It’s never too early for the Cleveland Cavaliers to start looking toward the future before the NBA offseason gets into full swing.
Cavaliers President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman said there wouldn’t be any sweeping changes or overreactions to the Cavs’ first-round loss to the New York Knicks, according to Right Down Euclid Editor-in-Chief Evan Dammarell. Altman had put an emphasis on spacing and shooting on what Cleveland is looking at this offseason, potentially building up a squad that ended their 2022-23 campaign with a 36.7% clip from the perimeter in the regular season and 32.7% in the playoffs.
Cleveland currently holds the No. 49 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Though their options may be limited, the Cavs can go in multiple directions with their second-round choice. They can put their faith into high-upside prospects for potential help in the future or try to play it safe and select reliable bigs or wings with successful college or professional careers.
The Cavs are among several teams that have all asked to bring in North Carolina State forward Isaiah Miranda for workouts, according to a May article from Pawtucket Times Sports Writer Brendan McGair.
“The Celtics, Thunder, Cavaliers, Raptors, and Jazz have all asked to bring in Isaiah Miranda for workouts,” wrote McGair. “The Pawtucket native has declared for the 2023 NBA Draft but holds the option of returning to N.C. State next season.”
Should the Cavaliers pursue the N.C. State product if he falls to them with the No. 49 pick? And would he be a good fit for a Cleveland team with limited options in the 2023 NBA Draft?
Isaiah Miranda is a former 4-star center out of Pawtucket, R.I. He committed to N.C. State over offers from Georgetown, Louisville, USC, Connecticut, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Memphis and UCLA, among others, according to 247Sports. He joined the Wolfpack late in the season, but would up redshirting in what would have been his freshman year.
Miranda officially joined N.C. State and began practicing immediately in December, according to an article from On3 NC State writer Ethan McDowell.
“I respect Isaiah for making the decision to join us,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in December, via McDowell. “This won’t be easy for him and he recognizes that. Most true freshmen join a program in June or at the latest in August and have months of skill work and practices with their teammates to develop chemistry. Isaiah won’t have any of that, but I’ve loved the attitude he has come in with.
“He’s all about learning and helping his team, and I’ve been proud of his teammates for how they’ve welcomed him to our program. Everybody is excited to have Isaiah here and get him going so he can help the team.”
Both Miranda and guard Casey Morsell, who averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest for the Wolfpack last season, declared for the NBA draft in April. Miranda also entered the transfer portal. They joined guard Terquavion Smith, who declared for the NBA Draft in March.
“I’m forgoing my college eligibility and going all the way in,” Smith said, via ESPN NBA Draft expert Jonathan Givony. “I’m thankful for everything the N.C. State coaching staff and fans have done for me. This is the right decision for me to take care of my family.”
It will have a lot to improve if it wants to compete with some of the league’s toughest playoff contenders next season. But Cleveland will at least be able to fall back on having some continuity between the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons.
The Cavaliers have 10 players listed on Spotrac’s salary cap table for the 2023-24 season, including three non-guaranteed contracts for forward Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens and guard Sam Merrill, according to Spotrac. Stevens has a club option for the 2023-24 season. Center Robin Lopez, the only other listed center for the Cavaliers, will become an unrestricted free agent in 2023 if the Cavs choose not to re-sign him.
Every player from Cleveland’s big four is listed on Spotrac’s table, along with guard Ricky Rubio, forward Isaac Okoro and Dean Wade. Guards Caris LeVert, Danny Green and Raul Neto are among the players listed as the team’s potential 2023 free agents.
Should the Cavs draft Isaiah Miranda?
From the outside looking in, Miranda fills at least a few needs for the Cavaliers before the start of free agency.
Cleveland needs bigs off the bench, mainly players who can play reliable minutes, bring down boards and block shots to take some of the pressure off of forward Evan Mobley and center Jarrett Allen. The team will likely have to turn to more experienced options to build a deeper and more competitive rotation, but Miranda’s potential may be something for the Cavs to invest in with their second-round selection.
“It’s rare that you get the opportunity to add a player of Isaiah’s ability to your roster in the middle of the season,” Keatts said in December, via McDowell. “We’re excited to have him on our team. He’s a young man that is oozing with potential. Just seeing him around our team the last few days, you can see how tall and how much length he has. He’s a big man that can really run.
“He can fly down the court, rim run and really pressure the defense with his offensive skill when you combine it with his height and wing span. Defensively, he has all the makings of a player that can be a real asset to us. He’s going to be able to switch one through five and I think he has the potential to become one of the ACC’s best shot blockers.”
Quenton Albertie ·
Miranda will likely need time before he can find his way onto the court for the Cavaliers. But, even if he spends a few years with the Cleveland Charge in the NBA G League or on the bench for the Cavaliers, the 7-foot-1-inch forward could be an exciting addition if he has the potential Keatts raved about.
Isaiah Miranda’s main strengths can also make him a worthwhile selection if he refine his craft enough to become a part of the Cavaliers’ roster.
“He is a more than capable rim runner who can beat most bigs down the floor, get position and finish with quick hitters,” 247Sports National Basketball Director Eric Bossi wrote in a December article. “He’s also got tremendous hands that allow him to catch just about any post entry pass and be a lob finisher.
“Miranda also has some faceup skill. He’s got a nice looking shooting stroke, can put the ball on the floor a bit and is a pretty good passer out of the high post.”
Mobley and Allen averaged 1.5 and 1.2 blocks per game for a Cavaliers squad that allowed the third-least points in the paint with 46.3 during the regular season, according to NBA.com. The figure slightly jumped to 46.4 during Cleveland’s five games against New York in the NBA Playoffs. No other Cavalier could reach more than one block per game during the team’s 2022-23 season. Wade swatted away the third-most shots on the team with 0.5.
The Cavs placed towards the middle of the league with 52.8 points in the paint per contest during the regular season and fourth-to-last in the postseason with 43.2.
Whether Clevleand should draft Miranda will depend on the route it plans to go down before or during free agency.
If the Cavaliers can focus on gaining “win-now” options for the immediate and long-term future through free agency or a trade or two, they will have more of a reason to roll the dice on a boom-or-bust prospect in the second round. If not, they can try selecting more experienced options with their late-round selection to provide an immediate stopgap option off the bench.