The Cleveland Cavaliers shared the best odds for the no. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft alongside the New York Knicks and the Phoenix Suns. While the Knicks managed to stay in the top three, the Cavs fell to the no. 5 spot after the Pelicans, Lakers and Grizzlies all climbed up the board.
Cleveland was hoping to have the chance to draft one of Zion Williamson, Ja Morant or R.J. Barrett. Instead, they are likely to miss out on all three from their current draft position.
Still, there are some interesting options for the Cavs at the no. 5 spot, and a number of players who could have an immediate impact on Cleveland’s rebuild.
But in an incredibly top-heavy draft, there are also a number of players who may be suspect fits on this current Cavs roster.
With that in mind, here are three players that the Cavs should avoid in the 2019 NBA Draft.
3. Coby White
There are a number of reasons that the Cavs should avoid taking White. For starters, they had hoped that they drafted their point guard of the future when they selected Collin Sexton last season.
And while Sexton may be more of a combo guard, he certainly needs the ball in his hands to be a consistent playmaker. White is very similar in this regard.
Although White has decent court vision and has shown a capacity to shoot the three, his strength stems from his ability to get out and run in transition. White was one of the fastest players in all of college basketball last season, and he loves to push the tempo.
New Cavs head coach John Beilein is someone who prioritizes efficiency in the half-court offense, which does not quite suit White’s game. In addition to a potential inability to coexist with Sexton, it seems unlikely that White would thrive in a Beilein system that may choose to slow things down.
If the Cavs do decide to take a point guard, they may be better off taking a flyer on Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland, who is a better shooter than White and looks like more of a shot creator and playmaker in the half court.
2. Nassir Little
Cleveland would also be wise to avoid taking White’s teammate at North Carolina, Nassir Little.
While Little shined when he saw more minutes during the 2019 NCAA Tournament, his skill set at the three position simply does not mesh with the rest of Cleveland’s projected rotations.
Little plays in the paint, and uses his strength and athleticism to score inside. He has shown a tremendous ability to rebound for his size, but at 6’6″ he would still be pretty undersized at small forward and even moreso at power forward.
Taking Little at no. 5 would be a big reach anyway, but Cleveland should avoid making that mistake all the same.
1. Jarrett Culver
Culver was sensational in Texas Tech’s run to the national title game. He averaged 18.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists in the NCAA Tournament, establishing himself as one of the best players in March and increasing his draft stock as a result.
But Culver’s weaknesses were exposed in the title game loss to Virginia. A 30 percent shooter from beyond the arc during the season, Culver did not make a single one of his six three-pointers, and shot just 5 of 22 from the field as he was harassed by UVA standout DeAndre Hunter.
At 6’6″ and under 200 pounds, Culver simply could not handle the physicality of Hunter, and it was evident that he was often off-balance throughout the game.
Now, Culver will almost certainly get stronger, and his athleticism and defensive abilities of his own make him a noteworthy prospect. But, like Little, he struggles to shoot from the perimeter and remains somewhat undersized at the two.
There is a chance that Culver could thrive in a system with more scorers and playmakers, but the Cavs are still a very young team predicated mostly on their inside-out scoring.
Cleveland would be far better off selecting Hunter–if he is still available–or taking a gamble on the upside of Cam Reddish.