After all the speculation since the return of LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers appear to have the newest “Big Three” in the NBA with the acquisition of All-Star forward Kevin Love in place. Even though Cleveland will be most notably losing potential superstar Andrew Wiggins in the trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the addition of Love solidifies the Cavaliers as a championship contender. Cleveland would be a good team with Wiggins, but now the Cavaliers are a great team with Love.
Love brings to Cleveland an outstanding ability to score, rebound, and pass. Not to mention, Love has an extremely high basketball IQ. As a result, the Cavaliers should have one of the most explosive offenses in the NBA. With All-Star Kyrie Irving running the point, Dion Waiters at the two-guard, and offensive-minded players like Tristan Thompson, Mike Miller, and James Jones coming off the bench, LeBron and Love will have plenty of offense to go along with their own.
In addition, the Cavaliers could use Love offensively very similarly to how the Miami Heat used Chris Bosh with James and Dwyane Wade. It took the Heat sometime to figure it out, but once Miami did, it resulted in four straight Finals trips and two championships. It was a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses’ and it helped make Miami’s offense become one of the best in the NBA. This model could be worth trying for the young, athletic Cavaliers.
Like Bosh, Love is a big-man who can stretch the floor with his athleticism and shoot well from outside. Appropriately, the core of his offensive game fits perfectly with that of James and Irving. Love’s prowess from three-point land forces opponents’ big men to roam out of the paint and guard him. As a result, it opens the paint up for James and Irving to do what both do best and drive in the lane for high-percentage shots.
Once James and Irving start heating up, opposing defenses will have to respond by clogging up the lane. Needless to say, the defense collapsing on James and Irving opens up opportunities for Love on the perimeter. Now Love’s stats may not be as high with Cleveland as they were with Minnesota, but do expect Love to become a more efficient offensive player with the other weapons around him. The acquisition of Kevin Love should give the Cavaliers a high-octane, multifaceted offense that will want to primarily score baskets in transition rather than the half court.
Unfortunately, every player has their shortcomings. For Love, that would happen to be on the defensive end where he is not known for being one of the best. However, it’s not like Love is the only player on the Cavaliers who cannot play defense. Outside of James and center Anderson Varejao, Cleveland does not have much defensively (Hence why the Cavaliers are looking to sign defensive-minded veteran Shawn Marion). This is the one area Wiggins has a huge advantage in over Love. However, the Cavaliers may be so good offensively that it could cover up their weakness on defense.
Without Love, Cleveland is a playoff team and probably near the top in the Eastern Conference. Now, it’s hard to not see the Cavaliers as both the favorites in the East and a title contender. I’m not ready to say Cleveland is the favorite in the East simply because the well-coached Chicago Bulls are fully healthy now and have one of the best defenses in the league. The Bulls should also be better offensively this season, so expect a dogfight between these two Central Division foes for the conference crown.
With a Big Three of James, Love, and Irving, Cleveland is a championship contender. However, that does not necessarily mean the Cavaliers are going to beat a team from the loaded Western Conference. Unless Cleveland becomes a juggernaut defensively and the supporting cast stays healthy and performs well, the Cavaliers are not quite at the level of the defending-champion San Antonio Spurs now.
James may be home for the rest of his career, but he, Irving, and the city of Cleveland want to win now. And that is why the Cavaliers have ultimately acquired Kevin Love. Now it’s time to see what this new Big Three is all about.