A proposal to bring the Cleveland Cavaliers and other lottery teams to Chicago to finish the season will have major NBA Draft implications.
While 22 teams travel to Orlando to compete for an NBA title, the remaining franchises are gearing up for a potential bubble in Chicago. Though the stakes in Chicago will be much lower, the Cleveland Cavaliers still stand to gain a few things. Specifically, the Cavs can gauge their biggest need for the 2020 NBA Draft.
The league’s proposal is to bring all eight non-Orlando teams to compete in September. A brief training camp would be held before each team eventually plays a number of games against each other.
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It’s already been established that most veteran players will opt out of joining the voluntary bubble. Solidified stars such as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Bradley Beal and Blake Griffin will almost definitely remain home.
As for the Cavs, it feels likely that Kevin Love will be the most notable member of the roster to avoid Chicago. The five-time All-Star has little to gain from putting himself at risk and being locked away from his family for an extended period of time. Other vets like Tristan Thompson, Andre Drummond and Matthew Dellavedova are probable to miss the bubble as well.
The players we can expect to see include most, if not all, of the Cavs’ young core. Collin Sexton is known to jump at any opportunity to improve so we can safely assume he will show up. Meanwhile, Kevin Porter Jr., Darius Garland, Dylan Windler, Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman and Jordan Bell all have ample reason to compete in Chicago.
Garland, in particular, will look to prove that the beginning of his rookie season was a fluke. Recently, Garland admitted that he didn’t feel like his true self on the floor. This was evident in his play as he routinely hesitated on shots and appeared to lack confidence. This is mostly due to the fact that Garland had spent almost a year nursing an injured knee before beginning his career as the starting point guard on one of the worst team’s in the league.
Garland posted some of the worst advanced statistics in the entire NBA this year and will need a string of strong performances to clean his reputation. Luckily, he gave us an indication that he was hitting his stride towards the end of the season. In his last 25 games, Garland was averaging 13.6 points and 5.0 assists on 40.0 percent shooting from the floor.
His running mate, Sexton, will enter Chicago on a blazing hot streak from the field. Sexton was averaging nearly 30 points per game in the final month of the season and looked much improved as a playmaker. While this extended time off may have cooled him down, there is also a possibility he comes back even better than before.
How Sexton and Garland perform will have a direct impact on how the front office chooses to tackle the upcoming NBA Draft. The Cavs have good odds to select in the top five of a guard-heavy class, meaning it’s crucial that this backcourt duo has an impressive outing in Chicago to avoid being replaced in the draft. Although the two have yet to stand out as anything special together, an extra training camp and games offer them a chance to show growth.
Growth is exactly what Cleveland will be hoping to see from Porter. Perhaps the biggest steal in last year’s draft, Porter shined bright in spurts last season. The Cavaliers were steadily increasing Porter’s responsibility and it will be interesting to see if he can capitalize on the opportunity in front of him. A solid outing from Porter would further deter the Cavs from drafting another guard.
The newcomer, Jordan Bell, will be one player to watch closely in Chicago. He was projected to be the second coming of Draymond Green but has yet to live up to those lofty expectations. Good performances from Bell will not only save his flopping NBA career but also affect whether or not the Cavaliers draft a center like James Wiseman or Onyeka Okongwu.
Lastly, Windler is a player that fans should be clamoring to finally see. Windler was a top-tier shooter during his final year in college but missed his entire rookie season due to reoccurring injuries. He has the potential to be a lethal 3-point shooter at the wing position. Chicago offers a great training ground for Windler to assert himself into the lineup.
Like many of his teammates, Windler can influence the Cavaliers draft needs by playing at a high-level. The Cavs might shy away from drafting a wing if Windler appears to be reliable enough. In contrast, prospects like Devin Vassell and Issac Okoro become more valuable if Windler flames out.
The 2020 NBA Draft is expected to take place on October 16. This leaves less than a month’s time between the proposed bubble and draft taking place. Cleveland will have limited time to process the information they receive in Chicago before making their third lottery pick in three seasons. Whatever they decide to do, it’s sure the second bubble will affect their selection.