CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers are slated to make the 14th overall selection in Thursday night’s NBA Draft. Of course, the team could end up making a trade involving the pick, either moving up or moving back.
If the Cavaliers do stick at No. 14, here are five guys who the Wine and Gold could pick on Thursday night.
AJ Griffin, wing, Duke
If Griffin is available at No. 14 for the Cavaliers, he should be the pick. There’s no question that he’s a talent deserving of being selected in the lottery, really, in the top 10 picks.
The issue with Griffin is that he has not had the cleanest bill of health throughout his basketball life. He was a one-and-done prospect at Duke, playing in 39 games for the Blue Devils, starting 25 of them. Prior to arriving at Duke, Griffin had dealt with a number of knee and ankle injuries.
How teams view him medically will determine whether or not he’s available for the Cavaliers. If he is, it’s a gamble that’s worth taking for the Cavs.
Malaki Branham, guard, Ohio State
Branham is another one-and-done prospect that could find himself being picked in the lottery on Thursday night.
It’s more likely that Branham is available when the Cavaliers are on the clock than it is that Griffin is. Branham also doesn’t fill the exact need of a wing that the Cavaliers have, although he may be the best player on the board depending on how things shake out before the Cavs pick.
The Akron native shot the ball really well from deep in his lone year with the Buckeyes and played defense at an impressive level that should translate to the NBA.
Ousmane Dieng, wing, New Zealand Breakers
Dieng is a bit like Griffin in the sense that it would be a bit of a surprise should he still be on the board for the Cavaliers. But if Cleveland does decide to trade up, Dieng could be the target.
There have been rumblings of the Cavs interest in him, although many mock drafts have him going in the top 10. As for his game, Dieng is one of the rawest talents available but features an incredibly high upside. His size and athleticism give teams a reason to love him, but he’s not an NBA-ready player right now.
Expecting him to contribute next season wouldn’t be realistic.
Tari Eason, forward, LSU
Eason has everything the Cavaliers are currently looking for from a needs standpoint. He’s a lengthy wing that’s a good defender both on and off the ball.
While a sophomore at LSU, Eason shot the ball better than 37 percent from beyond the arc, a big improvement from the 24 percent he shot while at the University of Cincinnati as a freshman.
In college, he was forced to play out of position at times, and spending more time on the wing as a ‘3 and D’ type of player could be very beneficial to him in the NBA.
Ochai Agbaji, forward, Kansas
Agbaji is a name that has been connected to the Cavaliers since the team missed the playoffs back in April. He makes a ton of sense from a needs standpoint, the issue with taking him is that he’s a prospect that’s further developed than many guys at this point in the draft.
While he has the makings of a solid NBA player, he may not improve a ton while in the league. Agbaji should be a rotational player, which is a win at No. 14 overall, but he may not ever be anything more than that.