NBA Trade Speculation: 10 Targets for Cavaliers to Upgrade at Shooting Guard
It's no secret, the shooting guard position is a weakness for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This is not a breaking development. The Cavaliers haven't had a really good shooting guard since the days of Craig Ehlo and Ron Harper. Since then, names like Chris Mills, Dan Majerle, Bob Sura, Wesley Person, Ricky Davis and Larry Hughes have filled the top 2 spot on the depth chart.
Not exactly a scary bunch of players.
It's almost crazy to think that its been nearly two decades since Ehlo (a.k.a. Santa Claus, who hails from Lubbock, Texas, thanks Joe Tait) last played for the Cavaliers. It's even crazier to think that the organization hasn't been able to find one really good shooting guard since then.
With the trade deadline under two months away, the Cavaliers may look to change that fortune at the shooting guard spot.
Clearly, Anthony Parker is not the future for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Parker has been a very average player for the Cavs, and though he may be a solid locker room guy, the team has to start building talent.
The following slides contain ten players who the Cavaliers might honestly take a look at in the trade market. Consider this a warning, this is an attempt at a fair and reasonable list. Names like Joe Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade do not make an appearance.
The following ten players may get a legitimate look from the Cavaliers coaching staff and front office to come to Cleveland and grow with the young talent already on the roster. They are listed in no particular order, and the actual details of a proposed trade are not speculated on.
Brandon Rush is a great example of the type of player the Cavaliers should look to put in the starting lineup with rookie point guard Kyrie Irving.
Rush, a fourth-year wing player for the Golden State Warriors, is a very good shooter. For his career, he is averaging almost nine points per game on 42 percent shooting and over 40 percent shooting from beyond the three-point line.
Rush has consistently been a good bench player for the Warriors, and the Indiana Pacers before that. However, he has struggled to really break through because he's not great at creating his own shot. Rush isn't the quick, super-athletic type of shooting guard. He is a true shooter.
Because of his lack of an ability to really create off the dribble, Rush has gotten lost on the court while other players dominate the ball. In Golden State, players like Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry take it upon themselves to handle the ball, and to shoot it. Rush can have trouble just getting touches.
It's for this reason that I think Cleveland would be an ideal place to allow Brandon Rush to bloom and for his game to really grow
For the first time, Rush would be playing with a premier point guard who is fantastic at drawing defenses and making perfect passes to his teammates. Rush would really be able to play his game, which involves being a terrific spot-up shooter and making sneaky cuts to the hoop.
Add the fact that Rush is actually a very good defender, and you get a player who would be a great fit in Cleveland.
Anthony Morrow is another player, like Brandon Rush, who could step in as the next shooting guard for the Cavaliers and have his game truly blossom.
Morrow, the fourth year player, currently with the New Jersey Nets, has displayed one of the best shooting touches in the entire league over the course of his career. Averaging 46 percent from the field and an astonishing 44.6 percent from beyond the three-point like, Morrow is a player who is absolutely deadly when given a good look at the hoop.
Offensively, there aren't many things wrong with Morrow's game. Aside from the fact that he's a rare talent from downtown, Morrow also has a great mid-range game and he takes care of the basketball.
A very long 6'5", Morrow has the ability to back guards into the post and use a solid arsenal of moves to score inside.
The great thing about Morrow is that when he puts up a shot, regardless of where he shoots from, it's pretty much expected to go into the hoop. That's a great quality in a shooting guard.
Defense is a different story for Anthony Morrow. For as long as he is, he's also skinny and rather weak when trying to man up against the other shooting guards in the league. He's kind of a "tweener" when it comes to defense, meaning bigger guards have no problems posting him up, and quicker guards can blow right past him.
Byron Scott, head coach of the Cavaliers, is preaching team defense for his young squad. There are some very good, young defensive players already in place with the Cavaliers. A team playing good team defense can always mask players who are subpar on that end of the court. Scott would have to make that happen if Morrow joined the Cavs.
However, offensively, the sky would be the limit for Morrow in Cleveland. Again, with a point guard like Kyrie Irving who draws so much attention, Morrow would be able to get plenty of good looks at the hoop, and that would mean nothing but good things for the Cavaliers.
O.J. Mayo might be the epitome of a player who just needs to get away from his current situation.
Another fourth-year player on this list, Mayo's career in Memphis has been every bit of a roller coaster situation. The third overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008, Mayo has undeniable talent, but can certainly lack the mental toughness to excel.
Last season was downright awful for Mayo, as he was suspended for drug-related issues, fought with his teammates and fell out of favor with his coach. This year, Mayo's numbers have rebounded a little, but he's also playing a career low 24 minutes per game.
Putting aside his non-basketball related troubles for the moment, Mayo is a very gifted scorer. He's not the best shooter on the planet, but he finds ways to put the ball in the hoop, shooting and slashing. Mayo is the first player on this list who can really create shots for himself, and that could take some pressure off of Kyrie Irving and the rest of the offense.
Mayo can attack a defense in many ways. Though he isn't a dead-eye shooter, he is still very good from anywhere on the floor if he gets a clean look. Mayo also moves very well without the ball and gets a lot of buckets on cuts to the hoop or coming off curls.
Mayo is another player who's more offensively focused. Defensively, Mayo just isn't great. He struggles to keep up with the really good point guards in the league and can go through periods when it seems like he just gives up on that end of the court.
Just like with Morrow, Mayo's success defensively in Cleveland would hinge on whether Byron Scott can successfully implement a solid team defense. Again, with players like Varejao and Thompson on the court, Mayo would have more help behind him when guarding the really great shooting guards in the league. That should help him become more aggressive and improve his defensive game.
Of all the names on this list, Mayo is the guy with the highest potential. The question still remains: Can he get it together mentally to reach that potential?
The Cavaliers just might be willing to find out.
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Marcus Thornton is another player, like OJ Mayo, who can take over on offense and score from anywhere on the court.
Thornton, a third-year player currently with the Sacramento Kings, won't wow anyone with his career shooting percentages (43.8 percent from the floor, 36.5 percent from beyond the arc), but he overcomes by having great court vision and being able to pick his spots to get open looks.
A quick player with pretty good ball-handling abilities, Marcus Thornton would bring instant offense to the Cavaliers. He's one of those players that constantly seems to be moving on the offensive end and brings tons of energy to the game.
With that energy comes a tendency to get too aggressive at times. Thornton does a pretty good job of taking care of the ball, but he can negate his good turnover numbers with really bad shots. Thornton seems to be the type of player who has never seen a shot he didn't like. His assist numbers aren't very good for such an active shooting guard, which seems to say that he needs to look for the pass more when he's making moves toward the hoop.
Defensively, Thornton is a pretty mediocre player. He's not so bad that he gets taken advantage of by opposing shooting guards, but he is not, by any means, a lockdown defender. The good news on defense is that Thornton is both strong and quick, so he can stay with his man and he doesn't get pushed around very easily. He is also a pretty good rebounder for a shooting guard.
If Thornton were to be acquired by the Cavaliers, it would be the job of the coaching staff to get him to play within the system Byron Scott is trying to run offensively. The combination of Irving and Thornton in the backcourt would be difficult for most teams to match up with, and it should create a lot of open shots for the other players on the court.
Thornton would just have to be sure to pass them the ball.
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Randy Foye, a current reserve for the Los Angeles Clippers, was drafted seventh overall in the 2006 NBA Draft.
He has yet to live up to the expectations that come with that high draft pick.
Foye, a 6'4" shooting guard, was traded from the Boston Celtics, who drafted him, to the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he spent the first three years of his career. During his time in Minnesota, he was never really able to create an identity for himself, and didn't do enough to convince them that he was a part of their future.
Now with the Los Angeles Clippers, Foye's game has started to come around a bit. Last year, he had a very good second half of the season, which should give teams optimism that this young man with ample talent may be able to put it together.
Foye is yet another very good offensive player. His two specialties on offense are his excellent mid-range jump shot and his ability to take the ball to the rim and get fouled. The good news for the Cavaliers, should they consider trading for Foye, is that he is a career 85 percent shooter from the free throw line, which is an area the Cavs have really struggled in this season.
Foye, like the other players on this list so far, is not a very good defensive player. He isn't big enough to match up with some of the taller shooting guards in the league, and they often take advantage of that by posting him up.
Foye also isn't the quickest shooting guard out there, which means he gives up some easy driving baskets to the man he's defending. Again, Byron Scott would have to mask his weaknesses on defense in hopes that his offensive production makes up for any defensive pitfalls.
For the Cavaliers, Foye could be a player who is smart with the ball on the offensive end, can knock down open shots and who can help them control the pace of the game. It's clear that Foye is a very talented player, and he could really grow with the young talent on the current Cavaliers roster.
The first defensive-minded shooting guard to make the list, Wesley Matthews is a big, strong wing man for the Portland Trail Blazers.
Matthews, a third-year player out of Marquette, is a career 45.6 percent shooter from the field, and a 39.4 percent three point shooter. He is an excellent spot up shooter, which is a role he'd be able to continue in Cleveland with the solid point guard play of Kyrie Irving and Ramon Sessions.
Aside from his set shot, Matthews is strong and fast, which means he can get to the rim against just about any other guard in the league. That, plus his aggressive style of play, allows Matthews to get to the line an average of more than three times per game, where he is an 84 percent shooter for his career.
Defensively, Matthews uses his strength to prevent any other shooting guards from pushing him around. He isn't necessarily a dominant one-on-one defender, but he is certainly a player who will make opposing guards work extraordinarily hard when they play him. His work ethic and hustle on defense make him a great fit for any team interested in building a solid team defense.
Averaging only a little more than one assist per game, on a very good Portland offense, Matthews shows that he isn't much of a passer and doesn't necessarily see the floor very well. This can cause problems for Matthews when defenses collapse on him because he's not athletic enough to jump over defenders or to escape from crowds.
Currently the starter for Portland, the Blazers may not be too eager to get rid of their young shooting guard. However, they have other solid wing players in Nicolas Batum, Nolan Smith and Jamal Crawford, and could use a little help in their frontcourt.
If they can get the Blazers to listen, the Cavaliers should definitely consider taking a flyer on Wesley Matthews.
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Let me start this slide by saying that, with any Cleveland team in general, I am usually very opposed to selecting or signing Ohio State players. Ex-Buckeyes usually get so over-hyped in this town that it's usually tough to see through the rose-colored fog to examine the player himself.
However, current Oklahoma City Thunder reserve Daequan Cook is a player who may draw some interest from his home-state team.
Cook, in his fifth year as an NBA player, has established himself as a long-distance shooting specialist. For the Thunder, a team full of capable playmakers, Cook generally just sets up shop on the perimeter and waits for open looks.
For his career, Cook averages 7.3 points per game on 37.5 percent shooting, while shooting 36.9 percent from beyond the three-point line. These numbers aren't exactly staggering, but Cook has shown that he can be a very capable player through long stretches of his career.
In Cleveland, Daequan Cook would need to change up his style of play a little bit. He would still be able to spot up and get open shots from some of the other playmakers on the team, but he would also need to use his decent athletic ability to get to the hoop and make some cuts to get open baskets.
Defensively, Cook is a solid player. He isn't a dominant defender by any stretch, but he is more than capable of defending just about any shooting guard in the league.
It seems like Daequan Cook has been in the league for a decade, but the nice thing about the young man is that he's only 24 years old, with heavy NBA experience. There is still room for him to grow, and to get better in a good offensive system.
He may not be the flashiest player on this list, but Daequan Cook is a player who the Cavaliers could probably get at a low cost, and who could grow into an impactful role for the team.
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The real dark horse on the list is New York's Bill Walker, a fourth-year player out of Kansas State.
Walker, at 6'6", is a terrific perimeter threat who can spot up and hit open shots, and who can hit shots over defenders. Walker also has the ability to finish at the rim, which he only does rarely in his current role with the Knicks.
The biggest knock on Walker in his young career would unquestionably be his health and conditioning. First of all, Walker has had problems with both of his knees, which is always a scary proposition for wing players who need to have quickness in their repertoire.
Walker, listed at 235 pounds, has also frequently been critiqued on how he takes care of his body. He has slimmed down this season, but he is still apparently not where his target weight would be.
Defense may be where conditioning hurts Walker the most. He is big enough, and tall enough to prevent other guards from backing him down in the post, but he isn't quick enough to stick with those guards on the perimeter. Walker struggles when coming off picks and making good switches on the defensive end.
A player who has had his struggles early in his career, Walker seems like the type of player who could use a scenery change, and good coaching, to become a very solid contributor at the shooting guard position.
The Cavaliers would use Bill Walker to extend defenses and hit perimeter shots, and they would also want him to play more of an inside game, where he is actually a very good finisher at the rim.
If Walker can prove that he is dedicated to his conditioning, and that his knees are healthy, Walker could become a solid long-term wing player for the Cavaliers.
Unquestionably the best offensive player on the list, Kevin Martin is having yet another solid year scoring the ball in Houston.
Martin is a tall (6''7"), skinny (185 pounds) and unorthodox shooting guard in his eighth year in the NBA. He has consistently been one of the best shooters in the league, and has been able to mix his terrific shooting with the ability to frequently get to the free throw line.
For his career, Martin is a 44.4 percent shooter from the field and a 37.7 percent shooter from beyond the three-point arc. One of the best parts about his game is the fact that he has been able to get to the line an average of 6.7 times per game for his career, where he is an 86.5 percent shooter.
Defensively, the best thing that can be said about Kevin Martin is that he tries hard. His frame and body type do not allow him to compete physically with the other shooting guards in the league, who often push him around the court.
The key to concealing his defensive weakness is to make sure the help is always ready behind him, and to make sure he is sound in covering another man if and when he gets beat. This isn't an easy thing, but once again, the Cavaliers have some pretty talented big men on the defensive end who should be up to the task.
For the Cavaliers, Kevin Martin would be another player, like Kyrie Irving, who can take over a game on the offensive end when the rest of the team is struggling. The backcourt of Irving and Martin would cause matchup nightmares for every team in the league, and would create many more open looks for players like Omri Casspi, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson or whoever else is left after a potential trade.
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Another dark horse on this list is Jodie Meeks, who made a big name for himself as a star at Kentucky, and who currently plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Meeks is a bit undersized at 6'4", and he's not exactly a very athletic player. These two factors seem to put Jodie Meeks in a negative light, though he has proven to be both a good scorer and a capable defender.
In his third year in the NBA, Meeks is averaging eight points per game on 41.8 percent shooting from the floor. He is a very good jump shooter, and finishes well at the hoop, though he doesn't drive the ball too often in his current system.
Though he's not very athletic, and plays more of an outside game, Meeks manages to get to the free throw line very frequently due to his offensive creativity. When he does get to the line, he makes 87.7 percent of his free throws. Once again, this is an area where the Cavaliers could use a big improvement, and Meeks could provide that.
Defensively, Meeks is mediocre. By no means is defense a real strength of his game, but he is definitely serviceable on that end of the court. He's not tall, but he is strong and he plays with enough control to stay out of foul trouble.
In the Cavaliers' system, Jodie Meeks could get the opportunity to really blossom as an NBA shooting guard. Along with Kyrie Irving and Ramon Sessions, Meeks would make the Cavaliers' backcourt one that is capable of making plays on offense and finding creative ways to score the basketball.
Jodie Meeks was definitely a star in college, and though he's had his moments, he hasn't quite been able to reach that level in the NBA yet. If given a chance, he could become a long term shooting guard solution for the Cavaliers.
Other Possible Trade Targets
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This is a slide for the real dark horses: Players who are potentially available, and who people might not have on their radar, but could make an impact.
David Lighty - Once again, I'm not a big proponent of bringing Ohio State guys in to Cleveland teams, but Lighty is the type of player who could make an impact for an NBA team. Lighty is currently playing overseas and would probably welcome the chance to join an NBA team.
He is a solid jump shooter who has always played with a defensive mentality. The question is whether or not he is quick enough, and athletic enough to compete with the other shooting guards in the league.
E'Twaun Moore - A former Purdue standout, Moore is only seeing the court as a part-time role player for the Boston Celtics. Moore made a name for himself in college as a physical, hard nosed player who excelled on defense and who could shoot from anywhere on the court.
In his first year in the NBA, Moore hasn't had much of a chance to show what he can do at the next level, but it might be worth the Cavaliers' time to give him a chance. The question is, with a rapidly aging roster, whether the Celtics could be enticed to give up on him.
Dominique Jones - A second-year player out of the University of South Florida, Jones hasn't been able to see the court much for the reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Jones is a big-bodied shooting guard who brings interior toughness.
He is an excellent rebounder and can get to the hoop effectively on offense. He's not a great shooter at this point, but he could bring an element of toughness and a few interesting offensive wrinkles to the Cavaliers.
Lance Stephenson - Lance is currently a bench player averaging nearly 10 minutes per game for the Indiana Pacers. Stephenson is a strong player who prefers to play more of an inside and mid-range game. His outside shooting isn't always a thing of beauty, but he has shown the ability to get into the paint, back down other guards and put the ball in the hoop.
Defensively, Stephenson is strong, though not extremely quick, and he rebounds the ball well. The biggest downfall with Stephenson is an apparent attitude problem, which could be corrected with good coaching.
Xavier Henry - Henry was a highly touted recruit for the Kansas Jayhawks, and he performed well enough in his one-and-done college career to be drafted 12th overall in the 2010 draft. So far, Henry hasn't made much of an impact in the NBA.
A lefty, Henry's jump shot has been very inconsistent. The Hornets are a team with a plethora of wing players, which means the Cavaliers may be able to nab him and give him a chance to be the star everyone expected him to be.
Von Wafer - The Cavaliers are used to being frustrated by Von Wafer, who seems to always play well against the Wine and Gold. At only 26 years old, Wafer is in his sixth year in the NBA and he's with his seventh different team (Orlando Magic). He's had issues with coaches in the past, but he can score the ball and is actually a pretty good defender. The Cavaliers could consider Wafer, hoping age and experience would bring maturity.
Jordan Crawford - In his second year with the Wizards, Crawford has had some explosive games so far in his career. Crawford is a strong, very athletic player who loves to shoot the basketball. Sometimes, that love for shooting goes too far, as Crawford will throw shots up at any time, whether they're good shots or not.
He doesn't shoot a high percentage, but with a little coaching, Crawford may be able to tone down his craziness on offense and play in control. That would make him a dangerous player for the Cavaliers.
Names that everyone will want to consider, but not me (because they're either not a good fit, or because their current teams probably will not trade them): Monta Ellis, Nick Young, Joe Johnson; Landry Fields, Gerald Henderson, Evan Turner; Shannon Brown and George Hill.