The 2022 NBA Draft is almost upon us, and with the 14th overall pick, the Cleveland Cavaliers have the opportunity to add another significant piece to their puzzle.
With Darius Garland becoming an All-Star, they’re set at point guard, and the tandem of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley up front means they only have to add starter-caliber talent at the wing position.
There may not be a ton of “can’t miss” prospects available at No. 14, but there should be some prospects who could turn out to be useful players if the team that drafts them is lucky enough.
There are two such prospects in particular who the Cavs should consider with their first-round pick.
Lately, many have speculated and even reported that the Cavs are high on Dieng and that they have even made some type of “promise” to him that they’ll draft him if he’s still on the board at No. 14.
A native of France, Dieng is 6-foot-10 and 216 pounds, and although he doesn’t have a ton of experience playing competitive basketball, some scouts feel he is dripping with potential.
The 19-year-old played this past season for the New Zealand Breakers of the National Basketball League, a pro basketball league in Australasia, where he averaged 8.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.3 blocked shots.
Although he shot just 39.8 percent from the field and 27.1 percent from 3-point range, he has nice ball-handling skills, and he can either get his own shot off the dribble or set others up.
Some scouts also feel he can eventually become a good defender, especially as he grows into his frame.
— Mack Perry (@DevaronPerry) June 22, 2022
Dieng is nominally a power forward, and although the Cavs may not need someone at that position, perhaps they could take a chance on him and develop him to be the heir apparent to the aging Kevin Love.
Love is seemingly perpetually involved in trade rumors, and if Cleveland does bid farewell to him, it could leave an opening for Dieng if the team sees enough upside in him.
Hardy is another prospect who didn’t play college ball but may have upside as a player the Cavs could gamble on.
He is a 6-foot-4 guard who weighs nearly 200 pounds and played this season as a member of the G-League Ignite.
In 13 games there, he averaged 21.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Hardy’s main strengths are his ball-handling skills and ability to create his own shots off the dribble, and he is a decent athlete with ample speed and the ability to attack the rim.
Although he shot just 33.6 percent from 3-point range, his backers say he is a better outside shooter than that stat would indicate.
In the final eight games of Ignite's season, Jaden Hardy averaged 22.5 PPG and knocked down 37.7% of his threes on 8.6 3PA per game. Was great to see the shot-making potential come to fruition and provide a look into the serious upside. pic.twitter.com/xTb9kmwKOz
— Derek Murray (@DMurrayHoops) June 17, 2022
Jaden Hardy Highlights pic.twitter.com/PwRzpBKX9N
— Savant Hoops (@SavantHoops) June 20, 2022
Hardy is also a capable defender, and with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, he could have some real potential on that end of the floor in the NBA.
His decision-making is suspect at times, but perhaps that could improve in the situation and with the right coaching.
If the Cavs take a chance on Hardy and he pans out, he could develop into a nice backcourt mate for Garland.