3 reasons the Cavaliers should sign-and-trade for P.J. Washington

P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)
P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images) /

Reason No. 1 – Washington would maintain Cleveland’s defensive integrity

Since Allen’s arrival in Cleveland from Brooklyn, he has been their defensive anchor inside. His efforts culminated as the Cavaliers secured the top defense across the league throughout the majority of the 2022-23 season.

If Allen is on the way out, a one-way offensive power forward simply does not cut it. Mobley is a defense stalwart, and he plays best next to another competent defender.

Admittedly, P.J. Washington is not the same level of interior defender that Allen has been, but Washington is competent and versatile.

On shots within 10 feet of the basket, players defended by Washington scored 56 percent of the time, achieving a -3.8 percent differential from the average field goal rate of those opponents, per NBA.com stat tracking. On the other hand, players defended by Allen within 10 feet shot 54.5 percent with a -5.8 differential.

When defending perimeter shots, though, the Charlotte forward forced a -3.1 percent differential with an opponent 3-point percentage of only 32.9. Allen had a 0.7 improvement on defending 3-point shot attempts, meaning that when a competent shooter was guarded by JA, they shot slightly better than their average.

This is not to discount Allen in any way, as his mere presence in the paint deters a high volume of shot attempts. This only highlights that while Allen is superior at his specialty, Washington’s switchability matches the needs for Cleveland’s defense if Mobley is at center.

For Mobley, switching from the interior to the perimeter was one of his best qualities; he defended the most 3-point attempts of any player in the NBA last season. If he moves to the center position, adding a defender who can have a similar level of versatility allows the Cavaliers to continue their defensive dominance, trusting both frontcourt players in almost any scenario.

As a team with a heavy defensive identity at its core, Washington’s fit is a definitive plus, but his offensive contributions make him even more valuable to Cleveland.