Earlier this week, I wrote articles highlighting both Emoni Bates and Julian Strawther, and how both could potentially help the Cleveland Cavaliers next season. The 49th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft belongs to the Cavaliers, which is their only selection. Potentially, this pick could be traded. However, I will assume that this pick will stay belonging to the Cavs, just for the sake of this article.
Looking at both Bates and Strawther, they are both wing players. For this draft profile, I’ll be highlighting another wing, in Arkansas’ Jordan Walsh. The 6-foot-7 forward was the 17th-ranked recruit from 2022, but his production in college was not spectacular, so now he’s projected to be a second-round pick. He averaged 7.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game, having splits of 43.3/27.8/71.2, which is not the best to see. Sure, he only shot 6.0 shots per night, but the efficiency is still not what you’d like to see.
The selling point is his defense.
Walsh could end up being a great defensive addition for the Cavs, should they draft him next month.
He only averaged 1.1 steals per game, but his wingspan is 7-foot-3. Also, he does have a 41-inch vertical, showing off his incredible athleticism. Yes, he may not be a great scorer, and he might not even be that ever in the NBA. That said, his intangibles and athleticism should be able to keep him around in the NBA for many years, and those aspects of his game are crucial for his defense against opposing wings and forwards.
Why would the Cavs select Jordan Walsh? Well, the Cavs’ defensive rating was the best in the whole league, with a 109.9 rating. Walsh fits in to that, being a good perimeter stopper who can be impactful on the interior, too. The Cavs really don’t have a spectacular perimeter defender outside of Isaac Okoro, so Walsh could be a solid pick here.
There are some cons to his game that Cleveland would have to look out for, though. Obviously, scoring is not his strong suit. Perimeter shooting isn’t his forte, either, nor is playmaking isn’t a strength. However, he is still 19 years old, and won’t be 20 until March, so he still has room to grow.
One thing to note is that he played on a solid Arkansas team. Both Nick Smith Jr. and Anthony Black, two guards for the Razorbacks, are projected to be top 20 picks in the 2023 NBA Drafr. That’s important to look at because both players took a lot of shots, and averaged a good amount of points each. This means the ball was not going to be in the hands of Jordan Walsh as much as Smith Jr. and Black.
Funny enough, my player comparison for Jordan Walsh is Isaac Okoro. The playmaking, shooting, and scoring aren’t either Okoro’s or Walsh’s strong suit, but finishing and defense are their calling cards.
Looking at Okoro, he shot 28.6% from deep in his lone collegiate season at Auburn. But, he now is a respectable shooter from deep in the NBA, as he shot 36.3% from deep last season, albeit on low volume. Regardless, should be a good thing for Walsh, as it shows that he can also improve from outside within a few seasons.
As the NBA Draft draws nearer and nearer, I’ll have some more players to keep an eye on for the Cavs with their second-round pick. As for now, Jordan Walsh, who went to Cleveland in Tankathon’s latest mock draft, is a prime target for the Cavs in the second round.