Cavs’ 2 biggest needs entering 2022 NBA Draft

The Cleveland Cavaliers landed the No. 14th pick overall in the 2022 NBA draft. Cleveland narrowly missed the postseason after losing two straight games in the Play-In tournament. The Cavs are entering this offseason to address their weaknesses as they look to end their five-year playoff drought next season.

With the NBA draft taking place in less than two weeks, Cleveland must make some important decisions about what they will do with this draft pick. Maybe they could use the pickaxe to fill in one of the holes in their list. Maybe they could trade the choice to acquire a veteran piece that could help them in their bid to make the playoffs. With that in mind, here are the Cavs’ two biggest needs for the 2022 NBA draft.

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Cavs 2 biggest 2022 NBA Draft requests

1. 3 and D wings

Cleveland struggled to find consistent shooting, especially during the two games during the play-in tournament. The Cavaliers will need someone who can both defend on the perimeter and pose a threat from across the arc.

Isaac Okoro has served well on defense so far. But he’s still a zero on the other side of the floor with his inability to put down the three-ball. Darius Garland will need more perimeter options to give him more room to maneuver when running the offense. Okoro just couldn’t fill that role yet.

There were a few instances during play-in games where the 21-year-old was open on the edge and failed to cash in on those all-important looks. And other times, when given another chance, he just wouldn’t pull because he didn’t trust the three of them.

There is indeed reason for Cleveland to keep the pick if they can’t find a more experienced NBA player to fill that need. If the Cavs do indeed make the 14th pick, there are a few prospects to consider.

Perhaps the best pick for the Cavaliers is Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji. The 6-foot-5 wing averaged 18.8 points in his senior year as a Jayhawk and shot 40.7 percent from beyond the arc. Defensively, he also possesses long arms and great versatility, making him a versatile defender. After four seasons of college ball, Agbaji should be better prepared for the NBA than other prospects. With Cleveland looking to make the playoffs, he could become an Impact player even as a rookie.

Another player who is in this form is LSU forward Tari Eason. The slightly taller 6-foot-8 Eason thrives defensively with his effort and energy. His length allows him to hit steals and switch shots on the edge on help coverages. At that height, he could eventually become a tweener in the front spots and even play a little in the middle if the Cavs need to go small. He averaged 16.9 points in his sophomore season and shot a respectable 35.9 percent from long range, albeit at a low volume (2.4 attempts per game). Still, that was a big improvement from his 24.1 percent clip in his debut season.

2. Another shot maker

One of Cleveland’s bigger mistakes was finding another playmaker or shot creator alongside Darius Garland. Much of this has to do with the Cavaliers’ injuries, which lost Collin Sexton to a torn meniscus earlier in the season and later Ricky Rubio to a torn cruciate ligament.

The Cavs were able to land Caris LeVert as a secondary goalscorer and ball handler alongside Garland at the close of trade. But he suffered a foot injury two weeks after his issuance and never really found his rhythm as a Cavalier. In 19 games with Cleveland, LeVert’s totals fell to 13.6 points, more than five points shy of his per-game performance with Indiana earlier in the year. LeVert’s injury is also worth noting. Because of this, Cleveland could make the choice to design a shot creator other than insurance.

There are a few prospects the Cavaliers could target if they go down this route. Perhaps they could take home state kid Malaki Branham, who was born in Columbus, Ohio, and played college ball in Ohio State. The 6-foot-4 guard showed up as a buckeye in his lone season, averaging 13.7 points while shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from long range. Branham is a great ball handler with the ability to get to the edge and shoot the dribble from both beyond the arc and down the middle. He also has great length and plays with great effort, which should make him a great addition to Garland in backcourt.

It also makes sense that Cleveland is going after Jaden Hardy. Instead of going down the more traditional route, he played for the G-League Ignite. Hardy is what the streets call an absolute bucket with a deep bag of tricks that comes with his high-level scoring ability. He’s someone the Cavs can eventually give the ball to create a shot in case their offense doesn’t run. The benefit of taking Hardy is the fact that he’s played with pros and experienced an NBA-like atmosphere in the G-League. He should be able to come in and contribute right away and is expected to hit the lottery late.

Collin Kuster, cavs

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