The Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers have had a deal in place for “weeks” that will send Kevin Love to Cleveland to play with LeBron James, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo reports.
The last two No. 1 NBA Draft picks — Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett — will go to Minnesota along with a protected first-round pick. Under NBA rookie contract rules, the trade can’t be completed until August 23rd.
Assuming the deal isn’t derailed in the next 16 days, the Cavaliers are going to be close to unstoppable, at least on the offensive end.
Based on offensive win shares, an advanced stat that takes into account a player’s total offensive impact, LeBron and Love are two of the three best players in the league. The top five:
- Kevin Durant (14.8)
- LeBron James (12.3)
- Kevin Love (10.6)
- James Harden (10.1)
- Steph Curry (9.3)
It’s one thing to have a pair of exceptional offensive players on your team. It’s another to have what the Cavs have now — two exceptional offensive players with complementary playing styles.
Love is a nominal power forward who can shoot threes and make enough mid-range shots to keep defenses honest. The LeBron-Love pick-and-roll will be a nightmare, with defenses stuck between keeping LeBron away from the rim and guarding the Love jumper. When LeBron goes down in the post — something that he has been effective at in the last two years — Love can space the floor. He also commands a double-team in the post.
Love is basically Chris Bosh if Chris Bosh had a better post game and was a great offensive rebounder.
This is a very scary proposition for the rest of the NBA, and that’s even before you get to Kyrie Irving.
2013-14 was supposed to be Irving’s breakout year. Instead, playing on a bad team where he was the entire offence, he regressed a bit. He averaged 17 points and six assists on just 43% shooting. Those efficiency numbers will improve next year when he’s the third option and his role will be decidedly different. He’s a 22-year-old who has already made two All-Star teams, and now he has LeBron James next to him. He’s going to get better.
In addition to Irving, Dion Waiters stands to benefit greatly form LeBron and Love. As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst mentioned on the B.S. Report earlier this week, Waiters makes sense with this team. He shot 41.6% on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers last year, which is the same as great 3-point shooters like Danny Green and Chandler Parsons. His poor overall numbers were a matter of poor shot selection, not ability. If his job is to stand on the wing and make wide-open 3’s, he’ll be fine.
There are real reasons to dislike this trade for the Cavs.
Cleveland’s defence is going to be an adventure. Their only rim protector is the perpetually injured Anderson Varejao, and Love and Irving have shown only a passing interesting in guarding people over the last few years.
Cleveland also killed their cap flexibility for the next half-decade. They won’t be able to sign anyone beyond the mid-level next summer, when guys like Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge will be free agents. LeBron-Love-Irving is now their team for the foreseeable future.
But they’re going to score like crazy.
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