The Cavaliers find themselves in an enviable position.
Their rebuild is way ahead of schedule, thanks to a breakout season from Darius Garland and a strong freshman campaign from Evan Mobley.
Cleveland is just a few shrewd moves away from ending its 24-year LeBron-less playoff drought.
In fact, the squad might already be ready for that leap.
But one of the moves apparently bandied around the Cavs front office is whether to move down from No. 14 in this year’s draft in order to pick up a first-round pick next year.
And, according to Brian Windhorst, at least one team in the late teens has called Cleveland about potentially moving up.
But is a move down what the Cavaliers should be targeting?
But maybe not.
Here are two reasons why the Cavs should keep their lottery pick at no. 14:
1. Pick Now, Trade Later
Lesson One: there will always be an opportunity to land a first-round pick in the NBA draft.
It may not be a lottery pick, and it may not even be a pick in the late teens.
But teams treat draft picks like to-go containers without a recycling label: they don’t know what to do with them, so might as well make it someone else’s problem to sort out.
No, GMs prefer players 99 times out of 100 in trades (the single time being Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti, who is the recycler-in-chief of our metaphor here).
One more week until the next Cavalier walks the #NBADraft stage.
Who will it be? pic.twitter.com/w5KctWzGzS
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) June 16, 2022
That said, there should be absolutely no rush to pick up a future first-round pick now.
Say Cleveland trades with the Houston Rockets, who pick at no. 3 and no. 17 in this year’s draft.
Houston is going to stink next year, meaning any trade the Rockets make regarding a future pick will necessarily be heavily protected.
Think Cleveland is getting Houston’s first-rounder next year?
Wait until you learn that Houston placed top-20 protection on the pick, meaning that if the pick lands anywhere from no.1 through no. 20, Cleveland is out of luck.
Point two: Cleveland is flush with talent outside of current draft stock that can net them a first-round pick.
Collin Sexton, Kevin Love, Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman, Caris LeVert.
Mixing and matching those contracts could likely land Cleveland a first-round pick next year.
Again, no one is trading a lottery pick for Cedi Osman.
But no one is trading a future lottery pick for this year’s no. 14 pick, either.
Cleveland has plenty of options available for a midseason trade, once it can feel out how opposing teams are doing and which guys project as long-term fits on its roster.
2. Players That Can Help Right Away
At this point, Cleveland has put in countless hours of scouting into this year’s crop.
And no, I’m not just arguing for drafting someone because you spent many resources to look at them, i.e. giving into the sunk cost fallacy.
This is a corollary of the last point, which is that the scouting department knows way more about the players this year than it does about next year’s draft class.
Given that a first-rounder can be available midseason via trade, why not go ahead and find a player that better helps the team right away.
There are half-a-dozen wings that are likely to be available starting at no. 14, including Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams, Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji, and Ohio State’s Malaki Branham.
At no. 14, Cleveland probably gets the best of the bunch.
Happy Anniversary Cavs fans! Today marks the six-year anniversary of the Cleveland Cavaliers' Championship Parade in Downtown Cleveland! pic.twitter.com/zd8uucv69K
— WKYC 3News (@wkyc) June 22, 2022
Essentially, a pick in the hand (this year) is worth two in whatever bush Cleveland is going to shake down for picks next year.
Cleveland knows what it can get this year, while thousands of permutations might be cloud next year’s outlook.
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