What to make of where Cavs were slotted in The Athletic’s tier rankings

The Cleveland Cavaliers have a nice amount of young talent that headlines their roster now and for several years into the future. Darius Garland and Evan Mobley are the two obvious names, but they have other good young prospects to be excited about going forward as well.

The Athletic (subscription required) came out with a piece that ranks NBA players in tiers, and they eventually counted down the rest of the list of the top 125 in the league, and again separated in tiers.

So, here, we’ll examine how the tier rankings went from The Athletic, when it comes to the Cavs.

After the year they had we figured Garland and Mobley in particular, but also, Jarrett Allen, would all make this list with how they ranked pretty high on top 25 and under players list as well. I was surprised that Collin Sexton wasn’t even able to make tier 5 A or 5 B, after making it in 5 A a year ago. I understand that Sexton missed most of last year and is coming off an injury, but he should still be on this list, in my opinion.

Sexton might not be the talent Garland or Mobley is, but he’s a very good basketball player, a dynamic scorer and what he’s done, from that aspect, shouldn’t get taken for granted. If the Cavs and Sexton do indeed come to an agreement on a contract extension, based on the numbers that have been rumored seemingly, it could very well be for a bargain and I think Sexton will outperform the contract based on his age as an improving player and his skill set.

The Cavaliers ended up with 3 players in 4 A in Garland, Mobley and Allen, where you can view the reasoning at the link above, via subscription. Allen made the leap from 5 A a year ago to 4 A this year. Allen was good his first year in Cleveland and at the end of his first year, he was awarded with a with a 5-year, $100 million contract. Some may have thought Allen was overpaid perhaps, however, that’s a situation where you needed to get him locked up long-term, and ideally, before restricted agency, as the Cavs did.

This past season it was clear Allen looked more comfortable in his offensive role, while he clearly looked laterally quicker and was very good being able to switch onto guards on the perimeter at times. Allen was a big part of the Cavs’ meteoric rise defensively and why for most of the season they were a top 5 defensive team.

Garland and Mobley were also in tier 4 A, but were grouped in with players like Fred VanVleet, Brandon Ingram, Scottie Barnes and Dejounte Murray. It seems like the lack of track record is why they were most likely put here from my view. For example Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was in the 3 B tier. I think SGA has more of a track record, but long term I would take Garland as I believe he just offers more upside.

This list seems more of a ranking off of track record right now rather than right now, while factoring in upside/projection. If we were factoring in upside and projection along with track record and based off last year I think you probably would’ve seen Garland and Mobley in the 2 C catergory, which featured Devin Booker, Rudy Gobert, Chris Paul, Paul George and Damian Lillard.

If you were starting a team you’d probably take both Mobley and Garland over all those guys. In the case of Lillard, CP3 and George age/upside, while in the case of Booker, I believe Garland and Mobley just have more upside than Booker, even as good as he is. Gobert is a perennial Defensive Player of the Year-type player who should help make the Minnesota Timberwolves a lot better in the regular season, but we’ve seen his flaws get exploited several years in the postseason.

I likely would’ve ranked Garland and Mobley, who was robbed of the Rookie of the Year, higher, although I can see what The Athletic was aiming for. It appears this was mostly a ranking based off track record and last season. In that scenario I understand why Garland and Mobley were ranked there.

The good news is most people are expecting big things from the Cavaliers next year. They should make the playoffs and you could see Garland/Mobley move up to the 2 B category, while it’s very possible with the way Allen played last year he continues to improve and you could see him in the 3 C category.

I’d expect a bounce-back year from Sexton and despite him not being on the list this year I believe he’ll be back on the list next year. The Cavs should at least see Garland, Mobley and Allen make appearances on this list for the foreseeable future.

It’ll be interesting if they can improve the needed areas in their games to make the type of leap they’re capable of.