Much has been made of the health status of Isaiah Thomas, as the All-Star point guard represents the best current player acquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kyrie Irving. With that said, Cleveland’s actual enticement in that deal certainly includes the unprotected 2018 draft pick acquired from the Celtics (via the Nets) and Jonathan Givony of ESPN released a new mock draft that certainly makes the Cavs’ decision to pull the trigger look wise.
The mock draft, using ESPN’s Basketball Power Index projections, places Cleveland at No. 3 overall and their prize is Duke big man Marvin Bagley III.
Bagley is a fluid athlete with a natural feel for scoring, rebounding and blocking shots, which helps him post elite numbers at the high school and AAU level. He’s a terror in the open court and very difficult for opposing big men to stay in front of in one-on-one situations, getting him to the free throw line at an excellent rate. NBA teams will want to see how easily he’ll be able to make the transition to the intensity level of the college game and get a better gauge for his defense and outside shooting potential.
Bagley III recently made the leap to Duke from the high school ranks a year early, reclassifying with an eye on the 2018 draft with a legitimate chance to land in the top spot. Obviously, the Cavaliers aren’t (close to) guaranteed to fall within the top three picks but, given the immense upside of a player like Bagley III, fans in Cleveland have to be salivating at a scenario in which LeBron James returns and pairs with this kind of blue-chip prospect.
There are plenty of talking points associated with this ESPN mock, as European wing Luka Doncic jumped to the top spot overall after a strong EuroBasket performance and Michael Porter Jr. slots between Bagley III and Doncic with a consistent pedestal as a top-three player.
Still, the notion that the Cavaliers could actually add a future piece on the level of Bagley III (or even DeAndre Ayton right behind him) is both intriguing and scary for the rest of the East.