Report: Cavs, Bucks and Suns have explored moving up in 2023 NBA Draft

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

A new report indicates that the Cleveland Cavaliers are one of a number of teams reportedly seeking to move up in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic offered up a mock draft and noted how some of the talent expected to be available is a reason for the Cavaliers’ apparent interest.

“Sources across the league have said Milwaukee, Phoenix and Cleveland have explored potential opportunities to move up into the late 20s and 30s due to the depth of prospects on the wing and potential NBA-ready, older rotation players,” Vecenie wrote.

Right now, the Cavaliers only have the 49th overall pick of the draft. The team’s original first-round pick now is in possession of the Indiana Pacers after last year’s deal to acquire Caris LeVert.

The Cavaliers could hit an unlikely jackpot by staying at their current position and drafting an unheralded player who emerges as a superstar. Nine years ago, the Denver Nuggets used the 41st overall pick to take center Nikola Jokic, who has twice won league MVP honors and was named Finals MVP on Monday night.

One prospect the Cavaliers have reportedly been linked to with that 49th overall pick is Eastern Michigan University forward Emoni Bates. However, other teams are also looking at him, as he has ample talent. He has yet to reach his potential, in part because of off-the-court issues.

The other teams mentioned by Vecenie both have new head coaches who may be looking to upgrade their teams.

Vecenie’s mock draft didn’t include a potential move up for the Cavaliers. Instead, the writer offered the name of Kansas State University wing Keyontae Johnson as their proposed selection.

The 6-foot-5 Johnson spent four seasons at the University of Florida before transferring to Kansas State for the 2022-23 campaign. Starting all 36 games for the Wildcats, Johnson averaged 17.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steal per game.

Solid statistical numbers at the collegiate level don’t always translate when it comes to the NBA. Simply getting on an NBA roster is often a steep challenge for later draftees.

There’s no indication from Vecenie what the Cavaliers would have to trade in order to make an upward move in the draft. Yet, it’s clear that the team has no intention of being content with simply reaching the postseason in the years ahead.

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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.