Should Zach Edey Be In Play For The Cavaliers?

If the Cavaliers truly have interest in trading up during the 2024 NBA Draft, then Zach Edey should be the target.
Connecticut Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) and Connecticut Huskies guard Cam Spencer (12) defend the shot of Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship, Monday, April 8, 2024, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Connecticut Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) and Connecticut Huskies guard Cam Spencer (12) defend the shot of Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship, Monday, April 8, 2024, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. / Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY
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According to NBA reporter Kevin O'Connor, Cleveland is one of three teams actively looking to move up in the 2024 NBA Draft. While the Portland Trail Blazers attempt to secure a second top-ten selection, the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to get in lottery range.

Now the question becomes whether the Cavs are targeting a specific player or just trying to get best available earlier in the first round.

The first player that comes to mind for me is Zach Edey. The 7'5" and 300-pound center was a dominant force in college basketball. During his time at Purdue, he was named back-to-back National Player of the Year and Big Ten Player of the Year. In his final season with the Boilermakers, Edey was easily averaging a double-double. He led the nation in points per game with 25.2 and was third in the country with 12.2 rebounds per game. In addition, he also averaged 2.2 blocks per game and shot an impressive percentage of 62.3 percent from the field.

Tall basketball player blocks shot at the rim.
Apr 6, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) reaches for the ball against North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Jayden Taylor (1) and forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) during the second half in the semifinals of the men's Final Four of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Efficiency and pure dominance can best describe the way that Edey plays basketball. Despite the size and skill, he is one of the more polarizing prospects in this draft class. Edey is not one to truly stretch the floor because he hasn't needed to develop a truly consistent outside shot. During the 2023-24 season, Edey shot just twice from three-point range and made one of those two. He may have the skill to develop an outside game, but it is hard to imagine him shooting threes at a high volume.

In addition to lacking the ability to stretch the floor, Edey lacks quick lateral movement due to his size. To his credit, Edey did work on his quickness and improved over the past year. He noticeably runs the floor better, but on defense the quick movements are slower than desired. If he can just guard the paint, then he is in good shape for that game. When matched up against a center who can shoot the three or gets switched off to a much quicker player, then he is at risk of getting blown by and not being able to recover.

If this were 2004, then Edey would likely be the number one pick in the draft. Many like to compare him to Yao Ming and that is pretty fair due to the immense size and impressive stats. In 2024 though, the game has continued to evolve and Edey will likely sneak past the top ten picks unless someone trades up for him.

Basketball player walks down the court after a foul call.
Purdue center Zach Edey (15) walks up court after being called for a foul during the first half against Ohio State at Value City Arena. / Adam Cairns / USA TODAY NETWORK

The potential best fit for Edey would be with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who sit at pick 12 this year. Chet Holmgren might be 7'1" but at 208 pounds, the 22-year-old big man can easily get pushed around. By drafting Edey, the Thunder could move Holmgren to a more natural power forward spot and start Edey at center. This feels like a great solution for a team that is full of young talent.

Zach Edey would be an excellent addition for the Cleveland Cavaliers as well. The problem is that the chances of him being available at pick 20 feel slim-to-none. In order to get Edey, Cleveland should be trying to move ahead of the Thunder which correlates to the range they are reportedly attempting to get in.

Would the trade up be worth it though?

I would easily say "Yes" to a trade up for Edey being worth it.

If the Cavaliers keep the "Core Four" together, then Edey can come off the bench at center behind Jarrett Allen. In the playoffs, when games get really physical, Evan Mobley and Allen have had difficulties with the physicality of other team's big men. If the new Cavs' coaching staff has Edey at their disposal, then they can turn to him in dire situations. In addition to his value in the postseason, Mobley and Allen battling with Edey every day in practice would teach them how to be more physical. They won't go up against much bigger players in the NBA, so Edey can really prepare them for gameday tests.

If the Cavaliers decide to trade Jarrett Allen this summer, then a glaring need for a center is evident. Perhaps they can sit at 20 and get a player like Kel'el Ware, as mentioned in Cavaliers Mock Draft 2.0. Trading up to get Edey would mean that Cleveland would get an extremely tough starting center to move on the low block. Edey's rebounding ability could easily result in second-chance points. Not only could he get plenty of his own put-backs, but Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland could get more open looks off second-chance kick outs. That would be ideal for the Cavaliers.

Not only could Zach Edey be in play for Cleveland, but he probably should be.


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Cole McDaniel

COLE MCDANIEL

Cole McDaniel is a contributor to both Browns Digest and Cavs Insider. He is the Vice President of Operations for Kee on Sports, most notably serving as lead NFL Draft analyst and the play-by-play voice for high school football. He can also be heard on numerous Baldwin Wallace University athletics broadcasts and has served as Cleveland SC's color commentator since 2019. Cole is a 2019 graduate of Baldwin Wallace where he also played soccer.