The Cleveland Cavaliers had a grand total of one draft pick this year, a byproduct of the Donovan Mitchell trade last offseason and Caris LeVert trade near the 2022 deadline. However, they struck gold with their second-round pick, selecting talented wing Emoni Bates out of Eastern Michigan.
Bates has loads of potential and while he doesn’t have the same Kevin Durant-level hype he had a couple of years ago, he still has all the tools to be a quality NBA player. The Cavs got one of the more talented players in the draft in the second round. That said, there were a couple of guys that were more NBA-ready than Bates that the Cavaliers should have looked at with a more serious eye.
The Cavs are ready to win now and should have added NBA-ready role players. Here are three prospects the Cavs shouldn’t have passed on in the 2023 NBA Draft. We’ll start with a sharpshooter from Gonzaga.
NBA Draft Prospect No. 1: Julian Strawther
Julian Strawther would have been the perfect fit for a Cavs team that is lacking shooters. For his career at Gonzaga, Strawther shot 38% from three-point range, including 41% this past season. Strawther is also a player with a lot of confidence, as evidenced by his game winner against UCLA in this year’s NCAA tournament. Strawther is also a player who could become a high level defender as well, specifically on the ball with his length, and he is at least active. He fits the mold of what could be the modern 3-and-D wing.
While he was off the board by the time the Cavs picked in the second round, he was selected at the end of the first round by the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets. The Cavs have a bevy of second-round picks at their disposal and the cost to trade into the back of the first round is not that costly. Heck, they did it four years ago when they traded four second-round picks to move up to No. 30 to take embattled guard Kevin Porter Jr.
A similar trade could have been enough to get a deal done and given that a player of Strawther’s caliber was available at the end of the first round, the Cavaliers should have taken a swing. He’s an older player that can help a win-now team and his skill set would have been a perfect fit for the Cavs and they should’ve been more aggressive there.