Who could the Cavs take with the fifth pick?

Here are three players they could draft

James Rapien
May 14, 2019 - 11:28 pm
Apr 6, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Jarrett Culver (23) celebrates after defeating the Michigan State Spartans in the semifinals of the 2019 men's Final Four at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Spor

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cavaliers hoped luck would be on their side Tuesday night, as hundreds of fans packed into Saucy Brew Works hoping to witness history. Instead, they left disappointed and the hope for Zion Williamson faded in a matter of seconds. 

The former Duke star wouldn't be the next transcendent talent to lead the Cavaliers for the next decade. The team had a 14 percent chance to get the top overall pick. They had as good of a shot as anyone, so why wouldn’t luck be on their side one more time? They won the NBA Draft Lottery three times in a four-year span from 2011-2014.

The Cavaliers ended up with the fifth pick, which was the likeliest outcome (27.8 percent). That doesn’t make the results any less disappointing for fans and the organization.

If Williamson isn’t going to save Cleveland basketball, then who will the Cavaliers select to help them succeed in the post-LeBron era?

Here are three players the Cavs will look at:

Jarrett Culver – Culver was the first player in Texas Tech history to be named Big 12 Player of the Year. He led Tech to its’ first Big 12 championship and first Final Four.

Culver averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game last season. He’s one of the most versatile players in the draft. He was great on defense in college. That part of his game should translate to the NBA.  

If the Cavs take Culver with the fifth pick, there’s a lot to like, but he has his flaws. He’s a streaky shooter, who won’t wow anyone with his athleticism. His struggles came to the surface in the NCAA Tournament.

Culver erupted for 29 points in a first round win over Northern Kentucky. He averaged 19 points on 36.4 percent shooting in Texas Tech’s next three wins over Buffalo, Michigan and Gonzaga. He struggled in the NCAA National Championship game thanks to a tough matchup with DeAndre Hunter.

Culver shot 30.4 percent from three-point range last season, which was a big drop off from the 38.2 percent he shot in his freshman season.

New Cavaliers head coach John Beilein was at Michigan, which means he got up close and personal with Culver during the NCAA Tournament. That’s an edge the Cavs should use to their advantage as they evaluate the talent in this years’ draft. 

Cam Reddish – Reddish may have the highest ceiling of anyone not named Zion. The 6’8” guard was ranked ahead of Williamson in high school. That quickly changed when the trio of Reddish, Williamson and Barrett joined forces at Duke.

Reddish averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game last season. Did Duke’s other stars help or hurt Reddish’s performance? It’s a question every NBA team in the lottery will have to answer before the draft.

Reddish fits in well with the current Cavaliers’ roster. He’s a long, tall guard who projects to be a premium three-point shooter. Collin Sexton would love to get a backcourt teammate like Reddish who can hit big shots, put the ball on the floor and score at a high level.

The Cavaliers have to look at Reddish’s three-point shooting (33.3 percent) and wonder if he’s as good of a shooter as everyone says? He’s a young player who was used to having the ball in his hands in high school. He became a role player for the first time in his life at Duke. Did that time help or hurt his development?

Reddish may have learned a lot, including how to play without the ball, which is important, especially if Sexton is a part of the Cavs’ future. Some of his numbers, including shooting percentage (35.6) and turnovers (2.7 per game) are concerning. He may have the highest ceiling of anyone the Cavs could select, which means they’ll take a long, hard look at Reddish between now and the draft.

De'Andre Hunter – Hunter has risen up draft boards and is a real candidate to be the fifth pick. The Cavaliers want to improve their defense, after being one of the worst defensive teams in NBA history.

Hunter would certainly help in that department. He was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year last season. His defense should translate to the NBA right away, which means he would make an immediate impact for the Cavaliers.

He helped lead Virginia to their first national championship in school history. Hunter made the NCAA All-Tournament team after a dominant performance in the final, including 27 points and nine rebounds. He limited Culver to 15 points, including 0-for-6 shooting from three.

Hunter’s also a great three-point shooter. He shot nearly 44 percent in his last year with Virginia, but he was selective, only taking 2.8 threes per game. He averaged 15.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and two assists per game last season.

The Cavaliers were horrible on defense and struggled to shoot the ball from three-point range last year, so Hunter’s strengths certainly match their needs.

Unfortunately for Cleveland, every single one of these prospects has flaws. Hunter is a perfect example of an older player who projects to be a good NBA player, but might not have the upside that teams are looking for with a top pick. He will be 22 in December, which may not seem significant, but it is when you’re comparing him to Reddish or Culver.

Hunter isn’t a great ball-handler and could end up being a ‘three-and-d’ guy in the NBA. Every team needs a player who can knock down threes and play great defense, but does he have star potential like some of the other players in the draft?

That’s a question the Cavaliers have five weeks to answer.

The NBA Draft is Thursday, June 20. Watch highlights of all three players in the videos below: