How Much Will Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut Help the Cavaliers?
Well the rich just keep getting richer, don't they?
If it sounds like you've heard that line before, it's because you have. I used it when the Cleveland Cavaliers stole Kyle Korver from the Atlanta Hawks, bolstering their perimeter shooting for a more than reasonable price.
In Williams and Bogut, the Cavaliers have attempted to stuff corks in two of their most notable holes -- secondary playmaking and interior defense. But there are reasons why Dallas let them go, and neither can contribute the way they did during their respective primes.
So, just how much will D-Will and Bogut help the defending champions?
Deron Williams' Potential Impact
Williams is undoubtedly the bigger addition for the Cavaliers in the short-term and is averaging 22.7 minutes through three games.
While his playing time is a bit skewed because LeBron James and Kyrie Irving sat out the most recent contest -- a blowout loss to the Miami Heat -- Williams has a role carved out for himself, at least until the injured J.R. Smith returns.
Smith's return was rumored to be at least another 10 days away as of last Friday, and with LeBron averaging the most minutes per game in the league not named Kyle Lowry, adding a ball-handler of Williams' caliber to the bench is a huge boon for a team looking to win their second consecutive championship.
What does the 32-year-old Williams bring to the table? Does he have anything left in the tank?
It's somewhat telling that the Mavericks chose to buy him out when they're just two games out of the 8 seed in the Western Conference. He's no longer the three-time All-Star player he was, but he still does a few things really well.
For instance, he's dynamite out of the pick-and-roll. Beyond his surface stats in Dallas -- 13.1 points and 6.9 assists per game, along with 34.8% from three -- Williams owned a 54.5% effective field goal percentage when he was the pick-and-roll ball-handler (minimum of at least two pick and roll possessions per game), a mark that put him sixth in the NBA.
His 39.9% assist percentage with Dallas would put him in the company of James' own 41.8% mark for Cleveland, and other than Irving (30.4%) and little-used backup guard Kay Felder (20.7%), no other Cavalier is over 9.6% this season.
Williams was never a great defender, and with his wonky ankles, he's become a downright poor one. This season's -2.3 defensive box plus/minus is ugly, and he's been atrocious in his three games with Cleveland (-7.1). That is a small sample size, but defense isn't what Cleveland acquired him for, even if it's what they need the most.
That part is for the other guy.
Andrew Bogut's Potential Impact
Bogut is a premier interior defender when healthy, is great at setting screens, passing the rock and he adds a level of toughness any team with championship aspirations could use. If that's the case, then why has he bounced around so much recently?
That whole "when healthy" thing has been an issue.
Bogut was dealt to the Mavericks to make room for the Kevin Durant signing, and he looked to be a good fit next to the aging Dirk Nowitzki. However, the 32-year-old Bogut has played just 26 games due to a variety of ailments, but primarily, a lingering hamstring injury. He was salary fodder in the Nerlens Noel trade between Dallas and the Philadelphia 76ers before being bought out.
The big Aussie's defense could make a massive difference in Cleveland if he can stay healthy. While adding Williams was good for the offense, the Cavs already rank third in offensive net rating (111.1). Despite sporting the six-best overall net rating (+3.8), they're 22nd in defensive rating (107.3).
The Cavaliers rank 15th in pace (98.93 possessions per game), so the defense can't be explained away as a run-and-gun style, either. They've been a poor defensive team all season long and have coasted on reputation. While it's possible that James and Tristan Thompson will dial up the intensity come playoff time, they're already two of only three Cavaliers still on the roster with a positive defensive box/plus minus this season.
Bogut produced a 5.4 in defensive box plus/minus for the Mavericks in the limited action he saw, and led the NBA with similar marks in 2013-14 (5.6) and 2014-15 (5.5). HIs 21.8% rebound rate with Dallas would be tops on the Cavaliers this season. His 3.9% block rate would've also led the Cavaliers, and that number is well down from his normal rate -- he's posted marks between 5.0% and 6.2% every season since 2009-10.
Williams is a nice addition for the Cavaliers. He gives LeBron James the playmaker he so publicly asked for many weeks ago. He'll help limit the minutes of both James and Irving, but more than that, he'll make the minutes they do spend on the floor easier by giving them another primary ball-handler.
The real addition here is Bogut, though -- if he can stay healthy, he could be a massive factor down the stretch and into the playoffs, mitigating problems Cleveland has struggled with all year.
Williams is the piece LeBron James wanted, but Bogut may be the piece the Cavs really need to repeat.