As the Cleveland Cavaliers march torward championship contender status, there are a number of trade targets on other teams that they could look to add to their roster.
Unfortunately, while the primary names being mentioned in blockbuster trade proposals play a position that the Cavs don’t need — Philadelphia 76ers star guard James Harden, Portland Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard, Toronto Raptors star power forward Pascal — the players who fit the mold of what Cleveland does need either aren’t being mentioned or would simply be pipe dreams for the Cavs.
For example, players such as San Antonio Spurs forward Devin Vassell, Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga, and Los Angeles Clippers wing Norman Powell could all make an enormous impact in Cleveland with their perimeter prowess on both the offensive and defensive end. However, not only would the Cavs be hard-pressed to get any of their respective teams to surrender, and successful acquisition of these pieces would likely require Cleveland to give up pieces that they would rather keep.
As a result, a sign-and-trade for a player that’s consistently been linked to the Cavs in veteran wing Kelly Oubre Jr. would be best for Cleveland.
1 trade Cavs still must target…
Kelly Oubre Jr., the 15th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, has made large strides over the last few years in his transformation from an athletic but raw wing into a high-level two-way player.
Though it’s not reflected in his overall 3-point percentages with Oubre topping out at 35.2 percent from 3 in 2019-20 with the Phoenix Suns, the 27-year-old is a much-improved corner shooter that knocked down 41.0 percent of his shots from this area last season.
As he’s entering his athletic prime, he continues to make the plays you would expect a player with his physical profile, although his efficiency continues to lag behind his career season with the Suns. A consistent finisher in transition and the halfcourt as well, Oubre can also consistently get to the free-throw line because of the impact he makes an impact around the rim.
Ultimately, Oubre is a player that can fill a suitable off-ball role starting alongside Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell. He can also be a tertiary scorer that plays within the flow of the offense, methodically penetrating the lane or taking the open jumper, but isn’t hesitant to get a bucket.
The domino effect
As fan favorite Evan Mobley continues to grow his confidence as a scorer, having Kelly Oubre Jr. — who has averaged 17.0 points per game on 44.0 percent shooting from the field over the last four seasons — bolster the offense could be the difference between going to Cancun early and making a deep playoff run.
This is also a scenario that allows veteran wing Caris LeVert to be the primary ball-handler off the bench. LeVert, though arguably a more skilled offensive playmaker than Oubre, needs to fill a key role for the Cleveland Cavaliers himself. His skillset is beneficial for a squad that can’t quite rely on Ricky Rubio’s health or Isaac Okoro’s guard skills and needs a go-to scorer in the second unit.
One last thing…
Kelly Oubre Jr. is also a valuable defensive player, holding opponents to below 1.00 point per possession in isolation over the last three seasons, per NBA Advanced Stats.
A tenacious on-ball defender willing to guard players the length of the court, Oubre consistently uses his length, mobility and intensity to his advantage. To that point, at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, Oubre brings prototypical wing size in a smallish perimeter group. Though a simple concept, when it comes to defending the top wings in the conference, having a player that can match up with them as well as possible is often the best way to slow them down.
In a conference that could see the Cavs facing the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat in the NBA Playoffs, this makes Oubre’s role incredibly important.