Cavs: Chemistry for Isaiah Hartenstein is growing with others

Cleveland Cavaliers big Isaiah Hartenstein dunks the ball. (Photo by Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers big Isaiah Hartenstein dunks the ball. (Photo by Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) /

At this point, it’s apparent that the Cleveland Cavaliers would greatly benefit if they are able to keep Isaiah Hartenstein around.

With how he has played with them after being acquired near the March 25 trade deadline from the Denver Nuggets, to go with two future second-round picks in exchange for JaVale McGee, it’s difficult to see him picking up his $1.8 million player option for next season.

He looks to have played himself out of that, albeit it would still be a real plus if the Cavs could keep him around on a pretty reasonable deal. We’ll see in regarding that, factoring in Jarrett Allen and Collin Sexton, who seems to be the heartbeat of the Cavs, likely being set to be locked up this upcoming offseason.

With Hartenstein, though, while he didn’t get much of a chance to really prove it in prior stints with the Houston Rockets in his first two seasons and in his half season with Denver, he’s been a factor.

In mostly reserve burn with the Cavaliers, he’s had 9.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 blocks in 19.1 minutes per game. That’s been in 13 appearances.

What he’s been able to provide in spurts/stretches for Cleveland, and earlier on with Jarrett Allen sidelined (concussion), has been a key positive.

As we know, the Cavs have had their share of issues/inconsistencies as a team overall, other than Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, and aside from Hartenstein as of late, but the young backup 5 has made his presence felt. Sexton enduring a concussion in-game was a rough bit of news, as a side note, per a report from Chris Fedor of on Saturday, and he’s out on Sunday at the Washington Wizards. We’ll see on the timetable.

Albeit with Hartenstein, looking back, he’s showing that he’s starting to really have nice feel for playing off of other guys, even with him still being so new.

The chemistry for Hartenstein is growing with other Cavs.

When Hartenstein’s been in there for Cleveland, he’s been productive in the paint, on occasion as a driver against opposing 5s, here and there on postups and after getting some putbacks.

What’s jumped out to me recently, though, has been how he’s been able to time up his cuts to get go-to spots for him from 12 feet out or so, where he’s shown great touch for push shots, really with both hands.

He and Kevin Love have appeared to have developed a rapport in that way with Hartenstein taking advantage of when his primary defender has been key in on Love, and that’s led to high quality looks for the young 5.

Additionally, Hartenstein has shown that sort of timing as a cutter in some burn with Dean Wade, another quality shooting big, and while we haven’t seen a ton of run for Hartenstein with Larry Nance Jr. yet, I’d imagine that could play out in that realm with him, too. Nance is one of Cleveland’s best passers.

Along with the cutting sense in that way, Hartenstein has had some encouraging sequences in burn with Matthew Dellavedova and Garland, regarding him as a rolling presence. Although he’s not nearly Allen in that aspect from a catching radius standpoint, Hartenstein is still a good athlete vertically that is an impact lob threat, and his touch as well as a roll man has popped, too.

The timing with how he’s worked in sequences with both of those primary playmakers seems to be getting better each game, too, and his chemistry with both is growing, clearly. For further context, Hartenstein has placed in the 85th percentile with Cleveland as a rolling scorer so far, per Synergy Sports; that’s been on a 22.0 percent frequency.

And lastly, in recent games, Hartenstein, whose passing has looked to have been another crucial strength of his, has made plenty of heady passes, via big-to-big feeds to Love and/or some via ball-swings to Wade, and he’s hit Isaac Okoro as a cutter, too.

He seems to have aided the likes of Garland and Wade as well, and when he’s been doubled inside, has seemed to show better feel game-to-game to know where his shooting outlets are.

Moreover, Hartenstein’s 4.8 assists per-36 minutes with the Cavaliers illustrates how when given the opportunities, he’s a more than capable passing big that is far more often than not going to make quick and wise decisions and help generate quality looks.

Granted, given persistent fouling issues, and with Allen back in the fold, it’s still clear that Hartenstein is far better suited as a backup 5 to this point. Albeit when he’s in there, he’s going to make an impact on both ends still, and he’s seemingly grown more comfortable game-to-game with his Cavs teammates.

Next. Is Love a long term fit?. dark

Hopefully the Cavaliers can find a way to keep him around this upcoming offseason, but we’ll see in regards to that.