Looking Ahead: A Cavs Fan’s Guide to NBA Prospects in the NCAA Tournament

While the NBA hits its stretch run to finish out the playoffs, the NCAA tournament kicks off Tuesday night. Since the Cavs are headed towards the lottery for the third season in a row, and will likely have two draft picks in the upcoming draft, it is worth it to scout out the potential players that would be available as the Cavaliers draft in June. Whether it be the NCAA tournament or the NIT, many of these players will be on national display these next few weeks, and this is the last chance you’ll get to see many of these players before they head to their future NBA teams. The following can be used as your guide to the landscape of potential Cavs draft picks throughout the next week. But first, we should determine where the Cavs will draft, and who we should focus on.

 

Where Are The Cavaliers Drafting?

 

Good question. What’s going to make this difficult is that none of the of the Cavs picks are set in stone yet. Obviously the first one will ultimately be decided by the lottery, where the Cavaliers (22-45) would have the fifth best chance of winning the lottery. This means at the lowest the Cavaliers would pick eighth, but likely would land the 5th or 6th pick. However, we’ll of course preview players projected to go before number 5, because even though it’s highly unlikely that the Cavs will land a top-3 pick for the second time in three seasons, it’s definitely possible.

 

The second of the Cavs picks is entirely contingent on the Lakers. The Cavs have stake in the Lakers, Heat, and Kings picks (The Kings pick is lottery protected, so we won’t be seeing that for a couple seasons). If the Lakers make the playoffs, the Cavs get the Lakers pick and the Suns will get the Heat pick, because the Cavs have the right to swap the pick. If the Lakers miss the playoffs, the Suns get the Lakers lottery pick, and the Cavs will draft in the Heat’s spot. With the Lakers continuing to win games and the Jazz currently wilting like a dying rose, It’s looking more and more like the Cavs will draft in the Lakers spot (Right now, 16th).

 

What Do The Cavaliers Need?

 

Two things: An offensively gifted small forward and a rim-protecting post player. Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and Dion Waiters are set. Alonzo Gee’s a solid defender, but is better suited for a bench role. Tyler Zeller, if given time to develop, definitely has the talent to be an offensive force. However, the Cavs need a defense-first center to compliment him and Anderson Varejao, who hopefully will be healthy next season, but I can’t keep my hopes up.

 

Now, if you want to get a chance to view each of the players that could fit the bill for these needs in the draft, here’s your NCAA tournament viewing schedule (All times Eastern):

 

Tuesday

 

7 p.m., ESPN2-Niagara @ Maryland

 

Here’s the guy I ultimately think the Cavaliers should grab with their first pick (If it’s not Top 4). Len is a big multi-purpose center that needs some time to develop, but has the potential to be destructive in the paint. Give him a year or two behind a (hopefully) healthy Varejao, and he could be special. Watch him dismantle Niagara to prime yourself for the Big Dance.

 

Thursday

 

4:10 p.m., TBS-Southern vs. Gonzaga

 

Kelly Olynyk, if he comes out, would be a solid selection to space out the floor for the Cavs offense, and will likely be a top-15 pick thanks to his NBA-ready shooting and low-post D.

 

7:15 p.m., CBS-South Dakota State vs. Michigan

 

While many fans are going to be watching Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke, you’ll want to watch one of the most athletic small forwards in Glenn Robinson III. Robinson III is someone who would make a brilliant third option to Irving and Waiters (I’d be giddy at GRIII finishing Kyrie fast breaks). Pay close attention to him if Michigan makes the later rounds, too, because his biggest negative is that he’s known to disappear in big moments.

 

7:27 p.m., TruTV-Cal vs. UNLV

 

I watched UNLV play New Mexico in the Mountain West Championship game, and when UNLV was on, Anthony Bennett was their driving force. He’s projected to go in the top 10, and might be a nice fit as an inside/outside weapon for the Cavs (He’s who NBADraft.net has as the Cavs first pick currently).

 

Friday

 

2:45 p.m., CBS-Cincinnati vs. Creighton

 

If the Cavaliers go big with their first pick, expect Creighton forward Doug McDermott, if he comes out, to be available in the mid-first round. He fits the profile of the last Creighton forward to join the NBA ranks, and Kyle Korver’s had a pretty nice career.

 

4:10 p.m., TBS-LIU/James Madison vs. Indiana

 

Indiana’s got two players the Cavs will have interest in, with stud wing Victor Oladipo and center Cody Zeller. Oladipo’s a solid slashing athlete that the Cavs could use to compliment Waiters. Cody Zeller would be fun to pair with his brother Tyler, and shows a lot of promise as an offensive threat down low.

 

6:50 p.m., TBS-Florida Gulf Coast vs. Georgetown

 

You’re going to want to watch the Cavs best case draft scenario. Otto Porter is a stud, a very smart player who’s great on both sides of the ball. You should catch as much Otto Porter as you can this tournament, because I think he’s the best player in the draft.

 

7:20 p.m., TNT-Villanova vs. UNC

 

Watch North Carolina for Mr. James McAdoo, who is a solid all-around athlete that could potentially play the 3, 4, or 5 spot. He’ll probably be available for the Cavs second pick and might be worth snagging.

 

9:57 p.m., TruTV-Minnesota vs. UCLA

 

This is a must watch to me. Shabazz Muhammad is one of the most talented shooters in college basketball this year, an all-offense wing who could potentially fit in nicely with Alonzo Gee. However, he scares me because he’s fairly selfish, and his body language during the PAC-12 tournament ranged from “Uninterested” to “WHEN IS THE DRAFT GET ME OUT OF THIS PLACE.” I’m scared of Muhammad, and need to see him against a gritty Minnesota team that features my favorite player in the nation, forward Trevor Mbakwe (Who I think is worth grabbing in the second round; his ACL tear robbed him of athleticism but he’s got that “it” factor, much like his buddy Draymond Green).

 

Topics: Alex Len, Cleveland Cavaliers, Otto Porter, Shabazz Muhammad, Victor Oladipo

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