On Thursday, the Cleveland Cavaliers powered up significantly.
By acquiring Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West, the Cavs will likely be the only team in the East besides Boston and Detroit that has a legitimate chance to contend for the Eastern Conference.
In exchange, the Cavaliers gave up consistent scorers Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden, as well as big men Ira Newble and Donyell Marshall.
However, the four players Cleveland traded away average a combined total of 31.5 points and 17.4 rebounds per game. The four players they acquired average a combined total of 36.2 points and 19.5 rebounds per game.
Newble - 4.3, 2.8
Marshall – 3.7, 2.7
Gooden – 11.3, 8.3
Hughes – 12.3, 3.6
2008 Avgs. - (31.5, 17.4)
Coming to Cleveland:
Smith – 11.2, 5.3
Wallace – 5.1, 8.8
Szczerbiak – 13.1, 2.7
West – 6.8, 2.7
2008 Avgs. - (36.2, 19.5)
The fact is that Cleveland has been meaning to move Gooden and Hughes for some time now. Their ability to do so in exchange for quality replacements indicates that the move was a fantastic one for the Cavaliers, and the five point and two rebound per game increase suggests that Lebron’s crew should see an immediate improvement on both offense and defense.
It will undoubtedly take time for Smith and Szczerbiak to incorporate their flows into Lebron’s offense, and Ben Wallace will need to rediscover the fire in his game.
But by the time the NBA playoffs reach our screens in late April, expect Cleveland to be a threat.