The Utah Jazz have had quite the offseason. First, they traded All-Star center Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for an unprecedented package of picks. On Thursday, the Jazz agreed to trade Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Similarly, they landed a huge haul for the All-Star guard.
In return, the Jazz are getting Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji, two picks swaps and three unprotected first round picks. That is obviously quite the package being sent to Utah. But it also leaves the Cavs with one of the most lethal backcourts in the game with Mitchell and Darius Garland.
FULL TRADE DETAILS:
3 unprotected first round picks
2 pick swaps
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) September 1, 2022
The Cavs sent pick swaps to the Jazz for 2026 and 2028. Cleveland also sent their 2025, 2027 and 2029 first round picks to Utah. The question is, was this too much to lose for Mitchell. That’s what we are here for as we have graded the Donovan Mitchell trade from the Utah Jazz to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Grading the Donovan Mitchell Trade to the Cavs
First, let’s take a look at what Cleveland gave up to get Mitchell.
They included the three current NBA players in the deal. Well two are current and one will be a rookie this year. Markkanen likely holds more value than he probably should. He had breakout season in 2018 with the Chicago Bulls when he posted 18.7 points and nine rebounds per game. He was in just his second year and appeared to pop. But his numbers have been in decline ever since. Markkanen has never been very efficient scoring the basketball. Considering the depth in the front court for the Cavs, this is not a big loss.
Sexton is a bigger question mark. The Cavs drafted him in the 2018 NBA Draft and over his first three years in the NBA, he steadily improved. He averaged 16, 20 and 24 points per game respectively over that time. But last year, Sexton tore the meniscus in his left knee and only played in 11 games. Due to the injury, it’s hard to accurately gauge how effective he will be moving forward. That however did not stop Utah from agreeing to a sign-and-trade for four-years and $72 million with Sexton.
Sources: Collin Sexton is signing a four-year, $72 million contract via sign-and-trade to the Utah Jazz.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 1, 2022
The third player in the Donovan Mitchell trade was the rookie out of Kansas, Ochai Agbaji. The Cavs drafted Agbaji with the 14th pick in this year’s NBA Draft. He was an elite scorer in college and has an NBA ready body. But he struggled at times defensively, which was part of the reason he went in the middle of the first round.
Ochai Agbaji: 6-5, 22 yrs old, #14 pick, four-year starter
Last year w/ Kansas: 18.8 PPG (48-41-74), 5.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.6 BPG
— David J. Smith (@davidjsmith1232) September 1, 2022
Now, let’s take a look at the picks.
Cleveland obviously sent a ton of draft capital in the trade as well. Two pick swaps and three unprotected first round picks is nothing to scoff at. But let’s think about this.
The Cavs core is young, very young. Darius Garland is 22 years old. Evan Mobley is 21. Jarrett Allen is 24. They are all under contract for at least the next three seasons, with Allen and Garland locked up beyond that. There is little reason to believe that with the addition of Mitchell, this team is anything but a title contender.
That means that it is very likely the Cavs will have a better record than Utah for the foreseeable future. After all, the Jazz are basically in full rebuild mode after the Gobert trade as well. If Cleveland has a better record than Utah through most of this decade, which appears likely, the pick swaps are meaningless.
It’s possible the 2027 or 2029 unprotected first round pick could be highly valuable. But it is equally possible that all of those picks are somewhere in the 20’s. The NBA Draft is not the NFL Draft. The vast majority of elite players are drafted top-10, if not top-5 in basketball.
If the Cavs were an aging team a piece away from a championship, the picks would really hurt. But they aren’t. They are young, extremely talented and hungry after tasting a little success last season.
Let’s examine Mitchell himself now.
Mitchell has been such a prolific scorer the last few seasons, it’s created a perception that he is older than he actually is. But he is only 25 years old. The Cavs starting five is now Garland, Mitchell, Isaac Okoro (2020 fifth overall pick), Mobley and Allen. Mitchell is the oldest player in that group.
The backcourt of Garland and Mitchell has everything you want: playmaking ability, scoring, passing, handles, etc. But don’t expect the Cavs to be solely reliant on offense. Mobley and particularly Allen is an elite shot blocker. He is easily one of the best two-way bigs in the NBA. This Cavs team should be scary good and the trade made that happen.
CAVS GRADE: A-