Here’s Why the Cavs Might Still End Up With R.J. Barrett on Draft Night

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When the Cleveland Cavaliers were awarded the fifth overall pick, that appeared to end any hopes that they could obtain one of the three most talented prospects. However, a new article indicates that the team may still end up in a position to draft Duke University’s R.J. Barrett on June 20.

Evan Dammarell of Forbes offered up a scenario of how the Cavaliers could maneuver their way into choosing the 6-foot-7 standout:

“Heading into the draft lottery, the [New York] Knicks were [Zion] Williamson or bust but were prepared in the event they did not get the top pick. According to SNY’s Ian Bagley, internally some Knicks talent evaluators are fans of Duke forward Cam Reddish, Williamson’s and Barrett’s teammate at Duke. Even though Reddish was putrid for the Blue Devils, averaging 13.5 points on 35.6% shooting, Bagley shares that the Knicks see Reddish’s game transitioning to the NBA. After measuring in at the combine at 6’8” in shoes with a 208-pound frame and a 7′ wingspan, he has started to draw favorable comparisons to Jayson Tatum and this is boosting his draft stock. If Reddish has a killer workout for the Knicks, it seems like they would rather go after him over Barrett.

“This means that Barrett would be an option for the Los Angeles Lakers with the fourth overall pick. But, it does not seem likely that Barrett ends up playing for the Lakers either. The Lakers are aggressively trying to package the pick with pieces from their young core to go after Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, something they explored leading up to the trade deadline. But, it appears New Orleans still does not want to send Davis to Los Angeles, leaving the Lakers likely keeping their draft pick. Barrett would not be a good fit for the Lakers, who need to prioritize adding shooters to surround LeBron James and would likely target Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland. While Garland only appeared in five games for the Commodores, he has drawn comparisons to Boston Celtics superstar Kyrie Irving due to his ball-handling skills and ability to create his own shot. That and Garland has already left the NBA Draft Combine with a draft promise from a lottery team, leading many to believe it was from the Lakers.

“Now Cleveland would be on the clock with New York taking Reddish and Los Angeles taking Garland. Unlike the two teams before them, the Cavaliers would draft Barrett without hesitation. While both [De’Andre] Hunter and [Jarrett] Culver would be good picks for the Cavaliers at five, neither can hold a candle to Barrett and his star potential. At one point, Barrett was even considered the top player in this draft class! This is because of how high both Barrett’s floor and ceiling are, drawing comparisons to Jalen Rose, Michael Redd and even James Harden. The only reason for him to fall into Cleveland’s lap would be because of Williamson being a basketball unicorn and [Ja] Morant, Reddish and Garland all being better fits for the teams that draft them. In terms of fit, Barrett is also tailor-made for the Cavaliers.”

In his lone season with the Blue Devils, Barrett averaged 22.6 points and 4.3 assists, while success in the area of shooting range was mixed. He finished connecting at a 50.6 percent rate overall, but only 30.8 percent from beyond the arc. Still, he would undoubtedly move immediately into the starting lineup.

Even if Reddish does deliver a resounding workout for the Knicks, that may not guarantee that they’ll choose him.

In addition, the team may keep other teams below them in suspense about their intentions, since they don’t have to make that decision for another month.

Finally, the Memphis Grizzlies, who are drafting right before the Knicks, could take Barrett and end the suspense before it even starts.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.