Con No. 2: Questionable Defense
Defensively, Max Strus is no slouch. Standing at 6-foot-5 with a nearly 6-foot-8 wingspan, Strus can hold his own against taller wings and most guards. Strus is not the quickest on his feet, though, occasionally losing his man off-ball and letting them score.
The most infamous case of this was Derrick White’s career-defining buzzer beater in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
While Strus’ ineffective defense led to the bucket, it is not enough to label him a traffic cone on defense. The entire sequence was chaotic, and much of the outcome came from luck.
Where the true questions come for Strus is his overall defensive impact. Strus ranked in the bottom 15 percent of wings for both block percentage and steal percentage, per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required). In his career, Strus’ defensive rating has consistently been below the league average 110. Last season, his defensive rating was a poor 117, meaning he allowed 117 points per 100 possessions on defense.
As mentioned prior, his off-ball defense is not as valuable as his on-ball defense. He loses his man when he’s targeting smaller shifty guards. When he’s defending the ball handler, Strus rarely fails his matchup.
In Miami, Strus typically played the two guard spot while Jimmy Butler played at the small forward position. Strus’ defensive issues may stem from playing against quicker opponents instead of other forwards.
Though Strus can struggle defensively, his overall impact cannot be overlooked. In Cleveland, he would still help place the Cavs into the discussion for top teams out East.