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Cavaliers GM admits concerns about rim protection on defense

Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Kevin Love, David Griffin Kevin Love, David Griffin

You’re not going to have a better summer than the Cleveland Cavaliers had. They got the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft (thank you lottery gods) and parlayed that into LeBron James and Kevin Love joining newly maxed-out Kyrie Irving. The Cavaliers are suddenly clear title contenders.

But there are questions, almost all of them on the defensive side of the ball. Specifically, who is going to protect the paint. Anderson Varejao is a quality pick-and-roll defender as big men go (when healthy) but he’s not a rim protector. We know Kevin Love isn’t. Brendan Haywood? Tristan Thompson? Nah.

It’s not just me with these concerns, it’s their own GM. David Griffin was on Fox Sports Radio and was honest about that and what he expects of Love on the defensive end, as tweeted by Andy Greder, who covers the Timberwolves for the Pioneer Press.

He doesn’t have concerns about Love not making a defensive rotation because he doesn’t want to give up good rebounding position? He should. Unless Love is changing his stripes.

Rim protection is going to be an issue against the elite teams. Chicago has it and the Cavaliers are going to need it against them in the East if Derrick Rose and his slashing game return to form. They are certainly going to need it against the ball movement in San Antonio, or the slashing of Russell Westbrook and how the Thunder get to the rim, or the lob-city attack of the Clippers with Chris Paul.

Elite teams get easy buckets, getting them at the rim and generation open looks from the perimeter (ideally three). Then they knock them down. If you can’t defend that, you can’t win a ring.

That will be the Cavaliers biggest challenge. Griffin knows it.

  1. canucks30 - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    LeBron James

  2. mungman69 - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:22 AM


    • canucks30 - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      I hear Michael Olowokandi is available.

      • duhwighthoward - Aug 29, 2014 at 3:04 PM


  3. canucks30 - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    They’ll sign Emeka Okafor mid-season.

    Problem solved.

  4. peddealer - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    Shawn Bradley is available!

  5. elcapitanfiscal - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    Having Varejao at center is better than any rim protection he had in Miami. As long as Kevin realizes defense is half the game, they will be fine.

  6. bringin1234 - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    Wheres anti to talk about how great the 3-5 are for Cleveland. What a fool…

    • balsagna - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      If the Cavs get a rim protector you’re looking at the most complete roster in the NBA outside of San Antonio.

      • bringin1234 - Aug 29, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        complete roster??? Where? Its the same thing as the heat.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:39 PM

        I hate to downthumbs you, balsagna, but if the Cavs add a rim protector they’re a much more complete roster than San Antonio. Only thing the Spurs would have on the Cavs is the second best (maybe even 1st) coach in NBA history and continuity/chemistry. Of course those factors would still make it a great series.

  7. avb300 - Aug 29, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    The Cavs actually have three of the worst rim-protecting big men. They’re not only horrible rim protectors but it’s difficult to have 3 that are this bad on any team.

    Check out this post on rim protectors:

    • balsagna - Aug 29, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      Stop pimping your own articles.

  8. harshedmellow - Aug 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    Whole buncha NBA teams wish they had Cleveland’s “problems”.

  9. charlescub80 - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    With the comments I see, can’t we just give the trophy to the Cavs now? Since nobody is talking about spurs…. They must have got worse… Right???

    • balsagna - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:18 PM

      Spurs fans are so insecure. You’ve never won back to back titles, stop acting like your path back to the championship is easy.

      • edwardemanuelson - Aug 29, 2014 at 7:32 PM

        Yea but they have won titles. Five of them since 1999 to be exact.

  10. zoomy123 - Aug 29, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Here’s how the Cavs solve all their defensive problems: trade Tristan Thompson for Iman Shumpert; then trade Dion Waiters + non-guaranteed contracts for Timofey Mozgov + Randy Foye. NY gets a power forward for when Amare + Bargnani come off the books and clear their logjam at SG. Denver gets a future 1-2 punch at SG with Gary Harris + Waiters when Afflalo opts out to chase his last big contract & long term security. Cleveland is now the most balanced, complete team in the NBA. They’ve replaced 2 of their 3 worst defenders with 2 above average defenders: Shumpert takes defensive pressure off both James + Irving and Mozgov protects the paint. James, Love + Irving anchor the offense and Shumpert, James + Andy anchor the defense.

  11. gasan2013pananaw - Aug 29, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    Remember down memory lane. Kobe – Shaquille-Payton – Moses Malone – Title contenders. Then Kobe-Howard-Nash-Gasol. Also title contenders. I almost sold my house for seasons tickets!!! My guardian angel was soo good. Learned big lesson about this brand names. Attention le Bron,love and Irving, you still have to play like the Spurs and have a coach like Pops, then I will sell my house.

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