The Cleveland Cavaliers had an active first round in the 2019 NBA Draft as they selected three players from the draft crop. At No. 5, the Cavs selected guard Darius Garland of Vanderbilt. At No. 26, the Cavs picked small forward Dylan Windler of Belmont. And after a trade into pick No. 30, the Cleveland selected guard Kevin Porter Jr. of USC. With these selections, the Cavs straddle the line between upside and immediate production really well.
Garland was probably the best example of this balance. Garland is a 6-foot-2 guard with great scoring ability, but a college production history of just five games. In terms of immediate impact, the Vanderbilt guard will give the Cavs a shooter who can open up the floor for the rest of the team. Defenses will have to honor his strong shooting ability. He should also be able to be a shot creator for the offense given his combination of scoring and ball-handling skills. So, the Cavs should be able to see an immediate impact from their No. 1 pick.
However, Garland offers a lot of upside too. While very productive in his short college career, the fact that he only played five college games produces a lot of unknowns about him. One of the biggest questions is how high his ceiling could be. Coming into college, he was one of the most touted players out of high school. Had he played all season, could he have been up there with the top three picks in the draft? There is a whole lot of upside with the unknown. But, his skill set is the biggest reason why the upside on Garland is high. His combination of scoring, shooting, and ball-handling is at an elite level. The Cavs were in great need of this kind of shot-creating acumen. Can he continue to develop these skills to translate to being not just a scorer, but also a distributor to help his fellow teammates score more easily? How Garland develops his already strong skills and how he builds his overall game off of these skills is a reason why he holds a lot of upside.
The two picks of Windler and Porter are the epitome of going with immediate production and then a big upside. Windler can flat out shoot the ball. He had a great college career where he produced as one of the best shooters in all of college basketball. He comes in as one of the best long-range bombers in the 2019 draft class. So, starting his rookie season, the Belmont star will immediately give the Cavs offense a sharpshooter who will cause defenses to stay closely attached to him. He opens the floor up for the offense and gives Cleveland someone to trust to make open shots. His upside may not be extremely high, but his immediate production level should be already at a good and productive level.
After making the Windler pick, the Cavs went on the other side of the spectrum and nabbed one of the biggest upsides in the entire draft with the selection of Porter at No. 30. Porter is an athletic guard with good shooting and shot-creating ability. But, he greatly underperformed at USC given his impressive skill set. He only started four of 21 games, averaging 9.5 points per game. So, Porter is almost purely a high upside type pick given his lack of production in the college ranks. Can he put it all together and reach his high ceiling that his skills and athleticism put forth?
Cleveland needed to take chances to find high upside players in order to find their next franchise-changing player. The 2019 NBA Draft showed that the Cavs were willing to do just that. But, the Cavs also put some stock in getting players who can also produce from Day 1. It is a tough balancing act, but I think the Cavs hit the right balance.