What Happened to the Cleveland Cavaliers?

After having an average season thus far, the Cleveland Cavaliers have decided to shake things up and trade half their roster.

 By Jarrod Castillo  Staff Writer

Graphic by Francisco Valladares Athletics Editor

The NBA is essentially an arms race to assemble the best roster, a battle between the haves and the have-nots. Recently in Cleveland, it’s been the Cav-nots.

Once considered by many to be the worst team with a 31-22 record, the Cleveland Cavaliers needed to make a big change and general manager Koby Altman obliged.  Altman completely retooled his roster by trading six older rotation players.

With all the trades that occured, many consider this to be the most hectic trade deadline in recent memory. The Cavaliers, mired in mediocrity, decided to offload almost all the veteran players they acquired the previous summer and took over the day.

What’s interesting to note is that the main players the Cavs received in the Kyrie Irving trade were traded as well. In essence, the Cavs traded a superstar in Irving for a draft pick that is projected to be No. 8 overall, which is a far cry from the No. 1 selection it was slated to be.

The Cavs moved guards Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert, Isaiah Thomas and forwards Jae Crowder and Channing Frye, who are an average age of 30.3. Meanwhile the players they got back are much younger. Guards Rodney Hood, George Hill, Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr., are an average age of 26.5 years old.

Prior to the deadline, the Cavs had the oldest roster with an average age of 31, giving them a huge disadvantage on the defensive end because of player conditioning. They were experienced but also had the second-worst defensive rating, according to Basketball-Reference.

As such, younger teams like the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors have leapfrogged them in the standings at first and second in the Eastern Conference, respectively.

In response to that, the Cavs elected to trade their older players to get an infusion of young talent in hopes that they will be able to compete with the aforementioned teams and eventually, the Golden State Warriors.

With the new, younger players the Cavs have received, expect them to improve on both ends of the floor.

Hill is the oldest member of the newcomers at 31, and is able to provide a steady defensive presence in the backcourt. Though Hill may be on the wrong side of 30, the Cavs have lacked a player of his caliber since the start of the season. Furthermore, it gives the Cavs a seasoned ball-handler alongside LeBron James in the starting lineup.

On the offensive side, Clarkson will  give James another ball handler to ease off the pressure. Clarkson averaged 14.5 points, three rebounds and three assists this season off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers. In addition, this move gives the Cavs someone who can run the offense while James gets a breather on the sidelines.

The addition of Hood gives the Cavs a bonafide shooter that can help spread the floor for James, giving him more room to operate. During his tenure with the Utah Jazz, Hood averaged 16.8 points on 42 percent shooting from two and 38.9 percent from deep. As an above average 3-point shooter, Hood will be the Cavs’ third-best three-point shooter upon arrival. Nonetheless, questions remain on whether he can say healthy for a long stretch of time.  

Lastly, Nance Jr. gives the Cavs a player that will provide a much-needed energy boost for a group that has looked lethargic at times. Nance Jr. did all the little things for the Lakers: diving for loose balls, fighting for rebounds, etc. For the most part, these things separate the pretenders from the contenders.

The Cavs are hoping that with Nance Jr.’s energy, Clarkson’s playmaking, Hill’s defense and Hood’s shooting, they can propel themselves back to the top of the Eastern Conference.