Amico: With lottery looming, Cavaliers staying on guard

Murray State product Ja Morant is widely considered the top point guard entering the draft.

How about a starting backcourt of Collin Sexton and Ja Morant? Or Sexton and R.J. Barrett?

More than just about any other time, the odds are stacked in favor of the Cavaliers getting a quality guard in the June 20 draft.

The draft will feature three kinds of guards:

1. Dynamic Point Guards — Morant (Murray State), Darius Garland (Vanderbilt) and Coby White (North Carolina), who is actually viewed as someone who can play either backcourt position.

2. Talented Shooting Guards — Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech), De’Andre Hunter (Virginia) and Kevin Porter Jr. (USC), who was once viewed as a lottery pick, then seemed to drop out, but apparently is back in again.

3. Wings Who Can Fill It Up — Barrett (Duke), Cam Reddish (also Duke) and perhaps Romeo Langford (Indiana).

Of course, all of this is assuming the Cavs don’t land No. 1 pick Zion Williamson, the large and skilled mutli-faceted forward from Duke. If they win Tuesday’s lottery, you can start printing the Zion jerseys. That is who the Cavs (and anyone) will take.

But general manager Koby Altman and new coach John Beilein are prepared for other scenarios. Only one team wins No. 1. And while the Cavs are tied with New York and Phoenix for the best chance to luck into the lottery’s top spot, those odds are still only 14 percent.

So what does Altman do if the Cavs finish No. 2? How about third, fourth, fifth or sixth? That answer is easy, too. Altman will almost definitely go with a guard.

And that’s not just because it fills a need. It’s also because, aside from Williams, the best players in this draft tend to do their best work on the perimeter.

Morant comes from a smaller school, but there is no doubting his big-time game. He has drawn comparisons to Portland star Damian Lillard, who hails from Weber State.

Murray State, Weber State … whatever. Neither is exactly considered a factory for NBA types. But if that Cavs can’t get Williamson, they would love to have Morant.

Or how about Barrett? He stands 6-foot-7 and will have no trouble getting off his shot, his quick release and athleticism certain to cause problems no matter where he goes next.

At worst, Barrett is viewed as a “volume” scorer. At best, he is viewed as a regular All-Star. And why not? Barrett has already thrived next to an impactful player in Williamson.

So that is where things may get tricky for Altman — if the Cavs finish at No. 2. Then the GM will have a real decision to make, one that will play a major role in both the short- and long-term future of the franchise.

Morant or Barrett? The Cavs love them both.

If the Cavs finish fourth or worse, well, they’ll again have a tough call.

Culver averaged 20.5 points and 7.1 rebounds in leading Tech to the NCAA championship game. Reddish managed 16.3 points as the very clear third-wheel at Duke. Hunter did a little of everything, including show off some strong defense, for title-winning Virginia. And scouts say Garland is the most-underrated prospect entering the draft.

But until the Cavs learn their draft position, all they know for sure is the like really like Sexton, they really like Cedi Osman, they really like Jordan Clarkson off the bench.

They also really like the fact another young backcourt player with promise is likely on the way. If not, it’s only because they landed the right to draft Zion Williamson.

And hey, that’s not so bad.

3 Comments on "Amico: With lottery looming, Cavaliers staying on guard"

  1. Pick 1 you take Zion, pick 2 we take Morant. Its that simple. Anything after that I reckon we should trade it.

  2. Pick 3 you take Barrett……you don’t trade out of the top of the lottery.

  3. To expedite the growth of this young and hungry Cavs team in future years, wouldnt it be wise to hold on to some of our quality vets who are in line with Beilein’s values?

    If you’re Zion or whoever and you know youll be with the Cavs for at least 4 years before choosing your own path, doesnt it make sense to show these young guns we’re trying to win another championship in Cleveland?

    Tristan is a team first energy guy who doesnt need shots, and has invaluable experience. He hustles, communicates well with the young guys and is great for the locker room. In sync with Beilein.

    Love is an excellent passer who will space the floor and find open guys and keep the ball moving. He’s a team first guy willing to sacrifice, and doesnt come down on his teammates. Has a lot of knowledge and experience to share as well.

    Its good to have coaches on the floor too if youre a rookie in this league. Guys who know where and when to be in a spot, and have seen before what opponents throw at the Cavs.

    The salary floor requires us to pay somebody, since rookies cant sign big contracts, and with the points above Id argue for holding on to these guys. Its great for a locker room and buy in to a coach and his system if you can witness some results right away.

    Trading guys like that and going full tank is is destructive to our chances of retaining future talent, assuming we draft well this time around. And then there’s the issue of Cavs fans of course, who prefer to pay for tickets when a team has a chance to win on any given night.

    For Sexton, Barrett, Williamson, Morant, whoever please Cavaliers lets put our best foot forward this season and hold on to what pieces that will help Beilein’s system actually work. I know you can always sign veteran leadership for cheap, but when it can also be a guy with talent who plays a bigger role and is part of the identity of the team, everybody wins.

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