Over the last week, this headline continues to make rounds across the league. Does the Cleveland Cavaliers front office have significant interest in Duke University superstar RJ Barrett? Several rumors suggest they do.
But given the Cavaliers current position in the draft order (No. 5), there’s almost a guarantee he won’t be available. With that being said, the only method to selecting Barrett would require some sort of trade. The Cavaliers don’t have much to offer that would entice teams like the New York Knicks or the Los Angeles Lakers to swap selections.
NBA Analyst Steve Kyler said there were sources that told him the Cavaliers “really want” Barrett. It remains to be seen the aggressiveness in which Cleveland could attack a potential deal.
In addition to Kyler’s comments, Chris Fedor of cleveland.com reported a member of the Cavaliers front office evaluated Barrett at the same level as Murray State University guard Ja Morant. Morant is the likely second selection by the Memphis Grizzlies.
After speculation of the Cavaliers’ interest in Barrett, should the Cavaliers even bother with a trade? Aside from reports of the 2019 NBA draft only being “a three-player draft,” there’s tons of young talent the Cavaliers could select without giving up any current or future assets. Essentially, is Barrett worth the trouble?
Barrett’s player profile
While Duke fell short of their national championship aspirations this season, Barrett shined alongside future No. 1 selection, Zion Williamson.
The Toronto, Ontario native was a McDonald’s All-American in high school, ranked as the highest prospect during his recruitment by ESPN. During his one season with Duke, Barrett showcased NBA-level talent, proving the scouts right in the process. Nearly every scout likely has Barrett as a top-3 player in this year’s draft.
According to Gary Parrish’s 2019 NBA Mock Draft on CBS Sports, Barrett is projected as the third selection by New York.
His scouting report of Barrett reads; “The 6-7 wing averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 35.3 minutes per game and scored more points (860) than any freshman in ACC history. He’s built like DeMar Derozan and starting to draw comparisons to James Harden in the sense that he’s a big wing who can initiate offense or drive and finish around the rim with incredible grace,” Parrish reported. “He’s great in transition and doesn’t shy away from big moments.”
While it’s one analyst’s opinion, Barrett has drawn the attention of nearly every major analyst and scout. Some might question his ability to adapt to the professional game, but there’s certainly no detractors labeling him a future bust.
Should Cleveland try and trade up?
As mentioned earlier in the article, the Cavaliers would almost certainly have to trade up for Barrett. It’s increasingly unlikely we’ll see him fall to Cleveland at their current position. While stranger occurrences happen throughout sports, this likely won’t be among them.
If the Cavaliers organization evaluated Barrett at an elite level, they should be aggressive with trade talks. The Cavaliers can dangle veteran guard JR Smith, as his contract situation could prove attractive enough. Smith could be one part of a potential draft day trade.
In all honesty, Cleveland should remain at their current selection of fifth overall. The 2019 draft is full of elite prospects; Cleveland will have their fair share of choices. For example, Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver continues to ascend draft boards.
In addition, Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter is an incredibly viable option at the forward position. Other prospects like Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland, Duke guard Cam Reddish or North Carolina guard Coby White could also prove attractive for Cleveland.
The Cavaliers may decide to pull the trigger on a deal to acquire RJ Barrett. On the other hand, the most logical choice is to remain at the fifth overall pick and see which prospects remain.
While the Cavaliers have reported interest in acquiring Barrett via trade, they should remain at their current pick and select any number of aforementioned prospects.
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