Hindsight is 20/20, but we can’t ignore the fact that the Cavaliers ROYALY screwed themselves by parting with Andrew Wiggins to acquire Kevin Love. I understand why they made the trade. Once LeBron decided to come home, the Cavs immediately flipped the switch to “win now” mode (as they should) and added veterans. But they could have also been winning with the now Rookie of the Year and set themselves up for a significantly brighter future (which says a lot for a LeBron James led team).
It’s hard to say exactly what the Cavs would look like today if the trade didn’t go down. But let’s say Anderson Varejao still gets hurt, and they still acquire Timofey Mozgov, JR Smith and Iman Shumpert. Wiggins is still a far better fit than Love – a lot of that due to the emergence of Tristan Thompson.
Love should want to remain in Cleveland next season if he wants to win (and has said he intends to), but despite the price they paid, the Cavs don’t want Love back. Meanwhile, Wiggins tore it up in Minnesota, getting better each month of the season (capping it off averaging 23/6/4 in April and running away with the ROY).
No, those numbers certainly wouldn’t have been as strong in Cleveland, but don’t think for a second that LeBron wouldn’t be happy to have Wiggins’ help right about now. Not to mention that the greatest player on the planet pushing one of the league’s best young stars to take his game to the next level each and every day in practice and on game days is probably a good thing for that young player’s future success.
I don’t want to bash the Cavs here. I’m not pretending that I wouldn’t have felt a lot of pressure to add Love to the LeBron/Kyrie core too. But just think of this as more of a “what if” piece. How fantastic would the future of the Cavs look with Andrew Wiggins in it? And what hurts the Cavs even more? They’d be in better position for this season alone with Wiggins over Love as well. Unless Kevin Love returns to the Cavs, and can clearly be pointed to as a reason that they win a championship, the Cavs have already lost this trade.
LeBron is the only Cavalier that’s a finisher. As effective as Thompson is (and he’s more effective than Love on this team) he just can’t score. All of the Cleveland guards are shooters that rarely veer from playing on the perimeter. James must be thankful just to have Mozgov around so that he’s also not the only paint presence the Cavs have (although Mozgov didn’t even play in the fourth quarter or OT in Game 2 … leaving all that pressure on LeBron).
However, Wiggins would have the potential to change this series against the Warriors with his ability to attack the rim when LeBron needs a break, along with his athleticism on defense. But that’s obvious, and easy to say with Love sidelined over a month ago.
Where this really hurts the Cavs is in the future. Like I continue to revert back to, Love is not a long-term option in Cleveland. Wiggins could have spent the first half of his career as LeBron’s Scottie Pippen (and Kyrie just a much, MUCH better Ron Harper or Steve Kerr if you’ll allow yourself to go there). If LeBron retires eight years from now, then you potentially have a 31-year old Irving and 28-year old Wiggins, both in their primes, to hand the team over to. That’s a dream scenario.
Cavs fans might not feel like hearing the harsh truth right now. You’re coming off a huge Game 2 win that has you in position to actually win this series. But wow, it’s tough to not even just briefly think about how much Wiggins could bring to this series. And at some point, think about how much he could have meant to the Cavs’ future.
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