The NBA Draft Lottery is quickly approaching and the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers pretty much depends on the results of the ping pong balls. The lottery is set for June 22, and it’s a bit difficult to think of a more important night in recent memory for the franchise.
The prize at the top is Cade Cunningham out of Oklahoma State, but there are also four pretty solid consolation prizes — according to most — for the teams that miss out on the top pick.
In this spin, the Cavs had some luck but didn’t quite reach the desired status of holding the first pick in the draft.
Cunningham obviously is selected by Detroit with the top selection, but after that, there are a number of franchise-changing players to choose from. Here’s how some of our staff members would pick.
Corey Walsh: It may not be the first pick but at least it isn’t the fifth. The fact of the matter is simply that the Cavs are in no position to get cute with their draft selection. We can’t pick out of positional need no matter how much Scottie Barnes tickles Koby Altman’s “gym rat” fetish or how much fun it would be to draft a third point guard in four drafts. The best player available outside of Cade Cunningham that could make an argument for the top spot is Evan Mobley. For positional sake, I’m slotting Mobley at power forward in a way that mirrors how Memphis uses Jaren Jackson Jr. Current chatter in Cleveland is that we have too many power forwards between Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr, and Dean Wade. The reality could very well be that we just have Wade on this roster if Koby activates the “win now” transaction that I’m fearing. Realistically it could be either Love or Nance heading is out the door, though that still leaves a gaping talent hole in the position-no offense, Dean. A towering seven-foot tree, Mobley will be a worthy addition to the Sexland forest with who Garland in particular can run the pick and roll with well. Mobley showed potential at USC to rim run pretty well off of the pick and roll. If you saw what the offense looked like for the Cavs when Garland and Jarrett Allen were cooking, Mobley should only expand their offense in pick and roll sets. Not a threat to clog the paint, Mobley won’t be an issue because his biggest offensive weakness is his post-game which won’t get in the way of Sexton or Jarrett Allen, who scored a majority of their points by attacking the rim. Mobley also looks to be a decent defender, especially in pick and rolls. When you watched him during March Madness you saw a lot of situations where the opposing team would bait him to switch onto guards and, despite his rail-like frame, the guards weren’t guaranteed an easy bucket. It also can’t be understated that the Cavs can certainly benefit from a constant presence at power forward. As the only player at the position who didn’t catch the injury bug the position was the people’s hero Dean Wade
Evan Dammarell: With the second pick the Cavs should take Southern California’s Evan Mobley. They should also trade Jarrett Allen immediately after selecting Mobley. More on that later but first let’s focus on Mobley. The former Trojan (big) man is a fast, agile, coordinated player with an advanced skill set and a ton of upside with a ton of playmaking intrigue as well. The combination of passing and awareness at his size is incredible and really valuable. Mobley can pass on the short roll and out of double teams and consistently finds an open teammate on the opposite wing. Unfortunately, he wasn’t surrounded by the most talented squad at USC so he averaged more potential assists than anything. With a few complimentary bucket getters like Collin Sexton at his side, look for Mobley to bolster the Cavs’ offensively.Defensively is where Mobley will also make an immediate impact as well. He has great timing as a shot-blocker, allowing the offensive player to jump first and playing with great positioning and rebounds well on both ends of the floor and does a good job of crashing the offensive glass. Mobley is also an aware off-ball defender who rapidly processes what’s happening on the floor. He can explode when changing directions or when leaping to alter shots, and he can close out onto the perimeter to contain shooters. In the paint, he is a crafty pick-and-roll defender who can drop, hedge, or switch. Most importantly, Mobley never fouls - which is rare for a collegiate big man and should translate well to the next level.The problem is, would the Cavs view Mobley more as a power forward or center? If they view him as the latter, and they should, that’s why they should trade Jarrett Allen on draft night. In theory, you could play Mobley and Allen together and no team would score in the paint on them. But, pairing Mobley alongside Allen can also hinder his development and really hold back reaching his potential of a Chris Bosh-like player. Ideally, the Cavs trade Allen on draft night so they can pick up some extra draft capital to help round out some of their glaring depth issues on the perimeter.There’s also the added bonus of having to not pay Allen in free agency as well. With so many uncertainties financially with the future of this roster, having Mobley on a rookie-scale contract instead of Allen making nearly $20 million annually would be a huge boost for Cleveland. Sure, they’re just kicking the can down the road for whenever they do extend Mobley. But, it gives general manager Koby Altman extra time to figure out what direction the team is headed towards.
Danny Cunningham: My answer is Evan Mobley here, but things aren’t always easy, are they? I think I first need to make the point that the Cavaliers have zero players on their roster that should preclude them from taking a certain position. I am also of the belief in that there is no need to zero in on a certain position because it’s a need when you’re selecting this high up in the draft, as the Cavs are.
With all that said, it’s a tough decision for me. Mobley could turn out to be a slightly lesser version of Anthony Davis, which would be a huge win for any franchise that can snag him in the draft. But I didn’t make this pick without thinking about selecting Jalen Green, either. He has the look of a future All-Star that can be the perimeter piece a team will build around for a long time.