The NBA is loaded with talent from across all 30 teams in the league. Some of them are hidden gems that can be harnessed given the right situation. Others are already superstars for their teams but may be on the lookout for a different environment.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are looking for both diamonds in the rough who have shown potential previously or possibly another All-Star to add to their lineup. Cavs general manager Koby Altman has made it clear that he’s not about to start the rebuilding process with his team after franchise leader LeBron James left the team.
Instead, he plans to move forward with this lineup and see how far it can go and build a championship contender from this group.
But the Cavaliers are far from playoff contention if they think that they have a chance against the rest of the East which is looking to take advantage of the absence of its former tormentor. Rather than being content with their roster and hope they overachieve with the addition of rookie Collin Sexton, the Cavs need to make some moves before the trade deadline.
Here are some suggested players for the Wine and Gold to pursue:
5. Kelly Oubre Jr.
2017-18 Season Averages: 11.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists
While his stats may not be gaudy or eye-popping, make no mistake about Oubre’s value to the Washington Wizards. He only started 11 of the 81 games he played last season but could be on the verge of becoming a starter quite soon. The Wizards relied on him to come off the bench and be the spark that the team needs and he delivered.
The Cavs could use Oubre as their starting small forward although he could be the team’s 6th man as well. Rodney Hood is likely going to be the starting small forward for the Cavs but Oubre could battle him for the spot in training camp.
4. Bobby Portis
2017-18 Season Averages: 13.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists
The Chicago Bulls have a tough and talented player with Portis but the team has a number of players at the power forward position. With Laurie Markkanen and newly acquired Jabari Parker on the team, Portis will have to fight for playing time with the Bulls.
In a game against the Philadelphia 76ers last season, Portis scored a career-high 38 points, a preview of what he can do when given enough playing time and when properly motivated. He shot 15-of-26 from the field including 6-of-9 from three-point territory.
Rather than keep Portis, the Bulls may want to part with their young player for the right price. The Cavaliers can offer future draft picks in exchange.
The Cavs have more than enough playing time for the 23-year old. They can slot him into the starting center position with Kevin Love playing power forward. Depending on the matchups, the two can also switch positions.
2017-18 Season Averages: 21.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists
The Ohio native McCollum may want to come home if things don’t go well for him with the Portland Trail Blazers at the beginning of the coming season. He is a fringe All-Star and could have his best year yet in Cleveland. As great as his career has been playing alongside Damian Lillard, McCollum may end up in a new address as the Blazers could be blowing up the team after a disastrous showing in last year’s playoffs.
He could slide easily into the starting lineup since the shooting guard position is still up for grabs. McCollum and Sexton could form a terrific backcourt for the Cavs with Kevin Love manning the paint.
As a Cavalier, McCollum has the chance to be an All-Star in the Eastern Conference regardless of the format for next season. He was already a very good player in Portland but he could be a better player in Cleveland.
2. Jaylen Brown
2017-18 Season Averages: 14.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists
One of the best young talents in the NBA, Brown represents the future of the NBA. But playing for the stacked Boston Celtics could be a problem for his growth and development.
Imagine a healthy Celtics lineup. The starters would include Kyrie Irving at point guard, Jaylen Brown at shooting guard, Jayson Tatum at small forward, Gordon Hayward at power forward and Al Horford at center. With so many scorers and shooters on that team, how many points would Brown average?
Not much, I assure you.
Among the five, Brown is likely the most expendable and the Cavs would do well to try and pry him away from Bean Town. Not only will he have the playing time that he deserves, he will also be featured heavily in the offense. Coach Lue would be ecstatic to have the talented swingman on his roster. No matter what Celtics GM Danny Ainge requests, the Cavs might as well give it to him as Brown is a future All-Star in this league.
2017-18 Season Averages: 21.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Perhaps the most sought-after player next season if he becomes available via trade, Towns will help accelerate Cleveland’s efforts to become a contender by at least two years. The All-Star center can post up or shoot the three, a skill he developed last season to diversify his game.
Towns has been the subject of rumors that have surrounded the team after losing in the first round of the playoffs. One has him at odds with management and the other with teammate Jimmy Butler. For their sake, the Cavs hope they are true and that the Minnesota Timberwolves send him their way through a trade before the February deadline.
The 7-foot Towns will be difficult to acquire, however, but a couple of picks plus a veteran or two from the Cavs could do the trick or possibly a three-way trade that will net them their big fish. If he were to join the Cavs, there’s little to no doubt that he will carry them to the playoffs.