The Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off a blockbuster trade on Sunday with the Indiana Pacers. The Cavs landed rising star Caris LeVert and a 2022 second round pick in exchange for Ricky Rubio (and his expiring contract), a 2022 first round pick, a 2022 second round pick and a 2027 second round pick.
The first round pick going to Indiana is lottery protected and the second rounder comes via the Houston Rockets. That makes it quite valuable, probably a pick in the low 30’s. Shipping Rubio and his expiring contract is also a big trade piece. Clearly, the Cavs ownership is pushing their chips in the middle for a title run this season.
There are some key reasons why this move significantly increases their chances of winning an NBA Championship this year. Here are the two major reasons.
Back Court Scoring
The Cavs have been one of the better defensive teams in the league all season. Rookie Evan Mobley and big man Jarrett Allen have been crushing teams on the glass and changing shots in the lane.
Allen, who is considered one of the bigger All-Star snubs, has been on a tear. In his last game, Allen scored 29 points and ripped down 22 rebounds. Between he and Mobley, they are swatting 3 shots a game. Their interior play is superb.
But injuries crushed the team’s back court. They lost both Collin Sexton and Rubio for the season to injuries. That left the team shorthanded with playmakers. Darius Garland was named to his first All-Star team earlier in the week. But he has had to carry so much of the load.
He finally has a two-guard that can create his own shot.
Caris LeVert makes the Cavs better right away.
The future of wings in the league is stacked, so you need a guy who will be able to go shot for shot with those guys when it’s time. Caris can get you 20 through the offense. Cavs future is bright. pic.twitter.com/j5LI1xrQZa
— Ball Don't Stop (@balldontstop) February 6, 2022
LeVert is in his sixth season in the NBA after being drafted by the Brooklyn Nets back in 2016. He has taken his game to a new level over the last few years and is consistently scoring about 20 a game. He can also create for others. He’s posted over four assists per game in each of the last three seasons.
Cleveland needed some offense to compete against the elite teams in the Eastern Conference. With LeVert in the fold, they have another option defenses need to account for.
Easy Baskets for the Cavs
The Cavs struggle to score at times. If they cannot get post position with either Allen or Mobley, they tend to turn into a jump shooting team. This team is not chalk full of shooters, hence some of the droughts they go in.
Enter LeVert, who is one of the best players in the NBA at getting to the rim. He ranks inside the top 10 in getting to the rim. The Cavs on the other hand are 29th in the league at that statistic. You need to be able to get some easy baskets some of the time.
LeVert should significantly help their ability to do that.
Knowing how strong this team is defensively, they added a solid two-way player who can make a difference at the team’s biggest weakness.