The Cleveland Cavaliers are the reigning NBA champions after dethroning the Golden State Warriors in a historic NBA Finals match-up this past summer. Of course, the Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit to remove the Warriors as America’s team. The Cavaliers 2017 NBA season is off to a hot start, with the Cavaliers 24-7 record good for first place so far in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers’ main nucleus consist of their “big three”; LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. The trio are all averaging at least 21.7 points per game, which is the first time they have accomplished this scoring feat in their three seasons together.
The trio were also mainly responsible for the Cavaliers’ win over the Warriors on Christmas Day, in which all three combined for 76 points. But there has been setbacks for the Cavaliers roster in terms of health. Sharp shooter J.R. Smith is expected to miss at least 12-14 weeks, Chris “Birdman” Anderson is out for the season, and Mo Williams is out indefinitely. Should the Cavaliers explore a trade offer to add depth to their roster? Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today thinks it couldn’t hurt, especially down the stretch run.
“For at least the next two months, the Cavs have 12 active players. That might not be a problem short term — the Cavs beat the Bucks on a back-to-back without Kevin Love for both games and without Smith for six quarters. Andersen wasn’t playing much, and Williams has been inactive all season.
“But long term, the lack of bodies could take its toll, and that’s the concern for the Cavs.
“Holding off the Toronto Raptors, who are 1 1/2 games behind for the top spot in the East, just got more difficult. The Cavs don’t want a situation where they drop further than a 2 seed. Winning one series on the road is one thing. Winning three series on the road is another”
LeBron James [Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]
Conventional wisdom in the professional leagues state that the teams that remain the healthiest through the regular season and the playoff run possess the best chances of winning a title. It could explain how the Cavaliers were able to defeat the Warriors in this past NBA Finals; the Warriors were hampered by Steph Curry’s lingering knee injury and Andrew Bogut’s injury to his knee, as well. But, as Zillgitt explained, if the Cavaliers don’t have health and depth in the playoffs, it will be hard for them to repeat. Zillgitt also believes that a valuable back-up point guard or a wing who can defend the perimeter could be targets the Cavaliers could go for as the trade deadline slowly approaches.
“What do they need? A backup point guard or a perimeter player who can generate offense and a perimeter defender. The Cavs need offensive help when LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are not in the game, but they are 15th in defensive efficiency (104.5 points per 100 possessions).
“The point guard/offensive player is a need now but won’t be as big of a factor come playoff time when rotations shrink and James and Irving play more minutes. A wing defender will be more important in April, May and June.”
Although the Cavaliers appear to have continued to roll on without three key players, depth and health will be a big factor in whether or not the Cavaliers will have enough to win the NBA title once more. Yes, another win over the Warriors says a lot, especially after the acquisition of Kevin Durant. But December and June are obviously two different months and much can happen in between that time span. Whether or not the Cavaliers will make the trade remains to be seen. But if more Cavaliers players begin to have injuries, no one should be surprised if a trade happens.
[Featured Image by Jason Miller/Getty Images]