Late Tuesday night, as across Cleveland residents were enjoying their choice of beef, chicken or fish laid atop a fresh tortilla, the Cleveland Cavaliers were busy adding another player to their roster. Suddenly, Taco Tuesday became Tacko Tuesday, as the Cavs signed 7’5″ center Tacko Fall.
The Internet immediately exploded, with Cavs fans excited for the popular player delightedly making taco puns and dreaming of the impact of the league’s tallest player. Cleveland fans deserve fun in their lives, especially after the difficult sports history of the town and the pain of LeBron James leaving for the second time.
Tacko Fall is signing with the Cavs, but that doesn’t mean as much as you think
Before everyone gets too excited, however, we need to pump the breaks a little. It is technically true that Tacko Fall signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it’s not quite what you think. Every NBA team can sign up to 20 players during the offseason, but only carries 15 (plus a pair of two-way contracts) into the season.
The Fall signing gives them a 15th player, but Cleveland is almost certain to look to fill that spot at another position. The Cavs have added three 7-footers this offseason, making 6’11” Jarrett Allen the fourth-tallest player on this team for perhaps the first time in his life (if you count hair in the measurement, though, Allen is right there with Tacko).
It’s possible that Fall impresses in training camp and the team elects to cut Mfiondu Kabengele to keep him; Kabengele is likewise on a non-guaranteed contract. As our very own Dan Gilinsky wrote the night of the deal, this is a low-risk move; if Fall is bad they simply cut him.
This is a low-risk but low probability signing by the Cavs, a player to come into camp, not a part of their plans for next year. It’s probably best if Cavs fans don’t get too attached to the affable Fall.
Tacko Fall is tall, but he’s not a particularly good NBA player
Signing a non-guaranteed training camp deal is nearly the worst NBA option for a player. It puts all of the power in the team’s hands. There’s no job security if you don’t make the team, but if you ball out and earn a spot you’re locked into a low-value deal.
If there was a guaranteed deal out there for Fall, he would have signed it. No team wanted to bring him into their 15-man roster plans, and the Boston Celtics weren’t interested in keeping him around.
Fall’s height leaps off the screen, and his per-minute stats maximize what he does best. His per-36 minute numbers are elite: 12.4 points, 13.8 rebounds, 5.3 blocks on 72.4 percent shooting. They mask the fact that he severely limits his team on both ends of the court.
Offensively Fall can do nothing but finish. He is blind to potential assists, cannot put the ball on the deck, and his range extends as far as his reach (which is still fairly far, to be honest). His gait is choppy, so he doesn’t have the same fluidity coming off of screens as he rolls to the basket. He can hang out in the dunker spot and hope for lobs, but when you’re a one-trick pony you need a truly dynamic guard on the team getting into the paint and creating that look.
That might be worth it if Fall was a game-changing defensive player, but he, unfortunately, is not. His size is obviously a deterrent inside, and his reach racks up blocks for him at an elite rate. Yet Fall is quite slow, with an upright stance that makes it hard for him to change directions or move in space. Teams can simply bring his man up to screen on the perimeter and Fall’s team is immediately put into rotation trying to recover.
Tacko Fall is a unique physical specimen who works hard and has a viral name. It’s possible he is able to add to his game and earn a roster spot, but despite being only two years out of college he is already 25 years old (26 in December). Enjoy the Tacko Tuesday gifs every week, and a few excellent highlights of blocks this preseason. That might be all we get of Tacko this Fall (sorry).