Could Andre Drummond be a mentor to James Wiseman?

After it was announced the Cleveland Cavaliers wouldn’t take part in the NBA’s return, the focus now switches to the draft for the Wine & Gold. The Cavs have a 14% chance of securing the 1st overall pick, and can fall no further than sixth in the draft lottery. Therefore one of the better prospects in this year’s draft class will be heading to the Land.

The NBA draft process has been delayed, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, giving the Cavaliers extra time to scout possible targets. But with the Cavaliers still in the midst of a rebuild, they will be able to select the best prospect available to complement Collin Sexton, Kevin Porter Jr and Darius Garland. Nonetheless, it is quite probable that the Cavs opt against taking LaMelo Ball in the draft, and this is hardly surprising when considering Cleveland’s depth at the position. 

Throughout the campaign, the Cavaliers have been regularly tied to the likes of Anthony Edwards, Obi Toppin and James Wiseman in mock drafts as they look to add to their young core. Edwards, who is widely viewed as a consensus first overall pick by CBS Sports and the San Francisco Chronicle, would bolster the Cavs wing depth. While Toppin, the reigning National College Player of the Year is viewed by CBS Sports as the most impactful player in this year’s class. Lastly, Wiseman is arguably the biggest gamble in the class of 2020 having only played three games for Memphis this season, but even so he could be a project worth taking for JB Bickerstaff.

The Cavaliers are likely to be at least two or three seasons away from playoff contention, so taking a project player isn’t the worst idea. To his benefit, Wiseman wouldn’t be rushed into a starting role immediately, as the Cavs are deep in the big department. Kevin Love, Larry Nance and Andre Drummond all hold major roles in Bickerstaff’s team, giving the former Memphis star a chance to find his feet at the NBA level without any added pressure. Allowing Wiseman to slowly develop in that time and backing up Drummond could be beneficial, as he could prove to be Drummond’s long-term successor. Finally, the young big is a similar age to all of the Cavs youthful stars, therefore the Tennessee native fits the timeline of the likes of Sexton, Porter Jr and Garland.

Wiseman has the potential and build of an impactful two-way player, even if he is relatively raw. The Tennessee native has great size and great physique measuring at 7’1 with a 7’5 wingspan. That profile gives him similar size to the likes of De’Andre Jordan, Steven Adams, Karl-Anthony Towns and Myles Turner. 

The former Memphis star is just a pick-and-roll finisher and lob threat as it stands offensively. Essentially speaking, in his rookie year at least he’d be best served in short bursts to see Wiseman at his best. Nonetheless, with the likes of Love, Drummond and Nance Jr vying for starter minutes, Wiseman wouldn’t need to play extended minutes.

For the meanwhile, Drummond, a two time NBA All-Star and three time rebounding leader could be a strong mentor to Wiseman, who isn’t the most polished. Having someone to help Wiseman learn the ropes before he steps into a starting role would be beneficial to his game, especially coming from one of the better bigs in today’s NBA. While Wiseman’s skillset isn’t completely identical to Drummond’s it is certainly possible to find parallels between the two.

Wiseman is extremely athletic like Drummond, as he has the energy to run up and down the floor, rebound effectively at both ends of the floor and explode around the rim for dunks, layups and put-backs. Wiseman is most effective on offense, in particular when closer to the rim. Wiseman made 26 shots in his three games in college, and all but three were either layups or dunks. This could raise questions as to whether Wiseman can play as a modern-day NBA three-point shooting center. However, even if the young big doesn’t develop into a strong three-pointer, he fulfills a future need for the Cavs.

While Wiseman is a likely top ten selection, he will need to expand his skillset to be a success at the next level. Some of his strengths still hold significant value, namely his rim-running, rebounding and shot-blocking. Wiseman has great movement, solid length, agility and a strong wingspan, that will interest many teams and possibly Cleveland. If in the right situation, the right system and potentially with the right mentor, he could be a long-term success in the NBA.

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