Draft Watch: What Minnesota's Cam Christie can bring to the Cavaliers

Should the Cavaliers select the Minnesota Golden Gopher wing in this year's draft?
Ohio State v Minnesota
Ohio State v Minnesota / David Berding/GettyImages

Just a few more days until the Atlanta Hawks are on the clock and the Cleveland Cavaliers name the next rookie to dawn the wine and gold.

The Hawks, who ended the 2023-24 season with a 36-46 record, won the No. 1 selection in the 2024 NBA Draft despite sporting a 3-percent chance to win the lottery. The Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs took the spots behind them, respectively. San Antonio won the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes in last year's draft, clearing the way for the French sensation to average a 21.4-point double-double and win the NBA's Rookie of the Year selection.

This year's draft class boasts a variety of talent from collegiate powerhouses, G-League Ignite and international teams alike, including two new French prospects in Perth Wildcats center Alex Sarr and JL Bourg forward Zaccharie Risacher. The NBA's most recent Consensus Mock Draft slated Risacher at No. 1 and Sarr at No. 2, followed by Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard, UConn guard Stephon Castle and G-League Ignite forward Matas Buzelis.

The Cleveland Cavaliers hold the No. 20 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. With just days before the Cavs are on the clock, recent NBA mock drafts have slated Pittsburgh guard Carlton Carrington at the No. 20 spot. A handful of CBS Sports mock drafts chose between a wide variety of shooting guards and forwards, along with Duke center Kyle Filipowski. Cleveland last owned a first-round pick in 2022, when they selected Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji before including him in the blockbuster deal that sent All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell to The Land.

The Cavs selected Eastern Michigan forward Emoni Bates with the No. 49 selection in last year's draft. The former five-star recruit split time between the Cavaliers and the Cleveland Charge, suiting up in 15 matchups for the Cavs and 27 for the Charge between the G-League regular season and its Winter Showcase. Bates followed up four selections in the 2022 NBA Draft. They included USC forward Isaiah Mobley, who was taken with the No. 49 selection before signing a two-way contract with the Cavs.

Should Cleveland select Minnesota guard Cam Christie with the No. 20 pick in this week's draft? What can he bring to the Cavs if they do?

The Basics

Cam Christie is a 6-foot-6 guard who played in one season with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The native of Arlington Heights, Christie was a four-star recruit in the high school class of 2023. He held offers from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue, USC, Virginia and Ohio State, among others, according to 247Sports. His brother, Max, played for one year with Michigan State before being selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Cam Christie announced his intent to enter the 2024 NBA Draft while keeping his eligibility in an April tweet.

Christie averaged 11.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in 33 games played for the Golden Gophers. He hit 40.3 percent of his shots from the field and 39.1 percent of his attempts from the three-point line. He took starting roles in 26 games last season, including his first start in a December win over Nebraska. The All-Big Ten Freshman Team selection earned a season-high 23 points during a 105-97 loss to Illinois in February, a game that saw Minnesota forward Dawson Garcia drop 29 points and Golden Gophers guard Elijah Hawkins rack up 12 assists.

The Cavs have 11 players under contract for the 2024-25 season, including seven listed guards, according to Spotrac. Mitchell, along with guards Caris LeVert and Sam Merrill, are all listed. LeVert, a decade-long NBA veteran for the Cavs, Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers, averaged 14 points and 5.1 assists in 68 games played and 10 starts for Cleveland during the 2023-24 season.

Perimeter shooting

On paper, Christie can fill at least a few gaps for the Cavs should they bring him aboard.

Christie is a willing and able shooter who can find open gaps as he patrols the perimeter for opportunities at the 3-point line. He hit 39.1 percent of his 179 three-point attempts, and 50 percent or more of his shots from beyond the line nine times during the 2023-24 season. He showed a willingness to shoot off the pick-and-pop and in catch-and-shoot situations during his first start of the regular season and two games after he scored 20 points against New Orleans. Even if Christie has to spend time in the G-League before contributing to the main roster, he would be a welcomed addition to a Charge squad that took 13th place in the G-League in three-point percentage between its regular season and Winter Showcase.

The Cavaliers hit 36.7 percent of their 36.8 three-point attempts per game during last year's regular season, putting them just ahead of the Sacramento Kings and behind the New York Knicks for 15th in the NBA. The figure was identical to their 2022-23 average, which saw them tie with the Pacers at 12th in the league. That number fell to 31.5 percent during Cleveland's 12 playoff matchups, putting them behind the Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks at 13th among postseason squads.

Wing defense

Christie was active in one-on-one defense on the perimeter. He continuously found ways to stick with his man when he defended off the ball but showed a willingness to switch to driving bigs when needed. His tendency to stick to his man on the perimeter can affect his leverage when trying to guard around screens and cuts to the basket, but is still a positive. While not a notable facilitator, he was trusted to bring the ball up to the halfcourt on multiple occasions and can make routine passes on the perimeter or when feeding bigs with their back to the basket.

Though they didn't reach their rankings of old, the Cavs still finished the regular season with a defensive rating of 112.1, good enough for seventh in the league. They placed eighth among teams in the playoffs with a rating of 111.1. Their opponents hit 37.1 percent of their three-point attempts during the regular season and 33.6 percent during the playoffs, putting them in 21st and sixth in the NBA and its postseason, respectively.

The Cavaliers were in a unique situation where they were able to take a safe swing for the fences by selecting Bates with the No. 49 pick last year. It may be best to go with a more established player at No. 20, one who could make more of an immediate impact with some of Cleveland's more proven younger options.

The Houston Rockets selected forward Cam Whitmore with the No. 20 selection in last year's draft. The former Villanova Wildcat averaged 12.3 points and hit 45.4% of his attempts from the floor as he played in 47 games and started in two. The Spurs took Malaki Branham, who has played in 141 games and started in 61 since he was drafted out of Ohio State, with the No. 20 pick the year before.

Should the Cleveland Cavaliers find the same level of production out of their No. 20 selection, it could strengthen a young core of players that features forward Evan Mobley, guard Darius Garland and guard Craig Porter Jr., who showed productive minutes during the 51 games he played for the Cavs last season.

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