Antawn Jamison makes the Cavaliers better — there is no doubt about that — but Stoudemire would have made the Cavaliers downright unstoppable in the East for the next half-decade, provided LeBron stuck around. Could you imagine defending the LeBron/Amare pick-and-roll, with Shaq on a block and two shooters in the corners?
Thankfully, that last sentence was purely hypothetical and we only have to deal with reality.
But it’s not like the reality is all that great for Magic fans, either.
The biggest asset the Magic have is their versatility. They’re able to go big, small, run-and-gun or bang-‘em-up at any time with their collection of adaptable players. The Cavs, meanwhile, lacked any sort of true flexibility, outside of playing Varejao at center and running teams out of the gym (which, for the record, wasn’t a grand idea when Dwight Howard was on the floor).
Now the Cavs have that flexibility. In addition to being a laid-back presence in the locker room, Jamison can score better than any player LeBron has ever played with. Jamison’s outside shooting numbers are merely OK — he’s 34 percent from 3-point range and 38.1 percent on two-pointers outside of 10 feet — but he’s enough of a threat where the Magic will have to plan for him.
Before this trade, Varejao at power forward meant the Magic had very little to worry about outside of some quick cuts at the rim and putbacks (which Howard, of course, neutralized in many ways). Jamison provides a legitimate threat at the position, adding another offensive weapon to a team that wasn’t bereft of weapons to begin with. But let me add that Jamison’s shooting numbers are really not that impressive, especially if the Cavs plan to utilize Jamison in a lot of pick-and-pop situations.
As mentioned above, Jamison is shooting 38.1 percent on deep two-pointers; you don’t have to be a statistician to know that’s not an efficient percentage. And even at three-point range, his 34 percent showing is Matt Barnes-esque. There’s a good chance those percentages will go up when he’s playing on a good team and being asked to do less. But the numbers are worth mentioning.
To sum up, Jamison makes the Cavs better. There was very little risk in this trade, as they only gave up Big Z, a player who might re-sign with the Cavs anyway (let’s hope not for Orlando’s sake). I suppose that’s the NBA we live in, where top-flight teams can get better simply because they’re looking to not shed payroll. It’s a shame, but that’s where we are.
Is this the move that puts the Cavs a notch above the Magic? Quite possibly.
It’s also possible the Cavs were a notch above the Magic to begin with. But on paper — and I’m being brutally, horribly honest here — I don’t know if the Magic can defeat the Cavaliers in a seven-game series with Jamison in the fold. Luckily, that seven-game series won’t be for another three months and a lot can change before then.
What do you think?