The most notable move of a busy offseason for the Cleveland Cavaliers was the signing of former Miami Heat swingman Max Strus. The Cavaliers acquired Strus via sign-and-trade as part of a three-team deal with the Heat and San Antonio Spurs, landing him on a four-year, $62.3 million deal in the process.
Undrafted in 2019, Strus bounced around before landing a two-way contract with the Heat during the 2020-21 season. He carved out a role for himself as a sharpshooter, eventually proving himself as a prominent rotation piece for the Heat. Strus started 33 regular season games this past season, and all 23 of the Heat’s postseason games as the franchise reached the NBA Finals for the second time in the past four years.
In need of an injection of shooting, particularly from the wing positions, the Cavaliers made Strus a priority target this offseason, where he now projects as one of the better options to be the team’s starting three come opening day.
So, for Strus to be everything that the Cavaliers hoped when they acquired him, what does he need to do this season?
For his career, Strus is a 37.1 percent three-point shooter on over six attempts per game. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll notice that he has some fairly notable splits over the past two seasons. In 2021-22, Strus hit 41.0 percent of his threes. In 2022-23, he made only 35.0 percent on similar volume.
When looking at Strus’ raw percentages, it’s important to contextualize the difficulty of his attempts. Strus frequently bombs away from deep beyond the three-point line and many of his attempts come off of movement, working off the various dribble handoff and screening actions that the Heat like to run.
Last season, on three-pointers described as open and wide open per NBA.com’s tracking data, Strus shot 36.6 and 42.9 percent, respectively. When he gets clean looks, Strus is plenty capable of knocking them down.
Even when his shot isn’t falling, Strus’ gravity as a shooter demands defensive attention, making it difficult for defenses to load to the Cavaliers’ stars. Still, an ideal season for the new Cavalier would see him shoot closer to the 41 percent of 2021-22 than the 35 percent of this past year.
In addition to the offensive boost he will provide, Strus is no slouch defensively either.