The second half of the NBA season has not been kind to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 25 games, the Cavs have only seven wins. In addition, Cleveland is 1-9 in their last 10 games. With roughly two weeks left in the NBA regular season, Cleveland’s season is nearly over. Their attention will shift to the 2021 NBA Draft soon. Standing at 21-43, the Cavs are in position for another high draft pick.
Shift to Draft
The 2021 NBA play-in tournament begins May 18, and will include teams in 7th-10th place in their conference. Cleveland’s chances of placing 9th or 10th in the Eastern conference are over. At 21-43 with a tough remaining schedule, their season is likely over.
Cleveland has eight regular season games remaining. Some of the more difficult opponents remaining includes the Suns, Blazers, Mavericks and Nets. The worst teams remaining on the Cavs’ schedule are the Pacers and Wizards. The Pacers sit at 9th in the eastern conference while the Wizards are 10th. Also, the Wizards are 8-2 in their last 10 games so this will be another tough game for Cleveland.
There is a decent chance the Cavaliers will go winless in their remaining games. At best, the Cavs might win two or three games. Therefore, Cleveland’s position in the 2021 NBA Draft is coming into focus. The 2021 NBA Draft is July 29th, and the Cavs are on track for the 6th pick. If Cleveland loses most of their remaining games, they will likely move up to a top 3-5 pick.
The NBA Lottery will decide the exact order of the NBA Draft. The 14 teams that miss the NBA playoffs will be included in the NBA Lottery. Teams with the worst record will have the highest chance for getting the first pick or a top four pick. Also, the three worst records will have an equal chance of 14% for the number one pick. For the Cavs, finishing with one of the three worst records in the NBA will give the best chance at a high pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
The NBA Lottery has not been kind to Cleveland in the past two years. The Cavs had one of the three worst records in the NBA the last two seasons. This gave them the highest possible chance for the number one pick, and both NBA lotteries placed them at the fifth pick. If the Cavaliers continue to lose, they could end up with the third or fourth worst record in the NBA. This would give them a decent chance at the first pick or a top four pick.
Tankathon has an NBA Draft Lottery Simulator. This simulator shows each teams current position in the NBA Draft, and lists their chances in the NBA Lottery. The right side shows each teams chance at a top four pick or the number one pick. According to Tankathon, Cleveland is in line for the sixth pick. Further, Tankathon says Cleveland would have a 37.2% chance at the fourth pick and a 9% chance for the first pick in the NBA Lottery. The NBA Lottery takes place June 22nd, this will determine where Cleveland picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Where Cleveland falls in the NBA Draft will have a huge impact on their potential targets. If the Cavs were to land a top four pick, they would select from the top four prospects. Most believe the top four prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft are Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs and Evan Mobley. The best player in this year’s draft is likely Cunningham, and among the top four he would make the most sense for Cleveland. Cunningham is a guard, but he can guard wings since he is 6-foot-8. Cleveland will need to land the number one pick if they want to select Cunningham.
If Cleveland is picking outside of the top four, they would likely consider Scottie Barnes, Jonathan Kuminga or Donovan Mitchell. Barnes or Kuminga would address the Cavs’ need for a scoring wing. Meanwhile, Mitchell would help Cleveland’s guard depth. In addition, Mitchell would also help Cleveland’s perimeter defense and three-point shooting. Among the three, Kuminga would likely be the top target since he may have the highest ceiling.
Players like Cunningham or Kuminga could make an instant impact in Cleveland. This would be another step in the right direction during the Cavs’ rebuild. Yet again, the Cavaliers will be at the mercy of the NBA Lottery. No one can say who Cleveland will select until the NBA Lottery has determined the 2021 NBA lottery picks. Ultimately, all Cleveland can do is try to get the best possible chance at a high pick and hope to get lucky.