New York Knicks‘ Carmelo Anthony will not put Cleveland over the top in their inevitable repeat clash with the Warriors in 2018.
Despite a valiant effort by LeBron James, averaging a triple-double for the first time in Finals history, the Cavs were soundly defeated by the Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals. Cleveland’s weaknesses were not exposed against the lightweights of the Eastern Conference, but Cleveland could not hide their defensive struggles and aging bench against the Warriors.
The Cleveland’s bench contributed a total of seven points during Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Iman Shumpert proved largely ineffective throughout the entire Finals, shooting 24 percent from the field while giving the Cavs solid but unspectacular defense. Sharpshooter Kyle Korver ended up hitting only 31 percent of his threes during the series. Deron Williams brought in to backup Irving, scored five points in the Finals. I will repeat this, Deron Williams scored five points during the entire NBA Finals. To make matters worse, Williams scored all of his points in one game of the Finals. Cleveland’s best bench player was Richard Jefferson. Richard Jefferson, who entered the league back in 2001.
Surely Anthony would fix Cleveland’s bench, right? Well, not exactly.
Carmelo Anthony would certainly be able to improve Cleveland’s ability to get scoring production from those not named James, Irving, Love or Smith, but that is not Cleveland’s problem. Despite poor scoring production from its bench, Cleveland did not have a hard time scoring points overall. The team averaged 115 points per game during the Finals. No, what Cleveland needs is defensive wings and youth added to their bench.
What makes James’ NBA Finals performance even more impressive was he had to exert a ton of energy guarding NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant. Wow does it feel weird typing NBA Finals MVP, Kevin Durant.
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Imagine how much more lethal James could be without having to guard the best scorer in the NBA. The problem is Cleveland does not have anybody on their bench capable of doing this outside of Iman Shumpert.
The Cavs need to be searching the association for defensive wings. Carmelo Anthony is not that player. Anthony had a DBPM, or Defensive Box Plus/Minus, of -2.2 this season. For his career, Anthony has a DMBP of -1.2. He has never, and will never be, a player capable of stepping up and defending the other team’s best player.
Additionally, adding a 33-year old Anthony to an already older bench is not what Cleveland needs to topple the Warriors.
The Warriors led the NBA in fastbreak points this season, and it showed on Monday night. Golden State was able to score 18 fastbreak points in Game 5. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant are too lethal shooting from three and driving inside on the fastbreak to ignore this issue.
Cleveland needs to add players who are going to be able to get up and down the court night after night. At age 33, Anthony is not capable of doing this in a seven-game series.
It’s time for the Cleveland Cavaliers to add young players with fresh legs to its bench. Deron Williams will be 33 this month, Richard Jefferson will be 37 in July, Kyle Korver is 36, and Channing Frye is 34.
The only player on Cleveland’s bench who received regular minutes during the postseason and is under 30 was Iman Shumpert.
Carmelo Anthony is not going to help Cleveland’s defensive struggles, and he will most certainly not make Cleveland’s bench younger.
For the Cleveland Cavaliers, it would be wise to look elsewhere to fix these glaring holes.