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New Cavalier Breakdown: Rodney Hood

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In Rodney Hood, the Cavs acquire a player having his best offensive season in the NBA who has the defensive tools to make an impact in the playoffs on both ends.

Utah Jazz v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

In Rodney Hood, Cleveland acquires a 25-year old wing in the last season of his rookie deal.

Hood is in the midst of his best offensive season in the NBA. He is one of 32 players scoring at least 30 points per 100 possessions and his True Shooting percentage of 55.1% is just about league-average (55.6%) for this first time in his career.

He has started just 12 games for Utah this year (and only 1 since Christmas) and Cleveland will have a decision to make as to whether they start him in Jae Crowder’s role or look to either a holdover (Jeff Green, Cedi Osman) or different newly-acquired player (Larry Nance Jr.) to start before Kevin Love returns.

Offense

Hood remains a complicated offensive talent who has some clear strengths and weaknesses in his game.

Hood is shooting a career-high 39% from 3 this season on 6.7 attempts per game—after shooting 37% from deep last year—and has showed some versatility on his jumper:

He is shooting 38.4% on catch and shoot 3s and 41% on wide open 3s—which falls in line with his career 40.4% on wide open 3s coming into this season.

Hood also falls into the “LeBron James Zone” as a player who is shooting better from 3 off the dribble than off the catch. He is currently shooting 39.1% on off the dribble 3s, a massive improvement after never topping 32% in his career prior to this season.

The 4th-year player generally prefers to shoot off the dribble from the mid-range. He has taken 173 pull-up jumpers this year and shot 38.2% on these shots. This leads to him taking 44% of his total shots from the mid-range. At times, he struggles with these shots, but he has also demonstrated some craft in the pick and roll to free himself for good mid-range looks.

This pick and roll craft could help him spearhead the Cavs second unit either right away or after Love returns. He is certainly comfortable with the ball in his hands, posting a usage percentage over 27% on the season.

Despite his length and athleticism, Hood rarely takes shots at the rim—only 11% of his attempts have come from the restricted area this season (7th percentile for wing players). When he does go to the rim, Hood is a lefty that likes to drive right before getting back to his left hand for the finish.

His aversion to right-hand finishing and his struggles with contact leave Hood shooting just 57% at the rim—in the 31st percentile for all wings. He shot 55% at the rim last year and it’s obvious on film that even the threat of a contest can bother his shot.

Much like Cleveland’s other acquisitions, Hood does some of his best work in transition. He is scoring 1.28 ppp in transition, good for 33rd of all players with at least 50 opportunities, and has finished 12% of his plays this way.

Defense

Hood is a mixed-bag defensively, but definitely has yet to live up to his physical tools.

His 0.4% block rate and 1.3% steal rate both rank well below-average for his position and he rarely fouls. The combination of these three factors often signals a struggling defensive player. The Jazz were 5.7 points/100 possessions better with him off the floor defensively this season, but were 1.7 points/100 possessions better with him on the floor defensively last year.

Hood often overreacts to off-ball actions or gets caught ball-watching, which can get him lost a bit defensively.

Watch his overhelp here on this Klay Thompson cut that frees Andre Iguodala for a jumper:

But Hood has never been one to slack from an effort perspective defensively. As an example, he fights over a ball screen against JJ Redick, helps off ball, and sprints to contest the Redick 3.

Hood has the tools to make him an excellent defender, but has yet to reach that potential. The Cavs can certainly hope that his length and athleticism allow him to bother opposing wings in Cleveland.

Overall

Hood’s shooting revelation this season gives him significantly more value to the Cavs if it continues. He is certainly a player who is comfortable handling the ball and should provide significant value on the second unit.

Whether he is able to reach some of his physical potential defensively is probably the differentiating factor between him being just a second unit player or contributing in an Andre Iguodala-type role as a super 6th-man in the playoffs.