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After Eight Months Away From the Court, the Cavs Return With the Fifth Pick in the NBA Draft

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Erik Drost
/
Wikimedia Commons
The Cavaliers are set to bring in a new young player tonight as they try to build the next playoff contender post-LeBron James.

It's been eight months since the Cleveland Cavaliers were last on the court. They're back in the spotlight tonight with the fifth pick in the NBA draft. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says it's a choice between which 19-year-olds teams want to take a chance on.

Where the Cavs left off
The Cavaliers last played March 10 against the Chicago Bulls in a 108-103 loss. Their record at the time was 19-46, second-worst in the league, so they weren't invited to the NBA's restart "bubble" at Disney World in Orlando.

The season is set to begin December 22.

"As I went to put together my column on the draft, I had to go back and look at what was this team when it all stopped," Pluto said.

The roster includes Cavs' last two top-10 draft picks in guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, and returning All-Star forward Kevin Love. Also returning is center Andre Drummond, who picked up his $28.7 million player option. They also have big man Larry Nance Jr. and forward Cedi Osman.

More younger talent
With the fifth overall pick for the second year in a row, Pluto sees general manager Koby Altman and other NBA teams in a tough spot, as all the top prospects are teenagers who are "not physically or emotionally ready for the NBA."

"There was a culture at one time where you would want to play two to three years in college at least before going [to the NBA]"
Terry Pluto

Pluto says the top three players in the draft are supposed to be Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman. They're all 19-years-old.

"Probably one of those three will end up being a good player, but it's not even like a year ago where the top two players were Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. I felt real good when I watched tape of those guys that they have a chance to be good pros. And they are."

Who are the Cavaliers looking at?
Pluto says the Cavs have their eye on a 6'9" player from the EuroLeague, Deni Avdija. The 19-year-old currently plays Israel's Macabi Tel Aviv.

"The Cavaliers sent four people over to scout him, as many other teams did. He only played 12 minutes a game but they're really looking hard at him," Pluto said.

The "devolving" of the draft
Pluto says it's getting tougher to know whether any of these players will be great because of the NBA's shift to drafting younger.

"For example, there's a kid from Dayton I kind of like, Obi Toppin. He's 22. They act like he's 47! There was a culture at one time where you would want to play two to three years in college at least before going [to the NBA]."

Pluto says over the last 15 years, it's been a mindset for players to get to the NBA as quickly as possible. But he believes that doesn't mean they'll be prepared for the challenge.

"When you're out there on that court with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, these guys are put together. They are strong and they have that steely look in their eyes and they look at these teenagers like they're going to tear their throat right out," he said.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have the first pick, followed by the Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls fourth.

Stay Connected
Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. Her days begin before the sun comes up as the local anchor for NPR’s Morning Edition, which airs on WKSU each weekday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio’s sports scene. Last year, she started a weekly radio segment focusing on Northeast Ohio’s music scene, called Shuffle.
Sean Fitzgerald is a senior journalism major at Kent State University. Sean has been with Black Squirrel Radio, Kent State's student-run radio station since the spring of 2018 as a sports show host and co-host, a web article contributor and now serves as the sports department director for the station. Sean hopes to pursue a career in sports journalism once he finishes school.