Draft Watch: Underrated prospect the Cavaliers must consider at No. 20 this year

The Cleveland Cavaliers have the 20th overall pick in this year's NBA Draft.
California v USC
California v USC / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

The Cleveland Cavaliers need a big wing to fill out their forward rotation, and their answer could be hidden in the draft.

This year's NBA draft prospects are not projected to reach superstar status in their rookie seasons like Victor Wembanyama, Luka Doncic or other young stars across the league. Still, the older rookies entering the Association showcase versatile skillsets and experience that could allow them to impact winning immediately. Holding pick 20 in the draft this year, the Cavs should target a proven athlete who can fill a needed role in their wing rotation.

With Isaac Okoro's future in Cleveland at risk in restricted free agency, the Cavaliers may seek another two-way wing this offseason. Finding a combo forward with versatility to play at the three or four is an ideal target, as larger wings with impact on both sides of the court have become the most valuable commodity in the league. Every franchise is searching for a player of this mold in free agency and trades, but the Cavaliers are in a position in the draft to find the steal of the draft with a high-level role player from day one.

The perfect target for Cleveland is being ignored

In a recent mock draft by CBS Sports, college sharpshooter Tristan da Silva fell to the Cavaliers. With da Silva's recent surge in draft rankings, he may be selected ahead of Cleveland's turn. If the Cavs miss out on da Silva, California forward Jaylon Tyson could be an ideal option. Projected to be selected in the late- to early-second round, Tyson has gone unnoticed by many scouts and experts.

In his third collegiate season, Tyson averaged 19.6 points and 6.8 rebounds alongside 1.2 steals per game. He shot 36 percent from three-point range this year on 4.5 attempts per night, a slight dip from his 37.2 percent career average. Speaking on his offensive game, Sports Illustrated described Tyson as "Simply put, he’s a playmaker on that end. Tyson is a reliable 3-point shooter on decent volume, but still has room to grow as a perimeter shooter." SI noted that Tyson could struggle to shift his game to a smaller role in the NBA, but the volume shooter's Draft Combine interview suggests he is a team-oriented talent.

Tyson said he believes the most underrated element of his game is his defense, noting that he has the talent to be a positive defender in the modern league. His 6-foot 7-inches frame and athletic prowess complement his self-confidence. When asked about the players who molds his game after, Tyson named elite two-way wings rather than NBA superstars.

"I would say I take bits and pieces from a lot of players, because obviously we all play different. But, I would say going into the draft, I kind of sat there and thought about players I play like... and I said Caleb Martin and Josh Hart. Two versatile wings who do a little bit of everything."

Jaylon Tyson

Despite playing a major role with the California Golden Bears, Tyson realizes his path in the NBA sets him into the fold as a long-time elite wing. The mentality that players enter the draft with can determine much of their potential ceiling. Rather than suggest he views himself as the first option, he identified his ability to do a bit of everything needed to impact winning at a high level.

Tyson's body of work with California would bring attention from scouts as a definite lottery pick, but his prior two college seasons have casted doubts on his NBA potential. Prior to the Golden Bears, Tyson played his freshman season with the Texas Longhorns and his sophomore year with the Texas Tech Red Raiders. With three teams in three years, Tyson must rebuild his reputation in the right system. With California, the best version of Tyson was on display, but the possible regression is a cause for concern.

On his indecision on college commitment, Tyson said he needed to find his place. Once he found his place, he said he flourished in the Cal system. He recognized the question would need to be asked, both by reporters and prospective teams. He also stated he learned a lot about himself at both schools, and they gave him a chance to mature and develop his game because of all his experiences at every school.

Why the Cavs should target Tyson

The Cavaliers have numerous routes to attain another two-way wing this summer, whether it's the draft, trade or free agency. Cleveland's current depth and star talent led them to the second round of the playoffs already, but their lack of size and consistent shooting on the wing hampered their ceiling against the Boston Celtics. Taking a chance on Tyson in the draft could be worth the risk, betting on his potential to thrive in a healthy role and system.

With a rising payroll, the Cavs will quickly face luxury tax implications within the next few seasons. Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley are both eligible for a max extension this summer, and Darius Garland is already the highest paid member of the team. With the potential for three maximum players on the starting lineup, the Cavaliers need to prioritize team-friendly, controllable contracts going forward. Adding an NBA-ready prospect in this year's draft gives Cleveland an option at forward who helps with their salary cap.

Additionally, the Cavaliers are not entering the draft searching for a generational superstar. Similar to the Miami Heat last year with Jaime Jaquez, Jr., the Cavs need players who can compete on opening night and make an impact. Tyson projects to be that type of player, though he is unlikely to reach the heights Jaquez eclipsed immediately.

At pick 20, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in a low-pressure situation on draft night. They can prioritize impact and experience over high-risk potential selections. Given Tyson's proven two-way confidence and talent, the Cavaliers should consider him as an underrated steal option.

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