Cleveland Cavaliers' Luke Walton Is One Of The Best Passing Forwards In The NBA

By Nick Claussen
Chris Humphreys – USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Luke Walton is one of the best passing big men in the NBA.

Walton gets very little credit for his solid play, and frankly some casual NBA fans may not even realize that he is still playing since he is no longer with the Los Angeles Lakers, and since they likely never see the Cavaliers on television.

Walton is not a starter for the Cavaliers, and he’s certainly not a star, but the 6-8 veteran is a lot better player than most people realize.  He’s a good shooter and defender, and he is an outstanding passer.

Currently Miami Heat forward LeBron James is generally considered to be the best passing forward in the league. James can play like a guard/forward, and is great at distributing the ball. He currently leads all NBA forwards with 7.1 assists per game, and is 10th in assists among all NBA players.

Walton is much further down the list with 3.1 assists per game, but he is playing far fewer minutes and has fewer scorers on his team.

Walton plays an average of 16.7 minutes per game, compared to James’ 38.3 minutes per game. If you take Walton’s average of 3.1 assists per 16.7 minutes and push his minutes up to 38.3, then he would average 7.1 assists per game, the same as James.

Now just because that figure works out mathematically does not mean that Walton would have that exact number if he played as many minutes as James, but it does show that he is just as efficient with his passing during his time on the floor.

When he was with the Lakers, Walton thrived in the team’s triangle offense and played very well. NBA fans may forget that in the 2006-2007 season, Walton started 60 games for the Lakers and that he was an integral part some outstanding Lakers teams, including the championship teams in the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons.

Walton’s passing ability fit in perfectly with the offense that the Lakers ran, and he was a big part of some very good teams. Fans may not remember how much he contributed to the Lakers, but he helped their offense flow and helped them become champions.

Playing now for a very young Cavaliers team, Walton brings a great deal of knowledge and experience to the squad, and he also makes the offense run a lot more smoothly when he is in. Walton keeps the ball moving effectively, knows when to make the smart pass and can also score and rebound when needed.

He’s not going to have statistics that jump out at anyone, but he is a much better player than most people realize, and he would contribute in numerous ways on both ends of the floor for any team in the league. And while he doesn’t get quite as much attention as James for being a great passer, you can bet that the fans in Cleveland appreciate and like Walton a lot more than they do their former King.

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