm. On the plus side, he hit 40.6 percent of his 534 career three-point attempts at Belmont, so the capability I believe is there for him to do that, which would be impactful for the Cavs.

That said, for Dylan, he’ll need to be able to stay mostly healthy, clearly, and hopefully he can be ready to go for preseason, ideally, and I’d imagine he will. Albeit that needs to be the case for an elongated period, and Windler’s thinner 196-pound frame must hold up.

But overall, it’s apparent that in his third season, and really in the early stages of it one would think, Windler will need to demonstrate he’s a pretty reliable catch-and-shoot/three-point shooting threat.

Point being, he’ll need to prove himself in that way to have a real shot at sticking around in coming years; fortunately I do think he’s more than capable of doing so, provided he can get his chances, of which I do believe he will.

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We’ll ultimately have to see how things play out, though.