NBA Draft Watch: Cleveland Cavaliers add puzzling wing in latest mock draft

The Ringer's latest 2024 NBA Mock Draft adds a flawed prospect to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
2021 NBA Draft
2021 NBA Draft / Arturo Holmes/GettyImages

Following the NBA Draft Lottery, Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer released his latest mock draft. While the Cleveland Cavaliers have been solidified at pick 20 in the first round, the potential prospects in the latter half of the round have fluctuated.

The 2024 Draft Lottery featured an unprecedented jump to the first overall selection for the Atlanta Hawks, entering the night with a three percent shot at the top choice. For the third year in a row, the Detroit Pistons suffered the worst fate of any team in the lottery, falling to the lowest possible slot given their record, this year at fifth. Atlanta's leap has put them in a position to snag the top option to this point, French big man Alex Sarr.

For the Cavaliers, this lottery's lack of star power is not a concern. As they build toward contention, Cleveland's purpose in the draft is to find an NBA-ready prospect who can produce sooner rather than later. Last year's draft featured Jaime Jaquez, Jr. to the Miami Heat, a 23-year-old forward who instantly impacted winning in Miami. While Jaquez was an older prospect, the Heat's intentions to win now made for a perfect pairing between the two parties. As the Cavs search for a final connecting piece to their championship hopes, following a similar path may be in their cards.

In O'Connor's latest piece, though, the Cavaliers select an unproven and unrefined forward, making for a confusing selection with numerous options behind him who fit Cleveland's needs better.

Should the Cavaliers take on an international project forward?

O'Connor suggested the Cavaliers select Serbian forward Nikola Djurisic from Mega Basket. At 6-foot 7-inches, Djurisic's physical profile fits the mold of a modern forward, but his on-court product leaves much to be desired. In O'Connor's "Pluses", he still notes the lack of consistency in the 20-year-old wing's shot, never finding a rhythm or reliable result.

His size, decent athleticism and flashes of NBA talent still make Djurisic a worthy prospect for many teams, but he likely would not help a team searching for consistent shooters and extra rebounding help. Despite improving their shooting depth last offseason, the Cavaliers continue to struggle to connect from deep in the postseason. They have also lost the rebounding battle far too often, surrendering more second-chance points than they would like. Going forward, Cleveland is sure to prioritize three-point consistency and positioning on the boards in both the draft and free agency.

Within a few years, Djurisic could develop into that mold of player, but the Cavaliers are not in a position to wait. The past few seasons, the Cavs waited to see 2020 draft pick Isaac Okoro add a shot from deep, seemingly leapfrogging his development when they added Donovan Mitchell to the mix in a 2022 blockbuster trade. Djurisic would face an identical problem, as O'Connor writes that "[Djurisic] has historically struggled from everywhere on the court despite fluid mechanics." This sort of unreliable and unpredictable value gives the Cavaliers too many question marks to take the risk.

Given that numerous forwards with a more refined game are selected after Djurisic in O'Connor's latest mock draft, including Bobi Klintman and Tyler Smith, the Cavaliers should likely pass on Djurisic. There are many athletic two-way players in this draft ready to be productive role players in year one. The Cavs will not find a perfect solution to their problems in a young rookie, as Klintman and Smith have their flaws, too. Still, Klintman's versatile defense, shot creation and scoring put him above his Serbian counterpart. Smith's time with the G-League Ignite has showcased an ideal floor spacing forward with this quick release, defensive switchability and athletic build.

When the Cavaliers are up to select on draft night, they must focus on plug-and-play talents. While they might stumble on a hidden star by taking a big swing, they are not in the position to develop that talent and would likely never fully realize that player's potential. Instead, they need to add a rookie who complements their two best players in Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley, providing another shooter who Mitchell can trust on a kick out and rebounder who Mobley can crash the boards with.

Nikola Djurisic is a talented young forward with a shot at a good career in the NBA. The league has seen a vast array of international talent from role players to superstars make their mark in recent years. For this year's draft, though, the Cavaliers need to look in another direction than Djurisic.

Next. Grade the Trade: Cavaliers add former No. 1 pick in bold proposal. Grade the Trade: Cavaliers add former No. 1 pick in bold proposal. dark