NBA Coast-to-Coast: The Trade Deadline (2/9/18)

By Frank Brank

NBA Coast-to-Coast breaks down trends in play and interesting tidbits in the NBA as they relate to team rankings, sports betting, and overall style of play. We may cover anything from recent trends in line movement to coaching rotations that may affect the outcome of games. In this week's Coast-to-Coast, we'll cover Cleveland's roster flip and the most impactful news about yesterday's deadline.

Flipping Cleveland

The obvious storyline from yesterday was Cleveland's turnover with a number of new starting players in their rotation. Let's start with the guys they traded.

As one can see, the Cavs traded a bunch of average to below average players this season. Sure, coming into the season, we would have expected more from Thomas and Crowder considering their history, but it wasn't working out in Cleveland.

Thomas, in particular, was finding ways to make headlines from the locker room. His long injury issues along with underperforming made it clear for the Cavs to move on. That is especially true considering he will be a free agent after this season.

Crowder, who has been an analytical darling over the last few seasons, took huge steps backwards on both sides of the ball. Though we should expect him to improve going forward, Cleveland isn't giving up too much in trading him away.

Channing Frye, who will also be an upcoming free agent, was the most valauble player the Cavs sent away; however, he wasn't playing a ton of worthwhile minutes for them. Although one could argue he should have been receiving more minutes in the midst of their struggles, perhaps Frye was more efficient as he played less minutes.

It may be surprising, but the best players from this season that the Cavs are receiving are Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. Nance has been particularly impressive over the last few seasons despite his few injury issues. Clarkson hasn't been a plus player, but he was projected to be much worse and has improved greatly.

For most, George Hill, and his massive contract, and Rodney Hood are likely the most exciting portions of the Cavs' moves yesterday. Part of the reason the Cavs were able to swing players like Hill and Hood for a number of less-than-impressive players is because Hill and Hood have underperformed all season. Nonetheless, there are reasons to be excited about both players.

Coming into the season, George Hill was projected to be a +2.9 RPM player while being a plus-player on both sides of the ball. His defense, though, has been particularly troubling. The reason for that could be as simple as moving from Utah, a defensive powerhouse, to Sacramento, certainly not a defensive powerhouse, has had negative effects on Hill's game. The most exciting portion of Hill's new game is his 45.3% three-point shooting this season which is a huge upgrade from the previous two years.

Rodney Hood has a similar story. Hood was projected to be around a league-average player this season, according to RPM. At -2.9 with the majority of that being on defense, Hood has taken a big hit in value. BPM similarly sees Hood has a putrid defender this year. A change of scenery and playing with LeBron James could certainly help his cause, but we cannot be sure until the games play out. Just like Hill, Hood has seen in increase in shooting ability by posting career-highs throughout his statline.

With Clarkson, Nance, Hill, and Hood, the Cavaliers got incredibly more athletic on the floor. Kevin Love's injury will still hold them back, but if we assume he makes it back before the end of the regular season, it shouldn't affect them too much as they make their playoff push. If Hill and Hood stop regressing on the defensive side of the ball, there's plenty of reason for the Cavs to be excited about their additions.

Until that point, the Cavs won't make a huge jump in our model from the trade deadline outside of a couple spots. Per our model, the Cavs got nearly two points better yesterday. Again, that doesn't make them the best team in the East, yet, but LeBron James has a way of proving himself.

Lou Williams Extended

After talking with the Celtics, it seems the Clippers couldn't work out a trade for Lou Williams who was headed towards free agency this off season. We mentioned last week about the Clippers freeing up money through the Blake Griffin trade for the next few off seasons to reinvest into the market. It seems they've done just that.

Williams is having a career-year and will only be getting paid a measly $24M over the next three seasons with his new extension. Nearly zero players are that cheap through free agency, let alone an extremely efficient offensive player like Lou Williams. The Clippers, though it seems like they lost their franchise player, could continue to improve if they make smart moves or land some big free agents going forward.

Detroit Stays Active

The Pistons, fresh off their deal for Blake Griffin, have gotten trade-happy. They've taken Willie Reed and Brice Johnson, who came along with Griffin from LA, and flipped them for Jameer Nelson and James Ennis.

Sure, this isn't a blockbuster trade and Reed or Johnson weren't going to play huge roles in the Pistons rotation right away, but the move is fascinating for a team that was trending in the right direction. Winners of five straight, Detroit moved two younger, athletic players for some players with more experience.

However, those players haven't been particularly impressive in some time. Nelson is undersized and less than impressive on both sides of the ball. Ennis has been a negative player on offense and defense, as well, and even though neither proves to play huge minutes for the Pistons, using them in any capacity certainly makes the Pistons worse.

The Pistons has a chance to sneak into the playoffs as they currently sit, but they certainly don't have a road to the Finals. Reed was an upcoming free agent; thus, his move is somewhat irrelevant. However, moving a young, athletic player with some promise like Brice Johnson for a negative all-around player is confusing for a team taking on some big salaries in the next few seasons.