With the NBA trade deadline here one minute, gone the next, one of the major trades that was consummated last night involved the Cleveland Cavaliers acquiring Antawn Jamison from the Washington Wizards in a three-team deal. Rather than analyze the move from the Cavs' perspective, I wanted to address a question that has floated around for a while. Even before Jamison was acquired.
How does this affect the Orlando Magic?
To answer that question, I went ahead and sought the wisdom of John Krolik of Cavs: The Blog and Tom Haberstroh of Hoopdata. One is a Cleveland Cavaliers' expert and the other is a statistical analyst.
Each individual provided his opinion on the Cavaliers' acquisition of Jamison, analyzed whether or not it would have made more sense for Cleveland to acquire Amar'e Stoudemire, and more.
Antawn Jamison to the Cleveland Cavaliers, is it good move or bad move? Hypothetically speaking, would have acquiring Amar'e Stoudemire have been the better trade for the Cavs?
John Krolik: It's an upgrade, to be certain. Hickson looked great against you guys, but he's been the team's weak link in the rotation overall. Jamison represents a significant offensive upgrade, and should mesh with Shaq and Varejao well offensively. He's such a versatile player on the offensive end, and he's a guy the Cavs can trust with the ball. Hypothetically, I'd have like Amar'e better, but Woj reports the Cavs' best possible offer was turned down, which makes it a moot point for me. Hey, I think LeBron and Dwight would be great together.
Tom Haberstroh: I have my concerns on the offensive end. Jamison's perimeter numbers are very underwhelming especially from just inside the three-point line. He consistently rates as one of the poorest long two shooters at the position and yet he still takes four per game year in and year out. I'm not sure that bodes well for the pick-and-pop nor do I think the Cavs offense needs another guy who thinks the long two is one of his best shots.
More after the jump.
With Jamison joining the Cavaliers, how does that effect the Magic when the teams play each other on Sunday and in future matchups (let's assume they meet in the playoffs)? Hypothetically speaking, how would have Stoudemire joining the Cavaliers affected the Magic?
JK: I'll have to see Jamison play with the Cavs before I can make a definitive statement about that. I imagine he'll help them defend the Magic's threes and get Howard out of the paint when he's on the floor with Andy (I mentioned Z drawing Howard out in my recap of the team's last meeting), but I'm not sure. I'm starting a movement to not let hypothetical Amar'e Stoudemire hang over the Cavs' season. He wasn't available. Sorry if I'm coming off as snippy, but I'm foreseeing many months of fielding these questions, and I don't like pretend basketball. You know you guys are my favorite.
TH: I think the Cavaliers actually wanted a guy like Rashard Lewis who could stretch the floor and really known down shots. I just don't think Jamison can do the latter. Amar'e would have been a real matchup problem for the Magic at the four but I don't see the Magic having their hands full with Jamison.
Some people have stated in the past that Jamison could be an equalizer to Rashard Lewis if the Cavaliers were to acquire him. Now that it's a reality, is that a true statement to make?
JK: Rashard's been shut down by Antawn in the past, but he had some terrible games against the Cavs in the regular season last year, and we all saw how that worked out. Rashard's a shooter with a quick trigger. When he's hot, he's hot. When he's cold, he's cold. After I defended Varejao's D on him last time we chatted, some commenters got on me and pointed out that Rashard shot in the high 40s from three in that series. There's no defense bad enough for a player to be expected to hit that kind of percentage from three, especially if they're somewhat contested. I'm paranoid, so I look at it as Jamison's flipped a coin against Lewis however many times and it's gone in his favor. Doesn't mean anything for the next flip.
Jamison's overall defensive numbers have never been great. I remember the Baseball Prospectus book that basically called shenanigans on one hitter/pitcher "owning" another one, and that most of those matchups basically ended up regressing to the mean. But again, I love statistics and have basketball anhedonia. I'm not an objective source.
People without crippling anxiety might say that the Cavs are doubling down on 11 and playing the odds w/r/t getting Antawn to defend Rashard. Still doesn't guarantee the Cavs are going to come out ahead. If a 6-10 forward is feeling it from deep, there's not much you can do. There's no failsafe way to defend that kind of shooter. The best you can do is increase your odds.
TH: But is an equalizer a good thing? They're fighting paper with paper, rather than attacking a weakness.
With Jamison added to the team, have the Cavaliers negated all the advantages the Magic had the past few years in the matchup? Some of them?
JK: I don't want to make a blanket statement. Shaq's certainly defended Howard well so far. Jamison's had success against Rashard. AP seems to be a good matchup against Vince. But when the playoffs start, all that stuff goes out the window. The Magic have a dominant physical force and a lot of guys who can shoot threes. SVG's a brilliant coach. The Magic will get some decent shots up. If the Magic are hitting their threes, there's no team they can't give serious trouble to. Last times these teams met, the Cavs had the Magic's number on defense one quarter and were getting lit up in the next. I like how the Cavs match up against the Magic now, but there will be a lot of variables at play in a seven-game series.
TH: I've always maintained that the series last year was much closer than the series length would suggest. A bounce here, a bounce there and LeBron takes on the Lakers for the title. Orlando and Cleveland were neck and neck last year and I think the Jamison deal makes the Cavs more similar to the Magic in the sense that they will try to mix an aging high usage scorer with questionable efficiency into their well-oiled machine-- not to mention the Chapel Hill roots. I still think it all comes down to LeBron and I would not feel comfortable betting against him again.
I like to thank John and Tom for answering my questions.