The Cleveland Cavaliers made it clear coming into the 2013-14 NBA season that they planned to make a run at the postseason after years of ending up in the draft lottery in the wake of LeBron James’ departure. However, after the way that this team started the year, the playoffs seemed like somewhat of a long-shot, even in the weak Eastern Conference.
As the team tried to rid themselves of Andrew Bynum, though, they possibly struck gold in a trade late on Monday night when they were able to swap Bynum for All-Star small forward with Luol Deng. However, what the trade made even more apparent was that this team is still gunning for the playoffs.
To acquire Deng in exchange for Bynum, the Cavs were forced to send three future draft picks to the Chicago Bulls as well. With those assets no longer in the organizations pockets, the message is wholly that they are going to need to win now or this experiment will be a failure. The Cavs are clearly hoping that Deng will solve a lot of their problems.
In terms of defense and leadership, Deng has proven that he will bring that to Cleveland. Moreover, Deng will be a great improvement over guys like Alonzo Gee that the Cavs have been trotting out the small forward recently. The big question, though, is whether Deng can come in and be an offensive force that helps the Cavs often troublingly stagnant offense.
The Cavs are currently tied for the worst team field goal percentage in the league at just 42.2 percent. Meanwhile they are also just middle-of-the-road in terms of three-point shooting at 35.9 percent. The hope is that Deng will help improve those numbers.
However, Deng improving the Cavs’ offensive efficiency is far from a formality. In 23 games this season with the Bulls, Deng was shooting a decent 45.2 percent from the field, but a paltry 27.4 percent from three. In fact, he’s just a career 33.1 percent three-point shooter.
One of the biggest things the Cavs need from Deng is for his shooting to space the floor, but I’m not convinced that he’ll be able to do that. It’ll be different having Deng’s legs likely be fresher due to a lighter workload, but he’s not exactly known for his shooting ability. He can help this team in a number of ways, but I’m not sure he’s the answer to their issues on offense.