Cleveland possesses two first-round picks in tonight’s draft, and with the future on the line, I believe these players provide the best impact alongside Collin Sexton.
The Cavaliers uncharacteristically were unable to win the 2019 Draft Lottery under this year’s new odds system, landing them at the 5-spot. And while many analysts consider this to be a two-or-three-player draft, there is a lot of lottery talent being overlooked. Here are three guys who I believe will be available when the Cavs are on the clock tonight and could immediately become integral pieces in the future of Cleveland:
Jarrett Culver, SG/SF, Texas Tech
Culver is the ultimate two-way player who led his team to a NCAA Tournament Finals appearance by scoring from all over the floor and using his length to smother opposing players on defense. He has proven to be able to create for himself or spot up for threes and knock them down consistently. Jarett Culver is a guy who gives you exactly what you expect, and a bit of stability is exactly what the young Cavaliers need.
Jarett Culver would be the ideal match for Collin Sexton, as he is lengthy enough to be a forward, but skilled enough to be a guard. His ability to play off others allows Sexton to drive and kick to Culver, and his defensive mindset creates one of the best, young, lockdown-defending backcourts in the league.
Coby White, PG, North Carolina
White is a guy who I overlooked as a prospect for Cleveland until I sat and considered the state of the league where running with two point guards on the floor is becoming more and more acceptable (and successful). He showcased his electrifying playstyle in his freshman season, knocking down threes from the parking lot and consistently beating his man off the dribble. He fits the mold of a modern NBA guard perfectly and plays with an admirable passion for the game.
Coby White could be the other half of a dangerous guard tandem in Cleveland with his killer mentality. He would fit in nicely alongside Collin Sexton by attracting a defender from well-beyond the 3-point line, allowing Sexton more catch-and-shoot opportunities. If Collin is able to polish off his jump shot, this duo can bring outstanding scoring, energy and overall success to Cleveland for years to come.
Sekou Doumbouya, PF, France
Doumbouya is another one of those international prospects with a tremendous upside and a big question mark over his head. He is the perfect size for a skilled big man in today’s game and provides the shooting ability and defensive mindset to fit the mold of a talented stretch-four. Sekou’s inexperience is, once again, a red flag- especially this high in the draft- but he is quickly climbing on draft boards and would bring a fresh, raw talent to The Land.
Sekou Doumbouya provides a young big man to pair with Collin Sexton and would excel in pick-and-pop situations, as well as driving from the wing. His ability to run in transition and switch ends quickly makes him a prime partner for Sexton who thrives in the open floor. If Doumbouya can live up to his potential, he and Collin Sexton could be the duo of the NBA’s small ball future.
There are rumors of Cleveland wanting to trade down in the draft in return for future assets. I, like most fans, would prefer to see the Cavs become exciting again as soon as possible with a top-5 talent, but I understand the logic of preparing for the years to come. With that being said, here are three guys who I believe could provide top talent with a lower pick:
Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina
Little is a name that surprised me at first with his lottery projection, as he was not nearly the college player he was expected to be. However, Nassir Little provides a 7-foot-1 wingspan in an athletic wing’s body. His intensity and ability to get to the basket have convinced me he might be the biggest sleeper in this draft.
Nassir Little would take a lot of the pressure off Collin Sexton to shoulder the load of getting to the basket in the half court, allowing Collin to play off Nassir’s ability to put his head down and score. He also provides an excellent target for alley oops in transition, bringing some much-needed excitement to Cleveland’s offense. Little’s length and quickness for such a big build make him an above-average defender capable of defending any position 2-5, which paired with Sexton’s passion for defense, can irritate offenses everywhere and spark some transition buckets.
Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
Clarke is the ultimate small ball candidate, as he is an elite rim protector and rebounder at only 6-foot-9. His athleticism also allows him to create opportunities for himself, but he plays best as a second option. Brandon is an intriguing talent who offers a huge upside and, at worst, can fill the role of the rim protector the Cavs have been searching for since before Lebron made his return to Cleveland.
Playing with Collin Sexton would be the best situation for Brandon Clarke, as he is a defensive anchor and provides the athleticism Cleveland needs. Collin could easily find Clarke on dump-off opportunities or posting up with smaller defenders switched onto him in the pick-and-roll. Collin Sexton’s pull-up jumper ability would create a sort of Steph Curry threat when creating his own shot while guarded by a big man. Clarke provides a new offensive option for the Cavs who lack heavily in depth of bigs.
Cameron Reddish, SG/SF, Duke
Reddish is a true hit or miss. He can be knockdown on the catch and shoot, which paired with his athleticism, could make him a dangerous slashing wing. His length also creates the potential for him to clog lanes defensively. If Cam can live up to his potential, he could be a steal towards the end of the lottery.
If Reddish can find a consistent jump shot, he could become a Robert Covington-esque 3-and-D player. He can spot up for open threes on drive-and-kicks from Collin Sexton, or hopefully create his own shots on the wing. Cam Reddish is not a guy who I believe will make a big impact in the league, but if Cleveland is trading down, he is someone I’d be confident taking a risk on.
Cleveland also owns the 26th pick in tonight’s draft (via Houston). It is rare to find a star player this late in the draft, but this is where role players are born. Here are two guys who could fill a role for the Cavs if they’re still available when Cleveland makes their second pick:
Nicolas Claxton, C, Georgia
Claxton impresses with his size and mobility. His ability to anchor a defense should not be overlooked by a Cavs team that needs just that. Claxton could be the rim protecting, dump-off scoring big man Cleveland is looking for.
Nicolas Claxton could provide solid minutes off the bench early in his career, as his size makes him an immediate factor. With a Clint Capela-type upside, Claxton would be a perfect roll man for Collin Sexton as he continues to improve his decision making. His offensive versatility along with his athleticism warrant a no-brainer to be picked if still on the board at 26.
Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland
Bruno Fernando out of Maryland is the definition of a big man. His stature reminds me of Deandre Ayton and his grit is rare in today’s players. The intensity he brings to the table and his ability to alter shots on the defensive end can provide an immediate impact.
Alongside Collin Sexton, Bruno could thrive in a pick-and-roll and use his big body to free up off-ball players. His ability to run in transition is unstoppable when paired with his size, which will create many more opportunities for the Cavs to get easy buckets. Bruno also makes defense easier just by being a physical presence in the paint. This is a role he can fill perfectly, and one the Cavs should not hesitate to invest in.
For more on the Cavs’ Draft – CLICK HERE