Channing Frye was practically glued to the bench to start the season, playing minimal minutes that came mainly in garbage-time situations. That was until Nov. 1, when Tristan Thompson was injured during a game and forced Tyronn Lue’s hand.
The Cavaliers have played vastly different since, although an injury to Derrick Rose and the return of Iman Shumpert also helped the team during this time period.
The early Cavaliers’ season was a dumpster fire and Frye barely saw the floor beyond the end of the Cavs getting beat down, and thus all stats referenced will be from games played after the Nov. 1 and are from NBA Stats.
One big thing that Frye has done is that he has spaced the floor as he always does. The Cavaliers are taking six more three-pointers per 36 minutes with Frye on the floor and are shooting 13 percent better in the restricted area.
LeBron James alone is shooting a ridiculous 84.6 percent in the restricted area when he shares the floor with Frye. His effect on the five Cavs with the most field goals attempted in the restricted area can be seen in the chart below.
The Cavaliers terrible, no-good, very bad net rating has been often talked about this season, but Frye has provided great relief. Cleveland is plus-17.7 points per 100 possessions when Frye is playing and a minus-0.4 when he sits.
The Cavs’ defense with Frye on the floor would be the 11th best in this stretch of games and a pathetic 28th with Frye on the bench. Their assist percentage would rank fifth with Frye and 26th without. The Cleveland true shooting percentage is six percent better with him on the floor.
Channing Frye is average 12.4 minutes per game having played in seven of the eight Cavaliers games after the loss of Tristan Thompson. His personal net rating is plus-43.5 when he plays with LeBron, as opposed to minus-10.1 without James. Frye’s three-point percentage drops from 50 percent to 14.3 percent without LeBron.
That makes the answer to the headlining question very simple: Yes. Channing Frye should consistently play about 10 minutes every night and almost all of them should be with LeBron James. Frye can serve as a change of pace to blitz teams after Kevin Love bangs down low with the opposing bigs.
Should Channing continue to see the floor without LeBron, there should be no problem making things work better than they have. Per nbawowy, every minute Channing played without LeBron in this time period has been with Dwyane Wade.
Even with the recently-resurgent Wade and other floor spacers, these lineups have struggled to score, but they have excelled defensively with a defensive rating under 100 points per 100 possessions.
Additionally, Kevin Love and Channing Frye have never shared the floor for a recordable minute this entire season. Although Tyronn Lue may be worried about the defensive aspect of lineups featuring both players, lineups with Kevin Love have also struggled to score since the Thompson injury.
Tyronn Lue may look to improve the offensive capability of the Wade-Frye lineups with LeBron on the bench by adding Kevin Love and seeing what happens. The defense may just be good enough to be passable.
Although Frye rode the bench to start the season,Lue has been shown that he can still create immense regular season value for the Cavaliers. He stayed ready and has produced for the Cavaliers during their early-season turnaround. Whenever Tristan Thompson comes back, Lue would have to be crazy to take Frye’s minutes away.