In the last couple weeks of the NBA season, the Cavaliers have gone from a hopeful play-in tournament team to one that will be picking high in the draft. This may be a disappointment to many, but it also allows the Cavs to focus on the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft.
The first question that comes to mind is what position do the Cavs need to target?
Unless they end up with the first pick (which seems unlikely) and have the opportunity to select a player like Cade Cunningham, they shouldn’t target a guard unless it is a significant upgrade over either Darius Garland or Collin Sexton. Selecting two point guards in the first round of back-to-back drafts was questionable, to begin with, so taking a third is highly unlikely.
So what position should the Cavs target?
By process of elimination, the answer is clear: a small-forward/power-forward. The front office has made it clear that Jarrett Allen is their center for the future and the Sexton-Garland duo is the frontcourt of the future. They selected Isaac Okoro last year, who can play/guard 2-4 (with his primary position being a small forward for the Cavs). So unless Koby Altman and the rest of the front office feel they should go in a different direction with either of those players, they will look to target someone who can play the three or the four in the draft.
So here are potential candidates the Cavs may end up with this November.
Evan Mobley – PF/C
Currently, Mobley is leading the USC Trojans on a Sweet Sixteen NCAA Tournament run in Indianapolis and is looking like a consensus top-five pick in this year’s draft. Mobley is a seven-foot-tall, 210-pound big man averaging 16.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 58% from the field, 30.8% from three and 68.7% from the line. The Cavs would have to end up with a slightly higher draft pick than where they are projected right now to get Mobley, but he may not be the best choice for them. Mobley may be shooting 30.8% from deep this year, but that is on less than 1.5 attempts a game. With the Cavs already starting one big man who can’t shoot in Allen, adding another would just clog up the paint on offense, ruin their spacing, and limit the guards’ effectiveness in the paint.
Jonathan Kuminga – SF
Kuminga was one of the highly touted prospects to take the G-League route this year instead of the normal one-and-done college route most top basketball prospects take. In the first few games of his season, he looked great, putting up big stats on good shooting splits. However, once he cooled off his play was very inconsistent and disappointing. He averaged 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.7 assists-which looks pretty solid on paper, but his shooting splits were dreadful. He shot 38.7% from the field, 24.6% from three (on five attempts a game), and 62.5% from the line. Teams may not be as concerned about his shooting splits due to his physical attributes (standing 6’6 and 210 pounds, as well as being one of the most athletic and physically gifted prospects in this year’s draft), but it should raise some questions for the Cavs, who really need a splash this draft.
Scottie Barnes – Guard
Barnes, like Mobley, is on a NCAA Tournament run at Florida State. He can run a team’s offense, guard all around the court and is essentially a high-IQ guard in a forward’s body. This year Barnes is averaging 10.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Like Kuminga and Mobley, he has to work on his three-point shot, shooting a subpar 29.7% from three this year. Other than his three-point shot, he is shooting 51.1% from the field and 62.1% from the free-throw line. He is only averaging 24.8 minutes per game at Florida State, so he may benefit from coming off the bench rather than starting immediately in the NBA. On the Cavs (if they decide to take Barnes), he would have to split playmaking duties with Garland and will have to guard forwards when on the court with Garland and Sexton.
There will be more options for the Cavs in the draft once all the prospects finish their seasons and compete at the NBA Draft Combine, but for now, these are three names to look out for.
Branham, T. (2021, February 25). NBA Draft [Digital image]. Retrieved March 26, 2021, from https://247sports.com/LongFormArticle/Updated-2021-NBA-Draft-Big-Board-Cade-Cunningham-Evan-Mobley-Jalen-Green-Jonathan-Kuminga–160964056/