It’s made doubly hard because the Cavs also have the No. 1 choice.
“It’s dependent on what they do with the first pick,” said Sheridan Hoops draft expert Joe Kotoch. “If they go big, expect a wing at 19. If they go small (at No. 1), expect a big (at 19).”
Nothing is etched in stone, but it’s looking more and more like the Cavs will take a big man with their first pick, be it Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel or Maryland’s Alex Len.
If that’s the case, they will likely take a shooting guard/small forward type at 19, though there have also been rumors the Cavs are going to trade that pick and their two second-rounders — Nos. 31 and 33 overall — to get the 13th choice from Dallas.
If that’s the case — and perhaps even if it doesn’t happen — the player Cleveland could be targeting is 6-foot-7, 197-pound Russian Sergey Karasev.
“He’s linked to a (first-round) promise with the Cavs,” Kotoch said of the 19-year-old left-hander.
If Cleveland stays at No. 19 and Karasev is not on the board, players general manager Chris Grant and his staff might consider include North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock, California’s Allen Crabbe, San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin and, should he fall, Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Bullock, a 6-foot-7, 200-pounder, averaged 13.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists as a North Carolina junior. He shot .483 from the field, .436 on 3-pointers and .767 at the line.
“Basically, he’s a more athletic Danny Green,” Kotoch said of the former Cavs guard who just set an NBA Finals record for 3-pointers made for San Antonio. “He’s very similar in terms of the way he plays, but he’s a better athlete and he’s got more upside.
“He’s definitely a guy who, in my opinion, will probably be a starter in the NBA. He won’t be a high-impact guy, but he’s a guy who could round out a top five.”
The 6-6¼, 197-pound Crabbe averaged 18.4 points, 6.1 boards and 2.6 assists as a Cal junior. He shot .459 from the field overall, .348 on 3-pointers and .813 at the line.
Crabbe is considered a great catch-and-shoot player who struggles mightily when it comes to creating his own shot.
Franklin (6-5¼, 191) is the exact opposite of Bullock and Crabbe. He’s a fantastic athlete, defender and creator, but shot just .413 from the field overall and .280 on 3-pointers, though he did hit .786 at the line.
A former teammate of Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard at San Diego State, Franklin was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Year after averaging 17.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists last season.
“He can’t shoot, but he’s an amazing athlete,” said Ryan Blake, the NBA’s senior director of scouting.
The 6-5½, 204-pound Caldwell-Pope is projected to go in the first half of the first round by most respected mock drafts, but he could come into play for the Cavs if they move up to 13 or if he slides.
Caldwell-Pope isn’t a household name because he played on a bad Georgia team, but he averaged 18.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists last season while shooting .433 from the field overall, .373 on 3-pointers and .799 at the line.
If the Cavs pull a surprise and pick Georgetown small forward Otto Porter or a shooting guard like Kansas’ Ben McLemore or Indiana’s Victor Oladipo with the No. 1 pick, they’ll likely take a big man with their next choice.
Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk will likely go in the lottery, but Pittsburgh’s Steve Adams could fall.
Other possibilities at 19 include Duke’s Mason Plumlee, Louisville’s Gorgui Deng, Brazil’s Lucas Nogueira and Kansas’ Jeff Withey.
Currently with two of the first three picks in the second round, Cleveland will likely consider any big man who slides, plus power forward types like North Texas’ Tony Mitchell and Illinois State’s Jackie Carmichael. A wing like former Georgia Tech standout and NBA Development League player Glen Rice Jr. could also come into play.
The Cavs, whose history says they won’t keep all four of their picks, could also look to add a point guard to play behind Kyrie Irving in the second round.
One intriguing possibility is Texas’ Myck (pronounced Mike) Kabongo, a Toronto native and extremely close friend of Cavs power forward and former Texas player Tristan Thompson.
Kabongo, who received a 23-game suspension from the NCAA for accepting improper benefits, is represented by Rich Paul, a close personal friend of LeBron James. Paul also represents Thompson.
“Irving always seems to miss significant time, so a young point guard like Kabongo would make a lot of sense,” Kotoch said. “His strength is his defense. He’s long.
Offensively, he’s more of a floor general. He knows how to set people up.”
One last unknown regarding the Cavs — and it’s a very big one — is the possibility of trading the No. 1 pick, which would change everything.
However, in a draft devoid of a sure-fire superstar talent, Cleveland apparently is still seeking compensation like there is one, so right now a trade seems unlikely.
“The Cavs can’t get the value for the pick that they want,” Kotoch said. “That’s what’s going to hinder their ability to make a deal.
“The Cavs want to be compensated like they’re giving up the first pick in the draft. Other teams are saying, ‘Yeah, you’re giving up the first pick, but in most years it would be the fifth or seventh pick.’”