No. 8 pick in 2018 Draft: Mikal Bridges, Villanova (10)
Original Pick: Collin Sexton
In 2018 the Cleveland Cavaliers technically didn’t know whether LeBron James was staying or leaving, but the writing was on the wall. Instead of trying to flip the No. 8 pick — originally Brooklyn’s, then routed to the Cavs via the Boston Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade — they held onto it and drafted Collin Sexton.
Sexton has had his moments, and everyone seems to love his competitive fire, but it became clear fairly quickly that he was more of a floor-raiser than a ceiling elevator. We’ll discuss it more in just a moment, but the Cavs’ decision to draft another point guard over Sexton the following season was bold and the correct move. Sexton was traded to the Utah Jazz last summer.
What if the Cavaliers had drafted Mikal Bridges instead? The late lottery in 2018 was absolutely loaded, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michael Porter Jr. going a few picks after Sexton, and players such as Jalen Brunson and Mitchell Robinson going in the second round. Here we’ll give the Cavs Bridges to jumpstart their young core on the wing.
Bridges has been one of the very best wing defenders in the league since he was drafted, and year over year he has improved his offensive game as well. Since he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets at this year’s Trade Deadline he has blossomed even further into an on-ball star, and he should be a pillar in Brooklyn for years to come.
The Cavs could have drafted the best 3-and-D player in the league and a player with plenty of upside as well.