The wait is over, after months of speculation Kevin Love is a Timberwolf no more. Early Thursday morning news broke that the Minnesota Timberwolves will indeed, trade power forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a 2015 first round pick. Although, the deal cannot be made official until August 23rd due to Wiggins already signing his rookie contract with Cleveland. But how does this blockbuster deal impact the Cavs?
For two of Cleveland’s players, it’s exactly what they need.
Kyrie Irving has had the difficult task of manning the Cleveland Cavaliers the past four seasons, with little help and nothing resembling an offense. He’s gotten slack for his decision-making, high number of turnovers, and low shooting percentages. This past season Irving put up percentages of 43% from the field, 36% from deep, all career lows, while averaging nearly three turnovers per game. But when you’re the main focus of every game plan without help, there’s only so much one can do. With David Blatt, LeBron James and now Kevin Love in the mix, it should make an astronomical difference for Kyrie. Catch and shoot opportunities will be everywhere and the driving lanes, especially in the pick-and-roll will be gaping holes for Irving to penetrate. As a result, we should see Kyrie’s numbers drastically improve over the next season from previous years.
The same can also be said for the often-maligned shooting guard Dion Waiters. For someone as talented as Waiters, he has had trouble finding consistency and stability in his first two seasons in Cleveland. As a 42% spot up shooter last season, an impressive percentage, Waiters will be presented with a plethora of catch and shoot opportunities with Irving, LeBron and Love on the floor. On top of that, playing off of those three will give Waiters more room for driving purposes too. For Waiters, this situation is perfect, as it will give him a chance to really utilize his full skill set and showcase how talented a player he can be in a functional system.
As a whole, Cleveland will be a special team to watch.
The Cavs will pose one of the more dynamic offenses in the league outside of San Antonio. Their pick-and-roll game will be outstanding, as they have options that will be almost impossible to stop. A LeBron/Love, Kyrie/Love or even an Kyrie/LeBron pick-and-roll, with shooters like Waiters and Mike Miller spreading the floor, will present defenses with an enormous amount of difficulties with regards to their coverage. How does a team go about guarding those PnR’s? For first year coach David Blatt, the possibilities and creativity are endless. How he chooses to use his weapons will be one of the more intriguing things to watch this upcoming season.
And let us not forget the Kevin Love outlet passes, KEVIN LOVE OUTLET PASSES TO LEBRON JAMES! Love launching full-court bombs to a sprinting LeBron? Basketball porn folks.
However, as spectacular as their offense may be, the biggest concern for the new look Cavs will be on the opposite end. Two-thirds of the newly formed “Big 3″ have been known for their defense, or lack thereof. There is the on-ball and off-ball spectrums, and both Kyrie and Love have been unable to master the abilities to excel in either. Presumably, having LeBron in the fold will raise their defensive awareness and intensity on the floor, but that’s just a small piece to the puzzle. The biggest task for Blatt and LeBron will be getting not only Irving and Love, but also everyone to play a little thing called defense.
Moreover, the Cavs are also limited with depth and size upfront, and current center Anderson Varejao is injury prone. In turn this means we could be looking at potential lineups with Love at center and LeBron at power forward. While lineups as such may present some advantages offensively playing small-ball, the disadvantages defensively will outweigh the former. Going up against larger opposing teams such as the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks etc. will be challenging for the Cavs to defend.
Cleveland will be an offensive powerhouse; there is no debating that. But there are two glaring weaknesses that the Cavs must overcome if they want to reach their goal; defense and lack of quality frontcourt depth. These issues could be addressed in time as all signs are pointing towards veteran, defensive ace Shawn Marion signing with the Cavs. Also, there’s always the possibility Cleveland makes some moves during the season to acquire more post depth. Until then, we will be left wondering if the new Cavs can play defense and wither the storm that is their lack of frontcourt depth.
It should be noted that this “Big 3″ is not the one from South Beach, Kevin Love is not Chris Bosh and Kyrie Irving is no Dwyane Wade. This new “Big 3″ will create their own identity with time. Cleveland will need to gel, learn each other’s tendencies and how everyone moves while on the court. There is chemistry that hasn’t been built yet and it won’t happen over night, rather it will transpire throughout the season.
Nonetheless, the expectations for this team coming out of gate will be sky high, and if Cleveland does happens to land Shawn Marion, expectations will only rise. David Blatt will be under the intense spot light from the get-go and it will be up to him to man the ship. Though if there’s one thing we have learned from past experiences as such, patience is a virtue.