Making it rain: Merrill's stellar work in 2 big areas for Cavaliers, January forecast

An unlikely hero has emerged for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and his name is Sam Merrill.

Sam Merrill, Cleveland Cavaliers
Sam Merrill, Cleveland Cavaliers / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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No. 2: Helping with ball/man movement, opening up space on the inside

Naturally, the second area where Merrill has made a difference of late has been essentially how his shooting impact has made things easier for his teammates.

When Merrill has been knocking down shots from at times even way downtown, it has put further stress on opposing defenses. In turn, opponents have either started to commit multiple bodies to him coming around screens, or they have shown a slight hesitation if those passes have led to other targets. In addition, as he started to get more opportunities, Merrill has made some critical feeds either as one more passes to shooters when rotators have come to him, or occasional dishes to interior threats who have slipped after screens.

Generally speaking, similarly to Max Strus, Merrill's movement shooting impact and range have definitely helped Cleveland's drivers and interior players such as Jarrett Allen. And that has applied at times with Strus and Merrill on the floor at the same time in some lineups, too. Having two versatile shooters easily coexist has made the offensive flow exponentially better for the Cavs.

The point is that Merrill's constant shooting presence has aided in Cleveland's spacing when he's been out there a great deal, and with his quick shooting, and decision-making, the Cavaliers have consistently had plenty of productive offensive movement when he's been on the floor.

Given his skill set and shooting impact, Merrill has been second among Cavaliers in offensive rating among regular rotation players in Cleveland's last 10 games (of which he's appeared in eight) at 127.0. For players appearing in meaningful action, the Cavs have also had their best true shooting rate at 63.8 percent when Merrill has been on the floor.

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Merrill keeps helping his case within Cleveland's rotation, and it's good to know what they have in him as a movement shooter and off-ball presence. He could keep the hot shooting going getting deeper into January as well.