Remember Dylan Windler?
He was supposed to be an excellent floor-spacer and pure shooter for the Cavaliers.
Windler was touted as an ideal bench sparkplug, capable of scoring in bunches while the starting unit rested.
But three years after he was taken no. 26 in the 2019 NBA Draft, we have to ask ourselves.
Does Windler still have a future in Cleveland?
It’s not hard to see why the Cavs took a shot on Windler in 2019.
The Indianapolis native was coming off an exceptional senior year, shooting 54% from the field and 42.9% percent from three.
And his free throw percentage (84.7%) seemed to suggest that his shooting numbers weren’t total flukes.
That year, Windler’s name was on the watchlist for the Julius Erving Award, given to the best small forward in college.
Yet draft night was something of a high for Windler.
Ever since he’s struggled to have much of an impact.
For everyone asking about Collin Sexton:
I think we’ll get some clarity on where things stand and how the #Cavs navigate things when the moratorium and deals are finalized.
Once deals for Rubio, Lopez and Neto are finalized, they can move forward.
— Evan Dammarell (@AmNotEvan) July 6, 2022
Windler missed time immediately out of the gate, suffering a leg injury that sidelined him his rookie year.
But since then, the injury concerns haven’t dissipated and his numbers haven’t been steady enough to warrant significant time outside the G-League.
In his 81 games (over two seasons) with the Cavaliers, Windler’s never looked as comfortable shooting as he did in college.
And that’s backed up by the numbers.
Windler’s a career 41.2% from the field and just 32% from three, en route to a career 3.3 points per contest.
When Windler’s only job coming into the league was to put the ball in the basket, those numbers simply won’t fly.
His offensive rating last season was 110, on par with names like Draymond Green, Jarrett Allen, and Javale McGee.
That might be nice company simply on the basis of name, but none of those guys are known for their exceptional shooting ability, and rather benefit their team with strong defense.
The numbers aren’t the only thing hampering Windler’s playing time; the wing has two other factors going against him: roster size and expectations.
Prior to the NBA draft, Cleveland boasted no fewer than five players ahead of Windler in the pecking order.
Collin Sexton, Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman, and Lamar Stevens all figured to play ahead of Windler at wing.
And then, on draft night, the Cavs selected Kansas wing Ochai Agbaji.
And look, in today’s league, a team needs wing depth.
We just saw the Celtics cough up an NBA championship because Golden State had more wings to throw at Boston.
Boston’s lack of wing depth meant Jason Tatum and Jalen Brown had to play entire second halves of games.
Cavs agree to a deal with ex-Pacers guard Ricky Rubio, per ESPN + Yahoo. It's a 3-year, $18.4m deal, Yahoo says. CLE & IND could make it a sign-and-trade with Dylan Windler or Cedi Osman if CLE want to keep its MLE, but no incentive for Cavs to do that without strong MLE option.
— Tony East (@TEastNBA) July 1, 2022
But six is an almost insurmountable number of bodies to climb over.
And maybe Cleveland would be willing to extend Windler’s leash if the organization was headed for another lottery pick.
But Cleveland now has real expectations to compete, brought on by the team’s surprising success last season.
And with expectations, talent and experience win out.
Unfortunately, Windler brings neither to the table at the moment.
Windler could get looks at the beginning of the season, but by the All-Star break, expect him to be back in the G-League.
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