Two years ago when Lebron James made his historic return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the city rejoiced as their poster child promised to finally bring a championship to Cleveland. It seemed like it was finally time to end the title-less drought that plagued the city on lake Erie since the days of Jim Brown.
One of Lebron’s first orders of business in building a championship roster was to find the third member of the new “Big 3” to go along with Kyrie Irving and himself.
Despite the Cavaliers winning the NBA lottery and landing lengthy, explosive shooting guard from Kansas in Andrew Wiggins, it didn’t appear to be the right piece for Lebron who pushed Cleveland’s front office to make a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, sending Wiggins over for all-star power forward Kevin Love.
At the time the logic made sense. The Cavaliers were going all in to win a title immediately and adding a proven veteran over a young, developing rookie seemed to help the cause.
Kevin Love was a consistent threat with Minnesota finishing with a double double or triple double night in and night out.
Cleveland probably thought at the time they were getting a steal as Minnesota almost completed a deal with Golden State that would have sent Klay Thompson to the Timberwolves for Love.
Interesting how different the league could be with one or two moves right?
Thompson could be in Minnesota, Wiggins with Cleveland, Steph Curry was almost moved to Phoenix in favor of Monta Ellis, etc.
Personally, I wasn’t a fan of this trade from the start.
I believed Wiggins could immediately contribute and help get the Cavs to the finals in what was and still is a weak eastern conference, but also provide Cleveland with a legitimate star to carry the team once Lebron’s time had passed.
Cleveland hasn’t felt the effects of the trade as strongly as they are currently, facing a 2-0 deficit in the NBA Finals against Golden State.
While Love has been a solid compliment to James and Irving in the regular season, and in the eastern conference rounds of the playoffs, he has not been the difference maker that Cleveland needs against the Warriors.
Golden State is arguably the best offensive unit of all time. Breaking nearly every record that has to do with the three pointer this year, Cleveland has simply not been able to keep up in these finals.
Part of the problem? They don’t have another lengthy, athletic player like Lebron to give Curry and Thompson trouble.
Another part of the issue is Cleveland’s inability to push the pace and have any success with their fast break offense. Even Lebron is struggling to get to the hole on a consistent basis.
Lebron James is at the point in his career where he can takeover in spurts, but can often get locked down for a long period of time going up against Andre Igoudala.
So what good is it having Kevin Love who doesn’t consistently create his own shots when you have only two legitimate ball handlers?
The Cavaliers already have role players who can feed off Lebron and Irving’s play making ability. Those guys are J.R. Smith, Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, Tristan Thompson, etc.
Cleveland needs a guy that can take over when Lebron simply cannot.
Who is Cleveland looking to when James struggles?
Kyrie Irving hasn’t been consistent enough in this finals, as previously stated Love doesn’t really have that ability to take over anymore, and the rest of the bench is simply far too limited to make a significant impact on their own.
The Cavaliers need Andrew Wiggins desperately.
Just look back earlier in the regular season when Wiggins and the Timberwolves took down Golden State 124-117. Wiggins put up 32 points and gave Golden State fits on both ends of the floor.
The rumor’s are already starting to pick up steam about Cleveland potentially moving Kevin Love after the season in favor of a younger, faster guard/forward.
Basically they will be doing the opposite of what they decided to do two years ago when they moved a younger, faster guard for a proven veteran.
All of this could have been avoided if Cleveland stuck with their young, budding star.
Assuming that Cleveland falls to Golden State, the team will be thinking what could have been if Wiggins was still with the team while Minnesota reaps the benefits of having what could be the next great player in the NBA.