The one thing you can say about Cavs GM David Griffin is that he isn’t afraid of change.
After watching his basketball team struggle more than expected, Griffin didn’t sit back and hope things would get better, he did something about it.
It has been painfully obvious if you know the game of basketball that the main problem for the wine and gold has been on the defensive end. They have ranked among the best teams in the NBA in offensive efficiency. The two trades made in the last few days have addressed the problem when the opponent has the ball.
The Cavaliers have had problems stopping perimeter jump shots and also have had breakdowns when opponents have gone to the basket. Picking up Iman Shumpert helps with the first issue and is a solid enough defender to stop penetration as well.
And if they do get to the hole, Griffin’s latest acquisition, Timofey Mozgov will be there to provide resistance.
Quite simply, Mozgov is a large man at 7’1″ and 250 pounds. He averaged 8.5 points and almost 8 rebounds (7.8) per game and is a career 51.3% shooter from the floor. Those numbers were compiled playing a little over half the game at 25.6 minutes per night. And he’s not horrible from the line either at a little over 73%.
But the biggest thing is he provides a presence and size inside that the Cavs haven’t had all year. Let’s face it, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao are really power forwards masquerading as centers, and while they are solid defenders, they don’t provide the bulk or height needed to make opponents think twice about going to the hoop.
And Brendan Haywood hasn’t been dazzling when he has received minutes either.
Many people have questioned the deal because of the cost, as Griffin gave up two first round draft picks, a steep price for a player who averages less than 10 point and 10 rebounds per night.
However, if Mozgov has the desired effect, then the cost shouldn’t be an issue.
Not to compare the big man to Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond, but what if the same thing happens now as when Thurmond arrived in November of 1975.
When Thurmond was dealt to Cleveland on November 27th of that year, the Cavaliers were 6-11 after losing to the then Kansas City Kings 95-91. Bill Fitch’s squad went 43-22 the rest of the season and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals.
Nate only averaged 17 minutes per game for that team, but he was the right fit at the right time.
If Mozgov proves to be a good fit and the Cavaliers get healthy and make a good playoff run, then giving up two first round picks, neither of which will probably be in the top half of the round, is inconsequential.
And it’s not as though Mozgov is an aging player, he’s 28-years-old, and should be a solid NBA player for many years.
That’s another good thing about the moves Griffin made. Shumpert will not turn 25 until after the end of the current season, so his future is in front of him as well.
When LeBron James and Shumpert get back from their injuries, you have a starting five of those two, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and probably Mozgov. That will enable David Blatt to bring these players off the bench: J.R. Smith, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, Thompson, and his favorite, Matthew Dellavedova.
If Blatt doesn’t give the subs minutes then, maybe he doesn’t have an NBA future.
And in making the deals now, it gives the Cavaliers more time to learn each other prior to the playoffs. If he had waited until the deadline, it would have put that process behind another five weeks.
Regardless, kudos to Griffin for seeing the current roster wasn’t working and going out and trying to fix it. He gave it plenty of time, more than 25% of the season.
Now, let’s see how this version of the Cavs works out.