The 2022 NBA draft lottery was held on Tuesday just prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers were hoping that the team would get lucky and garner a higher draft pick than expected.
Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.
The Cavs will select 14th in the actual draft, which will take place on June 23 at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
Anderson Varejao, a former Cleveland big man for many years and a fan favorite, represented the team at the lottery in Chicago.
Fan reactions on social media ranged from disappointment and pessimism to constructive advice.
@NBA you hear this tweet your draft lottery is Rigged
— Francua (@FrankSc85433217) May 18, 2022
Listen up @cavs
🏀 Maliki Branham or bust in this draft.
🏀 If you need to trade up 3 picks trade up 3 picks.
🏀 I swear on my mother if we trade back after watching the @browns draft (which turned out surprisingly ok) I will vomit.
— ClevelandSportsTalk (@AssemblyBrowns) May 18, 2022
We will see. Hopefully the draft is deep enough for the Cavs to get a good player.
— Keisha W. (@Taurus510W) May 18, 2022
The Cleveland Cavaliers should use the 14th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft to acquire a player between the height of 6’4-6’8 with a wingspan of 6’10 or more. Said player should play SG/SF and should shoot 3-Point shot attempts at an efficient clip.
— alan (@guypostings) May 18, 2022
Can’t wait for, “With the 14th Pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select… Vldhifmcigsib Ubonius, from the Euro/Greek League”
— Nick Paulus (@NickPaulus) May 18, 2022
Not The Best Draft, But Doable
This year’s draft class won’t exactly rival the one from 2003, which yielded the Cavs one LeBron James and also featured Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, or the 1996 crop, which included Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash and Ray Allen.
Many regard this year’s crop as top-heavy, as the only true star prospects are the top three: big man Chet Holmgren, Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. and 6-foot-10 man Paolo Banchero.
But there could be a few diamonds in the rough later on who could turn into solid contributors for the Cavs.
They have had the privilege of drafting very high over the last few years, and they have made good use of those picks.
Darius Garland, a first-time All-Star this year, was taken with the fifth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, developing wing Isaac Okoro went fifth the following year, and of course, the potential-rich Evan Mobley was the third pick in the 2021 draft.
Even in 2018, just after reaching the NBA Finals in LeBron James’ last season with the team, the Cavs had the eighth overall pick, which they used to take Collin Sexton, a scoring guard whom they hope to secure on a long-term contract extension this summer.
That pick was perhaps the only good thing to come out of the Kyrie Irving trade the previous summer.
Now that Cleveland is on the verge of returning to the playoffs, it will face a different type of challenge: finding a serviceable player outside of the top 10 selections of the draft.
What The Team Needs
Most would agree that the Cavs need better 3-point shooting.
They shot 35.5 percent this season from beyond the arc, which ranked just 15th in the NBA, and only three of their main rotation players – Garland, Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo – shot better than 36.0 percent from downtown in 2021.
Other than perhaps Okoro, the team also lacks solid, dependable wing players, especially ones who can contribute on both ends of the floor.
Could Maliki Branham be the answer, or at least part of it?
He is 6-foot-5 and has a very solid 6-foot-11 wingspan, and he averaged 13.7 points a game on 49.8 percent shooting from the field and 41.6 percent from 3-point land.
The Ohio State University Buckeyes freshman is a native of Columbus, Ohio, but he moved to Akron as a teen, where he attended St. Vincent–St. Mary High School, the same school that James went to.