Have the Cavaliers improved with their new roster?
With the NBA regular season kicking off on 17th October 2017 (Oct. 18 IST), teams are busy preparing their squads with the ongoing preseason games. Roster changes across the league have been predicated upon matching up with the Golden State Warriors. Big three is no longer the sought-after phenomenon-why have a big three when you can recruit an entire plethora of superstars?
The Cavs front office did a good job of recruiting stars to stock up a deep roster. They got all they could from the blockbuster Kyrie Irving trade to the Celtics. The deal was good for both teams assuming they both met their needs.
By acquiring Isiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 1st round pick, the Cavs have strengthened different aspects of their roster. Add the underrated wing in Jeff Green, former NBA MVP in Derrick Rose and three-time NBA champion, Dwyane Wade, the Cavs have arguably the deepest team in the league.
The influx of new faces has forced Coach Tyronn Lue’s hand in tweaking the roster to fit his philosophy with the aim of getting back to the finals. According to Jason Lloyd of the Athletic, Jae Crowder gets the nod as the starting forward, while, Kevin Love moves to the center position. This relegates Tristan Thompson to a reserve role.
Given the current NBA style of up-tempo basketball and long-range shooting, Jae Crowders’s stellar defense, toughness, and athleticism will be right at home on the Cavs' current roster. His two-way versatility and range will play a major role in the campaign.
The dynamic scoring of the departed Kyrie Irving has been directly replaced-though not sufficiently, by Isiah Thomas. This factors in the backcourt tandem of Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade. Both are great perimeter guards past their primes, but ready to play at the highest level. Their perimeter game is expected to draw mismatches off the pick and roll, while creating space for shooters.
Veteran point guard Jose Calderon, who takes good care of the basketball with an eye to knock down shots, is an upgrade on the washed-up Deron Williams. Kyle Korver and Jr Smith will resume their roles as spot-up shooters and perimeter defenders. Untested Zizic and Cedi Osman should be ready when called upon, though the jury will be out on them with every game.
Kevin Love will be expected to cause havoc on the slower bulkier and more traditional NBA centers with his shooting. However, the downside of this positional shift would be Kevin Love’s limited effort on interior defense. This indicates a bigger role for Tristan Thompson off the bench given he’s a better defender irrespective of his slightly smaller frame.
With Isiah Thomas expected to miss the better part of the first half of the regular season due to the hip injury, it’ll be interesting to see what Derrick Rose has in the tank. In his 64 games played for the New York Knicks last season, the former No. 1 overall selection averaged 18 points on 47.1 percent shooting from the field, 4.4 assists, and 3.8 rebounds in 32.5 minutes per game. If he can stay healthy, the Cavs should be in a good position to make their intentions known very early in the season.
Isiah’s mental toughness and his prowess in closing out games in crunch time will be crucial heading into the playoffs. The 26-year-old averaged 9.8 points per game in the fourth quarter alone, the second highest mark in the entire NBA behind the reigning league MVP, Russell Westbrook. He did his best work in both isolation situations and at the free throw line. If he keeps at it, Cleveland will quickly move on from Kyrie Irving.
LeBron James was really enthused with the arrival of his best friend, Dwyane Wade. With his spirits up and his eye is on the prize, his leadership will be pivotal if they are to emerge champions.
Cleveland is expected to obliterate every team in the weaker Eastern conference while matching pound for pound with the Elite teams in the west.