Question 1: What grade do you give the Cavs for this trade?
VC: Grade: C, but a B after the curve.
It is difficult to support a move that sends two first round picks away for a guy who’s averaging 6 points and 5 boards throughout his career. However, making a trade when you only have 3 big men on the roster is like taking calculus with the football team – you only feel good after looking at the curve. Mozgov should bolster the Cavs front court by eating up points and boards, but more importantly by eating up minutes. Plus if he is still hungry, there’s plenty to eat in the locker room now that Dion is gone…
BD: Grade: A
Who else were we going to get with two first rounders that are going to be in the late 20s? I think we got the best available big for the assets we were willing to give up (or have to give up). The starting line up is now Irving, Shumpert, James, Love, and Mozgov. I think it’ll be hard for wing players and guards to score, and you can hide Irving on defense. We are still a post defender short. Love has no interest in over exerting himself on defense. Mozgov is a rim protector. Rim protector doesn’t always equal post defender. Hopefully our moves intrigue Emeka Okafor or Jermaine O’Neal to join the cause.
RM: Grade: B
Mozgov is a nice fit with the Cavaliers and fills the Cavs biggest need. And seriously, the Cavs were getting desperate. At a few inches under six feet, I would’ve been one of the more fearsome rim protectors on the Cavs. Anyways, Mozgov should immediately become the starting center for the Cavs, allowing Tristan Thompson to come off of the bench and give the Cavs some front-court depth. Two 1st round draft picks is a pretty steep price for a player of Mozgov’s caliber. But the Cavs are in win-now mode, and this trade needed to be made.
JR: Grade: B-
He is a solid rim protector that can move and guard players in space. The Cavaliers most glaring weakness was their interior defense, as they are currently the second worst in the NBA (T-Wolves) in opponent’s FG% around the rim. Mozgov may have been among the best available centers to acquire in a trade and so I am glad we were able to acquire him in favor of a majority of the other names that were being floated around. He is relatively young at 28 and can concentrate most of his energy on the defensive end when we are fully healthy. Nevertheless, I do not think he magically solves all of our defensive problems, but I am hoping he gets us to a league-average team defensive level.
KR: Grade: B-
Mozgov may not be much above-average as far as NBA big men go, but he may have been the most available. With that being said, it’s hard to give the Cavs a poor grade for filling a gaping hole in the rotation since Anderson Varejao’s untimely injury. Mozgov has a strong relationship with Coach David Blatt and adds significant depth. The Nuggies had all of the leverage in this deal.
Question 2: What grade do you give the Nuggies for this trade?
VC: Grade: A+
I imagine the entire Nuggets front office is eating steaks right now. Even the guys that don’t like steaks are joining in, just because it feels right. Trading a backup center for two first round picks is like trading a bag of celery for a fruit roll up at lunch in the 4th grade. The Nuggets won’t contend for the West in the near future (even if George Karl came back), and so it is wise for them to stockpile picks. Even the vegetarians are probably ordering steaks.
BD: Grade: A
I think Denver is starting to realize that it might be a viable strategy to let other teams’ players grow old, because if you don’t have elite players, or an elite team (Spurs), you’re not winning in the west. Gallinari is never going to be the player that was the centerpiece of the Carmelo Anthony trade. Nate Robinson’s contract is obscene. The Nuggies can trade Afflalo to some other contender for a 1st rounder down the road. It’s time to collect young assets and try to develop them, and wait for Tim Duncan to retire in 2021.
RM: Grade: A
The Nuggies didn’t get any players back in this trade, but it was the right move for them. Denver isn’t making the playoffs in the West this year, and they must start thinking about assets for the future. Two first-rounders for Mozgov is quite a haul for the center, considering the Celtics only pulled in one first-rounder for Rajon Rondo. The Nuggets played hard-ball on this trade with the Cavs for a few months, and in the end, it payed off for them.
JR: Grade: A
The Nuggies had the leverage in this trade and getting two future first rounders is a good foundation for building for the future. With being close to the middle and lower tier of the West, the Nuggies must rebuild and start to build their future around the younger players that they get. To get better in the NBA, especially in the brutal West, it often means getting worse and then slowly building around a few players (Gary Harris is not one of them, however). Denver has to be smarter and hit on its draft picks in order to contend in a few years.
KR: Grade: A+++
The Western Conference is a tough place to be in. If you aren’t at or near the top, you’re best off tying an anchor to your leg and sinking to the bottom. Getting two 1st round picks, albeit protected picks, to sink faster sounds like an impossibly awesome deal. Since the Cavaliers are fighting for this season and the Nuggies are fighting for several seasons in the future, this was a perfect trade for them.
On a side note, since Mozgov was recently quoted as “immovable”, I wonder what the initial trade offer from the Cavs was?
Question 3: Are the Cavaliers now the favorites in the East?
VC: The Cavs cannot be considered the favorite in the East. While they have the most star power of anyone in the conference, they still have many gaping holes. However, their recent trades make them better equipped for a long playoff run. No team should be considered the favorite in the same week that they lost to the 76ers, even if they traded for a 26 year old Moses Malone and Moses himself.
BD: There are 22 starters on an NFL team, and 53 players on the active roster. There are 9 starters on an MLB team, and 25 players on the active roster. There are 6 starters on an NHL team, and 21 players on the active roster. There are 5 starters on an NBA team, and 13 players on the active roster. You are automatically a champion contender in basketball if you have the best player in the game. In 2007, LeBron single handedly took an abysmal Cavs team to the NBA finals. The team currently around LeBron is as good as any of his Heat champion teams. Continuity is our biggest opponent. If this team doesn’t gel; if this team doesn’t find it’s identity, and it’s players don’t realize their roles; we won’t win jack. If we can figure those things out (AND FAST FOR THE LOVE OF GOD) we’re as good as the Raptors, Wizards, Bulls, and Hawks. (Actually we’re better, because LeBron is better than Lowry, He’s better than Wall, he’s better than Butler (Chicago’s best player), and he’s better than whoever the Hawks have?)
RM: No, but it’s pretty close. Once the Cavs are healthy, I think they’ll have the best starting five in the East. They also have the best player on the planet so they’ll always be close to being the favorites in the East. I think Atlanta will start to drop off as the season continues and Toronto and Washington will hover around the top. However, I think Chicago is just too deep for them not to be considered the favorites. This trade, though nice, doesn’t change the fact that Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol are playing out of their minds.
JR: I would not go that far. I believe that you have to put the Bulls as the most complete team in the East right now. Their frontcourt I think can still dominate us and their bench is much deeper. The Hawks are beating quality opponents in the West, so they also cannot be taken lightly. This trade helps us move into contention for one of the top seeds in the East, rather than getting the 5 seed like where we are sitting now. The Wizards and Raptors are also legitimate contenders and have their own respective advantages over the Cavs at the moment. All in all, the move helps but does not make us the clear favorite by any means.
Mozgov sometimes is on the poster of others dunking over him, but he shows here that he can do the same right back.
KR: No. Not even close. We have no idea how well these additions will fit into their roster, though they look promising on paper. The Hawks were #1 in ESPN’s Power Rankings and the Chicago Bulls have to be the favorites if/when (but more likely, if) healthy. I need more time to evaluate the team before going as far as saying we are the favorites in the East. The moves certainly improve our chances of developing into that team, though.