The NBA released its 2023-24 GM Survey Tuesday afternoon.
The survey included questions about who will win the 2024 NBA Finals, who will win the MVP for the 2023-24 NBA season and which player was most likely to have a breakout season, among many others. Though Cavs forward Evan Mobley received votes for the player most likely to have a breakout season, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards would be tabbed the most likely after he earned 23% of the total votes. Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham came in a close second after gaining 20%. Cleveland forward Max Strus tied for third place with Houston Rockets forward Dillon Brooks, Indiana Pacers guard Bruce Brown, Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic and Rockets guard Fred VanVleet for the most underrated player acquisition.
The Cavs received the second-most votes (10%) for the team with the most promising young core. The Oklahoma City Thunder were the clear winners of the category after gaining 73% of the total votes. Cleveland took first place in the category during the 2022 GM survey. They garnered more votes than the Thunder, Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies, Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans in 2022.
How does the Cavaliers young core compare to the rest of the NBA?
The Cavs will have to compete with a few emerging young cores within their own division as time goes on.
The Pacers and Pistons have built promising young rosters over the last few years with high picks in the NBA Draft and a few notable trades. Indiana re-signed guard Tyrese Haliburton to a five-year contract after he earned his first All-Star selection last season. The Pacers sent forward Domantas Sabonis, guard Justin Holiday, guard Jeremy Lamb and a 2023 second-round pick to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Haliburton, guard Buddy Hield and now-Cavs center Tristan Thompson in 2022. Indiana would acquire Houston forward Jarace Walker in the 2023 NBA Draft one year after selecting guard Bennedict Mathurin with the No. 6 pick in the 2022 draft.
The Pistons will roll out a roster featuring center Isaiah Stewart, guard Jaden Ivey, center Jalen Duren and guard Ausar Thompson next season. Ivey, a former First-team All-Big Ten selection during his time with the Purdue Boilermakers, was selected to the league’s All-Rookie Second Team after a season that saw him score 16.3 points per game. Only four of the 14 players under standard contracts for the Pistons are older than 25, according to an October article from Pistons.com Editor Keith Langlois.
A few notable young cores in the Western Conference can prove to be tough competition for the Cavaliers as they continue to grow and take shape in the coming years.
The Thunder added Kentucky guard Cason Wallace via the 2023 NBA Draft. Oklahoma City’s roster will feature 25-year-old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 21-year-old Josh Giddey, 21-year-old Chet Holmgren and 22-year-old Jalen Williams. The Houston Rockets took a few more steps to complete a solid, youthful core of their own with the selections of guard Amen Thompson and forward Cam Whitmore in this year’s draft.
“Chet brings so many things to the game,” Gilgeous-Alexander said earlier this month, via The Associated Press Sports Writer Cliff Brunt. “Block shots, he rebounds — he’s versatile. Especially in today’s NBA, that helps out a lot — not only myself, but the rest of the team.”
The Cavs will still have a few talented young options to rely on during the 2023-24 NBA season.
Cleveland’s most-used starting lineup during the 2022-23 season featured a now-23-year-old Darius Garland, a now-22-year-old Mobley and a now-22-year-old Isaac Okoro, according to Basketball Reference. The three combined for 53 minutes and 31 points during a 1-point preseason loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. Mobley, the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team during his second season in the league. Garland took second place on the Cavs roster in points per game after earning an All-Star selection the year before. Okoro was a 2020-21 All-Rookie Second Team member, joining Stewart, Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane, New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley and Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams.
Forward Emoni Bates, who the Cavs took with the No. 49 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, showed promise during the 14 minutes he played against the Hawks on Tuesday. He scored 10 points as he hit four of his seven shot attempts and two of his five tries from the 3-point line. Bates came close to winning the matchup for the Cavaliers after he hit a step-back 3-point shot with just over 11 seconds remaining. The former Eastern Michigan forward was signed to a two-way contract in July.
“He’s done a great job,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said following an October practice, via a video from the Cavaliers. “He picks up what we give him. His effort is great. He’s got a really good understanding of the game.
“I think people shortchange how high his basketball IQ is as a playmaker. Everybody always talks about his ability to score and create shots, but he sees the floor extremely well and makes the right play most of the time. Defensively, he’s picking up our stuff, using his length, knowing how to keep guys in front of him and contest and challenge shots. He’s done a great job.”