2021 NBA Draft Lottery Will Determine Cleveland Cavaliers Future

2021 NBA Draft Lottery Will Determine Cleveland Cavaliers Future

Nick Pedone
3 years ago
2 min read
2021 NBA Draft Lottery Will Determine Cleveland Cavaliers Future

The 2021 NBA Draft Lottery is rapidly approaching and the results will have rippling effects for the Cleveland Cavaliers and their ongoing rebuild process. The difference between landing a top three pick and falling deeper into the order could drastically shift this team’s trajectory.    

Cleveland will be entering the lottery with less than ideal odds to win. This is in large part due to their surprisingly strong start last season, in which Cleveland remained above .500 for the first month of play -- a feat they haven’t accomplished for over 20 years without LeBron James on the roster.

Of course, it didn’t take long for the Cavs to come crashing back down to earth. The squad finished 22-50, giving them the fifth worst record in the NBA.

Consequently, here are the full lottery odds for Cleveland: 

Cavs Odds For Each Pick 

1st - 11.5% 

2nd - 11.4% 

3rd - 11.2% 

4th - 11.0% 

5th - 2.0% 

6th - 18.2% 

7th - 25.2%  

8th - 8.6% 

9th - 0.6% 

As you can see, the lottery system isn’t very kind to bottom-dweller teams. The Cavs know this already, as they landed the fifth pick in consecutive years despite being one of the league’s three worst teams. This year is shaping up to deliver the same kind of pain, though their odds aren’t significantly worse than in the past.  

Although the Cavaliers have a more than 50 percent chance of falling outside of the top-five, their likelihood of winning the lottery remains roughly the same in comparison to recent years. Their 11.5 percent chance of securing the No. 1 overall pick is only marginally smaller than the 14 percent chance granted to the three teams ahead of them. Cleveland remains tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the fourth best odds of winning the lottery.

Where Do The Cavs Go Next?

With the odds being flattened, the Cavaliers had every reason to simply allow their core to play each night and accept the outcome. This proved to be beneficial as both Collin Sexton and Darius Garland made notable leaps in their development.  

Sexton averaged a career-high 24.3 points and 4.4 assists on hyper efficient shooting splits of 48/37/82. He truly grew into his role as a scorer and took strides towards becoming a more willing passer. As for Garland, his rookie struggles are an afterthought as his elite shot creating and playmaking ability stole the show this year. Garland also posted career-highs of 17.4 points and 6.4 assists per game.  

Questions remain as to whether or not the Cavaliers can succeed with this undersized backcourt.

Their combined weaknesses on defense isn’t going to be an easy obstacle to overcome. Even so, the Cavs were undoubtedly at their best when Sexland was leading the charge. Consequently, it’s fair to say the Cavaliers’ ceiling is reliant upon the type of supporting cast Cleveland can build around Sexton and Garland. 

Why This Lottery Is So Important

Again, this places a huge emphasis on the outcome of the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery. Securing a third star to pair with Sexland can accelerate the Cavs’ rebuilding process. In contrast, sliding deeper into the order will limit their ceiling for the foreseeable future - - which is a problem when you consider the multiple rookie contracts that are set to expire soon.

In many ways, this rendition of the Cavaliers is approaching a crossroads. Koby Altman has reportedly been on the hot seat while frustrations continue to grow within the organization after three years of minimal progress. Some believe it is time for the Cavs to take a notable step forward -- and if they don’t, then they should tear everything down and start from scratch.

While this type of short-sighted thinking can be dangerous considering the average rebuild in the NBA takes roughly four-to-five years according to Chris Fedor, it is important to understand how critical the upcoming draft is, regardless.

Who Should The Cavs Draft?

The Cavs are in desperate need of a third scorer. In particular, they need someone taller than 6-foot-2 that can create shots for themselves and others. A glue guy who can fill in the scoring gaps and provide enough production to push the Cavs into the Play-In picture by next season is required.

That is the goal, anyways. The Cavaliers will be satisfied with another year outside of the playoffs if they at least compete for a spot in the Play-In. The likelihood of that happening, however, will likely be decided on June 22 during the lottery.  

This upcoming draft class is a strong one -- but it is also top-heavy. Star prospects such as Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs can join the Cavs and instantly raise their ceiling. On the flip side, works in progress like Scottie Barnes, Jonathan Kuminga, Jalen Johnson and others outside of the consensus top-three might require a bit more development, pushing the Cavs’ timeline back farther.

The future is potentially bright in Cleveland. Names such as Isaac Okoro, Jarrett Allen, Dylan Windler and Larry Nance can already serve as quality pieces alongside their star backcourt. Nonetheless, their ability to break through into the middle-tier of the NBA will directly correlate with where they end up in this draft. 

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