NBA Draft: Is Jonathan Kuminga a better fit than Evan Mobley for Cavs?

G League Ignite wing Jonathan Kuminga drives. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
G League Ignite wing Jonathan Kuminga drives. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Heading into the 2020-2021 NBA Season, Jonathan Kuminga was in the conversation for the first overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft.

However, after forgoing college and opting to enter the G League, he did not impress scouts nearly enough on the offensive side of the ball. In contrast, on defense he is still viewed as probably the best defensive prospect, because of his versatility.

There’s no doubt that Kuminga did not shoot well in the G League, but that shouldn’t necessarily mean he isn’t worthy of a top four pick. In a previous article, I wrote about how the Cleveland Cavaliers might be interested in moving back in the draft to get more overall talent. In that scenario, the Cavs give up the third pick to Orlando for their fifth and eighth picks.

While most people do expect Kuminga to be a top-five pick, his stock has declined in the last couple of months it seems. That said, if you take a closer look at Kuminga, he may be a better fit with the Cavaliers roster than any other top-six prospect.

Kuminga could possibly have the highest ceiling of any prospect in the draft, too, and the Cavs should factor that in.

While other pundits and scouts have kind of moved on from Kuminga, I’ve taken a closer look at him in the past couple of days. He is clearly the most athletic player on the court when he steps on the hardwood. On top of that, like I said previously, he’s a multi-positional defender, and a plus one at that.

Standing at 6-foot-8 (with shoes) with a 7-foot wingspan, he’s built like a modern-day defensive stopper. On top of that he’s an above average rebounder. From what I’ve seen, his playmaking ability is underrated and could blossom with the right fit.

Yes, Kuminga has the look of an athletic specimen, but his shooting in the G League was downright bad. For the G League Ignite, he shot under 40 percent from the field, and was even worse from deep, connecting on only 25 percent of his three-point attempts. His shot has promise, there’s no doubt about that.

As a team looking to select him in the 2021 NBA Draft, you would be drafting him for his defense, and in the hope that his shooting comes along (which I think it will).

Mobley would be an odd fit with the Cavs, considering he’s a natural center.

Kuminga on the other hand would be perfect for this role. As a guy who needs to improve his shooting and overall offensive game, bringing him off the bench would benefit him greatly. With the second unit, he wouldn’t be asked to do the bulk of the scoring. He would also be a great glue-guy with the second or first unit.

With the Cavaliers having such a small backcourt, he could be brought in to shut down another star wing. With Kuminga, there are people out there who actually think he’s already a better rebounder than Evan Mobley. I wouldn’t go that far, but he would be able to clean the glass easily off the bench.

By drafting Kuminga, you would give Isaac Okoro another year to grow, in the starting lineup. The thought of having a 3-4 combination of Okoro and Kuminga is a dream for the Cavs. Even the best scorers in the league would have trouble with either one of those two guarding them.

Now, if the Cavaliers decide to trade back with Orlando, and receive the fifth and eighth pick, you can add another great scorer with the eighth pick.

I know I mentioned it in the previous article we discussed involving a trade down scenario with Orlando, but I’m incredibly high on Moses Moody out of Arkansas. He’s a scoring threat from anywhere on the court, and has the athletic build to be a great two-way player in the NBA. Most have him compared to Allan Houston, but I think Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns is a better comparison.

Moody has a wild 7-foot wingspan, and could develop into more than just a 3-and-D player. Personally, I also like Josh Giddey and Corey Kispert if the Cavaliers do potentially trade back. If Giddey can reach his potential he could be a better shooting version of Ben Simmons.

With Kispert on the other hand, you know exactly what you’re getting with him. He’s a top notch shooter, and that will almost certainly translate into the NBA, as KJG’s John Suchan previously highlighted, too. Finally, if these playoffs have showed us anything, shooting is pretty important in the game of basketball (What’s up, Philly?).

Overall, the safer choice for the Cavs is to go with Mobley or Green if they are on the board, but don’t sleep on Kuminga.

Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green and Cade Cunningham have long been thought of as the tier one of this draft class. Even so, I would push to put Kuminga in there as well. In all honesty, he’s just a better fit with the Cavaliers than Mobley.

With Mobley, the Cavs will try and feed him as much as possible, and I would think the offense would kind of go through him to a large degree. With Kuminga, he doesn’t need to be fed the ball, he can score on his own, or put someone else in position to score.

Next. 2 realistic expectations for potential Kuminga pick by Cavs. dark

Like I said, Mobley is the safer choice, but I wouldn’t forget about Kuminga.