2022-23 Fantasy Basketball: Donovan Mitchell Traded to Cleveland

by Bill Yin
Jazz Trade Donovan Mitchell to Cavs

Far from Home: Spida Traded to Cleveland

Knicks fans look away. After months of posturing with New York, the Utah Jazz have agreed to trade Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland.

See below for the summarized trade breakdown:

This young Cavs roster now boasts a talented, all-star backcourt consisting of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell.

That perimeter defense is looking dubious huh? Fear not; Cleveland gets to pair them alongside its defensively airtight frontcourt with rookie sensation Evan Mobley and talented shot-swatter Jarrett Allen. These four players’ average age? 23. The future's looking bright in Cleveland.

Furthermore, Mitchell should be no stranger to being a part of a weak defensive backcourt. It’s not much different than his situation in Utah, where he had defensive juggernaut Rudy Gobert anchoring the paint and ready to cover up his mistakes.

But let's dig a little deeper on this Donovan Mitchell trade to the Cavs.

2022-23 Fantasy Basketball: Donovan Mitchell Traded to Cleveland

Let's start with the centerpiece of the trade, Donovan Mitchell. You could say Spida's defense looked lackluster last season.

This is not to say that Mitchell will never fix his defensive woes. After all, he was originally drafted for his tenacious defense.

Perhaps playing with a talented distributor in Garland will afford him the extra energy to focus more on defense. If he can recover that part of his game, then this team is looking very scary. Even if he can’t, we can still reasonably expect Cleveland to be in contention for a top 4 seed in the East.

On the Utah side, Collin Sexton is a sign-and-trade for four years, $72 million. That’s a cheap contract for a guy who can get you 25 points a game while shooting over 45% from the field. And his post-injury concerns? Who cares, it’s a low-risk, high-reward play for the tanking Jazz.

Lauri Markannen should be up for quite a bit of run on the Jazz as well. And we have to be intrigued about Ochai Agbachi's pathway to minutes at the SG position, especially if Clarkson gets moved.

Additionally, I don't foresee Cleveland's picks and pick swaps being worth much. They're in contention for the foreseeable future and thus unlikely to be picking anywhere near the lottery. But alas, they are still picks for a tanking Utah team and a commodity Danny Ainge is more than happy to sit on.

So what are the fantasy ramifications? Here are some winners and losers.

Donovan Mitchell Traded to Cleveland: Winners

Lauri Markkanen

Health has always been an issue with this guy, but realistically he’s capable of a top 50 finish. He played SF in Cleveland alongside Allen and Mobley, but in Utah, he should be ready to pick up more of a PF/C role. Fantasy managers would love if he's able to hopefully scoop up some more defensive stats to go along with his solid 3-point shooting in a more prominent offensive role.

Collin Sexton

Sexton will certainly be somebody to keep an eye out for in the mid to late rounds on draft night. Historically, his lack of peripheral stats has hampered his fantasy upside and is the main reason why he’s yet to attain a Top-100 finish. Still, he should have free reign over the Jazz offense this upcoming season. His usage will be going up without Garland.

If Jordan Clarkson gets traded, and there are many veteran teams that can use his services as a spark plug off the bench, then Sexton is looking at a juicy workload and will be an absolute problem if he can get those assists and defensive stats up.

Donovan Mitchell Traded to Cleveland: Losers

Darius Garland

It should go without explanation why Darius Garland’s usage will almost certainly plummet with Donovan Mitchell in town. Mitchell is a score-first shooting guard whose role on this revamped Cavs team will be one thing and one thing only: getting buckets. He provides a massive injection of offense to this team and I would expect Garland’s points to go down a fair amount. His percentages and assists will be strong, but this trade hurts Garland in a big way.

Donovan Mitchell

Mitchell relocated from an offense where he controlled everything to a much more balanced attack. With dual lob threats in Mobley and Allen, Garland should be looking for plenty of opportunities to feed the big men on the Cavs, which means fewer touches for Mitchell. Besides, it’s hard to imagine Mitchell getting away with these tendencies on his new team:

Isaac Okoro

Okoro never offered much from a fantasy perspective, but now his fantasy prospects look even drier. He’s a weekly streamer at best, and his impact is felt much more in real life than it is in fantasy. The Cavs don’t ask for much else from him besides defense, but with Spida’s addition to the team, it’s hard to see Okoro developing more of his offensive game. What does this mean for fantasy managers? Stay away.

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