According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed to a deal that will send Kevin Love to Cleveland in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a 2015 protected first-round draft pick. Although both sides have agreed to the trade, the deal cannot be completed until Aug. 23 because Wiggins must remain on Cleveland’s roster for 30 days after signing his rookie deal. When the trade becomes official, the Cavaliers will have to address their interior defense if the team wants to win an NBA Championship in their first year together.
Undoubtedly, both Kyrie Irving and Love will give up their fair share of high-percentage of shots around the rim. Last year, Love ranked in the ninth percentile when defending shots at the rim among players who qualified. Even worse, teammate Tristan Thompson was in the third percentile.
As the roster stands right now, Anderson Varejao will start for the Cavaliers at center. Varejao has averaged more than one block per game only once in his NBA career. Last season, he came in at the 30th percentile when defending opponents’ field goals at the rim. Clearly, the Cavaliers’ interior defense will be the team’s biggest weakness if Cleveland is unable to add a shot-blocking big man.
In free agency, there seems to only be two plausible options who fit this role. Epke Udoh, who owns a career 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes, certainly has the ability to affect opposing shots at the rim. However, Udoh is dreadful on offense, as he has shot a lowly 42.8 percent from the floor in his career.
Additionally, Elton Brand could be considered as a possible safety blanket for the Cavaliers. He tallied 2.2 blocks per 36 minutes last season with the Atlanta Hawks and would also provide the Cavaliers with some veteran experience.
Of course, another possible option for the Cavaliers would be dealing Dion Waiters, who could certainly help Cleveland land a formidable shot-blocker. This may be the best option, as the Cavaliers seem to already have enough offensive pieces present. Giving up a scoring option for a player who will improve their defense could put this team over the top.
Whether the Cavaliers go about it via trade or free agency, Cleveland must address this glaring weakness of interior defense immediately to floor a team truly capable of winning the 2015 NBA Finals.