Cavs

Cleveland’s Top Draft Targets at No. 5

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After spending their previous two top picks on offensive-minded guards, the Cavs are looking to add a playmaker or defensive wing. That doesn’t mean they have to address these needs in the draft if there’s a better player available. Cavs fans know all too well about the team’s recent past of picking a positional need over the best player available.

This is where having the fifth pick actually helps the Cavs in a draft where there isn’t a clear top player. LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards seem unlikely to be on the board. However, any of them could slip depending how the top four teams feel, thus giving the Cavs a greater chance of getting the player who ends up becoming the best player in the draft.

At least one, if not more, of the following three players should be available:

Obi Toppin

Between Tristan Thompson’s free agency and the lack of progress on an Andre Drummond extension, the Cavs need a long-term answer down low and Toppin could be the guy. The Cavs have met with the Dayton product who is an offensively talented big, but has some defensive questions. At 22, he’s regarded as the most NBA-ready player in the draft between his polished skill and athleticism. He’s an excellent roller off screens going either to the basket for a lob, or stepping outside for a jumper. The John Wooden award winner is also an effective rim protector who could develop into a consistent shot blocker. 

Outside the paint, he’s had trouble defending pick-and-rolls and is often out of position. Toppin has struggled when left on an island defensively and is not a great help defender. Whoever drafts him will need to define his defensive position as a 4 or 5. Offensively, he doesn’t have much variation in his post moves and he needs to improve shooting off the dribble.

His ceiling may not be as high as others, but he can have a big impact from day one. The Cavs want to get to the playoffs without LeBron James for the first time since 1998. Even with established bigs on the roster, Toppin’s plug-and-play ability makes Cleveland better right away which may be too tempting for them to pass up.

Deni Avdija

The most hyped Israeli prospect ever, the 19-year-old Avdija is somewhat of an enigma. While he didn’t put up great numbers last season with Maccabi Tel-Aviv, he flashed the raw skills that had scouts lauding his playmaking. He’s a dangerous player in transition with his ability to locate shooters and cutters while pushing the ball. He’s a good help defender who positions himself well and uses his length to cover perimeter players.

The biggest question mark with Avdija is his shooting. Whether it’s from deep or the free throw line, he has put up worrisome percentages. In today’s NBA, having a consistent outside shot is essential to spacing out a team’s half-court offense. His length doesn’t translate as a rim protector and he sometimes struggles to contain faster players.

Avdija’s playmaking and ball handling make him a terrific compliment to Darius Garland, but especially to Collin Sexton. Giving the high-scoring Sexton a secondary floor general would ease his burden to create looks for others. Drafting Avdija also fills a crucial position need at the wing and lineup flexibility. The Cavs could play him at either forward by going big with him at the 3 or going small-ball with him at the 4. If Cleveland sees Avdija as a good long-term fit with their nucleus, he won’t drop outside the top five.

Isaac Okoro

Okoro is an athletic wing who is built to play defense in the positionless NBA. The 19-year-old has the quickness to play on the perimeter and the strength to battle bigger scorers. He has a high IQ, rotates well defensively, and can sniff out opponents’ motions. On the other end he draws fouls, doesn’t force bad shots, and kicks out well to open shooters.

With clunky mechanics and low numbers from deep, defenses tend to sag off Okoro when he spots up for three. He’s not a good shooter off the dribble or from the free throw line. His doesn’t have a strong burst driving to the rim which could impact his playmaking ability in the NBA. His value will be limited if he doesn’t develop into at least a “3 and D” role.

Okoro would be one of Cleveland’s best defenders almost immediately which speaks to his talent, but also the Cavs’ poor defense. Cleveland’s shooting coaches would have a lot on their plate as they re-work Okoro’s jumper to be at least respectable. Even with his defense, Okoro will struggle to find consistent playing time early on if he can’t space the floor on offense. He fills a crucial position of need, but it’s difficult to envision the Cavs taking him if either Toppin or Avdija remain on the board.

Although Cavs fans were upset after falling to fifth in the lottery, they’re still going to get a good young player, which is exciting. This pick is an extremely important step in the team’s rebuild and will heavily influence their ability to make the playoffs in the upcoming 72-game season.

Koby Altman’s third draft will be his most important one yet. He has yet to produce a bonafide hit in his tenure as GM. Sexton improved during his sophomore campaign, but questions still linger if he can be the best player on a contender, or even a playoff team. Garland occasionally flashed potential, but showed he has a long way to go, especially defensively. Dylan Windler has yet to play in a regular season game.

Right now, the fifth pick is the only one the Cavs own in this draft. Don’t be surprised if they buy their way into the second round, especially given the overall economic uncertainty. The Cavs did this in 2016 when they paid Atlanta $2.4 million for the 54th pick that year, Kay Felder.

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About Avi Carr-Gloth

Avi is a senior at Emerson College majoring in Journalism. Follow him on Twitter @avicarrgloth to stay up to date on the latest Cavs content.

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