Three Options for the Cavaliers in the 2019 NBA Draft

The buzz around the city of Cleveland for the 2019 NBA Draft came to a screeching halt when the Cavaliers fell out of the top three and landed the fifth overall pick. This being a big deal, of course, because of this so-called “three man draft” consisting of Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and R.J. Barrett.

With those three names all but a lock to go off the board right away, that leaves the Cavs (among other teams) searching for alternative options. The Pelicans now own the fourth pick, on top of already owning the first pick, after the Anthony Davis trade further complicates things. Reports indicate they are shopping the pick and have potential deals in place. However, there are still ways the Cavs can come out on the other side of the 2019 NBA Draft looking pretty.

Option 1: Trade the No.5 pick to Atlanta

Atlanta was another team who was a little disappointed with how the draft lottery turned out. The Hawks pre-lottery spot had them with the fifth pick and just an 8.8% chance to land the eighth pick, but hey, that’s how the ping-pong balls fall sometimes. Cleveland and Atlanta could swap first round picks entirely, with the Cavs throwing in an expiring Jordan Clarkson or Brandon Knight. If I’m Cleveland, I also see if the Hawks will take J.R. Smith’s non-guaranteed contract, worth only $3.87 million if waived before June 30th.

For Atlanta, this trade makes sense because they get the fifth pick they “should” have had from the lottery. They also have more than enough cap space to add another scoring option off the bench in Clarkson or Knight (Smith would definitely be waived before the 30th). Cleveland should also be willing to do this because they seriously lack talent on their roster, and acquiring a second top ten pick allows them to add multiple assets for the future. If Atlanta is willing to take on the J.R. Smith contract that will hit Cleveland for $15.68 million if he’s still on the roster after June 30th, this is an easy decision for the Cavs.

Cavaliers receive: No.8 overall pick, No.10 overall pick
Hawks receive: No.5 overall pick, Jordan Clarkson/Brandon Knight, J.R. Smith

Option 2: Draft Darius Garland

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Darius Garland believes he is the best guard in the draft. While Ja Morant may have something to say about that, Garland is certainly up there with the best. The Vanderbilt product played only five collegiate games after tearing his meniscus against Kent State, but some feel he is the most talented Commodore ever.

His perimeter shooting is what should intrigue the Cavs, as he shot 47.8% from three last year. This would have been the third highest percentage in the NCAA if he had enough attempts to qualify (Garland was 11-23 on the year from three). His ability to score both on and off the ball will provide some aid to second year point guard Collin Sexton, who the Cavs plan on moving more off-ball. This should pan out better for the Cavs than the Kyrie IrvingDion Waiters experiment, which flopped due to the ball-dominant nature of both guards.

Option 3: Draft Jarrett Culver

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Culver strikes me as a player John Beilein would absolutely love to have on his team. Not just because of the 19-point beatdown Beilein’s former Wolverines received from Culver and the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Sweet 16 in last year’s NCAA Tournament, either. The 6’7 wing reportedly had dinner with Cavs GM Kobe Altman and head coach John Beilein after a private workout with the team last Monday.

Culver comes from a tough defensive system at Texas Tech, and his length is sure to give NBA wings fits. Offensively, Culver is a legitimate playmaker who can hit shots from anywhere on the floor. Defenses were able to key in on him in last year’s NCAA tournament (see Virginia), but if Collin Sexton continues to develop and Kevin Love sticks around, that will not be the case in Cleveland.

The 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday will be a hectic one after those initial three picks. And who knows, maybe even those three picks will see some drama. For the Cavs, however, all eyes should be on that #4 pick belonging to the Pelicans, as that will have big implications on what Cleveland is able to do with their draft.

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