The NBA Playoffs are a white-hot forge that reveals the impurities of a team, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are staring theirs right in the face. Finding a high-end two-way wing to complete a closing lineup will be at the top of the list.
The Cavs aren’t going to solve that issue in the NBA Draft this season, however. Their first-round pick is heading to Indiana from the Caris LeVert deal, and they will enter June’s draft armed with only a second-round pick (from the Golden State Warriors). That’s the primary chip they have to add young, inexpensive talent to try and bolster their depth.
The Cleveland Cavaliers could use some help in the 2023 NBA Draft
No Ceilings provides some of the best NBA Draft content on the Internet, and they recently published the latest version of their 2023 NBA Mock Draft. Kris Murray, the high-octane scoring forward from Iowa, goes to Indiana with the pick that was originally Cleveland’s in the first round.
Who goes to the Cavaliers at pick No. 48? That would be Brandin Podziemski, a 6’5″ guard out of Santa Clara. If that school in the Western Coast Conference sounds familiar, it’s because it produced another wing in the draft last season: Jalen Williams, a Rookie of the Year finalist with the Oklahoma City Thunder who went No. 12 overall in 2022.
Podziemski is a very different player than Williams, but he could be a draft-day steal with pick No. 48. He averaged 19.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists as the best player on a middle-of-the-pack Santa Clara team.
His two biggest strengths are his rebounding and his shooting. He hit 43.8 percent of his 3-pointers last season, with a good-not-great free-throw percentage of 77.1 percent. He isn’t going to be a movement shooter in the NBA, but he has a much stronger likelihood of being able to space the floor as a spot-up shooter than Isaac Okoro does, for example.
The other strength to his game is his rebounding, which was simply astounding for a 6’5″ guard. The best comp for out-of-position rebounding in the league today would be…Josh Hart, the player currently roasting the Cavaliers on the glass. Podziemski would represent a shot at a similar impact player who can help address a weakness for the Cavs.
Podziemski’s fit on the Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers can use all of the wing depth they can get. The odds of a second-round pick stepping in and making an immediate impact are low, but it happens every year and Podziemski has a skillset that should translate to the NBA. In fact, it seems much more likely that he shoots up draft boards during the predraft process than that he is a complete bust in the NBA.
Podziemski can work his way into the wing rotation as a shooter and rebounder, but he will need to improve his defensive chops. If he can’t, he will find situational opportunities for a team with a strong defensive backline. If he can, suddenly he has a chance at becoming a fixture in the rotation and perhaps even a candidate for the starting spot at the 3, now or down the line.
The Cavs haven’t struck gold with their second-round picks lately, with a pair of draft-and-stash picks last season bracketing Isaiah Mobley. Before that, they went a few years without making a pick in the second, using them in trades for other purposes. Dean Wade and Lamar Stevens were undrafted finds that served a similar purpose in building out the bench.
Now the Cavs get to take another swing at adding a contributor in the draft, someone who can fill a role like Wade and push for something more. Brandin Podziemski seems like an interesting option with plenty of upside that addresses multiple needs this team has; it’s hard to do better than that at pick No. 48.