Malaki Branham could help Cavs, but other draft options may be better call

The 2021-22 NBA season is now over, and shortly the league will have the 2022 NBA draft. Next Thursday, June 23, the Cleveland Cavaliers will currently have three selections, 14th at the end of the lottery and 39th and 56th in the second round.

It wasn’t ideal that the Cavaliers didn’t make the postseason, which would have been a nice experience for a still mostly young group, but Cleveland, which retained its first-round picks for this year, at least for now, was positive.

When it comes to the possible options at the end of the lottery, should the Cavs keep that pick, which I think they will, prospects like Tari Eason, Ochai Agbaji, Malaki Branham, Ousmane Dieng, Jeremy Sochan and TyTy Washington Jr. could seemingly be firmly in the mix. It seems that to some degree, the likes of Johnny Davis and Jalen Williams could also be there, and Davis even more so if he’s there.

Guys like Dalen Terry and MarJon Beauchamp are also reportedly players who could be in the running at this point. Although these players could help Cleveland, I agree with our own Justin Brownlow that honestly that would be a reach for others at this point. Brownlow explained that Beauchamp could potentially be a reasonable choice in the second round, vice versa.

In general, at this late point in the lottery, I feel shot creation needs to be a key area and/or on #39 I would imagine playmaking and maybe perimeter shooting would be sensible areas to address.

In Cleveland’s first pick, it appears that Branham is a player who has often been linked with the Cavaliers as a potential target, and in some more recent mocks he was the player picked for Cleveland there. I also understand the appeal as he is a player who can create for himself and flip looks on all three levels.

However, I think other options might be a better choice.

Branham could help the Cavs, but other 2022 NBA draft options in the late lottery might be better choices.

Branham played a collegiate season at Ohio State in 2021-22 and had 13.7 points per contest, along with 3.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He converted 53.0 percent of his two-point attempts and 41.6 percent from three-point. He also shot 83.3 percent of his 3.0 free throw attempts per match.

At Branham, I get the appeal. A player who wants to pose as a creator of quality shots and is very polished through pull-ups in the mid-range, he has shown at Ohio State how he can attack himself when the opportunity presents itself and can pull off his Seats in pick and roll.

He’s a player who could potentially be viable in pull-up threes as well, and could at least be fairly reliable early on in catch-and-shoots. However, in his only season with the Buckeyes, he attempted fewer than 3.0 three-point shots per game.

But overall, Branham appears to be a player who could very well be an effective offensive presence at the perimeter and as a shot-maker even in the early stages of his NBA career. He just turned 19 in May. So looking ahead, I understand again why he seemed like a late riser and could seem to help the Cavaliers in the years to come.

However, in my opinion, I’d probably prefer the Cavaliers to choose other options among the guys who could potentially be on the board in the late lottery. That being said, I can’t say I would expect the Cavs to move up in the draft.

In terms of other potential prospects viable in this No. 14 area, I’d probably go the Cavaliers instead with Jalen Williams, Tari Eason, Johnny Davis if he were there, TyTy Washington Jr. or Ousmane Dieng. Frankly, Williams, Dieng and I, Davis, have more legitimate playmaking skills for others, and they could be viable shot creators themselves for years to come, at least Williams and Davis. The same goes for Washington, despite being a lean 6-foot-3.

I’m also adamant that Dieng, Eason and Davis could also be early hitting defenders and have more size from there, and others like Jaden Hardy and Nikola Jovic as upswing guys with much higher ceilings seem to be alternatives. Maybe Cleveland could try to make a play for a prospect of that nature in the late first round where they would try to trade back there, we’ll have to see.

And finally, on the subject of Branham, there’s Collin Sexton, should he come back, which seems likely, and Caris LeVert, it seems to be in the mix. Granted, LeVert could potentially be a leaking trade piece either way, but I’d still think the Cavaliers might try to give him a better shot since a foot sprain didn’t allow him to get into a rhythm after the deadline.

Anyway, at Branham he’s pretty skinny at 6ft 5 although I appreciate the shot creation for Wine and Gold and I doubt the playmaking ability with him and if he would be able to get legitimate minutes early on. That doesn’t include Isaac Okoro and maybe a little bit of Lamar Stevens.

We’ll see what happens next week anyway. I’d probably prefer the Cavaliers to take a different route than Branham does when he’s there, all things considered.

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