Dylan Windler is probably not a player that’s been on the minds of Cleveland Cavaliers fans much as we get into June here.
The 2022-23 season was one where Windler was barely involved at all. He was active in only three games, mostly because of an ankle ailment, and it was not as if he was going to be a playoff contributor for Cleveland. Unfortunately for Windler, his lack of availability has been the common theme for his time with the Cavaliers.
Windler was more involved in the 2021-22 campaign, in which he made 50 appearances, and was able to aid Cleveland’s defensive efforts. There were less shooting flashes than in the season prior in rotational minutes, though, and this now-past season was frustrating because he again missed out on opportunities for developmental chances.
Windler could end up being a restricted free agent this offseason if the Cavaliers extend him a qualifying offer for roughly $6 million, but with the injury concerns with him, that might not be that realistic. If a QO does not come for Windler from the Cavs, he’d be an unrestricted free agent.
Either way, is there an argument to be made for Windler to have one more shot with the Cavs?
There’s been some encouraging moments from Windler at times with Cleveland, where he has demonstrated some of why he could possibly be a knockdown shooter for years to come for the Cavaliers. In his de facto rookie campaign in the 2020-21 season, in particular, those moments were there from him, in Windler’s 16.5 minutes per contest in that season.
Windler’s timely cutting and finishing abilities as an off-ball contributor in countering hard closeouts were as well, which led to him connecting on 58.5 percent of his two-point looks that year.
Additionally, Windler has more than held his own defensively in his rotational minutes, with competent positioning on the perimeter for the most part, and he’s proven himself to be an impactful helper.
Windler’s active hands and length with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, despite being on the thinner side, have made a difference in his chances. For a rotational wing, Windler averaging 7.2 rebounds per-36 minutes in his tenure in the league thus far has been impressive.
The problem is, while it’s hardly a shocking revelation, the lack of availability for Windler has limited him, and the knockdown shooting potential has unfortunately not materialized often over his time with Cleveland.
In his first two seasons, even with the COVID-19-shortened seasons for the NBA, Windler appeared in 31 games in total. His formal rookie year was wiped out due to a stress reaction in his lower leg, and in the 2020-21 campaign, his season was cut short because of surgery to address knee tendinopathy concerns.
Then, as we touched on, in the 2021-22 campaign, Windler was involved in 50 games and was healthy mostly, but he didn’t seem to have the same confidence as a shooter, albeit in less minutes on average. He’s had an underwhelming 32.2 percent three-point hit rate in his time with the Cavs, and just had been healthy nearly enough to establish a consistent rhythm.
So, realistically, given the injury concerns with Windler, and with a number of others involved, whether or not Caris LeVert is back, it wouldn’t seem sensible for Windler to be back next season, let alone being extended a qualifying offer.
Windler could potentially find a role in the NBA, however, that’s not likely with the Cavaliers.
KJG’s Josh Cornelissen didn’t anticipate Windler would be playing with the Cavs in the 2023-24 season back even prior to this now-past season. He was on-point with that prediction, as it pertains to Windler, who will turn 27 in September.