Cleveland Cavaliers: 2022 NBA Draft Team Needs and Targets
With the 2022 NBA Draft fast approaching, we're taking a look at what each lottery team needs to target with their draft selections, starting with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Welcome to our No Ceilings 2022 NBA Draft Lottery Team Series!
Over the next few weeks, we as a team are going to dive into the needs and targets of each lottery squad. What are the weaknesses and holes of each franchise? Are there players targetable in the lottery who can help fill those gaps?
We will answer those questions and more 5-on-5 style, starting with the Cleveland Cavaliers and running all the way up to the Orlando Magic at the top of the draft.
Without further ado, let’s see where Cleveland should look for some help with the 14th overall pick.
1. What do you think is the biggest weakness for the Cavaliers that NEEDS to be addressed on draft night?
Nathan: They really need more offense from the shooting guard spot. The Cavaliers went and got Caris LeVert to stop the bleeding when Collin Sexton went down, but he projects much better as a three (when he’s even healthy). Sexton could potentially be out the door, and Isaac Okoro, for everything he does defensively, hasn’t been the juice the team needs offensively at the two. Finding a rookie who could split the difference in minutes and provide offensive value while not sinking the team on the perimeter defensively should be the top priority.
Tyler Rucker: “Take these broken wings…and learn to fly again.” Okay, being serious. Cleveland is going to find themselves in a great spot to add a really solid piece on Draft Night. The late lottery range always finds some names that seem to slip down when it comes to potential “value” and Cleveland could have some fun names still on the board. Although I’m still a member of the Isaac Okoro fan club, I believe that Cleveland would be wise to add another weapon on the wing. If the Cavs can find a floor spacer that can become another intriguing asset in the rotation, that will just continue to move the needle forward for this team that is hoping to build off a strong season.
Tyler Metcalf: Versatile wings. I really like Caris LeVert’s scoring (when he’s clicking), and I adore Isaac Okoro’s defense, but neither of them can provide anything close to what the other excels at doing. With the twin towers defense, Darius Garland’s offensive brilliance, and whatever offensive upside Collin Sexton brings back, the Cavs are just missing that sparse 3-and-D wing every rotation covets. This draft has a few who are ready to plug and play (at least as much as a rookie wing can), and the Cavs need to have them at the top of their board.
Nick: The biggest need for Cleveland heading into draft night is on the wing. This team could use another shooter or two, especially from the two-guard spot, and any additional defensive help on the wing would serve to complement their dynamic frontcourt defensive options.
Albert: Think we’re all going to have similar answers here but definitely versatility and shooting from the wing spot. I don’t know for sure, but it looks like the team may run the small but mighty backcourt of Garland and Sexton; if that’s the case, they’re going to need more in between having giants and small guards. Finding a wing who can defend multiple positions but more importantly offer some spacing is going to be crucial. They seem pretty set on both extremes of the spectrum and need more guys in between.
Alex: Shooting on the wing. They have their PG of the future (Darius Garland). They have their two big men of the future (Evan Mobley & Jarrett Allen). This team needs more shooters, preferably shooters who can play on the wing—especially if the team believes in Isaac Okoro enough to start him moving forward. Okoro shot the ball better last season, but you still need a legit knockdown guy to help create space for Garland when he is running PNRs.
Evan: Cleveland has a treasure trove of bigs and guards, it seems, but they are lacking any sort of presence along the wing. This was a team that ranked 20th in three-point shots made per game (11.6) last season, so adding any sort of shooting presence to the perimeter to unclog the lane for Darius Garland would be ideal, in my opinion.
Maxwell: I think it’s wings who can shoot the three and play defense. Right now, they have a glut of scoring guards and bigs who play great defense or shoot. They need more two-way wing players on the roster. The ability to play one of Jarrett Allen or Evan Mobley at all times is incredible, but it wouldn’t hurt to give them some defensive help on one side of the floor paired with spacing help on the other.
Stephen: I feel like the Cavs need to address their wing rotation. Between Garland and Sexton, along with Rubio coming back from injury, they have solid guard depth. Their rotation at the “4” and “5” is solid enough–they just need to land contributors on the perimeter. They did acquire LeVert, but he seemed a little contrary to what they established early in the year. Okoro and Osman simply aren’t players I’m worrying about drafting over.
2. Which position group would you target most for the Cavaliers: Guards, Wings, Forwards, or Centers?
Nathan: I would say “Wing” but “Guard” could also be the answer depending on the target. For example, one of Malaki Branham or Ochai Agbaji would likely play most of their time at the SG vs. the SF spot. Or they could go after a bigger wing like Tari Eason, depending on availability. So either position group would be my answer, depending on the player.
Tyler Rucker: Well, my annoying answer would be “it depends on how the board looks.” *gets booed off the stage*. Okay fine, I would probably say that besides adding to the wings, I would expect the Cavaliers to be intrigued by adding to the backcourt also. They are going to be in a good spot to look to continue to build out their depth, especially if the board develops in their favor.
Tyler Metcalf: Wing. Similar to the above. They need some versatility and consistency from someone who measures in the 6’5” to 6’9” range.
Nick: Definitely wings. Cleveland has a couple of longer-term wing-sized pieces in Caris LeVert and Isaac Okoro, but they could use a few floor spacers. They’re relatively set at guard, in my mind, with Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, and a returning Ricky Rubio. Their forward line seems pretty set, especially after they drafted Evan Mobley last year, and Jarrett Allen is more than enough for them down low beside Mobley.
Albert: If it were up to me, I’d have the Cavs spend all three of their picks on wings. I think this is a wing heavy draft where you’re going to be able to find intriguing wings in the first and second round.
Evan: I’m with the majority here. Adding a “Wing” should be the top priority for Cleveland.
Maxwell: I would say “wings.” The guard and big spots are beautiful to me, and Mobley can play forward as well. The wing spots are where they could use the most depth.
Stephen: Definitely Wings, but I wouldn’t be against a forward that could allow Mobley to play some “3”, a la Lamar Odom.
3. Is there any argument for the Cavaliers to draft based on fit around a core group of players, or should “BPA” be in play at all times for Cleveland on draft night?
Nathan: The Cavaliers could be in BPA mode on draft night, but there are enough quality young pieces on the roster to better try and fit around those guys. Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Darius Garland are a legitimate young core with pieces like Lauri Markkanen and Isaac Okoro offering support, and that’s not even counting Collin Sexton if he’s on the team next year. Build around the margins with a player who can be counted on to contribute from day one in key areas of need.
Tyler Rucker: While I’m always a huge component of BPA, there comes a time where you start to tip-toe your way into the idea of “fit.” Cleveland will be in a position in which they can simply stick to BPA, but they also might have two players with similar grades, while one might offer a better immediate fit with the current roster. Their roster is starting to have some intriguing depth all over; if the Cavaliers can continue to have another strong Draft, they could find themselves with a solid rotation that is ready to roll for the 2022-23 season.
Tyler Metcalf: This could obviously change significantly if a top name falls for some reason, but I like drafting for fit. Also, the BPA for each team can vary significantly. The Cavs have an incredibly bright future with the rare point guard/big man pairing solidified, and they proved they are ready to win sooner than most expected. Taking the sexy project who could turn out to be any myriad of things is fun to speculate about, but sometimes the team just needs an offensive lineman who gets the job done and makes the team better despite not necessarily providing excess amounts of “splash.”
Nick: I tend to prefer to lean towards BPA for most picks, but I think that it makes sense for the Cavaliers to opt to draft for the best fit instead. They were a homecourt advantage playoff team in the Eastern Conference for much of the season before they fell apart due to injuries, and another good wing or two could be the difference between staying in contention and making some noise in the postseason.
Albert: It seems like with where they’re picking, they may end up merging the two strategies together. I think with the 14th pick in the draft, the best player available will be a really toolsy wing that could help them sooner rather than later. If Ochai Agbaji is sitting there staring them in the face, it’s a no-brainer for me.
Alex: I think the Cavaliers are in the position to draft for fit. They showed last season that they are a playoff-caliber team already, so adding a piece that can fit within their core group right now makes sense. There is no scenario that they should be taking a PG or C at 14, given the current roster. In my opinion, they should select the highest wing on their draft board who can shoot and help space the floor for Garland and the offense.
Evan: I wouldn’t fault the Cavaliers for having the BPA mindset come draft night. However, it would be a bit puzzling if they selected another C or PG, as Alex mentioned. Drafting for need could be the smarter option for a franchise that already has one of the league's best young cores. I believe Cleveland should be all-in on filling the clear need they’ve got at the wing spot.
Maxwell: I know Cleveland surprised a lot of people this year, but personally, I’d be in no rush to contend. This is a young group with a lot of great years ahead of them. I’d be more willing to take another big swing that could pay off years down the road than to just move up a spot or two in the east next season with less upside. If you get a player that fits, that’s excellent, but I’m looking for upside above all else at this stage.
Stephen: Cleveland is a bit ahead of schedule, so there is a feeling that they should draft a player that could play immediately while offering a bit of versatility. The players I project that should be available around 14 shouldn’t rock the BPA boat too much.
4. Who are the Top 5 targets for the Cavaliers to select with the 14th pick?
Nathan: Malaki Branham, Jalen Williams, Ochai Agbaji, Ousmane Dieng, and Tari Eason would be the names I would most strongly consider, with an honorable mention being Patrick Baldwin.
Tyler Rucker: Ochai Agbaji, Malaki Branham, Jeremy Sochan, Jalen Williams, Ousmane Dieng. All names that I believe could realistically be around that 14th pick if the Cavaliers don’t try to move up in this draft. Sochan and Dieng could be off the board; they should both have plenty of fans. Branham has been a hot name, but all the Cavaliers need is 1-2 “curveballs” in the lottery, and they could find a solid piece falling into their laps.
Tyler Metcalf: Given my previous responses, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Malaki Branham, A.J. Griffin, Ousmane Dieng, Bennedict Mathurin, and Ochai Agabaji are at the top of the list. Some (most) may be gone by the time the Cavs pick comes around, but something like that is how their board should play out.
Nick: Ochai Agbaji, Malaki Branham, Bennedict Mathurin, A.J. Griffin, and Jeremy Sochan would be the top five on my board for them; some of those players are more likely to still be available at 14 than others.
Albert: Given where they’re sitting in the draft, I think it’s going to be: Ochai Agbaji, Jalen Williams, Benedict Mathurin, Ousmane Dieng, and Tari Eason. Any of those guys would be great additions to that squad.
Alex: Johnny Davis, Bennedict Mathurin, Malaki Branham, Ochai Agbaji, Jalen Williams
Evan: Bennedict Mathurin, AJ Griffin, Malaki Branham, Jalen Williams, and Nikola Jovic.
Maxwell: Johnny Davis, Bennedict Mathurin, Jalen Williams, Ousmane Dieng, and AJ Griffin are the players who interest me the most for Cleveland.
Stephen: Based on who I project to be available, Id’ say AJ Griffin, Jeremy Sochan, Tari Eason, Ochai Agbaji, and Patrick Baldwin Jr.
5. Who is an under-the-radar surprise target for the Cavaliers?
Nathan: Patrick Baldwin at this point would be a surprise target for any team in the Top 20 given how the mock drafts have played out. Very few media scouts are projecting him to return that type of value after a horrendous freshman campaign, but his shooting ability at 6’10” size is very hard to pass on if the other boxes are able to be checked.
Tyler Rucker: I’m going to get a little psychotic here. Jaden Hardy. I know, you’re all considering checking me into Arkham Asylum. Little did you know that The Joker, Riddler, and I are all on the same block. Cleveland could find themselves looking for a serious floor spacing asset to give them a jolt on their offense. Some NBA team is going to believe in the upside of Hardy, especially when it comes to his scary ability as an off-the-ball shooter. You wanted a “surprise” target? What did you expect?
Tyler Metcalf: Max Christie. He falls more under the “project” category, but I remain all-in on Christie’s two-way ability. Fully confident that his beautiful shooting mechanics translate as he gets stronger, and he showed some incredibly encouraging on-ball defense this year.
Nick: Ousmane Dieng has been rapidly rising up many draft boards in recent weeks after he closed the NBL season on a much stronger note than his poor and inconsistent play early in the season might indicate. He was a potential lottery pick heading into the season, and Cleveland could take a big swing on Dieng here if they think he’s worth the upside bet.
Albert: With that 39th pick in the second round, they could easily target guys like Justin Lewis, Hyunjung Lee, Jake LaRavia, or Hugo Besson. All those guys can offer them wing size and skills that they need.
Alex: It’s got to be Jalen Williams, right? Everyone’s favorite riser coming out of the combine. He has the size, skill, and shooting profile that could slot right into the Cavs rotation. I also think his defense is underrated.
Evan: I’d go with either Nikola Jovic or Ousmane Dieng. Both could be big swings at 14, but if either player hits, it could also do wonders for Cleveland. Dieng and Jovic offer a blend of size, playmaking, and shooting that would be a welcomed addition to the Cavs rotation next season.
Maxwell: Dalen Terry. It may seem like a big reach, but I could see a team talking themselves into him. He’s a reliable catch-and-shoot player who adds additional playmaking and can help cover up the defensive issues of other backcourt teammates.
Stephen: I’d go to Ousmane Dieng. He has such a wide range of projected draftability. Selecting a player that is sort of a project but could yield scary results should he hit is a move we might not be ready for if it happens. Let’s keep making the Cavs TALL!