Just a short article today on how the Kevin Love trade has affected Cleveland and Minnesota and what kind of impact this new big 3 will have in the history books. First things first, the details of the trade are as follows: Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a 1st round pick for Kevin Love, of course the deal can not be finalized until August 23rd when Wiggins has been signed for over a month and by that time the trade will most likely have some small changes, such as a third team, which is looking more and more likely that it’s going to be Philadelphia and their enormous amount of salary cap space. For now though I’ll just talk about what we know, Love is going to be in Cleveland next year and the last 2 years first overall picks will be together in Minnesota.
First off I’d like to say well done to Minnesota, as they are one of the few teams in the history of the NBA who have had a disgruntled star and not only managed to get something for them before they walked, but it was very nearly an equal trade. Look at past scenarios, Dwight leaving Orlando and immediately they are one of the top 5 worst teams in the league and the young talent they got to replace him, Nikola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless had nowhere near the upside both Wiggins and Bennett have. Carmelo left for the Knicks and after the first full year it seemed as though Denver had pulled off a miracle with one of their best seasons coming in 2012-13, but as a result of not getting young talent from New York they have again slipped into the lottery. The Deron Williams trade hasn’t really worked out for either team, but there is still hope for Derrick Favors.
With this trade not only has Minnesota secured a bright future, but this years drop off will not be anywhere near as catastrophic as Orlando was after Dwight left. (Utah and Denver didn’t have much of a drop, but that was because they already had established players such as Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala.) Wiggins is already an elite defender and now he’s going to be thrown into the mix offensively from the very first day, which will hopefully help his shooting touch and confidence in the long run. Rubio is ready to have a break out season as a new leader on this team, Pekovic and Corey Brewer will continue to be productive, while Bennett will do his best to fill Love’s position as a stretch 4. I very much doubt this team will make the playoffs, but they are in now way an easy win for any club. Also in as soon as 2 years, this team could be making a lot of playoff noise if player development goes well.
On the other side of the trade we have the Cavaliers. LeBron now finds himself as a member of a new big three, but the problem is, this one is far less talented and far less experienced. LeBron is the constant; he obviously remains the same in both scenarios, but let’s compare the other two spots. Wade was already a 1st team All-NBA player; he had lead a team almost single handedly into the playoffs, and had one of the all time great finals performances on his way to an NBA title. Compared to the new guard of the big three Kyrie Irving who has no All-NBA sections, no playoff experience, a much needed defensive game which isn’t even in the same stratosphere as the defense of 2010 Wade and just in all aspects of the game of basketball, less talented and less intelligent than Wade going into the big three creation. Chris Bosh was an established big man and multiple all star selection which Love also is, but the difference is that Bosh had 11 games of playoff experience under his belt, yes, that isn’t anything spectacular, but it is far greater then Loves 0 games played. It’s up for debate who was a better power forward at the time of the creation of each big three, but what really separates Bosh and made him truly unique and perfect for the Heat was his complete unselfishness and willingness to be the third option. This isn’t something a lot of players would do when they had been accustomed to being the go to guy for so long and it’s something I see Love or Kyrie, (which ever way David Blatt is going to play it, but probably Kyrie) really struggling with.
Another comparison can be made the last big three that was put together in hopes of a title in Boston. In terms of talent, there can be cases made either way, (LeBron really helps make it a contest in the regard) but in terms of experience it’s a landslide victory for the Boston 3. When teamed up the Boston Big 3 had 32 years of NBA experience under their belt as well as 121 games of playoff experience. The big 3 in Cleveland have just 20 years NBA experience and 158 games of playoff experience. I know what you’re thinking, this just disproved my entire argument, but if you consider that every single one of those games belongs to the King, then my argument lives on. Also the reason Boston won the championship in 08 was in no small part due to their impeccable defense. Kevin Garnett set the example, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce both bought in on it and were very capable defenders in their own right, and then it trickled down until the very last name on their roster was playing defense they way it should be played. Apart from LeBron James, Varejoe and maybe Dellavedova this Cleveland team seriously lacks any defensive threat.
So before immediately predicting the Cavaliers as 2015 NBA champions just because of the success of the last big three in Miami and Boston, realize that they are not as talented nor as experienced as the last two creations, in fact there not even the best big 3 in the league right now. Their are 3 players in Oklahoma who not only all play defense at a super elite level and complement each other perfectly on offense, but they all know there roles and have been playing together since 2009. So as long as the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers and possibly Bulls (depending very much on the form of Derrick Rose) all continue to play in the NBA, this Cleveland team is going to find it very difficult to win a championship in 2015.