NBA Draft Targets: Cleveland Cavaliers
Goal for the 2019 NBA Draft
Entering the 2019 NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in year two of their rebuild, after Lebron James. Going into year two of the rebuild, they have a high draft pick coming off of a solid rookie year in Collin Sexton, but they also have a lot of veterans who need to be traded during the off-season. Although Sexton has his deficiencies, he had a fantastic stretch post-all-star break. Over the final two months of the season, Sexton poured in 20.8 points per game while shooting close to 50% from the field. The Cavs’ goal for the draft should be to add talent, plain and simple.
NBA Draft Targets
The Cavs have two first round picks and one of those cannot fall below the 6th pick. The second of their first-round picks comes from a trade with the Houston Rockets and will be a late first rounder. The only way they drop all the way to the 6th pick is if both the Cavs and the New York Knicks fall out of the top four during the lottery. Ideally, who would be the Cavs’ target at each draft slot?
First Pick – Zion Williamson, F, Duke
This is the most obvious choice in the NBA draft. The Cavs can’t possibly pull an Anthony Bennett with this pick. Zion is a remarkable athlete. What he can do athletically on a basketball court is otherworldly. He is a 6’6″ 280-pound freight train who is quicker and shiftier than most guards. Zion is not only an athlete though. The skill level Zion has shown at his size is unbelievable, but he is a player who can handle and distribute the basketball very well. His second jump ability on the offensive glass is as quick and explosive as there has ever been. For all the positives Zion has, he does need to improve on his jumper. If he does that, the league is in a world of trouble.
Second Pick – RJ Barrett, G, Duke
RJ Barrett is a do-everything combo guard. The fit next to Colin Sexton would be excellent. RJ Barrett will need to take over the role of distributor and allow Sexton to play off the ball. Sexton knocked down around 40% of his three-point attempts last season. Barrett can also match up on the defensive end with bigger shooting guards and which allows Sexton to take on the opposing lead guard. Barrett is a plus athlete who has excellent court vision and rebounds the ball very well. He needs to improve his jump shot, but that will come with time. Barrett should be priority number one for the Cavs if they fail to get the number one pick.
Third Pick – Ja Morant, G, Murray State
Some people have mentioned that Morant is Russell Westbrook 2.0. He has a high motor, is freakishly athletic, and distributes the basketball very well. The fit next to Sexton would be poor, but that shouldn’t come into the discussion when considering taking Morant as his talent level exceeds that of Sexton’s. When you are a bad team, you draft for talent, not need. Sexton showed he can be a very good player at this level, so he can likely be dealt for someone who fits well next to Morant.
Fourth Pick – Jarrett Culver, G, Texas Tech
Culver was magnificent in the NCAA tournament and nearly led the Red Raiders to a national title. He is a defensive machine. He is long, athletic, and always in the excellent defensive position. The thing that makes him so intriguing as a prospect is that he has the potential to be a superstar on offense. He can handle the rock, and he can really pass it. Culver does, however, need to build more consistency with his jumper. Once he works on more consistency, he will be a 20 point per game scorer without breaking a sweat.
Fifth Pick – Cam Reddish, G, Duke
This is a pick that either makes you look like a genius, or gets you fired if you’re Koby Altman. The upside is too much to pass up if the Cavs fall to the 5th pick. Cam Reddish has all the tools, every single one, except for the killer instinct that is required of a number one option. He can handle it, he can shoot it, and is very athletic. The problem with Reddish is he had a miserable season at Duke. The issue with Reddish is that he wasn’t used to being the third scoring option before joining Duke. It would be difficult to pass up on his potential in the draft.
Sixth Pick – DeAndre Hunter, F, Virginia
What an athletic specimen DeAndre Hunter is. This kid has defensive player of the year potential written all over him. He is not going to be someone who is going to get his own shot early in his career, but he has shown the ability to hit the three in college which means he will have that ability in the NBA. You can slide him into the starting small forward slot and move Cedi Osman to shooting guard from day one with the Cavs.
Late First Round Pick
Kevin Porter, G, USC
This is a bit of a risk but if Porter falls to the end of the first round, the Cavaliers should take him. Porter comes with a bit of a question mark regarding his maturity. He had a few incidents with USC head coach Andy Enfield. Porter’s skill outweighs the risk in the late first round. He is a lottery talent who can handle and score the rock. Porter has all the tools to be a 20 point per game scorer in the NBA if he matures.
COLUMBIA, SC – MARCH 24: Zion Williamson #1 and RJ Barrett #5 of the Duke Blue Devils walk off the court after their win over the UCF Knights in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament held at Colonial Life Arena on March 24, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)