The Cavs should utilize their new snipers as screeners this season

Max Strus, Miami Heat and Georges Niang, Philadelphia 76ers. Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Max Strus, Miami Heat and Georges Niang, Philadelphia 76ers. Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images /

It was a necessity for the Cleveland Cavaliers to address their perimeter shooting needs in the 2023 offseason. Cleveland had issues during the 2022-23 regular season in that area, and in their first round loss to the New York Knicks, Cleveland’s shooting woes reared their ugly head.

Fortunately, the Cavaliers did their part to help out players such as Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley in that aspect. Cleveland added players such as Georges Niang and Max Strus in free agency, the latter of whom they did so via sign-and-trade. Ty Jerome in a lesser role could be a nice depth piece to have for spurts, also, and he is a capable shooter.

As it pertains to Niang and Strus, in particular, they could be knockdown-type players for the Wine and Gold. Niang hit 154 three-pointers and Strus hit 197 deep balls during the 2022-23 regular season for their respective clubs in the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat, and Cleveland is hoping those two make threes in bunches in their minutes from here.

Both of those offseason additions have reputations that should make them very meaningful floor spacing threats, and their teammates should be finding them often as catch-and-shoot options. Niang is a polished shooter from the corners, and Strus could have a Kyle Korver-esque effect on Cleveland’s set offense with his movement shooting abilities.

Regarding both in this sense, though, it’d seem that Cleveland could use pick-and-pops a fair amount this coming season, and/or other variations of plays where their initial screeners.

The Cavs should utilize Niang and Strus as screeners at times throughout contests.

Neither of Niang nor Strus should profile as pick-and-pop artists the way Kevin Love was with the Cavaliers in recent prior seasons. Love is so polished in that aspect of his shooting repetoire, and neither of those players are nearly the screener he is.

Both Niang and Strus do move without the ball really well, however, and in some instances in games, they could prove to be lethal pick-and-pop options for Garland and Mitchell to go to. That’s in the event those players are timely with their deliveries and the looks are there, clearly.

Niang had some times with the Sixers where he made splashed triples from being a pick-and-pop player, and at other instances, knocked down off-ball looks after relocation. There should be more of that to continue with Cleveland.

With his frame, Niang could prove to be valuable as a screener and/or handoff option on the perimeter with his shooting skill set, which could help free up his former Utah Jazz teammate in Mitchell, along with Garland. Ditto for Caris LeVert in that aspect.

Niang is a career 40.3 percent shooter from three-point land, so the general thought is, as a stretch forward with a wide frame, he could maybe be Love-lite as a screening option as a deep shooter.

In Strus’ case, Cleveland will assuredly use him coming off curls and he’ll receive handoffs in his own right, but mixing him in as a ball screener for Mitchell or Garland could be fruitful as well. And off that, Strus could be a great ghost screen option for the Cavaliers, whereas his movement shooting threat could exert added pressure on opposing defenses, and that hesitation could potentially open up more room for others.

To Strus’ credit, he has shown that he can make plays via self creation off of his shooting, and last season, demonstrated he can handle some of the secondary playmaking load for his teammates as well. Those are counters to factor in with him, too.

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Hopefully, both of Niang and Strus are used in a number of ways off-ball by the Cavs to maximize their shooting impact.