The Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly been scouting the top 2021 NBA draft prospects, from Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs and Kai Jones at the college level to G Leaguers Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green, per Chris Fedor of cleveland.com.
General manager Koby Altman and assistant general manager Mike Gansey also watched players like Moses Moody, Keon Johnson, Jaden Springer, BJ Boston, Isaiah Jackson and Cameron Thomas during conference tournaments last week.
The Cavaliers are casting a wide net, a logical move considering the uncertainty of where the team will end up in the standings. The Cavs do appear to be headed for the lottery again after a 15-26 start, putting them 13th in the Eastern Conference.
But a playoff berth isn't out of the question. Cleveland is just 3.5 games behind the Chicago Bulls (18-22) for the No. 10 seed, which would get them into the new play-in tournament between the Nos. 7-10 seeds.
In his latest mock draft, B/R's Jonathan Wasserman projected the Cavaliers to select Duke's Jalen Johnson with the No. 6 overall pick, noting that his "physical profile and positional skill set should be too persuasive once Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Suggs are off the board."
Those five players, led by Cunningham, are widely believed to be the clear top talents in this year's draft.
Cunningham mixes excellent playmaking and scoring with his impressive length and athleticism. Mobley is the ideal modern center, mixing rim protection with the ability to stretch the floor as a shooter. Green and Kuminga are a fantastic wing prospects in a league that covets such players. Suggs is a natural point guard who also hurts teams with his scoring and athleticism.
If the Cavaliers don't get into the top five, however, Wasserman believes the team could see Johnson as an "interchangeable big who can create problems with his ball-handling and use that 220-pound frame and athleticism on defense. Shooting represents an obvious wing skill, but even without it, he remains dangerous because of his unique playmaking and off-ball scoring by cutting, offensive rebounding, rolling and finishing."
So the Cavaliers are going to have some intriguing options as they look to build around the young core of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Isaac Okoro.