Will the new-look Cavaliers be enough to overcome the Warriors?
By: Brianna Sims, Assistant Sports Editor (@bri_simsxo)
After the NBA trade deadline on Thursday, Feb.8, the Cleveland Cavaliers roster looked unrecognizable. Cleveland traded six players, including prominent names such as Dwyane Wade and newly acquired Isaiah Thomas.
Wade was traded to his former team, the Miami Heat and Thomas and Channing Frye found themselves packing to join the Los Angeles Lakers. In return, the Lakers sent Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr.–and a 2018 first-round pick. Additionally, Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose departed from the Cavs to the Utah Jazz. Iman Shumpert was traded to the Sacramento Kings, in exchange for George Hill and Rodney Hood.
Having lost 12 of their 19 games, the Cavs, visibly frustrated, lacked chemistry, defense and energy. Though the team appeared to play much better basketball against the Minnesota Timberwolves on the eve before the trade deadline in their overtime victory that featured 34 lead changes and a game-winning buzzer beater for Lebron James – change was still inevitable.
It’s clear that through the trade the Cavs are aiming for younger, more versatile athletic players who could improve the team’s defensive struggles in the half court and especially in transition.
According to ESPN, Channing Frye described the Cavs chemistry issues as struggles that didn’t extend to off the court. “I don’t think it was a chemistry off the court thing because I went and talked to those guys all the time,” said Frye.
“I just think on the court, there just wasn’t enough give and take. I don’t think we were built to sacrifice for each other. I think a lot of guys had success in different systems. There wasn’t enough time for them to adjust to doing it a certain way and that happens.”
The new roster appears to give Cleveland a healthier and more athletic team that is better on defense. Defensively, the Lakers had a defensive rating of 100.4 with Clarkson and Nance Jr. on the floor together. Clarkson brings a 32.4 shooting percentage on 3-pointers this season while Nance brings athleticism and versatility. Hood and Hill scored a combined 41 percent from downtown so far this season. Hill is currently averaging 10.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
When asked about how he felt about the trade, Lebron James emphasized the fact that the league is a business. “It’s not about what the other guys didn’t bring or what these guys bring,” said James, after the Cavs win against the Hawks.
“We’re all professionals, and we were happy with the guys that we had, and we’re going to be happy with the guys that we have now. That’s the way the league is, it’s a business. There’s no shade on anybody.”
In the debut of Cleveland’s new roster, things appeared to be changing for the better, as the Cavaliers secured a 122-99 win against the Boston Celtics. James led the box score with 24 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds. Clarkson scored 17 points off the bench. While, Hood scored 15 points and and Nance Jr. orchestrated plays that included an invigorating dunk and an alley-oop. Only time will tell how the new roster can compete in the coming months before the playoffs in April.