The Cleveland Cavaliers needed to shake things up, and shake things up is exactly what they did, with a handful of big moves.
Since January 1, the Cavs are 7-10. Their offense in that span is 18th in the league, while their defense is 29th. They have been outscored by 7.1 points per 100 possessions, 28th in the NBA.
And their prized offseason acquisition, reigning All-Star Isaiah Thomas, is averaging 14.7 points per game, while shooting a paltry 36.1% from the field and 25.3% from deep. Oh, and he’s been calling out the team and the coaching staff in the process.
So Cleveland shipped him off. And they shipped off their two big-name free agent signings, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade. And in return, they got a brand new backcourt: Rodney Hood (from the Utah Jazz) and George Hill (from the Sacramento Kings).
Here’s the full list of Cleveland’s moving pieces:
2018 first-round draft pick (protected)
2020 second-round draft pick
Larry Nance Jr
Second-round draft pick (from Miami, heavily protected)
So the question becomes: how much better is this Cavs team? Some seem to think a lot:
And just like that the @cavs s are easily the favorites in the east and have a roster built to beat the @warriors in the finals w/ Rodney Hood, George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr, LBJ, Tristan T and company. @espn @SportsCenter— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) February 8, 2018
With Thomas (who finished fifth in MVP voting last year) playing horribly and having a negative impact on the locker room, these moves cerainly help. Hill and Hood are both terrific shooters who play strong defense.
Clarkson gives the team a scoring option off the bench, and Nance provides athleticism that the team was lacking.
This certainly doesn’t make the Cavs title favorites, or get them very close. But it reestablishes them as the team to beat in the Eastern Conferences, and increases the likelihood of a fourth consecutive Finals matchup with the Warriors.