The Cleveland Cavaliers have been the talk of the NBA off-season, for good reason. Besides winning the NBA Draft Lottery and selecting phenom Andrew Wiggins, they also were able to reconcile with the best player in the NBA today LeBron James and add him to a team that already boasts a superstar in Kyrie Irving. Now, it’s being reported that the Cavs will trade Wiggins, 2013 no.1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a future first-round draft choice to the Minnesota Timberwolves for perennial all star Kevin Love. On paper this makes the Cavaliers a much scarier team right now, as Wiggins may become an all star, but probably not from day one. However, this trade makes the Chicago Bulls an even more likely pick to win the Eastern Conference in 2014-15.
First of all, the Bulls have the defensive stars to control the Cavaliers. With Jimmy Butler keeping watch over James, and Derrick Rose keeping Irving in check, Joakim Noah will be able to focus almost solely on Love. These three can be held to under 70 points a game no problem. While this is a large number for three players, the Cavaliers top three PPG players last season combined for just over 50 points. While almost 20 points
is a big difference, the Cavaliers of last year were getting contributions from their bench as well. Jarrett Jack and C.J. Miles combined for 20 PPG last season, and that’s not even considering the duo of Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes, who averaged 28 PPG in the second half of the season. Besides Mike Miller and James Jones, who are good for only three-pointers, the team has no scoring threats beyond James, Irving, Love and maybe Dion Waiters, if he doesn’t force himself out of town.
While a lot is being made of Love’s ability to score and get rebounds, he’s going to be neutralized by the Bulls’ Big Big Four. Between the skill of Noah, Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol and rookie Nikola Mirotic, the Bulls have more than enough to out-shine Love in the post, and on the outside.
Honestly, there’s only one position that the Bulls would have had trouble stopping: a second offensive weapon on the wing. Tony Snell, Mike Dunleavy and first-round pick Doug McDermott are all very viable options on the wing, but aren’t gifted defensively. A second option on the wing might have proved too much for this trio, and could have led to much more offensive production for the Cavaliers.
While the Cavs will be a tough test for the Bulls, this latest move opens up a much easier road for the Bulls in their quest for an NBA Finals appearance. On the surface the Cavaliers improved, but are no longer in a position to take advantage of the Bull’s one weak spot.