The Cleveland-Russia connection got bigger, literally, when the Cavaliers finally inked seven-foot center Alexander “Sasha” Kaun to a modest two-year deal. The Cavs, thanks to former GM Danny Ferry, waited seven years for their 2008 investment to blossom and they will now harvest the fruit of their patience. A former Kansas Jayhawk, Kaun might be a little known commodity to some but he excelled among top flight competition in Europe. Cavs Nation has now put the spotlight on the former NCAA National Champion as we present you with five things that he brings to the table.
5. Insurance in the middle
Timofey Mozgov’s spot as the starting center is already secured but his backup, Anderson Varejao, has a very spotty history health-wise so the reserve-center minutes need to be managed wisely. This is where Kaun enters as he can help Varejao to stay healthy in time for the playoffs as they share backup duties to Mozgov.
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Kaun was Kansas’ defensive anchor for four years and his acumen on that end of the floor translated to his stint in CSKA Moscow. Although his defensive rebounding could still see some improvements, being alongside Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, and Anderson Varejao should help his case. Other than that slightly spotty area, Kaun is a decent presence below the rim who excels in defending the pick-and-roll which, we all know, is a very important skill that today’s NBA big men should possess.
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3. Instant contribution
The advantage of going for a draft-and-stash approach is that the team has the luxury of letting their player develop overseas and getting him aboard whenever they feel necessary. Such is the case with Kaun and when he steps on the floor for the Cavaliers, he is expected to make his presence felt especially on the defensive end.
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2. Easy fit
Kaun is an intelligent basketball player who figures to easily fit the Cavaliers’ scheme of things. Being a part of highly successful programs in college and in Europe, Kaun definitely knows how to win and the wisdom imparted by Bill Self and Ettore Messina are simply golden. Former Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry even alluded to Kaun as an excellent glue guy.
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Despite being the new guy, Sasha Kaun already knows Timofey Mozgov and David Blatt due to their Olympic tenure with the Russian National Team. This is an underrated but equally important factor as most players from Europe have difficulties transitioning to their NBA teams because they have not yet established a connection with their peers. Kaun understands Batt’s manner of thinking and Blatt knows how to utilize Kaun best.