Last time I posted about the Cavs, they were on the mend and in the midst of a 13-game winning streak. Since? Not great. The Cavs have been one of the worst teams in the league since, posting the NBA’s 5th worst Net Rating of -4.5, ahead of only the Magic, Nets, Kings, and Suns. Poor company for a team that fancied itself a perennial contender and Eastern Conference hegemon.
Clearly, Koby Altman and the rest of the Cleveland front office took note - and decided to burn the place to the ground. After months of rumors about poor chemistry, blame-gaming, and bad basketball, a majority of Cleveland’s rotation players were shipped out of town to make way for younger (and cheaper) options.
- George Hill
- Jordan Clarkson
- Rodney Hood
- Larry Nance, Jr.
- Isiah Thomas
- Derrick Rose
- Dwayne Wade
- Iman Shumpert
- Jae Crowder
- Channing Frye
Twitter Has No Chill
The Cavaliers have made some changes today pic.twitter.com/H7XZwAquyC— Brett Lyons (@Brett__Lyons) February 8, 2018
Pre-Deadline Depth Chart
|Point Guard||Isiah Thomas||Derrick Rose||Jose Calderon||London Perrantes|
|Shooting Guard||JR Smith||Dwayne Wade||Kyle Korver||Iman Shumpert|
|Small Forward||LeBron James||Jae Crowder||Jeff Green||Cedi Osman|
|Power Forward||Kevin Love|
|Center||Tristan Thompson||Ante Zizic|
Post-Deadline Depth Chart
|Point Guard||George Hill||Jordan Clarkson||Jose Calderon||London Perrantes|
|Shooting Guard||Rodney Hood||JR Smith||Kyle Korver||John Holland|
|Small Forward||LeBron James||Jeff Green||Cedi Osman|
|Power Forward||Kevin Love||Larry Nance|
|Center||Tristan Thompson||Ante Zizic|
- The Cav’s guard play should be much improved as a result of today’s moves. Getting IT off the court and replacing him with George Hill, a solid defensive player and great 3-point shooter, is a huge upgrade in particular
- Jordan Clarkson should slide right into Wade’s role as a second-team slasher and playmaker. While he may never reach Wade’s level as a player, Clarkson does have room to improve as well and has shown to be durable
- Hood gives the Cavs another skilled wing, with the ability to post up smaller guards and blow past larger wings. If he can stay healthy, we will see the court a lot, especially when the Cavs play “small”
- Larry Nance helps diversify the skillsets in the Cav’s frontcourt as well as fill the gap created by Kevin Love’s hand injury. His ability to finish in the pick in roll as a Center or Power Forward will give them a dynamic option they haven’t had this season (Tristan Thompson formerly filling that role), and his hustle and energy will help on a defense that hasn’t had much of either so far this season
- Depending on how well Nance plays, TT may see a major minutes decline as the 3rd wheel in the frontcourt once Love returns
Do These Moves Make the Cavs Better?
In a word, yes. I think we’ll see a lot of lineups with the three-man core of Hill, James, and Love being played, with Smith, Hood, and Korver rotating in to provide shooting, Clarkson to provide playmaking, Thompson to provide size, and Nance to provide energy.
While not as famous as the Wade/James/Bosh trio or the Irving/James/Love trio, I really like how the Hill, James, and Love trio fits together. Hill provides excellent off-ball shooting, strong defense, and ball handling ability while Love provides solid floor spacing, rebounding, and interior scoring. James, of course, does it all - that’s why he’s so special. But up and down the roster, now, there seems to be more cohesion in play styles. Gone are defense-allergic veterans like Thomas, Rose, and Wade. Also gone are disappointments who never quite flipped the switch, in Crowder and Shumpert. In their place are younger, cheaper alternatives with two-way skillsets (Hill and Hood) and potential to improve (Nance and Clarkson).
Last time I wrote about the Cavs, Derrick Rose was the bad guy. Since then, Rose took a backseat for Isiah Thomas’ return, which seems to have confirmed that one small man has the power to completely destroy an NBA defense. In response, the Cavs shipped them both out of town. An aggressive move, to be sure, but one worth taking when considering they are fighting a two-front war: 1) Beating the Warriors and 2) Retaining LeBron James next season. By my estimation, these trades put them a little closer to both of their goals, and as such this looks like an early success for the Wine and Gold.