With several key returning players, the Cleveland Cavaliers need to see what hits unit can be at full health.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a unique position. They have a team of All-Stars in Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen, and Darius Garland, and they have a team of guys who can be traded to help upgrade the team in Cedi Osman, Isaac Okoro, and Caris LeVert. That doesn’t mean they should be traded, just that they’re good trade chips to have.
The Cavs are a team who needs more consistency in their perimeter defense, and that has led some fans to start talking about making some major trades. The thing is, that may not be necessary. The Cavs’ perimeter defense has been bad but three things have happened that should give everyone a pause for making a huge deal.
The first is that Ricky Rubio is back. Rubio is working his way back to big minutes and is already a net-positive player just with his passing and defense alone. The more he plays, the better he’ll be and the defense will improve alongside him.
The second thing that has happened is that Isaac Okoro has gone on a hot streak of sorts. Known for his defense and being a good finisher around the rim in transition, Okoro has struggled to find his shot, so much so that opposing defenses don’t cover him all the time. If he can keep his shot going in, opposing defenses will have to cover him, and that’ll allow the Cavs to use him more as he won’t be such a liability on offense.
The last thing was the injury to Dean Wade. Losing Wade for a month was not helpful for the Cavs. He is one of the team’s better in-and-out defenders and can play the power or small forward positions on defense with ease.
Getting Rubio, and Wade back, while Okoro has developed a decent shot, has made me and others pause at the idea of a major trade.
The Cleveland Cavaliers should see how things are between now and the trade deadline
Now, I want to be clear, a trade involving LeVert is likely and probable. Who that trade is for is anyone’s guess. That said, the team may not be in as dire of a place defensively around the perimeter as previously thought. If Wade, Okoro, and Rubio stay healthy and gel with one another, the Cavs won’t have to hope for a Three-and-D wing to come available. They can worry about the backup center they need or another wing shooter.
So that’s why it’s best to wait for a few games and see how this unit looks with all three of their best defensive perimeter players back before making a trade.