Cavs draft flashback: Passing on Tyrese Haliburton looks brutal

The Cavs have to regret passing on Tyrese Haliburton in the first round of the draft.

The Cavs can tank all they want, but until they start hitting on some of these lottery picks, nothing is going to change at the Rocket Mortgage Field House.

Tyrese Haliburton is another example of the Cavs missing with their first-round selection. The Iowa State product is a legit rookie-of-the-year candidate, averaging 12.3 points,3.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per night.  He’s posted a a win shares total of 2.1, according to basketball-reference.com

Haliburton went 12th, while the Cavs picked Isaac Okoro at No. 8. I’m not giving up on Okoro, but the grind of the season has to be catching up with him. Cleveland usually has him guarding the other team’s best player on a nightly basis.  LeBron, Giannis, Damian Lillard–Okoro’s guarded them–and that has to wear on his offensive game.

Okoro is averaging 7.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per night. His win shares total? Try -0.2. As longtime Cavs writer Sam Amico noted on fortheightminutes.com, he’s “not starting material at the moment.”

Looking back at draft night, I drank the Kool-Aid and got on board with the Okoro pick. I should’ve known better. I failed to realize that his upside is Otto Porter Jr, meaning he’s a defense first guy, who can shoot a little. Okoro can have a long career as solid NBA starter.

The Cavs don’t need solid, though. They need to hit the gas and try to make the playoffs without LeBron James. For fans of the blue-seated Gund Arena, that hasn’t happened since 1998.

I hope things change, but as I sit here, on a cold day in late February, the Cavs’ last three cracks at the first-round don’t inspire tremendous confidence.

Kevin Porter was regarded as the team’s best prospect. We knew he came with baggage and the experiment ended in disaster. Dylan Windler, also a first-round pick in 2020 will actually have you betting the Cavs to put in Cedi Osman.

Lottery pick Darius Garland…well, have your feelings about him changed after watching him in his rookie campaign?

And then there’s Collin Sexton…statistically, he’s been the Cavs’ best draft-pick post-LeBron by a long shot. Sexton’s going to be due for an extension soon, though, and his agent will ask for a max deal.  Put yourself in Koby Altman’s shoes….would you give it to him?

Sexton is a really good NBA player because he can score. He’s not a perennial All-Star, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to him make the squad as a reserve at some point in his career.

I think back to that draft a lot, when the Cavs passed on Michael Porter Jr. Porter might’ve been the No. 1 pick in that draft had he been healthy. Injuries bumped him down to 14th, when the Nuggets took him, knowing full well he wasn’t going to play in his first season.

I argued the Cavs should’ve taken him, because he more fits with today’s modern NBA. And yes– I know. He’s not going to to make the All-Star team this year, either, but he’s a valuable player on a team that boasts an MVP candidate and will contend in the West.

Porter made his way back onto the court last season, and shot 42 percent from downtown–granted he only took about three, 3-pointers a game. He’s shooting more triples this season (6 per night), though, and is converting  at a 38 percent clip. You’d take that, considering what else he offers.

The Cavs, losers of 10-straight, will get another shot this summer in the lottery, and that’s a good thing because this class is supposedly stack. Alas, there’s still the hard part, of getting it right.