The 2023 NBA Draft is not one that’s going to lead to a ton of initial fireworks for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cleveland does not have a first-round pick in next month’s draft, as that selection is currently set to go to the Indiana Pacers, by way as part of the prior Caris LeVert trade. The Cavaliers are also largely devoid of first-round picks in several drafts in years ahead, because of the Donovan Mitchell trade with the Utah Jazz last offseason. In fairness, that deal did give Cleveland a phenomenal player who made Second Team All-NBA this season, and he’s one of the best scoring guards in the league.
Looking at the upcoming NBA Draft for the Cavaliers in this sense, though, they are still set to have a second-round pick, via the Golden State Warriors. That pick is slated to be No. 49 overall, and there’s seemingly a number of routes Cleveland could go with that selection on June 22.
Wing help is one area that’d be feasible, as would perimeter shooting, particularly some prospects that could theoretically be factors for both forward spots. From there, backup 5 could be sensible, or bringing in another lead guard for the bench to have for spurts.
In a recent mock draft from Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report post-lottery reveal, he had Cleveland going with a developmental forward to have possibly in the fold at No. 49 overall, in Tosan Evbuomwan.
The primary selling point for Evbuomwan in the 2023 NBA Draft are his point forward abilities, which could come in handy for the Cavs.
Evbuomwan emerged over the last two seasons with Princeton, and had 15.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in the 2022-23 campaign for the Tigers. In the season prior, he had 16.0 points and 6.7 boards per contest as well, and over his collegiate seasons with Princeton, shot 52.8 percent from the field.
As the aforementioned Wasserman pointed out, though, the key to a potential Evbuomwan selection would be a team trying to eventually unlock his playmaking acumen.
"“Evbuomwan caught eyes during the NCAA tournament, and one team is bound to see a worthwhile second-round gamble on a 6’8″, 4.9 assist-per-game forward who can facilitate and pass from different spots.”"
Evbuomwan often initiated as a passer for Princeton in the past two seasons, and has impressive feel for hitting cutters, can make sprayouts to shooters right to their shooting pocket in timely fashion, and is impactful with creating space with his dribble handoffs. He did a quality job of sensing when rotators were coming, and would make plays to move the ball out of that as well.
He had 5.1 assists per game in the 2021-22 campaign, to go with his 4.9 assists per contest this past season, of which Wasserman pointed out. Some of it had to with play style from plenty of clubs in the Ivy League, but Evbuomwan leading the Ivy in total assists the past two seasons was still quite the feat as a forward. He did lead the conference in total turnovers, however, the passing versatility did jump out, and his vision shouldn’t be glossed over.
His play in the tourney didn’t hurt his prospects, either, as he was the star for the Tigers in an improbable run to the Sweet 16. In the three tournament games, Evbuomwan had 16.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists per outing.
As for his scoring potential for the league, the 6-foot-7 Princeton product from England has a ways to go as a shooter, even with some glimpses as a deep threat last season.
On the plus side, he has nice touch as a finisher, has post-up skills and as a driver, and maybe down the road with the Cavaliers, he could be a point forward-type initiator in the rotation.
For a developmental draft selection, there could be something here for Cleveland with Evbuomwan as a multifaceted contributor, with nice defensive feel as well.
It’s evident this international prospect from England’s awareness, from a spacing, passing and team perspective could make him worth taking a chance on. The shooting questions are going to be there, though, and the Cavs have to be cognizant of that come next month’s draft. Cleveland does need to prioritize perimeter shooting help this offseason, clearly, and other Cavs are assuredly going to be involved at the 4, from a rotational sense, and Evan Mobley will likely still get the bulk of those minutes.