So Did Cleveland Get Better?


The Cleveland Cavaliers made a bevy of moves at the trade deadline this season, and no matter what opinions one had on the players exchanged on either side (going out vs. coming in), the Cavaliers got objectively younger, more athletic, and lengthier.

Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade, Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder, a 2018 1st Round Pick, and a 2024 2nd Round Pick were traded for George Hill , Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., and a 2024 2nd Round Pick cumulatively at the deadline.

All in all, I was a huge fan of what Cleveland did at the deadline. None of the players Cleveland gave up were contributing to the success of the Cavaliers. Isaiah Thomas was the arguably best player Cleveland gave up in the deal, and he was the worst defensive player in the last 25 years.

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Washington Post

The other guys Cleveland gave up were either seldom used (Rose – 16 total games played, Shumpert – 14, Frye – 12.4 minutes per game) or just plain innefficient. Jae Crowder shot 41.8% on field goals and 32.8% on threes as a “three and D player.” Dwyane Wade’s 45.5% from the field doesn’t account for his high volume of generally less efficient shots. Among 305 players who have played over 10 games and 15 minutes per game, Wade’s Effective FG% of 48.0% ranks 250th. He’s not any better at the defensive end either with a 110 defensive rating.

So far, LeBron is 4-3 with his new toys including key wins over Boston and Oklahoma City. Here is a breakdown of the production from the old players vs. the new ones:

FG% 3P% REB AST STL BLK PTS WS/48 Box +/- VORP Per 100 Poss. +/-
New 0.470 0.350 14.7 8.2 3.6 2.5 45.2 0.444 -2.0 0.1 22.4
Old 0.418 0.294 16.5 12.5 3.5 2 53.5 0.178 -22.0 -0.5 -16.9
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NBA Hispanos

Don’t forget that there are four new players’ productions here being compared against six old players, which favors the old players on the statistics above that are not percentages. What stands out is the significantly improved shooting percentages, the win share rate (.444 per 48 minutes for the new guys compared to .178 for the old), and the the plus/minus per 100 possession mark. You are reading correctly when you see that the new players are out scoring their opponents by 22.4 points per 100 possessions vs. the old guys, who were beaten by 16.9 points – nearly a 40 point swing in favor of the new players.

What’s perhaps most shocking is the fact that George Hill hasn’t even come into himself yet. Hill was honestly the player I was most excited to see play with LeBron among the trade deadline acquisitions – a smart, hard nosed point guard who can score and play off the ball masterfully? It’s a perfect fit. Yet so far, Hill only has averaged 11.1 points, 2.6 assists, and 2.4 rebounds in 27.9 minutes per game on 37.1% shooting and 26.9% from three.

As you can deduct from the table and this information on Hill, Clarkson, Hood, and Nance have been fantastic. Cleveland has a relatively easy schedule remaining – the opponents have a 618-672 combined record. I would not be surprised to see a Cleveland wins streak to close the season if LeBron doesn’t rest on a regular basis.

The fact that Cleveland got four productive players at different positions that are younger, more athletic, better shooting, and on better salaries by only sacrificing their first round pick (which will likely end up in the mid-high 20’s anyways) means the Cavaliers did an excellent job with this trade.

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