Point guard Deron Williams and center Andrew Bogut have officially joined the Cavs during buyout season.
How much can these two veterans help the defending champs in their attempt to repeat? And how do they fit with the rest of the roster?
Let's take a look.
What Williams brings
ESPN's real plus-minus (RPM) provides a decent proxy for where Williams currently stands as a player now in his 12th season. He has been above average offensively (0.83) and below average defensively (minus-1.29).
For the first time since his rookie season, Williams grades out as a negative overall impact player with an RPM of minus-0.46, meaning he subtracts about a half-point per 100 possessions while on the floor. In a vacuum, RPM might suggest that Williams at this stage is not much of an addition.
However, when looking at his position as a whole, Williams ranks 24th among all point guards, which is better than Elfrid Payton (26th), Tony Parker (34th), Reggie Jackson (52nd) and Matthew Dellavedova (58th), the latter of whom filled the backup PG role in Cleveland last season now presumably occupied by Williams.
His greatest strength remains on the offensive end, where he's still capable of creating his own shot. Williams ranks in the 81st percentile among all players this season in points per play in the half court on jump shots off the dribble, ahead of players such as Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, according to Synergy Sports. And while certainly not asked to do it to the extent of those players, Williams has taken 164 of such shots -- in the same range as Jeff Teague, Patty Mills and Victor Oladipo.
Perhaps more important than serving as another shot creator, Williams remains an elite playmaker in pick-and-roll situations and is among the best at finding spot-up shooters. In fact, among the nearly 100 players with at least 50 plays as a passer to spot-up shooters in pick-and-roll situations, Williams ranks first in the NBA with an incredible 1.39 points per play as a passer, per Synergy.
Surrounding Williams with Cleveland's cupboard of shooters might only amplify what's already a clear strength. If you bump it up to a minimum of 100 plays, the Cavaliers now have the NBA's top two pick-and-roll playmakers when it comes to finding spot-up shooters (LeBron is No. 2 at 1.25).
In addition to spelling Kyrie Irving, Williams also has enough size to potentially spend some time off the ball, especially until J.R. Smith returns to give the Cavaliers yet another option on the wing. Though he may not be a knockdown shooter, Williams provides enough outside shooting to keep defenses reasonably honest when he's on the floor. He's shooting 35 percent from 3, just a hair under his career average and slightly below league average. Still, it's on par with how Smith was shooting prior to his injury.
We'd be remiss to not mention the defensive end, where it's clear that Williams is not as much of an addition. However, even at his apex, Williams wasn't exactly locking guys up. Though he ranks outside the top 50 at his position in defensive RPM, Williams has actually performed better on that end this season than he did in 2011-12, which was the last time he made an All-Star team. That year, Williams finished the season with a DRPM of minus-2.74, a full point and a half worse than this season.
Considering last season is the only one in his career in which Williams finished on the plus side of DRPM, signing Williams does not come with the expectation that Gary Payton is walking through that door.
What Bogut brings
Bogut has played sporadically this season, dealing with a litany of injuries that have limited him to just 26 games. If RPM provides a decent proxy for Williams, it might prove to be a perfect fingerprint and DNA match for Bogut, who at this stage in his career is almost entirely an all-defense, no-offense presence. Bogut ranks third in the NBA in defensive RPM behind only Rudy Gobert and Draymond Green. It's a familiar spot for Bogut, who led the NBA in DRPM last season and has ranked in the top five each of the three seasons entering 2016-17.
Though his block rate is the lowest it has been since 2008-09, Bogut has rebounded as well as ever this season, averaging 10.0 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes (which would tie his career high). His defensive rebound percentage of 32.1 is by far the best of his career and ranks fifth in the NBA among the more than 300 players that have played at least 500 minutes this season. Only Andre Drummond, Hassan Whiteside, DeAndre Jordan and Tyson Chandler have scooped up more available defensive rebounds than the Ground Mound of Rebound.
While his total impact in Dallas was marginalized due to those injuries, it's hard to ignore the fact that with Bogut on the floor, the Mavericks allowed 10 fewer points per 100 possessions than when he was off the floor. Their defensive rating of 97.4 with Bogut on the floor would be by far the best in the NBA by any team over the course of the season. Opponents shot 52 percent in the paint with him on the floor compared to 58 percent with him off the floor, a swing that equates to a drop from No. 3 to No. 27 in the league.
As much value as Bogut adds defensively, his offensive game has been a struggle. His ORPM of minus-4.00 ranks 445th out of 450 qualified players. It's a significant decline from last season, when his offensive contributions (minus-2.24 ORPM) didn't almost entirely negate his work on the other end of the floor.
Just how much of a negative has Bogut been offensively? He's currently the only player in the NBA who has played at least 500 minutes and has more turnovers than made field goals. And he has done it while shooting just 47 percent, not good for any big, let alone one that has taken all but four of his shots inside the paint. It's no surprise that Dallas' offense averaged 10 more points per 100 possessions with Bogut out of the game than with him on the floor.
How they fit in Cleveland
Both Williams and Bogut can serve specific roles in Cleveland that currently remain unfilled.
Williams will provide much-needed shot creation and a steady hand for a team that can struggle to create offense when James and Irving are off the floor. Even when sharing the floor with either or both, Williams will allow them to spend some time off the ball without the burden of creating everything for others.
For all of the potent offensive pieces that GM David Griffin has placed around James and Irving, nearly all of them struggle to manufacture points on their own. Consider Kyle Korver and Channing Frye, two players who have combined to hit 160 3s for the Cavaliers this season. All but two of those have been assisted, with more than half of them coming from James. In the 51 minutes that Korver has played with both James and Irving off the floor, he's just 1-of-6 from the 3-point line, compared to 15-of-25 with both James and Irving on the floor. Even Kevin Love and Smith are at their best playing off the ball rather than looking to make something from scratch.
Williams also can be trusted as a steady hand, something vitally important for any primary ball handler coming in to spell Irving and James. So far this season, he has turned it over just once every 32 touches, a number far superior to that of current backup Kay Felder, who coughs it up every 26 touches on average. Though Felder may show glimpses of promise, it also may be too soon to trust the rookie with high-pressure minutes sure to come Cleveland's way in June.
Bogut can fill the Timofey Mozgov role from past years, as there is no other true rim protector on the Cavaliers behind Tristan Thompson, as neither Love nor Frye will provide much resistance. With Thompson's ability to slide and switch, it also gives head coach Tyronn Lue another chess piece to toy with an all-defense look for a key possession with Bogut, Thompson and James all on the floor.
Should Cleveland get to the NBA Finals and face the Warriors yet again, it remains to be seen whether Bogut could even stay on the floor with Golden State's small lineup or even against the athletic JaVale McGee. Regardless, a healthy Bogut giving 20 minutes a night from here on out is one more crucial step in the right direction toward getting back to the Finals in one piece. His and Williams' ability to let Cleveland's key players rest a bit over the next two months may be one of their biggest additions to the team.