- Cavs roster stands as-is
- Cavs trade Wiggins and Bennett for Love
- Cavs trade Waiters and Bennett for Love
As a comparison point, I also looked at the 2009-2010 Cavs roster to see how the upcoming roster might match up to one of the strongest Cavs rosters in recent memory.
The second set of assumptions that were made were predictions for what Wiggins and Bennett may look like this season. In order to make these predictions, I tried to use players that I believe were very similar to what both will bring to the table this year, in terms of advanced metrics.
- For Wiggins, Thaddeus Young's rookie season is probably an appropriate comparison for being paired with LeBron and Kyrie, given that he will be taking shots as the 3rd option and mainly operate either in the mid-range or around the basket. Furthermore, the athletic ability and ball handling of both players (for their rookie seasons) are somewhat similar. Please note that there really is no perfect comparison for a player like Wiggins, so I tried to get as close as possible.
- For Bennett, I'm assuming that he will be primarily used as a stretch 4 type player that will crash the basket in transition and on slashing drives. While he won't be shooting primarily from the 3-point line, I do expect that to be a moderate feature of his game. I actually found Ersan Ilyasova's rookie season to be a decent comparison to what I would expect from Bennett this year (which obviously should be a bit concerning in itself). Ilyasova was decent across the floor, but struggled to make any deep-seated effect.
The final set of assumptions was choosing the minutes that each player would average over the course of the season. Mostly they are pretty consistent based on age and whether or not a player is a starter, but you will be able to see that in the charts themselves.
The first breakdown we have here is the actual Cavaliers estimated win-shares from 2009-2010. I based the 10-man roster on the depth chart, which focused primarily at minutes played overall. As you can see, this team was an absolute juggernaut that actually underperformed (they won 61 games on the court). While a good portion of the total wins that were contributed were from one LeBron James, basically everyone else on the roster contributed at least 4 wins to the team. Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao were obviously two of the biggest cogs, which explains why they struggled when Mo did.
It should be noted that the reason that the actual WSs listed differ from the Est. WS is due to injuries and missing playing time (i.e. when Z was traded). The estimated win shares in this case extrapolate the WS/48 min. based on the actual amount of minutes played per game, assuming that the player plays all 82 games.
Now we move on to the different scenarios for the upcoming year:
This first scenario covers the Cavaliers roster as it stands (with the added bonus of Ray Allen). At first glance, the overall record looks a little disappointing in comparison, standing at a measly 50-32. Then, realize that that record would have been good enough for 3rd in the East last season behind the soon-to-be-defunct Miami and Indiana rosters (such a shame what happened to George). Thankfully we are in the East though, because that same record would be close to missing the playoffs in the West.
What's important to look at here though is that Waiters and Bennett bring next to nothing to the table for this team in terms of Win Shares, and Allen and Delly aren't too far behind. Furthermore, it should be noted that Win Shares are calibrated using the wins that the team actually had, meaning that the Cavs players that contributed to the 33 wins last season are not going to hold as much weight as a player on a team that won 50+ games last season. Keep this in mind for when I add Kevin Love in as well. In order to do these projections, I used the advanced stats for each player from last year's season. It can be reasonably assumed that the win shares for every player on a losing team will jump when paired with a player like LeBron.
So given that we have a glimpse of what the Cavs roster projects as is, what might it look like if Love is added in through a trade?:
The trade detailed above is the one that has been most discussed as the one on the table. In short, it's trading Bennett, Wiggins, and a 2018 1st round pick for Kevin Love. Right away, you can see that the trade should be worth the price. Even though Wiggins was contributing a solid 6 wins to the team, trading the combined 8 win shares that he and Bennett would add is nothing compared to the 12.5 that Love brings alone. Furthermore, this trade would push Tristan to the bench, where he should be more comfortable and effective, while still contributing major minutes between the PF and C positions.
So this brings us to 54.5 wins estimated. Are any other possible trades going to improve the team more?
The final trade is a bit of a pipe dream, but trading Waiters in place of Wiggins gives the roster by far the best record for the upcoming year. With an estimated 60 wins, especially given the poor teams that the Cavs players and Love came from last year, would put the team in the driving seat to the finals. Overall, there isn't much weakness in the roster beyond the backup center position and the floor spacing would remain incredible. Furthermore, by flipping one or two of the additional 1st round picks that the Cavs own for 2015 (from MIA and MEM), they could be able to snag a young, competent center that would improve the team even more.
Looking at the predicted records certainly gives me peace of mind with the Love trade, but also makes me hope that the Cavs can somehow snag Love without giving up Wiggins. Regardless of the outcome, we're going to have a pretty phenomenal year if everything plays out well.