The Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the NBA world last season, utilizing a stellar defense to make the playoffs. However, it was clear they needed an additional playmaker to carry the load when the offense stagnated. In a stunning turn of events today, the Cavs' front office fixed that problem.
Full trade: Utah is trading Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland for Lauri Markkanen, Ochair Agbaji, Collin Sexton, three unprotected first-round picks and two pick swaps, sources tell ESPN.
After months of speculation the former Utah Jazz star would wind up in New York, Donovan Mitchell will instead join a promising young core in Cleveland.
Still just 25, the three-time All-Star guard averaged 24.9 points per game last year with career highs in effective field goal percentage (.533), assists per game (5.3), and steals per game (1.5). Mitchell should seamlessly slide into a strong nucleus that includes All-Star Darius Garland and defensive stalwarts Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.
When evaluating this Cavs roster, it's clear Mitchell is the missing piece that makes Cleveland a legitimate NBA Finals contender.
FanDuel Sportsbook has moved the Cavs' NBA Championship odds from +4500, to +3300.
Despite finishing with the fifth-best defensive rating in the NBA, the Cavaliers' offense ranked 20th and often looked disjointed late in games. Now, Cleveland has two All-Star guards to penetrate defenses and create scoring opportunities for a capable supporting cast.
Cavs 2022/23 Roster:
Mitchell — All-Star
Allen — All-Star
Mobley — 2nd in ROY race/Future All-Star
Love — 2nd in 6MOY race
Tons of talent. pic.twitter.com/PA4fostzMl
Trading away three first-round picks in addition to this year's first rounder, Ochai Agbaji, and former first-round picks Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton is a huge loss, but Mitchell raises Cleveland's ceiling so dramatically that it's worth it. After all, Sexton only played 11 games in 2021-22 and the Cavaliers still excelled.
Players with 8000+ points, 1,500+ assists and 400+ steals since the start of the 2017-2018 season:
DONOVAN MITCHELL pic.twitter.com/gDgarnz6ZN
Donovan Mitchell is an offensive superstar, ranking among the NBA's best since he entered the league. He excelled with Rudy Gobert as a lob partner and defensive anchor, and Mitchell now gets two versions of Gobert to work with in Mobley and Allen.
Garland also gives Mitchell something he rarely had in Utah (aside from the stints with the oft-injured Mike Conley): a running-mate capable of shouldering the load on occasion. Cleveland still has promising wing Isaac Okoro and key rotation pieces like Caris LaVert, Kevin Love, and Cedi Osman, so the versatile roster is plenty deep for a playoff run.
Evan Mobley is 21.
Isaac Okoro is 21.
Darius Garland is 22.
Jarrett Allen is 24.
Donovan Mitchell is 25.
There are few complete teams in the league. Cleveland now has one. The Eastern Conference is stacked, sure, but the Cavaliers should expect to compete for a top-four seed at minimum, and the new-found balance of the roster makes +6000 to win the NBA Finals a steal.
I'd argue this roster is a better one than Mitchell ever worked with in Utah, and the Jazz were always among NBA Finals favorites in his time with the franchise.
Head to FanDuel to get your futures bet locked in soon. I don't expect the Cavs' odds to stay this high for long.
Follow all of Joe Summers' betting picks here.
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