The drive from Columbus to Cleveland is a short one–roughly two hours up I-71.
And that’s precisely the route one college prospect is taking on Wednesday.
Per Fedor, Branham is “rising up [draft] boards,” drawing interest across the lottery.
Further, Branham is “one out of about 10” guys the Cavaliers are looking at for the no. 14 pick.
It’s not hard to see why the Cavs are interested.
Branham fulfills a key role: he’s a swing, meaning he can slot in as a secondary guard or small forward.
Not only that, but he is capable of guarding both positions as well, key for Cleveland’s defensive game.
Depending on his progress and readiness if taken, Branham would likely slide into Collin Sexton’s spot in the lineup.
Sexton, for his part, is up for an extension this summer after missing all but 11 games with injury.
In Branham, the Cavaliers could be getting an upgrade over the former Alabama star.
Sexton’s defensive fit in this team is questionable, and Branham possesses the talent to add to Cleveland’s defensive prowess, not subtract from it.
Would it make sense to have “two” LeVert’s on the same team?
Possibly, as LeVert coming off the bench in a supporting role would be far more useful than starting.
And Khris Middleton has shown how valuable a Robin is for a franchise’s star Batman; in Milwaukee, Middleton forms a nice tandem with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Perhaps Branham eventually evolves into a similar player, supporting Evan Mobley’s growth.
Branham also fulfills what the Cavs would miss from Sexton: shooting.
He might not be a 20-points-a-night guy like Sexton, but Branham showed strong shooting chops in college, albeit on a small sample size.
With the Buckeyes, Branham shot 42.5% from three, going for just over 13 points per game.
There are some concerns about whether that beyond the arc number is reliable.
But the Cavs might be assuaged by Branham’s 82.6% free throw percentage, which often indicates whether a player’s shooting from the floor is accurate or not.
Cleveland will have no shortage of competition for Branham, apparently, with the Hawks and Knicks also hosting the freshman.
Knicks worked out Malaki Branham today. Lots of guys who could be around at No. 11 working out in New York today. Dyson Daniels and TyTy Washington were also there.
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) June 6, 2022
All in all, the Cavs could do worse than keeping Branham in Ohio.
Others On The Radar
Fedor noted that the Cavs are eyeing upwards of ten other draft prospects right now:
“Beyond Branham, the Cavs are still working with various agents to finalize dates for other prospects. But they are expected to have many of the talked-about guys around No. 14 — Tari Eason, Ochai Agbaji, TyTy Washington, Ousmane Dieng and Jeremy Sochan, among others — come to town.”
Each one of those guys makes sense for the Cavaliers in some way or another.
Eason and Dieng are excellent forward prospects, and it’s no secret the Cavs need help in that department.
It's a small-thing but Malaki Branham does NOT bring the ball down during his delivery on Catch and Shoot opportunities.
Klay is the most obvious and famous current example of rising straight into his shot on C&S, no dip
A split-second difference that matters in NBA
— WhichCarolina (@WhichCarolina) May 31, 2022
Agbaji and Sochan are wings, much like Branham.
And Washington is a guard, who last played in Kentucky’s March Madness flameout to St. Peter’s.
It’s going to be a long road to the draft for the Cavaliers, but it looks like they are putting in their due diligence where it belongs.