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Mailbag: What should we make of Dylan Windler?

The Cavs remain high on the 2019 first-round pick.

[Dylan] windler actually a starting caliber wing? Find it hard to believe..seems like a better shooting version of cedi but who knows at this point. From Trevor B

Here’s a sliding doors moment to consider: Dylan Windler was probably ahead of Kevin Porter Jr. on the Cavs’ depth chart before he got hurt. Porter might have still played, but Windler was going to get minutes and Porter Jr. is the obvious person that would have had minutes cut as a result.

Anyway, I don’t know if Windler can be a starting caliber wing or even if he’ll be good right off the bat. Right now, he says is at about 90% capacity.

“It felt really good,” said Windler during a media session held during the Cavs’ recent workouts. “It’s what I’ve been doing my whole life and for that to be taken away for like a whole year, it’s hard. I feel pretty good about what I’ve been doing so far and the way my body’s feeling, just the way I’m able to still move. That’s definitely something you want to see.”

Windler has skills that are a) useful in the modern NBA and b) that the Cavs need. He’s going to be a plus-shooter at the NBA level — it would not shock me one bit if he shoots over 40% next season on decent volume. He also has some playmaking potential. His defense is by far the biggest question mark. Windler is also 24, so he’s going to be a much older rookie. There will also be a learning curve of some kind in him jumping from Belmont to the NBA.

Internally, the Cavs love him. When I spoke to J.B. Bickerstaff before the team’s in-market workouts started, he called compared getting Windler back like having a second-round pick. Cavs GM Koby Altman is a fan too.

“It was like, ‘Yeah, that’s the guy. I remember that guy,’” Altman said about seeing him on the court again. “He knows how to play. Super efficient. Can really shoot. He’s always around the ball. He hasn’t been hurt in his entire life, so it’s hard to be off that long. He’s excited to be back, doing his thing and when that silky smooth three-ball goes in we are doing little fist-bumps too. He still needs to get through this week healthy and his body needs to respond the right way and has to get to NBA games and compete there, but we’re excited about him.”

Windler has also said he can play some small ball four and eyes Joe Ingles as a player comparison for him. We’ll see about that, but they are at least interesting things to watch. I think to start next year, he’ll probably come off the bench. But I wouldn’t hate trying him out as the starting three and moving Cedi Osman to the bench.

As for the Osman part of the question: Osman is a solid NBA wing. He is a near 40% three-point shooter with some playmaking ability. Defensively, the Cavs believe he’ll look better when he doesn’t have to defend a ton of bigger wings/fours and the team isn’t. So if Windler is a better shooting version, that’s not at all a bad outcome.