The Cleveland Cavaliers will make the fifth overall selection in the NBA Draft for the second straight year. Despite being one of three teams tied for the best odds at 14% to land the first pick, Cleveland slipped down to fifth. The other two teams with those odds, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors, will pick first and second. This draft class is drastically different than last year’s. There is no slam-dunk number one choice. Whereas Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett were a clear second and third in 2019, there is no such hierarchy in 2020. The Cavs are in a perplexing position. They are in a clear rebuild and finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference but still have two all-star veterans on the team in Kevin Love and Andre Drummond. The Wine and Gold has spent its last two top-10 picks on ball-dominant guards. Simply put, the Cavs need talent. This draft class isn’t the deepest but there will still be solid choices for the Cavs once they’re on the clock. With that being the case, some potential options for the Cavaliers to consider are below:
The 6’9 Junior from the University of Dayton won the Naismith and Wooden Awards this past season. He is an electric above-the-rim finisher and led the NCAA in dunks. Toppin averaged an even twenty points to go with seven and a half rebounds and over a block per game. His 7’2 wingspan provides benefits on both sides of the court. Toppin does not rely solely on his eye-popping athleticism. He can dominate in the low post and even shoots the three-ball at a 39% clip. Toppin’s skill set would be an instant fit with the Cavs. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to have an impact on offense and can score from anywhere on the floor. Toppin would be an ideal pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop partner for both Colin Sexton and Darius Garland. The attention Toppin would garner opens up space for the guards. Another tantalizing idea to consider is a blink-and-miss-it transition offense featuring Sexton and Toppin. With the two guard spots seemingly addressed for this season and two former all-stars at the four and five spots, the small forward position is the odd one out on a team that needs to amass talent. Toppin would slide right into that spot and compliment the other four starters’ skill sets immediately.
The 19-year-old is the polar opposite of Toppin in terms of notoriety. In terms of ability and skills, he should be a high lottery pick. Avdija is 6’9 but can handle and shoot like a guard. He is everything a team could want in a wing player in today’s NBA. Avdija excels in the open court and has shown the ability to find teammates in transition. He can shoot off the dribble or spot up and is more than capable of taking his defender off the dribble. Avdija can get his own shot as well as create for teammates. In terms of fitting in with the Cavs, Avdija should have little to no problem doing so. He would primarily occupy the small forward slot and play alongside two ball-dominant guards. When on the floor with Sexton and Garland, he can play off the ball and act as a slasher. When one or both of them are out of the game, Avdija can handle the ball and run the offense. Avdija is a versatile offensive player that only figures to get better as he gets older and he fills the biggest need on the team.
Wiseman is the most-talented big-man prospect in this draft class. The 7’1 center only played three games in college and averaged just under twenty points and eleven rebounds per game while shooting close to 77% from the field. Wiseman’s skillset mirrors that of the best big men in the NBA. He runs the floor well, blocks shots, can hit the mid-range jumper and of course, score in the low post. Because of his size and ability to shoot from mid-range, he doesn’t require incredibly low position when posting up. He is able to use his size and touch to shoot over the defender. The Cavs currently have Kevin Love and Andre Drummond at the four and five respectively. If the Cavs do take Wiseman, it could be a signal that Love or Drummond may not be in Cleveland much longer. There are three years left on Love’s contract and he’s been the subject of trade rumors for the past two seasons. Drummond has a player option for 20-21 and has expressed interest in potentially signing with Cleveland for the long-term. A front court with all three would have size and talent but would also be crowded.
Okongwu can play the four or five spot thanks to his length. He’s listed at 6’9, a bit undersized for a typical center, but that doesn’t stop him from protecting the rim and anchoring a defense. He averaged nearly three blocks per game this season and over a steal per game. On offense, Okongwu lives in the paint and does most of his damage in the low post or off a feed from a driving teammate. He can finish with either hand and is able to establish good positioning more often than not. The former USC Trojan shot almost 62% from the field and connects on 72% of his free throws. If the Cavs select Okongwu, he’d have two excellent big men to learn from. He could use some more polishing on offense so there’d be less concern about a log jam in the front court for the upcoming season. Okongwu’s defense will get him on the floor during his rookie year.
Edwards is an explosive guard that has elite-wing potential. As a freshman this past season, Edwards averaged nineteen points per game and over five rebounds. When he’s not steamrolling into the paint, Edwards can rise up and knock down shots from mid-range. He hit over half of his shots inside the arc. He shot below 30% from three but there doesn’t look to be any reason that number can’t improve. No matter what team he goes to, he’ll have better supporting players than he did at Georgia. That should lead to cleaner looks at the basket, less attention from the defense and better shooting percentages as a result. Edwards can score in bunches. He scored 33 points in the second half of a game against Michigan State in November. At Georgia, Edwards showed that he’s more than capable of carrying a team. The Cavs could make it work with Sexton, Garland and Edwards but it wouldn’t be as clean of a fit as some of the other players on this list. Edwards is strong but at 6’5 he’s a little small to primarily play the three. It would take Cleveland trading one of the other two or relegating one to a first-guard-off-the-bench roll. Edwards may fit better alongside Sexton or Garland than those two do alongside each other.
The youngest Ball brother has played for three professional teams and spent three years in high school. It has been a unique journey to this point for the former UCLA commit. Ball certainly has talent, it’s just a matter of finding a team where he fits well. He has the size of a front court player but is going to predominately play in the back court. He is a player that needs the ball, no pun intended, in his hands. Ball flourishes as a creator and slasher. He doesn’t shoot the ball well from deep and needs to get stronger. Barring a trade of Sexton or Garland, Ball doesn’t fit with the Cavs. Adding a third ball-dominant guard that isn’t exactly known for defense to the pair of Sexton and Garland isn’t a good idea.
The 2020 NBA Draft takes place on October 16th and will emanate from ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Connecticut.
Photo via fearthesword.com