Popular opinion says SG Dion Waiters is a ball stopper who can't coexist with Irving. But dig deeper and another tale emerges: He should pair very well with James. To excel alongside LeBron, wings must drain open shots or attack off the dribble when the King draws the defense. Waiters can do both. Last season he was in Synergy's 82nd percentile by averaging 1.19 PPP on catch-and-shoot jumpers, including a 43.4 percent stroke on such 3s. "It's a very underrated part of his game," Griffin says. Playing with James, it might not be much longer.
James will not be the Cavs' only facilitator, of course. There's also Irving, who assisted on a solid 31.1 percent of field goals last season, the same rate James had in Miami. And teams with multiple playmakers tend to be more successful. Look at the Finals: Both squads just missed cracking the short list of teams (two) having 30 mpg players with assist rates greater than 25 percent. The Cavs could be a deadly drive-and-dish team, with James, Irving and Waiters all in the top 23 players in drives per game.* Says Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, a ball-movement disciple who spent years as a Spurs assistant: "If you just hold it, you've lost the advantage, and now you're just playing one-on-one."
*Minimum 50 games played.
To seal off those lanes, opponents might load up inside. So while the additions of Mike Miller and James Jones should improve the Cavs' spacing, the team still badly needed frontcourt shooting after losing Spencer Hawes, who signed a $23M deal with the Clippers. Enter Love, the league's top stretch 4. Last season, he made more 3s than any of the Cavs' current bigs attempted, so landing him isn't just about adding another All-Star. He fits too.
Even the King can't solve every problem. The team's frontcourt is completely devoid of shot-blocking -- no player on the current roster averaged even a block per game last season. That includes Love, who offers little in terms of rim protection (he allowed foes to shoot 57.4 percent at the rim last season, and blocks just half a shot per game). To compensate, Cleveland packed the paint, which kind of worked: Opponents took the fewest shots from within five feet, just 25.7 per game. The trade-off came behind the arc, as the Cavs allowed a league-record 25.4 attempted 3s per game. The team might not find a true rim protector until next summer, but even if the interior defensive woes continue, the Cavs will be more than fine. They've still got the best player in the world, and a pair of young All-Stars to flank him.