Initial thoughts regarding Cavs’ 2nd-round selections in 2022 NBA Draft

Isaiah Mobley, USC Trojans. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Isaiah Mobley, USC Trojans. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

On Thursday night, the 2022 NBA Draft has been underway, and heading into the night, the Cleveland Cavaliers were slated to have three selections. The first pick was set to be at the end of the lottery at #14, and the Cavaliers were set to have the 39th and 56th overall selections in the second round. They then would have four selections.

They did also acquire the #49 selection in a trade earlier on Thursday in a deal where they traded the rights to Sasha Vezenkov, who was the 57th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and has been playing overseas still since, to the Sacramento Kings. That was per a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Cleveland also included $1.75 million in the deal, per a report from Chris Fedor of

It appeared that Cleveland could go a number of ways with their #14 pick, with Malaki Branham, Ochai Agbaji, Tari Eason, Jeremy Sochan, Ousmane Dieng, Dyson Daniels and Jalen Williams looking to be potential targets. Cleveland reportedly had been receiving offers, and it had been rumored that the team could potentially trade down if a future first-round pick were to be involved in a deal, too.

Although, the Cavaliers did ultimately make that #14 selection, which ended up being the aforementioned 6-foot-5 Agbaji.

Agbaji is not a player I’d think would have a significant role initially for Cleveland, but he could gradually come along and some time into the season, he should receive rotational minutes and has improved as a catch-and-shoot player over the course of a four-year collegiate career at Kansas. He hit 40.7 percent from three on 6.5 attempts per contest in 2021-22 and had a decorated senior season.

So how about the second-round guys the Cavs selected, then?

Looking past Agbaji in this sense, we’ll take a look at the second-rounders for Cleveland.

Pick #39: Khalifa Diop

When it comes to the second-round selections for the Cavaliers, they ended up going with 5 man Khalifa Diop at #39, an international prospect who played for Gran Canaria of Liga ACB in Spain.

Diop is a developmental player that had 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 16.0 minutes per contest in Liga ACB play, which were not the most gaudy numbers. But as a young international prospect, there’s traits Diop possesses that can help the Cavs down the road, namely on the interior on both ends. He’s a more than capable lob threat and rim runner, there’s just plenty of improvement that’ll be needed aside from that on offense.

There could be more untapped from the 20-year-old Diop in the near future, we’ll have to see. He is a player that can finish with power on the interior, can rebound the ball, runs the floor really well and has rim protection qualities that are always valuable. He is a guy that can potentially fill a backup role at the 5 for stretches eventually, it will just take more time for him to develop.

His 7-foot, 250-pound frame is a plus as well, if he can find ways to show growth offensively, especially if he can finetune things more, overseas as a stash prospect. Fedor then reported that Diop will be stashed, for reference, so he won’t count as a rostered player for 2022-23.

After Diop, Cleveland then went with another Mobley pick…as in Evan Mobley’s brother, Isaiah.

Pick #49: Isaiah Mobley

The low-hanging fruit here is that Isaiah Mobley is again, Evan’s brother. Is the dude going to be another Evan-type player for the Cavaliers? Well, no.

Isaiah Mobley is a skilled prospect, sure, and after returning for his junior season last year at USC, where he was in more of a featured role, he showed improvement with his perimeter stroke from three. He connected on 35.2 percent of his 3.8 three-point attempts in 2021-22, and tacked on 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per outing, all of which clearly were his bests with the Trojans.

Isaiah is not nearly the finisher of Evan, though, and there’s not the same athleticism, nor fluidity defensively. He is an adept passer, and is a high IQ defender that can alter his share of shots and rebound, however, and just as is the case with Evan, I don’t ever discount his passing traits.

That being said, with the 6-foot-10 Isaiah Mobley, generally, he is a player that was one of the factors for USC in the past two seasons, and did show further progression last season offensively. As far as a potential role, perhaps we’ll see him receive spot minutes at the 5 and/or some at the 4 if the shot continues to get better.

I wouldn’t think that Mobley, who will be 23 in September, is a guy that could realistically be playing over Dean Wade, in the event Wade is back, by comparison, for rotational 4 minutes. Maybe Isaiah plays some with Evan and/or Lauri Markkanen; we’ll see. One would assume Isaiah will play his share of minutes with the Cavaliers’ G League affiliate, the Cleveland Charge, in any case.

And lastly, regarding Cleveland’s fourth and final selection in the 2022 NBA Draft, they ended up with Luke Travers, a 6-foot-8 guard/point-forward-type from the Perth Wildcats of Australia’s NBL.

Pick #56: Luke Travers

With Travers, this is another guy that’s realistically going to be another developmental player for Cleveland that could be a rotational player in the near future. Travers is not a dude that’s gotten the same pub as some other international prospects, and his shooting, as evidenced by a 25.0 percent three-point shooting clip this past season, needs work.

Travers is a player that could be a rotational point-forward-type guy if he can put things together, though, and I do get the Cavs’ reasoning for taking him in that sense, and per a report from Fedor, he did workout for Cleveland in the pre-draft process.

Travers had 7.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per outing for Perth in 27 NBL games in 2021-22, and he isn’t quite 21 yet, while getting gradually more play with Perth over the last two seasons.

But, in fairness, with this Travers selection, objectively, it wasn’t shocking that per that report from Fedor, Travers will likely keep playing and developing in the NBL. One couldn’t foresee him getting legit play with the Cavaliers normally in the next year or two.

I could be wrong of course, though.

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Anyhow, generally speaking, the real contributor, one would assume, for Cleveland out of this draft for this upcoming season is Agbaji. Time will tell with the others.