The Cleveland Cavaliers are coming off a respectable season under J.B. Bickerstaff, losing in the Play-In Tournament to the Atlanta Hawks. With a solid young core in place with Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen, the Cavs certainly went into the 2022 NBA Draft looking to find another impact talent who can help them take that next step.
The organization had four picks on Thursday and ultimately took Kansas standout Ochai Agbaji with the 14th overall pick, who should fit in seamlessly with the Cavs. They had three selections in the second round, nabbing Senegalese big man Khalifa Diop, Evan Mobley’s brother Isaiah Mobley out of USC, and Aussie forward Luke Travers.
That being said, here are grades for each of the Cavs’ picks from the NBA Draft.
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Cavs 2022 NBA Draft Grades
Ochai Agbaji, SG, Kansas, 14th overall
The Cavs did a tremendous job here with this pick. They continue to add youthful talent and this is a phenomenal addition. Agbaji is a proven winner, leading the Jayhawks to a national championship in March en route to being named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four in New Orleans. Agbaji has all the makings of a 3&D type player, which is exactly what Cleveland needs.
Agbaji averaged 18.8 points and 5.1 rebounds on a 40% clip from downtown in 2021-22 for Kansas and was crucial to their success all season long. He’s got a smooth stroke and is the definition of a knockdown shooter. Agbaji isn’t afraid to let it fly either, taking 6.5 attempts from deep per night. At 22 years old, he’s one of the older players in this draft class but the SG is physically developed and very mature defensively. The Cavs need wing scoring and that’s exactly what Agbaji brings to the table.
Although he’s not much of a playmaker, the Jayhawks star won’t exactly be relied upon to create as much as he’ll be expected to either find his spot and knock down shots or cut to the rim onto passes from the high-level facilitator on this roster, Darius Garland.
The Cavs made the right decision here. You can never go wrong with athleticism and shooting.
Khalifa Diop, C, Senegal – 39th overall
A 7’1″ center who was playing professionally in Europe, Diop is an intriguing talent but certainly raw. The Senegal native played in the ACB league in Spain last season and the Cavs are reportedly planning to keep him overseas to develop more.
However, he did show some serious promise in 2021-22, enjoying his best campaign to date. Diop averaged 6.1 points and 4.2 rebounds on 60% shooting from the field and even won the EuroCup Rising Stars award, which Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis won in previous years. At 250 pounds, Diop has good physical tools already and profiles as a rim-running big with solid instincts around the rim.
The 20-year-old operates well off the pick-and-roll and can hold his own inside. However, he’s a bit uncoordinated and lacks fluent footwork. This is the definition of a draft and stash prospect for the Cavs. With an already packed frontcourt, there was never much chance of Diop actually making the NBA roster next season. The hope is he can keep developing in Spain and turn into a potential backup center in Cleveland.
Isaiah Mobley, PF, USC – 49th overall
Quenton Albertie ·
Alex Sabri ·
Isaiah Mobley is very raw but hey, why not link him up with his brother in Cleveland? From a moral standpoint alone, this was a great choice for the Cavs, similar to what Milwaukee did with Thanasis Antetokounmpo. Mobley is a big-bodied PF who gives 110% every time he steps on the court. He’s not the shot-blocker that Evan is, but he is actually a rather talented playmaker and can shoot it well from long range, draining 36% of his triples last season.
Mobley averaged 6.2 points and 5.3 boards per game in 2021-22 for the Trojans and the fact he can facilitate and get it going from deep already gives him a leg-up in today’s NBA. Plus, he’s a respectable defender with a wingspan well over 7 feet. As previously mentioned, Cleveland has a plethora of options in their frontcourt which means Mobley could find himself on a two-way contract. Nevertheless, drafting him to pair with his brother is a very smart decision. I like this.
Luke Travers, SF, Australia – 56th overall
Travers is an intriguing prospect out of Australia with good defensive tools. He does a nice job of crashing the glass and using his length to contain opponents. Travers also improved immensely as a playmaker last season for Perth in the NBL. However, his shooting is very poor, and that could be the make or break for Travers at the NBA level. Likely another draft and stash prospect here but a few years down the road if he can find his three-point shot, Travers may turn into something for the Cavs.