When the Cleveland Cavaliers brought in Max Strus in the offseason via sign-and-trade from the Miami Heat, it was to bolster their perimeter shooting efforts, and the same went for their Georges Niang signing. It was understandable for the Cavaliers to address that need given their inconsistencies there around their core guys, and hopefully in coming years, Strus and Niang look to be impact contributors in their own ways.
For now, Niang has had some difficulty getting going in rotational minutes, but in Strus’ case, while there’s been some streakiness, and likely will be some with his volume, he has made a difference in multiple ways early on.
Even with the sample size taken into consideration, Strus has still started out pretty well, as he’s had 14.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 per contest. Thus far, he’s on pace for career-highs in threes made per contest, and essentially all over notable stats categories, aside from the three-point shooting hit rate, which has been 34.9 percent.
With the type of shots Strus takes in mind, there is going to be some ups and downs, as was previously mentioned, but even with that expectation, he’s helped Cleveland as a shooter with his presence and movement, and in a number of other ways. He has started to come on from the outside, too, and while it’s early, Strus looks to have the makings of a home run acquisition.
There’s going to be some fluctuation for Strus as it relates to his overall deep shooting splits, as was alluded to before. That aside, he’s been outstanding, and if Cleveland can get some things nailed down, he could take off from three.
Regardless, coming into a new situation with Cleveland, Strus has exceeded expectations early on. With how he’s provided perimeter shooting, but has also affected games in a number of other ways, he’s more than done his part for the Cavaliers.
As he gets more comfortable, Strus’ perimeter shooting splits should improve, and that would be the cherry on top, however, his constant motion and cutting can open up space for drivers and others, which has been a key takeaway early on. Even with Cleveland’s inconsistencies as a group, injuries aside, Strus has played very well overall.
To go with the shooting element, Strus has again had 3.7 assists per outing, which has been a pleasant surprise. His chemistry with Evan Mobley continues to get better, and whether it’s been from ball-swing passes, kickouts to shooters from attacking closeouts, or from transition plays, Strus’ secondary playmaking has been on-point.
Along with the cutting, shooting and passing elements from Strus, after his rebounding started out very well, and even since Jarrett Allen has been back in the fold, he’s made his presence felt there for Cleveland.
Strus has had nearly six boards per game early on, and while his splits there probably will be reduced as the season progresses, what he’s done in that aspect of the game, particularly defensively, has been a welcomed surprise for the Cavs. His positioning on the glass, and tracking of loose balls, somewhat similarly to Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert, has enabled the Cavaliers to generate some more transition opportunities, which are always impactful.
Last but definitely not least, Strus’ defense and general two-way play have been great early on for the Cavs, even with inconsistencies for the group as a whole in a 5-6 start to the 2023-24 season. Strus’ ability to contain drivers, and his attention to detail as a helper, to go with his activity in passing lanes have all made a difference in his minutes.
It’s telling how much Strus has mattered for these Cavaliers early on, as he’s tied with Mitchell for Cleveland’s team-best total plus-minus of plus-50 thus far, per NBA.com.
It is still the beginning of this season, obviously, but even with that in mind, Strus appears to have the makings of a home run signing for the Cavaliers.