Cavs Betting: Impact of Deron Williams – Bogut on the Way?

deron-williams-cavsThe defending NBA champions have had their challenges this season, including J.R. Smith fracturing his thumb, Kevin Love getting knee surgery, and LeBron James currently battling strep throat. But help is on the way since point guard Deron Williams is expected to sign with Cleveland this week.

The three-time All-Star reached a buyout deal with the Dallas Mavericks last week and cleared waivers Saturday. Williams had been considering one of his old teams, the Utah Jazz, but affirmed that he’ll sign with the Cavs.

The 32-year-old is averaging 13.1 points, 6.9 assists, and shooting 35% from the three-point line this season. He’ll fill an immediate role that Cleveland has been seeking in a backup point guard. Kyrie Irving mans the position, but they don’t have an experienced veteran to play behind him.

Rookie Kay Felder is currently playing backup point, averaging 4 points and 1.3 assists per game. But he’s also shooting 39.4% from the field, with most of his scoring coming in garbage time. Additionally, Felder has struggled to match up with taller, more-experienced opposing point guards.

Williams, meanwhile, is not only a proven scorer and defender, but he’s also the extra playmaker that LeBron has been hoping for. As a testament to Williams’ playmaking ability, he’s averaging more assists than Irving (5.9) this season in 7 fewer minutes per game.

What’s even better is that Cleveland will be signing him for the veteran’s minimum, costing them around $900,000 in both salary and luxury tax payments.

deron-williams-clevelandWhen James originally voiced his complaints, it seemed unlikely that the Cavs could get a player of Williams’ caliber to back up Irving. After all, they don’t any future draft picks in the next few years, and their cap space is almost maxed out. Proposed targets to fill Cleveland’s last spot were Mario Chalmers, Kirk Hinrich, and Lance Stephenson.

Williams is definitely an upgrade over these players, and he can do more than just spell minutes for Irving and James. In fact, he could ignite the second unit, which includes a mix of Channing Frye, Kyle Korver, Richard Jefferson, Derrick Williams, and Iman Shumpert.

Kyle Korver Lured Williams to Cleveland with Promises of a Fun Locker Room

Kyle Korver has done plenty for the Cavs in his 20+ games, giving them an elite outside threat while Smith is out. And it appears that he’s providing off-court contributions too, luring his ex-Utah Jazz teammate to the club.

deron-williams-kyle-korver-cavsAccording to Cavaliers Nation, Korver promised Williams that the locker room is a fun and welcoming place.

“The locker room is amazing,” Korver told him. “I think you’re always wondering about that in the back of your mind. Just tried to tell him that these guys are great and they’re welcoming. You’re going to have no problem fitting in.”

Beyond Korver, Cavs’ fans can also thank GM David Griffin and the front office for another solid addition. As Cleveland.com pointed out, Griffin has done well to add talented veterans in Korver, Derrick Williams, and Deron Williams when the team doesn’t have many assets to work with.

Andrew Bogut on the Way?

Cleveland may not be done yet after center Andrew Bogut was waived by the Philadelphia 76ers. The 7-foot Aussie was involved in the Nerlens Noel trade, but a rebuilding team like the Sixers had little use for him. So Bogut is now cleared to sign with the team of his choosing.

andrew-bogut-cavsRumors place him signing with either the Cavs or Houston Rockets. We can’t see his game fitting with the Rockets, given Mike D’Antonio’s plan to shoot 50 three-pointers per game from here on out. That’s not to say Bogut couldn’t serve a role with Houston; but his efforts would be more appreciated on a team that ranks 14th in the league in pace (99.2 possessions).

The Cavs could really use somebody like Bogut in their lineup, given that Kevin Love (6’10”) and Channing Frye (6’11”) are their only players 6’10” or over. Since neither is a great shot blocker, Bogut could fill this role.

Signed by a Dallas team that was hoping to compete for a playoff spot, Bogut averaged 3.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks in just 22.4 minutes. His playing time was reduced, with the Mavericks using younger players since their season hasn’t gone well.

Bogut was a valued member of the Golden State Warriors, averaging 1.7 blocks during his four years there.

Best Bench in the League?

Assuming Bogut signs with Cleveland, King James Gospel believes that he would complete the best bench in the league. Here’s an excerpt from their column:

derrick-williams-cavsBy adding Williams and Bogut, one thing that the Cavs will have is the best bench in the league. Channing Frye, Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert (who will head to the bench by the playoffs as J.R. Smith returns), the elder Williams and Bogut could be all be starters elsewhere in the league. Richard Jefferson and Derrick Williams are forwards that attack the rim, play tough defense and make smart plays.

Given that Cleveland had a mediocre bench last season and upset the Warriors in the NBA Finals last season, it’s interesting that they could now boast the top reserves. Furthermore, this is a drastic change from a bench that included Chris “Birdman” Anderson, DeAndre Liggins, Felder, Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Mo Williams to start 2017. Out of these players, only Liggins remains on the team, along with veteran James Jones and Jordan McRae, who’ve yet to be mentioned yet.

Cleveland Cavaliers Betting – Looking Ahead

lebron-james-benchThe Cavs haven’t been a great team to bet on this season, with a 27-28-1 ATS record. Will this change with a bolstered bench? Or will lines and expectations simply increase along with expectations?

If Cleveland can get Williams on the floor soon, they could be undervalued on the lines. After all, James could be out for several games with strep throat, while Love and Smith are still out too. Add in the fact that Korver could miss tomorrow’s game against Milwaukee with a bruised knee, and you have an iffy betting situation regarding this team.

But if Williams can gel quickly with his new team and they pick up Bogut, then the Cavs could start blowing some teams out again.

Cavs Betting: Kevin Love Out 6 Weeks – Impact?

kevin-love-knee-injury-impactWith JR Smith already out with thumb surgery, the Cleveland Cavaliers got more bad news upon hearing that Kevin Love will sit out 6 weeks following knee surgery. The All-Star forward is having his best season with Cleveland, averaging 20.0 points and 11.1 rebounds, while shooting 38.4% from the three-point line.

This is obviously not good for a team that already lost big man Chris Anderson (since traded) to an ACL injury and won’t have Smith back for at least a few more weeks. But what will the exact impact be moving forward? Find out as we discuss Love’s impact on the team’s success, who’ll replace his production, and offer analysis from NBA experts.

Cavs Are Definitely Better with Love on the Court

In his two and a half seasons in Cleveland, Love has constantly heard his name mentioned in trade rumors. He’s not the franchise centerpiece like LeBron James, nor is he the dynamic scorer and ball-handler that Kyrie Irving is. Nevertheless, Love’s contributions are definitely important.

kevin-love-cavsCase in point, the Cavs are 11.5 points per 100 possessions better with Love on the court. And while he’s only shooting 42.9% from the field, nearly half of his shots (14.8 per game) are coming from three-point range (6.7).

Most importantly, Love gives Cleveland another strong rebounder along with Tristan Thompson. He’s especially adept at defensive rebounding, averaging 8.6 per game.

Love complained about his knee bothering him recently, and it began swelling. He had an MRI last Sunday, then went for a second opinion and received the same bad news. Here’s a look at the official team statement:

“Cavaliers forward and 2017 NBA All-Star Kevin Love underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose body from his left knee this morning at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. … Love will now undergo a period of rest and rehabilitation and his return to play is estimated at approximately six weeks.”

Frye, Williams, Jefferson Look to Pick Up Love’s Production

There’s no replacing what Love brings to the table. But forwards Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, and new signee Derrick Williams will do their best.

channing-frye-cavsAs he proved in last night’s 116-108 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Frye is capable of shouldering the offensive responsibility. As Cleveland.com points out, Frye seemed like the ideal replacement, hitting 3-pointers and providing the floor spacing that LeBron and Irving need to work. He scored 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-11 from beyond the arc.

Frye also provided 10 rebounds, but this isn’t typically a strength of his game since he averages just 3.7 boards (7.6 per 36 minutes). Nevertheless, it looks Frye is slated to start for foreseeable future.

Jefferson isn’t the offensive player that Frye is, averaging 5.2 points and shooting just 29.4% from three-point range. But he does play good defense and is a strong finisher at the rim.

Williams could be the key since, at 6’8″, he’s big enough to play both forward positions. He’s also off to a blistering start with the Cavs, averaging 9.5 points on 83.3% shooting in two games. Williams is on a 10-day contract, but 82% of Cleveland.com poll voters think that the 5-year veteran has already played well enough to earn a season-long or multi-year contract.

Impact on Cavs – Expect More Minutes from James, Irving

As we discussed before, James was unhappy about the team’s lack of playmakers to provide relief for he and Irving. LeBron leads the league in minutes at 37.6 per game, while Irving is 16th with 35.2.

lebron-james-benchUnfortunately, it doesn’t look like things will get any easier now that Love is out. Nevertheless, head coach Ty Lue told ESPN that he still wants to reduce James’ workload.

“We’re still going to go about our plan [to reduce James’ minutes],” he said. “We can’t run LeBron into the ground because Kevin is out. Guys got to step up and be ready to play.”

Cleveland also remains adamant that they’re not concerned about playoff seeding, meaning they’ll rest LeBron and Irving regardless of the standings. But in a tight Eastern Conference race – where the Cavs lead Boston by 2.5 games – it’s hard to see them ignoring home court throughout the Eastern playoffs.

An NBA writers blogtable discussion seems to agree with the notion that LeBron will be working overtime with Love out. Here are a few excerpts from the discussion:

David Aldridge“The only logical move is for James to play more minutes at the four (some of us have argued that’s his best position, anyway), which means more banging in the post and more hard minutes for LBJ.”

Shaun Powell“If he’s back to normal or close enough, the Cavs are fine. If not, then we’ll see if they manage to hold onto home court advantage between now and season’s end, and also if LeBron James holds up, before this merits further discussion.”

John Schuhmann“LeBron James needs to get some rest between now and April 15. With Love’s injury and with the probability that James will take some games off, the door is open for Boston or Washington to gain home-court advantage over the Cavs. But as long as Cleveland is healthy in May, that probably won’t matter.”

Ian Thomsen“We can argue over whether they’ll hold onto the No. 1 seed, but it doesn’t really matter because (if healthy) the Cavs should prevail against everyone in the East whether they have homecourt or not.”

Cleveland Plays an Easy Schedule while Love Is Out

kevin-love-staying-clevelandIf there’s any solace here, it’s that Cleveland doesn’t have a difficult stretch coming up. If Love’s timetable of returning in 6 weeks (beginning of April) holds up, only 9 of the Cavs’ 21 games without him will be against winning teams.

Assuming Love returns within 6 weeks, he’d have a couple of weeks left in the regular season to tune up before the playoffs.

Carmelo Anthony Trade Still on the Table?

Not long ago, we covered how Carmelo Anthony has been involved in trade discussions. While LeBron denies pushing for the Cavs to trade Love for Anthony, it becomes a greater possibility now that the All-Star forward is out for so long.

But according to New York Daily News, there’s still a very small chance of this happening. Here are the main reasons why NY Daily News doesn’t see a trade going down:

carmelo-anthony-clippers-1“First of all, there’s Anthony’s no-trade clause. That’s always the first hurdle, and it could be the only one that matters if Anthony, as Yahoo! reported, has decided he’s not going to bend to Phil Jackson. Second, a trade like that would be such a dramatic upheaval for Cleveland less than a year after its Big 3 finally figured out how to play with each other. Replacing Love with a scorer like Anthony starts a new learning curve, with only seven weeks between the Feb. 23 deadline and the beginning of the playoffs. Love is scheduled to come back more than two weeks before the postseason, and let’s face it: the Cavs could get to the Finals without Love. They did it two years ago with no problem, and it’s not like Toronto’s acquisition of Serge Ibaka has the Cavs shaking in their Nikes.”

Long story short, expect to see Love back on the floor in a Cavs uniform come early April. Once again, this should give him enough time to get in tune with things and help Cleveland get back to the Finals. They’ll also have Smith healthy by this point too.

How Much Does Kyle Korver Boost Cavs Championship Odds?

kyle-korver-cavsThe Cleveland Cavaliers recently completed a deal with the Atlanta Hawks to get Kyle Korver in exchange for Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams, and a protected first-round draft pick.

Korver isn’t a superstar, and he’s a couple years removed from his 2014 All-Star appearance. He’s also 35 years old, meaning the 13-year veteran is on the downside of his career.

Still, Korver can shoot the lights out, which begs the question of how much he can help the Cavs in their quest for a second championship. Let’s take a look below at the ways that Korver can help, and come to a final determination on what his impact will be.

Korver’s 3-Pointers Come from the Same Spots Cleveland Shoots Them

Looking at the shot chart below, you can see that Korver’s sweet spots are in the same areas that Cleveland ends up shooting three’s in their sets:

korver-cavs-shooting

We know Korver can shoot the three, given that he’s hitting 41% this season, and he’s a 42.9% career three-point shooter. But this shot chart shows that he won’t have to adjust from his sweet spots on the right and left sides because this is where the highest volume of Cavs’ three’s come from.

Atlanta and Cleveland Run Similar Sets

Additionally, Cleveland runs many similar sets that Korver has run in Atlanta for the past four and a half years. As you can see in the following video from NBC Sports, he’s used to starting in the corner and running off single and double screens to get space.

Here’s a video that shows how Cleveland runs similar plays, with Mike Dunleavy beginning in the corner and Channing Frye providing him with the handoff.

3-Pointers in Transition

While Cleveland’s half-court sets and passing are important, where they really shine is in transition. This means that Korver will cash in on lots of open opportunities when LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are bringing the ball down and drawing attention.

Korver has the stamina to run the floor, get to the corners, and release quick three’s. Here’s an example:

Hitting 3’s off Offensive Rebounds

Cleveland has one of the best offensive rebounders in the league in Tristan Thompson (3.7 per game), while Kevin Love is also good too (2.5 per game). This should mix well with Korver’s ability to hit three’s when his teammates get offensive boards:

Korver has a high basketball IQ, and, as seen above, he quickly runs to the corner as soon as he sees the rebounder turn around.

Giving His Teammates More Driving Room

It’s correct to say that the driving abilities of LeBron and Irving are going to set Korver up for more open three’s than he’s ever had. But it’s also true that Korver will create more driving space for Cleveland’s superstars:

As you can see in this video, Toronto is trying to cover Dunleavy, Frye, and Iman Shumpert around the three-point line.

Terrence Ross tries trailing Dunleavy because he doesn’t want him going over the pick. And this is the same type of situation that Korver is going to benefit from. Given that Pascal Siakam can’t leave Frye, and Shumpert has slipped a screen, Frye eventually gets open.

These favorable scenarios will happen even more with Korver’s three-point shooting acumen.

An Elite 3-Point Shooting Team

Kyle Korver is one of the best shooters in the game, and, even at age 35, he can still play.

Cleveland was already good at shooting three’s before he came over. And they’re going to get better when J.R. Smith comes back from injury in a few months.

Just imagine if they can get Smith healthy and in tune for the playoffs: they’ll have Smith, Irving, Korver, and Frye who can all hit the three with good consistency. Frye and Korver are especially important because they’ll come off the bench to ensure that Cleveland always has three-point threats on the floor.

It’s unclear if this move will ensure that the Cavs can repeat, especially with a loaded Warriors team and solid Spurs club. But what is clear is that Korver makes this a better and more-dangerous team. That said, we like Cleveland’s chances of winning now far more than we did a couple weeks ago.

Cavs Re-Sign JR Smith – Impact on 2016 Betting Odds

jr-smith-resigns-cavsJR Smith and the Cleveland Cavaliers have finally agreed to a deal less than two weeks before the regular season is to begin.

Smith’s new contract will pay $57 million over four years, an average of $14.25 million per season.

ESPN’s Marc Stein broke the news through Twitter:

According to Stein, Philadelphia 76ers GM Bryan Colangelo was pushing to sign Smith, which prompted the Cavs to get in gear:

It’s highly unlikely that Smith would’ve chosen the bottom-dwelling Sixers over Cleveland if the sides were reasonably close.

But with the salary cap jumping to over $94 million this season, and Philadelphia with only $70 million on the books – currently the lowest in the league – they would’ve been able to offer Smith a very large contract.

One more piece of information from Stein is that the first three years of the deal are guaranteed for $45 million, but the fourth year isn’t completely guaranteed:

Extra Pressure from LeBron James

Colangelo’s attempt to lure Smith wasn’t the only thing putting pressure on Cleveland’s front office to make a deal.

LeBron James would very much like to win back-to-back championships, and he recently expressed his frustrations on the delay in re-signing Smith.

“Negotiations are always two sides, but J.R. did his part,” James told Ohio.com. “He showed up every day. Worked his ass off every day. Became a two-way player, a model citizen in Cleveland and he’s a fan favorite. Obviously we all know that. … He’s a big piece of our team and they just need to get it done.”

jr-smith-cavaliers-1James added, “I hate coming into another season – two years in a row – with one of my big guns not here. So for a leader of a team and for me personally, I just hate to deal with this s— again. It’s just too big of a piece to our team to have to deal with in another training camp. Hopefully things get resolved fast, because you know how big and important he is to our team.”

James is referencing how Tristan Thompson wasn’t signed coming into training camp last year. Thompson was finally signed just before the preseason ended, inking a 5-year, $82-million deal.

But the difference here is that Thompson was a restricted agent, meaning he had to play with Cleveland eventually. Smith, on the other hand, was an unrestricted free agent and could’ve signed with any team in the league.

Smith, Thompson, and James all share the same agent, Rich Paul.

A Key Member of Last Year’s Championship Run

Before coming to Cleveland, JR Smith was known as a loose cannon whose off-court issues kept him from reaching his full potential. However, he shook this reputation last season while becoming an integral part of the Cavs’ championship squad.

Smith averaged 12.4 points and shot 40% from the three-point line in 77 games. He hit 204 three-pointers on the season, setting a record for the Cavaliers.

Perhaps more importantly, the 31-year-old played outstanding defense throughout the season. His defense on Klay Thompson and Steph Curry in the 2015 NBA Finals was excellent, while he hit several clutch three-pointers in the series.

How Does Smith’s Re-Signing Affect the Cavs’ Betting Odds?

The NBA regular season starts on October 25, and we still have our 2016 NBA futures available until then. Cleveland is +200 to win the NBA Championship, and -300 to win the Eastern Conference.

jr-smith-clevelandIt’s possible that our oddsmakers could adjust this based on the fact that Smith has re-signed. After all, it wasn’t a given that he was going to play for the Cavs again, considering that Philadelphia, Boston, and LA were all interested in the 12-year veteran.

If Cleveland hadn’t worked out a deal with Smith, their championship odds would’ve taken a hit for sure.

Iman Shumpert would’ve started at shooting guard, and while a very good defender, he doesn’t have the shooting ability of Smith. Other players who would’ve tried to shore up the hole at shooting guard include Mike Dunleavy, Jordan McRae, and James Jones.

But now that Smith is officially on the team, Cleveland returns an important piece in their quest to win another title.