Donovan Mitchell’s trade makes the Cavs an NBA Finals contender now and in the future

The Cleveland Cavaliers It was the most pleasant surprise in the NBA last season until the weight of injuries propelled their dreams of a supplement. After owning the NBA Second-worst cumulative record during the three seasons that followed the departure of LeBron James to Los Angeles LakersThe Cavs were poised to start the 2021-2022 campaign, claiming the Eastern Conference’s third-best record in breaking the All-Star (which was actually 70 percent of the way during the season).

The Cavs eventually ran out of gas thanks to a stagnant attack that missed goalkeepers Colin Sexton and Ricky Rubio, both of whom struggled with knee injuries at the end of the season. Cleveland was going to play the playoffs anyway under the traditional NBA post-season format, but they were knocked out in the tournament before Atlanta Hawks.

The Cavs already had a great thing for them with two Young All-Stars in Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen, and 7-footer in rookie Evan Mobley last year. Cleveland could have been content to watch their excellent core develop throughout the 2022-2023 season and beyond with nothing in the way of true expectations. Instead, the Cavs saw an opportunity to add a fourth star late in the season, and pushed their chips to the center of the table to get it done.

Cavs . team got Donovan Mitchell from Utah Jazz For the unprotected first-round picks in 2025, 2027, and 2029, as well as pick-ups in 2026 and 2028. Cleveland included Ochai Agbaji (who had just drafted him 14th overall in the 2022 draft), Lauri Markkanen, and Sexton to complete the deal.

It’s a huge price to pay for any player, especially one who’s never made an All-NBA team like Mitchell. It’s a trade that immediately puts pressure on the Cavs to compete in the near future, and limits their future assets to improve the team’s foundation going forward. It’s also totally worth it.

The Cavs suddenly had a compelling case for the best “Big Four” in the NBA. That’s going to be a really good core for next season, and he should only get better in the next two seasons after that with Mitchell’s contract still in place. While it’s bold to label the Cavs – a franchise that hasn’t played in the playoffs without LeBron since 1998 – as real. The NBA Finals The contender before appearing in a playoff, Cleveland’s talent base is now impressive enough to compete at the top levels of the league if it all came together.

That’s why Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell move should mean big things to Cleveland.

The Cavs have two star players with the two hardest skill sets to find

Every team in the NBA wants to create great visuals. Every team also wants big guys in two directions. The Cavs now have two players who can expertly fill these roles, all in their early to mid-20s.

Garland emerged as an All-Star last season when he was 22 years old. He’s a fantastic three-point shooter, and has excellent vision as a passer, finishing seventh in the league in pass rate last year. Garland is also one of the league’s youngest stars (recorded at 6’1, 192 pounds), and he struggled to create All From the offense to Cleveland last season when Rubio and Sexton fell.

Mitchell is a great complement in attack in the backcourt. Mitchell played as the star of “Heliocentrism” in Utah with a high utilization rate. He’ll split the build-up burden with Cleveland’s Garland, and the pairing will be more effective as they both are a threat to ground space and hit the ball three times. It would be very difficult to mount defenses against both of them – especially when they pay so much attention to the seven feet inside.

Allen was another All-Star surprise last season after he thrived in his role as a lob attacker, shot blocker, and pass-able rebel for his position. He has a specific role in attack: adjust screens, play from the “donker spot”, and finish everything inside over the edge. He is also a very good defensive big guy who can protect the edge while playing drop cover but also shows some ability to play other schemes.

Mobley has the potential to be the best piece ever. He is 7ft tall with an amazing blend of agility and skill. Mobley can walk around the field and erase shots before the opposing opponent attempts to do so. He’s only scratching the surface of his offensive skill set, but he’s shown brilliant flashes as a shooter, mid-range shooter, and passer. He should be a future nominee for Defensive Player of the Year, and it is entirely possible that one day he will contend for the best player. Prime Mobley may still be five years away, but he’s already been great as a rookie. His rise is the biggest key to Cleveland’s dreams.

The Cavs don’t need more to complete the list

It’s easy to look at the Cavs and see that they need a small striker to complete their starting lineup. While this is true, the skill combinations of their four stars should make finding this player a doable task.

The Cavs don’t need an excellent winger at ball handling or passing because Mitchell and Garland tick these boxes. Really, the Cavs only need a straight winger in a “three and a D” style that can… hit point triples and defend the big flankers, many of whom are superstars. It’s not easy to find a player, but it shouldn’t be impossible either, whether Cleveland makes a deal (Caris LeVert could now be commercial bait) or try to sign a free agent to a mid-level exception in the coming years.

It’s also possible that Isaac Okoro could turn into that player. Okoro finished fifth overall in the 2020 draft, and he’s already a great defender. The only problem is that Okoro hasn’t been shown to be able to take triples with size yet. Last season, he hit an impressive 35 percent from depth, but did so in only 2.3 attempts per game. Cleveland needs a three-point shooter with a higher volume on the wing, and should prioritize this part of Okoro’s development in the coming years.

All pieces must fit together in Cleveland

Historically, I’m not a fan of teams built around two young goalkeepers as they struggle to hold their own defensively in the playoffs. Mitchell’s defense should be a major concern after his pathetic defensive display in the playoffs last year against the Mavericks. Garland isn’t old or strong enough to be a positive defender either.

If there are two 6-foot-none guards who will be able to survive so deep in the playoffs, it’s likely that behind them will be two 7-foot-tall killers like Mobley and Allen.

The Cavs were the 20th offender in the NBA last season. They were weighed down by a lack of ball handling and a lack of shooting (they finished 20th at three points, or the percentage of shots taken from within three points). Mitchell addresses both areas. It’s a high-volume three-point shooter that can also create dodge.

There are some swing factors in Cleveland over the coming years:

  • Can Mitchell find Mobley and Allen efficiently to save easy buckets inside? Mitchell’s low assist numbers for Rudy Gobert have been widely publicized in Utah, and it’s not clear if it’s because of their personal meat, or a loophole in Mitchell’s skill set. He’ll definitely need to play “champion ball” more often in Cleveland, and that starts with getting his teammates involved more offensively.
  • Can the Cavs find a starting winger who can take triples and achieve them at high volumes while also being a faithful defender?
  • Can the Cavs build the rest of the bench to complete their four stars?
  • Health is also a concern, but that is the case for every team.

Cleveland legitimately has four top 40 players on the roster now, and that’s a conservative assessment.

The Cavs’ rebuilding after LeBron has been fantastic. Entering James Harden’s deal to capture Allen was a stroke of genius. Taking Garland fourth in the 2019 draft (selected at the time) proved to be a great move. They were fortunate to finish third in Project 2021, and were even more fortunate in Houston Rockets passed on Mobley. They were also lucky that jazz didn’t accept it Arguably the best package that Mitchell earlier in the season.

Of course, every NBA contender needs luck to get there. The Cavs had some, but the front office also did a brilliant job building this team. It’s almost unbelievable to consider the Cleveland Cavaliers to be talented without LeBron James, but it’s true. With Mitchell under contract for three more seasons, and under the long-term control of Allen, Garland and Mobley, it makes perfect sense to believe that Cleveland could be an NBA Finals contender now and in the near future.