Who should the Cavaliers trade the No. 8 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft for?

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 20: Paul George #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder defends against LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game at Quicken Loans Arena on January 20, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 20: Paul George #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder defends against LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game at Quicken Loans Arena on January 20, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

Assuming LeBron James chooses to stay in Cleveland this offseason, the Cavaliers have a big decision to make with the No. 8 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. They can certainly find someone in that range who has the potential to contribute immediately and raise their long-term ceiling, but flipping the pick for an already established player could help the Cavaliers close the gap between them and the Warriors next season.

After trading their own first round pick at this season’s trade deadline to acquire Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. from the Lakers, the Cavaliers can’t move the Nets pick until they’ve actually selected someone with it. While it complicates matters slightly, it shouldn’t prevent them from including the player they choose in a trade package for one of these six veterans if they become available.

Kemba Walker

We’ve seen how well a score-first point guard can fit in with LeBron James. Kemba Walker isn’t as explosive of a scorer as Kyrie Irving, but he can do some of the same things with the ball in his hands.

First and foremost, Walker can take some of the playmaking burden off of James. Only Damian Lillard scored more points as the ball handler in pick-and-rolls during the regular season, and Walker ranked in the 92.0 percentile with an average of 1.03 points per possession. Once an inconsistent long range shooter, Walker has developed into one of the league’s premier scorers off the dribble, knocking down 38.2 percent of his 3-point pull-ups and 43.3 percent of his 2-point pull-ups this season.

Together, those shots made up over half of Walker’s field goal attempts in 2017-18.

Walker’s comfort scoring off the dribble hasn’t translated into him being the isolation scorer Irving is — those opportunities represented 6.5 percent of his offense this season, and he averaged a dismal 0.82 points per isolation possession — but his success as an off-ball shooter would bode well for his fit next to LeBron. Not only did he make 40.1 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s this season, the Hornets All-Star has experience playing next to a point forward in Nicolas Batum, who has had a hand in most of Walker’s assisted 3s since he moved to Charlotte.

CJ McCollum

CJ McCollum is another deadly three-level scorer, though he is more reliant on scoring from midrange than Kemba Walker is. The only players to make more 2-point pull-ups than the Blazers shooting guard this season were Khris Middleton and DeMar DeRozan. McCollum converted 45.5 percent of those opportunities, and they represented around a third of his overall shot attempts.

At 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-6 wingspan, McCollum has the size and length to score in a variety of ways from midrange. The bulk of his scoring comes as the ball handler in pick-and-rolls, where he averaged a respectable 0.92 points per possession this season, but he’s proven to be an efficient scorer in isolation (1.00 points per possession) and off of screens (0.99 points per possession) as well.

With how reliant the Cavaliers have been on LeBron James in wake of the Kyrie Irving trade, McCollum would give them a volume scorer in the backcourt capable of creating his own shot.

It helps that McCollum has spent his entire career as the No. 2 option next to Damian Lillard. In addition to his midrange scoring, McCollum has developed into a knockdown 3-point shooter, making 43.5 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3s this season on 2.8 attempts per game. Like Walker, his ability to spot-up would make the transition playing next to the LeBron much easier.

Bradley Beal

There are a number of similarities between Bradley Beal and CJ McCollum. Beal’s game is more friendly to the analytics crowd — a greater portion of his shot attempts came at the rim and 3-point line this season — but both are All-Star caliber two guards who are amongst the league leaders in midrange scoring and continue to improve as primary creators.

The biggest difference with Beal is that he’s a couple of years younger than McCollum. They otherwise bring a similar scoring profile, a similar impact to the cap sheet and similar injury concerns. If the Cavaliers have to choose between the two, the decision could come down to which of the Blazers and Wizards asks for less or which of the two teams is more willing to take on some of Cleveland’s toxic contracts to get a high draft pick.

Paul George

The Cavaliers don’t have the cap space to sign Paul George outright if he chooses to become a free agent on July 1, but they could acquire him through a sign-and-trade if Cleveland and Oklahoma City can come to agreement that benefits both sides.

In which case, George would be the perfect complement to LeBron James.

George is coming off of a better shooting season than Kemba Walker, CJ McCollum and Bradley Beal, having made the second-most 3-pointers in the league behind only James Harden. Knocking down 3.1 triples per game with the Thunder at a 40.1 percent clip helped him play alongside the ball dominant Russell Westbrook, who assisted him on nearly 200 baskets this season.

George might not be as polished of a scorer with the ball in his hands as Walker and McCollum, but he’s an above average finisher in pick-and-rolls (0.89 points per possession) and isolation (0.87 points per possession) who can get his shot off against most defenders. It would be enough to ease LeBron’s workload on offense.

The icing on the cake is George is an elite defender who has the quickness to matchup with guards and the length to slow down forwards. For the defensively-challenged Cavaliers, having George and a locked-in LeBron in the postseason would give them the versatility needed to keep two of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant in check. The Cavaliers have already tried to trade for George, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them try again.

DeMarcus Cousins

The Cavaliers don’t have the cap space to sign DeMarcus Cousins outright as a free agent either, but the same rules apply when it comes to a sign-and-trade. The concern with Cousins is that he’s coming off an Achilles tear that could keep him sidelined for a large chunk of next season. Without knowing if the 27-year-old All-Star can return to full health, trading for him comes at a risk for the Cavaliers.

If Cousins can make a full recovery, though, the Cavaliers would have the makings of a unique one-two punch. LeBron James and Cousins are two of the more physically imposing players in the league, and they’re both capable of picking mismatches apart in a variety of ways.

In the case of Cousins, he’s the rare big man who can step out to the 3-point line, where he’s comfortable shooting from and taking defenders off the dribble, bully like-sized defenders in the post and make plays for others when teams throw multiple defenders at him. It might not be the smoothest of fits, but LeBron and Cousins have enough diversity in their games to make it work.

With the ultimate goal being beating the Warriors, Cousins would add an interesting wrinkle to the rivalry, him being more of an old school center with some unicorn in his game as opposed to the switchy wings most teams believe they need to take down Golden State. Would it give the Cavaliers the edge? Perhaps not. Would it be fun watching Cousins take it to Draymond Green for up to seven games in the NBA Finals? You bet.

Kawhi Leonard

Combine the potential fit of Paul George with the injury concerns of DeMarcus Cousins, and you get Kawhi Leonard.

On one hand, Leonard brings everything to the table George does and more. He averaged 25.5 points per game in the 2016-17 season, doing so on 48.5 percent shooting from the field, 38.0 percent shooting from 3-point range and 88.0 percent shooting from the free throw line. He’s as complete of a scorer as there is in the NBA — the reason Leonard gets more “open shots” than other leading scorers — in addition to being a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, making him a legitimate MVP candidate when he’s at full strength.

The last part, however, is where Leonard relates to Cousins. Leonard appeared in only nine games this season because of a quadricep injury that nobody seems to understand the severity of. Every team in the league should be trying to trade for the Spurs star who finished third in MVP voting last season, but there’s no guarantee at this point that he returns to that form.

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That’s assuming he even becomes available this offseason. It’s hard to imagine Leonard turning down a $217 extension with the Spurs if they offer it to him. If they don’t for some reason, beit because of the injury or Leonard’s desire to be on a different team, the Spurs are too well run of an organization to not get the best return possible for him, which could take Cavaliers out of the running.