Cleveland Cavaliers 2023 NBA Draft Preview: Future Stars at 49th Overall

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FILE - In this May 21, 2013, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert congratulates his son, Nick Gilbert, after the team won the NBA basketball draft lottery in New York. Nicolas “Nick” Gilbert, who became the team's good luck charm at NBA draft lotteries, has died. He was 26. A funeral announcement posted by the Ira Kaufman Chapel said Gilbert died Saturday, May 6, 2023 “peacefully at home surrounded by family.” (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File)

With less than 24 hours for the 2023 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers have to find a difference maker in a pretty challenging situation at 49th overall – trade up or trust a long term project.

As a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, it’s clear to see that the team is in a tricky place right now. Last year was an absolute embarrassment for the players and fans alike.

We did absolutely nothing during last year’s trade deadline, got absolutely embarrassed by the New York Knicks in the first round of the NBA playoffs & we seem to be keeping JB Bickerstaff despite the amount of coaching talent available that’s miles better than what we have.

Despite that, there are many reasons to feel happy with the current Cavaliers roster and the number of talented players throughout this year’s prospects with their 49th overall pick this year.

With rumors circulating that the Cavaliers could are looking towards trading into the first round, things seem to be getting quite interesting for the future of Cleveland Basketball within the next couple of days.

With such rumors, it’s important to look at a wide range of players that could soon be in Cleveland by Friday morning.

With that being said, the Cavaliers should most definitely consider drafting one of the following players: Oscar Tshiebwe (C), Julian Strawther (SG), Emoni Bates (SF), Chris Livingston (SF/PF), or Nikos Rogkavopoulos (SF/PF)

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The All-American – Oscar Tshiebwe, C, University of Kentucky

Insight: A kid from Congo becoming the face of the University of Kentucky, Oscar Tshiebwe shattered expectations becoming one of the greatest rebounders in college basketball history.

His defense and rebounding skills are quite impressive yet, his offensive skills are a work in process, to say the least, he’s considered by many scouts that he’s not ready for the NBA.

Despite his constant dominance in high school and college, being 23 years old and still a developmental project scares away scouts and teams from wanting to draft him.

Whoever drafts has to believe he’ll make an impact early or might as well let him fall.

Career Achievements: 2019 McDonalds All-American, 2020 Second-team All-Big 12, 2022 SEC Player of the Year, 2022 National College Player of the Year, 2022 Consensus First-team All-American, 2x First-team All-SEC (2022, 2023), & 2023 Consensus Second-team All-American

Ideal Role: High-energy rebounder that fights for rebounds; the ultimate team player that wants to see teammates around him get better

2022 Stats: 16.5 ppg, 13.7 rebs, 1.0 blocks, 1.6 asts, & 1.6 steals per game

Age: 23 years old

Height/Weight: 6’8”, 253lbs

Vertical: 32”

Wingspan: 7’3

Draft Comparison: Former NBA star PF/C Paul Millsap

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The Hometown Kid – Chris Livingston, SG/SF, University of Kentucky

Insight: From Akron OH, Chris Livingston is the complete “he gets us” pick with the Cleveland Cavaliers fanbase and it’s clear by the team’s workout with him that the feelings are mutual on both sides.

As a freshman, Livingston goes on to play for Buchtel Community Learning Center in Akron, averaging 24.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.

Livingston led his team to its first state final four appearances since 1997 becoming the highest-scoring freshman in school history, then went on to win the honor of 2019 FIFA U-16 MVP, putting his name on the map as one of the best young talents in the world.

While his college basketball career was less than stellar, the potential is clearly there for the 19-year-old athlete that believed he was ready for the pro game after one year at Kentucky.

 

Career Achievements: 2019 MaxPreps Sophomore All-American First-team, 2019 FIFA Americas U-16 Championship MVP, 2022 McDonalds All-American, & 2023 SEC All-Freshman Team

Ideal Role: A physically intimidating player that can shoot, pass and assist to be a legit role player in the NBA.

2022 Stats: 6.3 ppg, 0.7 asts, 4.2 rebs, 0.4 blocks & 0.4 steals per game.

Age: 19 years old

Height/Weight: 6’7”, 219lbs

Vertical: 37”

Wingspan: 6’11.25”

Draft Comparison: Golden State Warriors SF/PF Jonathan Kuminga

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The Sharpshooter – Julian Strawther, SG, University of Gonzaga

Insight: Julian Strawther is a bad man! The 6-foot-7 Strawther shot 40.8% from 3pt line and 46.9% from the field and he’s clearly the most pro-ready player from all mentioned in this article.

Defensively, Strawther has the quickness to defend anyone in the NBA and if he was 19 or 18 years old, he’s a top 10 pick with his elite skillset as a basketball player.

If the Cleveland Cavaliers do choose Emoni Bates or Chris Livingston with their 2nd round pick, you’d be beyond excited with a player like Strawther representing the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Career Achievements: 2023 First-team All-WCC

Ideal Role: 3-and-D star; the intelligent off-ball player with a quick release jumper that can kill with quick feet to match on defense

2022 Stats: 15.2 ppg, 1.3 asts, 6.2 rebs and 0.8 steals per game

Age: 21 years old

Height/Weight: 6’6”, 209lbs

Vertical: 35”

Wingspan: 6’9.25”

Draft Comparison: New York Knicks SG Josh Hart

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Low Risk, High Reward – Emoni Bates, SF, University of Eastern Michigan

Insight: What can I say that hasn’t been said about Emoni Bates? The talented high school superstar that went to Memphis University and failed? He’s made mistakes in his life but only has recently overcome them by playing small school ball.

Whatever opinion you have about the young man, just know that Emoni Bates was a rockstar in Michigan, heavily touted as a top three high school prospect in the United States, he was meant to be the future of the NBA with his unique size and scoring ability to become a superstar.

With comparisons to NBA legends like Kevin Durant and LeBron James, Everyone thought Emoni Bates was made for the spotlight with his commitment to the University of Memphis under head coach and former NBA star Penny Hardaway – He wasn’t.

While at Memphis, Emoni Bates struggled immediately out the gate, averaging only a measly 9.7 points per game during his freshmen year.

And to make things even worse, when leaving the University of Memphis in the offseason, he gets arrested on felony gun charges.

What makes a man great is how he responds to adversity, it’s why we love movies like Rocky and Rudy and with everyone calling him a bust and that he’s a waste of talent – Emoni Bates heads to Eastern Michigan and has the comeback season all his fans had hoped for.

During the 2022-2023 College Basketball season, Emoni Bates took over the MAC conference averaging 19.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as the Eagles’ star attraction.

With Draft night on Thursday night, the Cavaliers need wing help and with Emoni Bates is the only guy that has superstar potential on this board, and to get a potential steal like that in the 2nd round would be fantastic for a franchise that’s unsure of Isaac Okoro’s starting ability in the NBA.

Career Achievements: 2020 Gatorade National Player of the Year & 2023 Third-team All-MAC

Ideal Role: An elite shot creator at 6’9 that can take over a game at any time he wants, he’s got all the tools to be special in the NBA, depends on his work ethic if he truly wants to be the best of the best

2022 Stats: 19.2 ppg, 1.4 asts, 5.8 rebs, and 0.7 steals per game

Age: 19 years old

Height/Weight: 6’9”, 179lbs

Vertical: 32”

Wingspan: 6’9”

Draft Comparison: Former NBA SG/SF Jonathan Bender

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The Outsider – Nikos Rogkavopoulos, SF/PF, Greece 🇬🇷

Insight: With the recent star talent that’s taken over the NBA with players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and recent finals MVP Nikola Jokic – It’s time for the Cleveland Cavaliers to tap into the European market more.

While Cedi Osman has been a decent role player over the years for Cleveland, I think you can find an actual star in a player like Nikos Rogkavopoulos – Now I know what you’re thinking, “Who the hell is that guy?”

The kid can play that’s for sure as Rogkavopoulos has been a professional basketball player since the young age of 15 years old, starting out his career playing for A.C Doukas back in 2016.

He’s dominated the junior and professional leagues in Europe, from FIBA Europe U16 MVP to FIBA Intercontinental Cup champion, he’s done everything right in European basketball besides playing in the NBA.

Career Achievements: 2017 FIBA Europe U-16 Championship B MVP, 2019 FIBA Intercontinental Cup Champion, 2020 Greek Cup Champion, & 2023 Turkish League Best Young Player

Ideal Role: 3-and-D player, who can catch fire very easily which will be very useful for his potential NBA career

2022 Stats: 15.7 ppg, 1.9 asts, 6.3 rebs, 0.3 blks, & 1.1 steals per game

Age: 21 years old

Height/Weight: 6’8”, 200lbs

Vertical: 38”

Wingspan: 6’8

Draft Comparison: Former NBA star SF/PF Hedo Türkoglu

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