CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio State swingman Malaki Branham, a likely lottery pick in the upcoming 2022 NBA draft, isn’t the only player in town for pre-draft practice with the Cleveland Cavaliers today.
Sources tell cleveland.com that the Cavs are hosting a “group” practice session at the Cleveland Clinic Courts, which will also include intriguing G League Ignite winger MarJon Beauchamp (in the No. 14 mix) and Alabama’s Keon Ellis (the likely second-round player) can be seen select). Other stakeholders are also involved with a plan for the group to compete 3v3 in front of Cleveland executives and coaches.
Beauchamp spent Tuesday afternoon in Cleveland. He hung out, met with members of the team, and checked out the practice facility—all part of the Cavs’ usual preliminary design process. It’s rarely just training on the pitch. The organization wants to spend time with these guys, interview them and sometimes even take them out to lunch or dinner to get to know them better. Two years ago, a large Cavs contingent went to the Auburn University campus to get a closer look at Isaac Okoro, where he shot the ball better than expected. Later that evening, they went to a nearby restaurant for dinner. That meeting — combined with what they saw on film and in person during the college basketball season — helped earn him fifth overall pick.
While Beauchamp’s stock appears to be outside the lottery range, the Cavs are casting a wide net ahead of the June 23 draft. Unsure of who will be available given the uncertainty beyond the top 3, there are about 10 players on their radar with the 14th pick, sources say. Beauchamp is on that list, and head coach JB Bickerstaff is given movie breakdowns to better understand Beauchamp’s strengths and weaknesses.
A 21-year-old winger who can play shooting guard or small forward, Beauchamp hopped around Washington state high schools and then took the junior college route for an abbreviated campaign before joining Ignite. Part of Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports Group, Beauchamp, one of four players from that lofty G-League program added to the Rising Stars during NBA All-Star Weekend, has had a strong season. He is expected to join teammates Dyson Daniels and Jaden Hardy as first-round picks.
Beauchamp, better known for his defensive competitiveness, has a developing jumper and showed plenty on offense, averaging 15.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals in 34.6 minutes.
In a February matchup against the Cavs’ G League Charge, Beauchamp had 12 points on a 5-of-10 shooting with three rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block in 26 minutes.
Beauchamp measures just north of 6-foot-6 in shoes, with a solid 197-pound frame and a nearly 7-1 wingspan. Beauchamp has good size, versatility and athleticism. He ranked in the 85th percentile in points per shot at the rim (1.32), but averaged just .90 points per jump shot in the halffield, which ranked in the 41st percentile — a valid concern when it comes to his Cleveland fit . Despite that lack, Cavs general manager Mike Gansey has close ties to Ignite player development coach Thomas Scott — a former Cavaliers and Charge coach — and Scott raves about Beauchamp’s work ethic and sees a clear path to making him a respectable outside shooter.
Wednesday’s setting will give him a chance to show that. It will give him the opportunity to compete against – and with – several other equally sized contenders in a similar design field. Can he stand out? Will he outperform some of his classmates? Does he make a stronger case for being a lottery pick?
Earlier this week, Branham held a practice session with the New York Knicks, who hold the No. 11. The Knicks also had him in a group setting alongside TyTy Washington and Kentucky keeper Daniels. They wanted to see how he fared against top-flight defenders in a more competitive environment, rather than the usual 1v0 practice drills.
The Cavs get the same opportunity on Wednesday. Her desire to find a two-way grand piano is no secret – and the design could provide that opportunity. It’s a deep position group. Branham and Beauchamp are just two of the many possibilities. Seeing them on the pitch at the same time will be part of that review.
If Beauchamp does well against a player who generates top 10 buzz, it can help cement his spot in the #14 mix.
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