One of the most important moves last season was the addition of Channing Frye at the trade deadline. Not only did the move provide the Cavs with a stretch five to push net negative Timofey Mozgov to the bench throughout the playoffs, but he became an essential piece to the Cavs locker room culture.
The summer has been filled with stories of how Frye's blindness to team cliques caused the team to become closer off the court. He was a unifying force that was also there to provide emotional support to Kevin Love when he struggled in the Eastern Conference Finals. Love bounced back after a couple rough games and Frye did his part connecting on 58.3 percent of his threes in the Conference Finals. He even inspired J.R. Smith to take his shirt off after the Cavs won the title, a lifestyle choice that Smith is likely still following to this day.
But Frye isn't just a core part to the team off the court. With the departure of Mozgov, Frye will likely be the second string center to the Cavs heading into the 2016-2017 season. His presence allows for another level of spacing for the Cavs. Whether it be alongside Love, or in small ball lineups, the threat of Frye on the pick and pop creates plenty of space for the ball handler to operate and cutting lanes for the Cavs wings.
Standing at 6'11" with a quick and high release, Frye is a devastating weapon. It was easier for teams to account for him when he was in Orlando. But when you surround him with the talent the Cavs possess, he becomes an incredibly difficult option to account for.
The threat he poses to defenses was incredibly clear in game three against the Atlanta Hawks:
Replacing Mozgov with Frye next season will likely usher in a more three point heavy offensive attack, similar to what we saw throughout the Eastern Conference playoff run.
Not only is Frye a solid asset and a key part of the rotation, but his contract is incredibly reasonable for the production he brings. Frye is just two years into a four-year deal worth $32 million. His height and style of play should allow him to age gracefully, so despite him being 33, the Cavs should expect at least two more good seasons out of him.
One of the bigger knocks to Frye's game has been his defense. While the sample size isn't too significant, the early returns for the Cavs have been good on defense. In 445 regular season minutes the team gave up 0.1 points per 100 possessions fewer in him on the court. In 237 playoff minutes, the Cavs defense allowed 9.2 points per 100 possessions fewer with him on the court.
There's a lot of noise with these numbers, but if Frye can be close to a break-even player on defense in addition to his offense, he will be a key part to the Cavs future success.
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