2024 NBA Draft Watch: Cleveland Cavaliers' early shortlist of promising talents

NBA G League Fall Invitational - Perth Wildcats v G League Ignite
NBA G League Fall Invitational - Perth Wildcats v G League Ignite / Ethan Miller/GettyImages
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Draft Prospect No. 4 - Tyler Smith, G-League Ignite

Founded in 2020, the G-League Ignite opened an alternate path from collegiate programs to the NBA Draft within the United States and has already produced numerous talented players.

After a slow start to the season, Tyler Smith has emerged as a stretch four at 6-foot 11-inches. In their most recent 2024 mock draft, Bleacher Report named the 19-year-old forward as the Cavaliers' choice.

With the Ignite, Smith has shot 47.1 percent from deep, averaging 10.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 21.3 minutes per game. If the Cavaliers are looking for a rookie who can instantly join the nightly rotation, Smith's skillset as a two-way talent and floor spacing big is a clear favorite for the spot.

Smith has leapfrogged in B/R's mock drafts, ranking thirty-second in the previous publication. Bleacher Report praised Smith for his clean shooting form and size, noting his recent bounce back as the primary factor in his rise on the boards. At this rate, Smith could become a lock for the top 20 picks, meaning the Cavs may only have a shot at the stretch big if they remain in the lower half of the Eastern Conference's playoff contenders.

The Cavaliers already have invested in two tall post players in Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, but Smith offers a promising offensive game with more shooting versatility than either current Cavs bigs. Growing alongside Emoni Bates and Mobley as Cleveland's forwards of the future, Smith can add immediate value if he is available for the Cavs on draft night.

With the draft still months away, Cleveland will see these constant fluctuations in talent scouting continue. The 2024 NBA Draft will take place in New York City on June 27, giving the Cavaliers' scouts roughly six months to finalize their reports.

As the vast talent in the NBA grows, the chances of finding a gem in the later first round equally grow. This year's rookie pool might not be as hyped as 2023, but the Cavs should have confidence in finding a dependable talent within this year's class.