Hey guys: The short answer is no. The Cavs didn’t pass on Luka Doncic. He was the third-overall pick and they had the eighth selection.
Prior to last year’s draft I had numerous conversations with members of Cleveland’s front office about Doncic. A few of them even approached me because they saw my tweets praising Doncic, including some incredible video clips, which sparked up some fun chatter.
The Cavs really liked Doncic. General manager Koby Altman flew overseas and watched him in person numerous times. According to league sources, Doncic was one of the top players on the Cavs’ draft board. Sources told cleveland.com that the Cavaliers wanted to trade up for the Euroleague star and were willing to move into the top 5.
The problem: Atlanta, which was sitting with the third-overall pick, wanted point guard Trae Young.
Given their Golden State ties, with front office members and new head coach Lloyd Pierce, Young was the Hawks’ coveted centerpiece, as they could see some Stephen Curry traits. So Atlanta could only drop back so far.
Had the Hawks made a deal with the Cavs, they would have been forced to go all the way down to No. 8 overall — a spot that put them in serious danger of missing out on Young. Don’t forget, the PG-needy Orlando Magic were sitting at No. 6 if the Mavericks didn’t take Young to keep him with the fifth pick. That’s why, according to sources, a deal between Cleveland and Atlanta wasn’t realistic and was never on the table.
As it turns out, the Hawks received a better deal from Dallas. Atlanta was able to nab their guy Young, who has had a pretty good rookie year, and secured a 2019 first-round pick.
In this case, all three teams have reason to be happy. Despite Sexton’s horrible metrics, the Cavs like the youngster. They feel he’s improved throughout the season and recognize how much they’ve asked of him. Despite some recent stumbles, the Cavs rave about Sexton’s attitude and feel his relentless work ethic will allow him to blossom into a key component of this young nucleus.
While Doncic is the likely Rookie of the Year, any comparison between them is pretty unfair. One was picked No. 3. The other was No. 8.
Given Sexton’s draft slot, it’s hard to make a definitive argument that the Cavs missed. The players selected after him have had similar struggles. Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would have been a better fit. Of course, SGA refused to work out for the Cavs and drafting a guy who didn’t want to play in Cleveland would’ve been incredibly risky.