In the second leg of a two-game home-stand, the Sixers face a Cleveland Cavaliers team that pestered them last season. To get a refresher on the Cavs, I chatted with Carter Rodriguez, co-host of The Chase Down Podcast.
When the Cavaliers selected Darius Garland fifth overall in the Draft, they weren’t only making a gamble on him realizing his full potential as a player, but also one on him being able to coexist with second-year guard Collin Sexton. So far, how have Sexton and Garland looked as a pairing?
Honestly, they’ve been better than you might expect. Sexton’s given much better effort than expected defensively, but they’ll never be at an advantage on that end. Sexton’s offensive game is looking more polished as a scorer, as he’s added the ability to get to the line.
The playmaking vision for Sexton isn’t there, and may never be. Garland has been better than advertised as a passer, though the metrics won’t back that up. His issue, other than being perhaps the worst defender in the league, is that he has not yet shaken off the rust from roughly a full year off due to injury.
He’s shooting only 26 percent from three, and his offensive game isn’t really built to survive him being a poor shooter. His finishing leaves plenty to be desired, so he’s resorted to difficult floaters, even at the expense of open catch-and-shoot threes. His numbers are frankly terrible, but his play-to-play game appears to be mature. He just needs to get comfortable, and to get his production where it’s going.
Kevin Love might be the most popular subject of trade machine ideas this season. He’s a great player who can fit into any offense and is on a bad team. How do you view the likelihood of a potential Love trade at some point this season? If you were in charge, would Love be on the block?
Any discussion around a trade for Kevin Love is inherently limited by the league’s perception of Love’s value and the organization’s perception of Love’s value. The Cavaliers will never be a free agency destination, and are sitting on roughly $50M in cap space next year, so his contract isn’t as prohibitive as you’d think for the Cavs.
Meanwhile, he’s healthy and producing. Love is averaging 19 points, 14.4 rebounds and four assists this season. The Cavaliers need him on the floor to look competent offensive most of the time, and he makes the game significantly easier on the rest of their young roster.
Ultimately, if a trade package featured at least one very promising young player and a decent first-round pick, then I think trading Love makes a degree of sense. The problem? Nobody’s going to be offering that for Love. Those dreaming of dumping a bad contract and a late first round pick to steal Love at the deadline should prepare to be disappointed.
The Cavaliers as an organization seem to have fully embraced being in the midst of a rebuild. What kind of timeline are you expecting here? If all goes according to plan, when should the Cavaliers start ramping up into playoff contention?
It’s easy to forget that the Cavaliers only have one player over the age of 30 on their roster: Love. There’s no better example of an active rebuild, but for teams like the Cavaliers, they also need a little bit of luck.
They’re taking swings on first round picks, but it takes time for young players to become useful. With that said, their frontcourt talent in Love and Tristan Thompson should make them more competent than you’d expect earlier. I think they need to start competing for a playoff spot within two-three years before heat starts to land on newly re-upped GM Koby Altman.
In the meantime, the team is in asset acquisition mode - something your fanbase should be very familiar with.
(Note from Adam: indeed, we are all familiar...)
Thank you to Carter for lending us some knowledge!