Conundrum or Advantage? Examining Cavs Center Situation
When the Cleveland Cavaliers surprised everybody and found their way into the wild four-team James Harden trade, it seemed that they were setting their future up to be a little sweeter. They were getting a promising young center in Jarrett Allen, plus adding a nice vet in Taurean Prince to make them better for the time being.
Of course, the team still had Andre Drummond on the roster, who had been their starting big man and playing very impressively to open the year. As injuries have decimated the team, they tried starting the two of them together. It failed horribly. And it seems now, the “two-headed center” is nothing of the sort
Is this a conundrum for the Cavs? Or is it an advantage? Time to examine the center situation.
Drummond’s Lack of Consistency
Cavs fans everywhere were screaming with excitement at the trade deadline last year when they sent away two players who weren’t contributing much to Detroit to acquire Andre Drummond, an elite rebounder and 2X All-Star. He was a double-double machine that could give the team a nice presence in the paint.
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It became clear pretty quickly that while he could look like a superstar some days, Drummond could also be the most ineffective player on the court during other stretches. He tends to do way too much and also takes up a lot of possessions. He has a usage rate of 31% this year, which is way too high for a team that has two dynamic, ball-handling guards. He averages three turnovers as well.
After being a dominant force on the glass to start the year, Dre has grabbed single-digit rebounds in four of the past six games. He had a strong performance against Milwaukee and a stout defensive effort against Phoenix mixed into a horrible stretch. But it does seem that his true colors have begun to show. He is not the player he was when the season began.
Whether it’s because he feels pressure to perform with Allen right behind him or that he’s lost interest because the team chose to get another center, it is not quite clear. But it does not seem that having him is any kind of advantage right now. He’s just a big body that’s inconsistent as a finisher.
Jarrett Allen Has Been a Great Find
There is one specific statistic when talking about Jarrett Allen that matters above all the others. He has started exactly one game at center for the Cavs. And in that game, he finished with 23 points, 18 rebounds, and five blocks. No other player in franchise history has ever put up a line like that. And he was the first Cav since Andrew Bynum with a 20-10 and 5-blk performance.
Allen is making 66% of his shots since coming to Cleveland, whereas Andre Drummond is shooting below 50%. He’s a consistent rim protector, always making the right read, whereas Drummond may go for the steal, rather than always contesting the shot. Dre has failed to record a block in five of the past six outings.
Allen drew a couple of starts alongside Drummond recently, and it totally eliminated floor-spacing. Having two big guys in the paint means that the lane won’t be open, and you won’t be able just to swing the ball around to find the open shooter. But, with Allen in, more screen assists can be had, and the chances of a highlight dunk are exponentially higher.
Drummond and Allen Cannot Coexist
If it wasn’t already obvious, it should be now. Drummond isn’t under contract for next season, and so he’s been labeled as a ‘trade chip’ for a while now. But, here he still is, on the team. And at this point, he’s really not conducive to winning. The team has dropped six games row, and he’s had a negative net rating in five of them.
Allen seems to have a better grasp of what the team needs to do in order to win. They don’t need a 6’10 center making all of the plays on offense. This team should be running through Darius Garland and Collin Sexton.
In 14 appearances for the Cavs, the Fro has committed just 16 turnovers. In his last seven games alone, Drummond has committed 17 turnovers. He makes some good plays, but there are more miscues than triumphs at this point.
Dre’s existence in Cleveland is more of a hindrance to Allen than anything at this point. The sooner they can manage to trade him, the better. The center situation is sort of in shambles right now. And JaVale McGee hasn’t even been mentioned yet.
Ride the Fro into the Future
Jarrett Allen is the Cav’s starting center of the future. When they are eventually competing in the postseason, he’ll be there protecting the paint. The team will pay him this summer, and from there, they can get to work, a long offseason to prepare.
The Fro is in Cleveland to stay. Drummond and McGee are not. If it wasn’t abundantly clear, it should be now.
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