Thus far this season, Max Strus has proven to be a terrific acquisition by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Strus was brought in over the offseason via sign-and-trade from the Miami Heat to improve Cleveland’s perimeter shooting efforts, and the same went for Georges Niang by way of free agency.
Early on, Strus has had his share of moments as a threat from beyond the arc for the Cavaliers, and while there’s going to be some ups and downs there, his off-ball movement is always going to make a difference. To this point, though the shooting/movement element has been there, along with cutting, he has started out with career-highs essentially across the board.
Strus has started out with what would be career-highs in points (14.7), rebounds (5.8), assists (3.9), and steals (1.0) per contest. The same has applied for his three-pointers made on average, at 2.9 per outing.
With the plethora of ways Strus has helped the Cavaliers on both ends of the floor, he’s been outstanding. In fairness, it’s been 14 games into the 2023-24 season, and his splits are going to regress eventually, one would assume, but that doesn’t discount how he’s been playing. Also, in this young season, with Cleveland’s injury absences, Strus has continually been out there for the Cavaliers, and his chemistry will keep improving with his new squad.
Amid injury woes for the Cavs, Strus has been the constant, and is proving to be a steadying presence.
The splits from Strus as a shooter from downtown are going to have some variance, considering the types of deep balls he takes, from movement, relocation and after sprinting in transition. There’s going to be a high degree of difficulty on some of his looks from beyond the arc as well, just as was the case when he was in Miami.
Whether or not the deep balls are dropping for him, Strus is quickly becoming an indispensible player for the Cavaliers, even so early on in his tenure with them. Despite the Cavs’ injuries to players like Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen earlier, and since with Donovan Mitchell, Isaac Okoro and Caris LeVert sidelined of late, what Strus has been doing has made quite an impact.
As was previously emphasized, though the various injuries for Cleveland have played some into it, Strus has had career-bests nearly across the board to begin this season. His shooting and off-ball contributions will always garner their share of praise, but his secondary playmaking, rebounding, and willingness to do the less glamorous work all has been massive for this Wine and Gold group.
The Cavaliers have won their last four games, as Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and two-way rookie Craig Porter Jr. have all had their stamp all over games in that span. Porter, in particular, has been big-time in the past few games, including in the last two games against the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers, and he’s making his case to eventually have his contract converted to a standard deal.
All of that said, Strus has continually been a stabilizing presence and key, impact player for the Cavaliers as they’ve started to turn their season around, even with them still dealing with injuries.
In this four-game run, Strus has averaged 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.8 steals, and he’s connected on 38.7 percent of his three-point attempts. He has averaged 3.0 turnovers in those contests and there’s been some fouls where he’s been a tad bit late, but by and large, he’s made good plays time and time again in these recent games, and he continually has this season.
It’s not something that’s going to be sustainable for the season overall, however, Strus’ two-way play so far has factored into his team efficiency differential being a ridiculous plus-22.1, placing him in the 99th percentile in that swing metric, per Cleaning The Glass. That CTG stat measures team points scored per 100 possessions minus team points allowed per 100 possessions.
No matter how anybody wants to slice it, Strus has been exceptional early in his tenure with the Cavaliers, and even with injuries causing use of tons of different lineups, Strus has been the constant for Cleveland.
Strus has often made significant plays, and hopefully as the Cavs get healthier, his chemistry with other key Cavs steadily improves, just as it seemingly has with Evan Mobley, for example.