There is a very good chance the Cleveland Cavaliers end up with the No. 1 pick in the draft this June, something that has been rather routine for the franchise whenever LeBron James is not around. This time, however, they won’t be getting Anthony Bennett.
Zion Williamson will almost surely be the choice if the Cavaliers do earn the top selection in the draft, as he is considered by many to be one of the most unique prospects we have seen in quite some time. So how would Williamson fit in with Cleveland?
Well, for starters, he would provide them with some sort of piece to build around.
Right now, the Cavs are essentially bereft of young talent outside of rookie point guard Collin Sexton. Maybe you can throw big men Ante Zizic and Marquese Chriss in there, but the really only check the “young” box.
Basically, it’s just Sexton and a bunch of out-of-place, in between guys like Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
The Cavaliers are in desperate need of some building blocks, and Williamson would represent one for them.
It’s not necessarily Cleveland’s fault that it does not have any intriguing young prospects, as James just left this past summer, so the Cavs have not really had any time to rebuild.
But, fortunately for Dan Gilbert and Co., they may receive a golden opportunity this offseason.
Williamson is a dynamic athlete who is similar to Charles Barkley in his style of play. He is an undersized big man in terms of height, but he has the strength of an ox and the ability to run the floor like a guard.
The idea of Sexton and Williamson running the break together is certainly tantalizing, but, of course, the Cavaliers would need more than just that.
Here is the thing with Zion Williamson: yes, he is a freak of nature, and yes, he has incredible potential, but he has no outside shot to speak of whatsoever, and while he is still young enough to improve in that area, it’s hard to see him ever becoming anything more than a mediocre perimeter shooter, at best.
That means Cleveland would need to surround both him and Sexton with shooters, as you can’t afford to have your floor spacing suffer in today’s game.
If the Cavs are going to build around Williamson, they are going to need to do it right.
Remember how former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin went out of his way to make sure to put shooters all over the floor during LeBron’s second stint in Cleveland? Well, current Cavs general manager Koby Altman would need to do the same.
And not just on the wings; at every position.
The Cavaliers would need a lot of floor spacing for Williamson to go to work, as it would open up the lane for him and give him outlets to kick the ball out to off of his drives.
Altman would have to make shrewd signings in free agency, tailoring the team’s offense to suit Williamson’s strengths and mask his weaknesses.
Regardless, Cleveland would be absolutely thrilled to have the chance to draft Williamson in a few months.
While the Duke product is no sure thing, he would provide the Cavs with some type of hope moving forward, which is something they have not really had in any of their non-LeBron seasons over the last decade.
Of course, we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves here, as there is no guarantee the Cavaliers even end up with the No. 1 pick. The New York Knicks don’t seem to be getting close to reeling off any wins, and the Phoenix Suns are doing everything they can out West to mess up Cleveland’s hopes.
But, obviously, the whole idea for the Cavs is to lose for the remainder of the season and get that worst record to have a shot at Zion Williamson.
Is it their only hope? No, but it would certainly expedite the rebuilding process.
The Cavaliers probably can’t help but think of LeBron in 2003 when they look at Williamson. Not that he has the same style of play as James, but his explosive athleticism and the fact that he appears to be a man among boys has to remind them of a certain superstar they drafted 16 years ago that transformed the franchise and eventually gave it its first NBA championship.
So, how would Zion Williamson fit in with Cleveland?
I don’t even think the Cavs care at this point. They just see that Williamson is the most talented prospect in the draft, and that’s all that matters. Sure, they will need to build their team in a specific way to complement him, but right now, all they care about is landing him. They’ll take care of the rest later.