Since LeBron James fled for La La Land in 2018, the Cavaliers have accumulated an overall record of 60-159 (.274). Nonetheless, there is hope on the horizon if you practice good expectation management. Despite the ongoing Kevin Love saga, the Cavs head into the 2021-22 season with an intriguing frontcourt that now features Lauri Markannen and Evan Mobley along with defensive anchor Jarrett Allen. The guard positions are securely in the hands of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, who raised their respective fantasy profiles last season. They now have a competent backup point guard in Ricky Rubio, who should have at least one offensively-capable frontcourt option when matching up against other second units. Let’s take a look at Cavs to target and avoid for your fantasy draft.
Projected Starters / Fantasy Relevant Depth
|Center||Power Forward||Small Forward||Shooting Guard||Point Guard|
|Jarrett Allen||Evan Mobley||Isaac Okoro||Collin Sexton||Darius Garland|
|Lauri Markannen||Cedi Osman||Dylan Windler||Ricky Rubio|
|Kevin Love||Dean Wade||Denzel Valentine|
2020-2021 Record: 20-52
Key Departures: Larry Nance Jr.
- Frontcourt: The major questions looming over this roster all involve Kevin Love. First, will he play? If so, how much will he play, and how will his playing impact the rotation? He ruled out a buyout over the offseason and will now soak up the remainder of his albatross contract unless the Cavs can work a trade. Given his injury history, there is a chance that the team will hold him off the floor to preserve his dwindling trade value. However, if he plays, one can reasonably assume that he will miss all back-to-back opportunities (the Cavs’ schedule has 15) and be held to a minutes restriction. I won’t be drafting Love in any twelve-team leagues this year, given his 149th place overall finish in last year’s nine-category rankings in 25 minutes per game. I do not see him exceeding those minutes this year, because the future belongs to these guys:
- Jarrett Allen: If there is Cavs big that you can draft with confidence in the middle rounds, it’s Allen. While Yahoo currently has him ranked aggressively at 43 in the pre-draft room, ESPN has him at a more realistic 88. He just signed a large extension and should resume his 30 minute per game role, which netted him 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks on 61 percent shooting through 51 games in a Cavs uniform last season. Sub-par free throw percentage on relatively high volume is the primary drawback to consider.
- Evan Mobley: There are signals from the Cavs organization that Mobley could start alongside Allen at the season’s onset. This could get… weird, especially if Mobley can’t find his three-point shooting touch. If this is the direction the Cavs decide to go, however, then Mobley will likely score, rebound, dish, and block shots in a manner deserving of twelve-team rosters. On the other hand, there is always the possibility that, similar to other 20 year old rookies in recent memory, Mobley isn’t equipped to handle a starting role, and is consigned to less than 25 minutes per game off the bench behind Markannen. In that scenario, his draft rankings in the sixth round are way too risky.
- Lauri Markannen: Will he start, or will he be the microwave option off the Cavaliers bench? For now, it seems that the Cavs will bring him off the pine. Notwithstanding two solid fantasy seasons in Chicago, including a top 40 finish, Lauri’s fantasy upside is limited. While you get the points, threes, and rebounds, you whiff on almost every category, particularly defensive stats. Unless he is unambiguously named the starter between now and October 19th, I would only consider him in the late rounds of a twelve-team draft according to your team’s needs.
- Wings: This one’s relatively straightforward, since the Cavs only have one true wing player: Isaac Okoro. There is no doubt that his minutes will top 30 every night. He is a key defensive piece for the Cavs, but it remains to be seen if his defensive counting stats will reflect that. If there is a Cav worthy of a flyer in the final round of twelve-team drafts, Okoro is your guy. Due to his scoring and playmaking potential, Cedi Osman is someone to watch if there are injuries to Okoro, Sexton, or Garland.
- Backcourt: Darius Garland got off to a blistering start in 2020, but was derailed by a combination of injuries and roster fluctuations. With an extra year of experience and the trust of the Cavs coaching staff, however, Garland figures to score and dish at a high level this season. He shouldn’t be on any draft boards after the sixth round. Collin Sexton is slightly behind Garland in draft priority, due to the fact that he’s a rare find in the middle rounds as an efficient, high volume scorer. There is some speculation about his future with the Cavs, but the general feeling among sources close to the team is that an extension is in the works. Ricky Rubio figures to be more of an assists and steals streamer this year unless he’s filling in for an injured starter, and it will require a much higher level of injury carnage for Dylan Windler to see meaningful playing time.
Bottom line: In terms of fantasy draft prospects, this team has five players who should be rostered from the start in all twelve-team leagues: Garland, Allen, Sexton, Markannen, and Mobley. Okoro is one to consider if you are looking for three and D with upside in the final round. As for Kevin Love, I would let someone else jump on that grenade.