Cleveland Cavaliers frontcourt: The trade to acquire Spencer Hawes was a little questionable from the Cavs’ standpoint. By adding Hawes to the likes of Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller, new GM David Griffin has created a log jam down low – and fantasy owners aren’t going to be pleased with the results.
The Cavs are in the playoff hunt — and granted it’s in the Eastern Conference — but they’re still in the playoff hunt. As of Friday, Cleveland occupies the 10th seed in the East, three games back of No. 8 Charlotte.
The Cavs are no strangers to making moves this season – as you’ll recall, they were early arrivals to the trading party, acquiring Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls back on Jan. 7.
On paper, this improves their team, but giving up two second round picks is probably not going to help their cause in the long run. Re-signing Hawes in the off-season would almost be necessary at this point, but no one really knows what direction they’ll go in.
As for fantasy value, each one of these big men takes a hit.
Hawes was playing on a Sixers’ team constantly coming from behind, allowing him to jack up 3.8 treys per game, but in Mike Brown’s slowed-down offense (97.1 points per game), Hawes won’t be getting as many opportunities from 3-point land. With Kyrie Irving (4.8), C.J Miles (4.2), Dion Waiters (3.2), and Deng (3.0) attempting a good amount of threes per game, Hawes may find it difficult to reproduce the numbers he was putting up from behind the arc while in Philly.
In the “Captain Obvious” news of the day, Anderson Varejao is hurt. Although the team doesn’t think it’s serious, Anderson is still set to lose a bunch of minutes. Healthy or not, Cavs’ beat writer Bob Finnan believes Varejao will move to a bench role — allowing Hawes to start — and in the process putting a huge dent in his fantasy value.
The 6-foot-11 Brazilian is averaging 30.2 minutes on the season, but played 43 in his last game vs. Memphis on Feb. 9, something that probably led to his recent back issues. When he does return, expect Varejao to play a more toned down role, especially if the Cavs want their brittle big man healthy for a potential playoff run.
Tristan Thompson will keep his starting power forward role, but fantasy owners should remain cautious. The third-year pro has been playing well lately, averaging 17.3 points and 13.0 rebounds over his last four games, but that will surely take a hit in some way. Owners need to be aware of how inconsistent the former Texas Longhorn can be and that his fantasy value is entirely tied to his rebounding. If he doesn’t have a solid game on the glass, his 0.9 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 66.2 percent free throw shooting make him borderline waiver-wire fodder. Because of those deficiencies, Thompson is 191st on Basketball Monster.com’s player rankings for the season.
Tyler Zeller will find himself on the bench very often for the remainder of the season. Zeller has played well with the extra minutes allotted to him while Varejao has been out (10.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.0 block in 24.0 minutes), but any fantasy relevance he had will be shot to dust with Hawes’ arrival. Unless Varejao has an extending absence, expect under 12 minutes per game the rest of the year for Zeller.