clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The impact of the Cleveland Cavaliers' offseason on the big three

The Cavs made the most of what they had this summer, and those moves are poised to produce some crucial dividends next season.

Elsa/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers ended last season in heartbreaking fashion. Injuries decimated the team and provided a litmus test for how much depth the wine and gold possessed. The fact that the Cavs were actually faced with a lack of shooting in the Finals was a stunning reality given the abundance of shooting they had during the regular season.

Simply being healthy may or may not have been enough to push the Cavs over the top, but hypothetical situations don't change the facts and they certainly don't provide championship rings. In today's NBA, if you aren't constantly looking to improve, you're falling behind. With a limited amount of cap room and expendable assets, David Griffin pulled off a very significant summer for reasons that go beyond what the additions will bring themselves, but for the effect it will have on the core of the team.

The addition of Richard Jefferson provides the Cavs with a very effective three-point shooter who also has the mobility to move around on the basketball court. While Mike Miller could unquestionably shoot, his limited mobility at this stage of his career and constant health concerns caused him to be an unreliable option. He was often was a liability when inserted into the lineup. At six foot seven, Jefferson also gives the Cavs a legitimate option to spell LeBron James and get him the necessary rest to be ready for the playoffs. Even though LeBron played the fewest minutes per game that he has in his entire career, the toll of five straight trips to the NBA Finals was incredibly evident. As he continues to age, preserving his body and keeping him ready for May and June should be one of the Cavs top priorities.

Last season, resting both LeBron and Kyrie Irving at the same time was a risky proposition. Even if you had Kevin Love on the floor, there was nobody capable of initiating the offense from the perimeter on a consistent basis. Matthew Dellavedova can be an effective combo guard off the bench who can supply occasional playmaking, but it was nowhere near the level required to prevent a significant drop off in production at times. That's where the acquisition of Mo Williams becomes a pivotal move for the Cavs this summer.

Averaging 14.2 points and 6.2 assists per game last season, Williams is more than capable of creating for both himself and others. His ability to run the offense when James and Irving go to the bench provides Love with a partner who will allow him to operate as a number one option for a period of time. Heavy doses of Love operating out of the high post aren't necessarily the most effective way to utilize the starting lineup. But with savvy off ball players like Jefferson and Tristan Thompson, plus shooting off the bench with Williams and J.R. Smith, the Cavs could produce a second wave of attack that could feast on their opponents' second units. Obviously Love will still see the bulk of his time alongside Irving and James, but staggering the minutes of the big three a little will allow the Cavs to maintain their lead or potentially build upon it. It also will allow the big three to get some rest throughout the game and create more garbage time where they can call it a night early.

Limiting minutes isn't going to prevent a freak injury from occurring, but it could go a long way in reducing the wear and tear the Cavs' core endures throughout the course of the regular season. That's why the Cavs' minor summer moves could prove to be far more than what meets the eye.