There are a lot of March Madness greats who fail to get selected into the NBA Draft. DJ Burns was the latest one to join this long list of players. He led the NC State basketball squad to an unlikely Final Four appearance but not a lot of front offices were enamored by his style of play. But, there was one team that made an exception — Donovan Mitchell and Kenny Atkinson’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Yes, the Cavs!

NBA Draft snub gets some love

The NC State basketball standout is heading to the Cavs after not getting selected in the NBA Draft, per Chris Fedor of They have signed him to a Summer League contract. This might add fire to DJ Burns’ aspirations because he had always wanted to be in the league. He even lost a lot of weight in the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft in hopes of getting drafted.

There are a lot of things that DJ Burns needs to work on. But, his touch around the rim just needs to be the most consistent out of them. He battled it out with guys like Kyle Filipowski, Armando Bacot, and Zach Edey who were all highly regarded players. His style of play was able to do that because of his ability to post-up, face-up, rebound, and even pass off the post.

Another big skill that he has developed is being swift-footed on multiple levels of the field. He will do great as a roll man for guys like Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. His explosiveness is still there after NC State basketball’s miracle run which could mean big things for the Cavs. But, fans should not get ahead of themselves. Burns still needs to fight for his spot in Kenny Atkinson’s rotation. If all goes well, the Cavs may have just found themselves a mini Nikola Jokic.

DJ Burns before getting picked up by the Cavs

Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) defends North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four game, Saturday, April 6, 2024, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

© Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

At NC State basketball, he was the beast with the gap in his teeth who ravaged the ACC tournament and rode that momentum all the way to March Madness. During his senior year, he managed to rack in 12.9 points. What made that number even more astounding was that his shots were finding the bottom of the net 53.1% of the time from all three levels of scoring.

His nimble playstyle on the post is not the only thing that he can offer. Burns can also grab boards like a beast. He managed to notch 4 rebounds a night before the Cavs picked him up. His body is also good at holding down two opponents while boxing out. This would allow guys like Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen to have an easier time running the break after the rebound.

There is a lot of things that Burns needs to learn prior to cracking the Cavs rotation. A way to improve his outside shot is one of them. He only knocks those down 20% of the time. The future is bright but he needs to prove himself to Kenny Atkinson and the rest of the Donovan Mitchell-led Cavs first.