Today's the day that many have been waiting for, especially if you're a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Later this evening the 2022 NBA Draft will begin and Cleveland will be picking three times at pick no. 14, no. 39 and no. 58. While it's expected that some combination of Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero will be picked in the top three, after that it's a bit of a crapshoot.
Once things shift towards the area where Cleveland is picking, sources say that there's a good chance there will be a lot of movement up and down the draft. Those same sources say the Cavaliers have gotten some interest in their pick at 14 and if the best player available isn't there, they could move down and grab an additional first-rounder for their troubles.
Today, we'll break down some options for Cleveland at 14, some possible trades that Right Down Euclid gleaned from league sources and, finally, some options for them in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft as well.
Who could the Cavaliers take with the fourteenth pick in the 2022 NBA Draft?
For a while now, Right Down Euclid has reported that if he's available, Ohio State star Malaki Branham seems like the logical pick for Cleveland in the first round. It makes sense why he does, too. Branham projects as a wing prospect that could have a legitimate three-point range at the next level and could, in turn, allow the Cavaliers to use Caris LeVert's expiring contract as a trade chip down the line.
It also gives the organization another avenue to add depth at the two-guard spot if Collin Sexton were to leave in free agency this offseason. But, sources say that despite the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards being a legitimate threat to sign Sexton, it feels likely that the Cavaliers lock their scoring dynamo up sooner instead of later. But, sources say that there's a possibility that Branham will be unavailable for Cleveland when it's their turn to pick. According to sources, the Wizards and the New York Knicks are both fans of the former Buckeye's upside and could take him on draft night, leaving the Cavaliers to need to look elsewhere.
Thankfully, Cleveland could swing for the fences if a certain player falls to them. Sources confirm ESPN's initial reporting that French forward Ousmane Dieng is a player that the Cavaliers are extremely high on and will be in play with the fourteenth pick. In fact, those same sources feel strongly enough that if Dieng is there for Cleveland, he'll be who they select at 14. As a player, Dieng is incredibly raw as a right now and will likely have to spend time growing with the Cleveland Charge, the G League affiliate of the Cavaliers, next season. But, his potential upside with his blend of defense, size and shot creation could make him the ideal pick for Cleveland long-term.
If Dieng can become more consistent offensively, the sky is the limit for his overall ceiling and some scouts feel he could become the steal of the draft. But, due to that aforementioned upside, some league executives view him as a possible prospect to breach into the top ten come draft night. If Dieng and Branham are both off the board, it's fair to wonder who they could take at 14.
Wisconsin swingman Johnny Davis could be an option. But, Davis recently shared with the media that the Cavaliers were not in attendance for his pre-draft workout. If not Davis, then maybe LSU forward Tari Eason? That could be an option as well but Eason has underwhelmed during the pre-draft process and, in turn, could be available if Cleveland were to trade out of their spot and grab Eason a few picks later.
With that said, let's head into our next topic of discussion…
While he's incredibly raw as a player right now, French forward Ousmane Dieng feels like a near-certain lock for the Cavaliers on draft night. Photo credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images
Possible draft night trade options for the Cavaliers
If Cleveland feels that there's a prospect they like that they can grab later in the draft, there's a good chance they will. Historically speaking, when the draft starts to hit the double-digit mark there tends to be more movement up and down the board. It's been reported by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that the Cavaliers are looking to trade back in Thursday's draft and would like to acquire an additional first-round selection for their troubles. Right Down Euclid can confirm that reporting, and, sources say that there are two teams that could be trade partners come draft night.
According to sources, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Houston Rockets are both teams looking into trading into the back end of the lottery and could view Cleveland as a team to strike a deal with. The Grizzlies currently have the twenty-second pick from the Utah Jazz in this year's draft and, sources say, are trying to use it along with guard De'Anthony Melton (which was first reported by Marc Stein) as a trade chip to leap into the lottery range. The Rockets, meanwhile, are looking to package the no. 17 and the recently acquired no. 26 pick to get another stab at a lottery-caliber prospect and, sources say, view the Cavaliers as a team they could work with.
If Cleveland were to accept a hypothetical offer from Memphis centered around the no. 22 pick and Melton, that would be a huge win for the Cavaliers long-term. Sure, the dropoff from picking at 14 to 22 is going to hinder Cleveland's ability to grab a prospect. But, they could still get someone like Eason or even Ohio State's E.J. Liddell, who Cleveland likes, at that spot and develop either of them as a multifaceted forward off the bench.
The real prize in this hypothetical trade is Melton, who would slot in as relief behind superstar point guard Darius Garland. Granted, Melton is a bit of a combo guard, providing more scoring than playmaking. But, the additional ball-handling will still be beneficial to both Garland and the Cavaliers when they make a serious run at the playoffs.
If that offer from Memphis doesn't pique Cleveland's fancy then they would be hard-pressed to do better than what Houston could possibly offer. Dropping from 14 to 17 isn't a huge loss for the Cavaliers, who could grab a high-end wing prospect like Santa Clara's Jalen Williams that could contribute immediately. Players like Notre Dame's Blake Wesley or even Eason or Liddell could make sense as at 17 for Cleveland as well.
The additional first-rounder really sweetens the deal and could allow Cleveland to get creative in that spot. Sources say that the Cavaliers are a fan of Arizona wing Dalen Terry and his potential as a 3-and-D ballhandler. Terry is a player in a similar vein to Dieng and needs time and a runway to develop. If he's given that, then Terry could slot in beautifully as a piece to compliment Garland as well as the star big man tandem of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.
If Terry isn't available at 26 and Cleveland happens to be picking after trading with Houston, another player to keep an eye on is G League Ignite prospect Marjon Beauchamp. The versatile Beauchamp does need to improve his jumper but, sources say that he has impressed during his pre-draft workouts, including his one with the Cavaliers. Beauchamp isn’t a finished prospect in the least, but he showed flashes on both sides of the court and could be a solid option at 26 for Cleveland if they commit to a trade with Houston.
Toledo star Ryan Rollins has rocketed up draft boards and could be in play for the Cavaliers in the early second round. Photo credit: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Plenty of quality depth options in the second round for Cleveland
As mentioned at the top, the Cavaliers have three picks in the 2022 NBA Draft, with two of them coming in the second round. Both can be real options for Cleveland to add some quality depth, especially with the thirty-ninth pick. The Cavaliers have a good player development track record by utilizing two-way contracts and the Charge as a player development tool properly. Dean Wade and Lamar Stevens being the latest examples that have become quality depth options for Cleveland and that trend could continue with their two second-round selections this year.
League sources say a player to keep on for the Cavaliers at 39 is Toledo star guard Ryan Rollins. The former Rocket is a smooth-scoring guard who hustles on both ends of the floor. He could be a great secondary creator for Cleveland long-term with his abilities as a scorer and a playmaker. Rollins supposedly impressed during his pre-draft scouting pro-day, according to sources. Cavaliers general manager Mike Gansey was in attendance for the exhibition and Rollins' solid career could have him in play with the team's first of two second-rounders.
Kansas guard Christian Braun could be in play as well as Michigan State swingman Max Christie, according to sources. Cleveland has the ability to grab some quality wing depth with the thirty-ninth pick but it doesn't stop there. While their other second-rounder isn't until nearly the end of the round, they can still grab a quality player that they can sign to the Charge soon after. Names in that range worth watching include Wake Forest guard Alondes Williams, French guard Hugo Besson as well as Senegalese big man Khalifa Diop.
Lead image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Did you enjoy this edition of Right Down Euclid? You can get it in your inbox two to three times a week by subscribing here. All it takes is either your Facebook account or email address!