Steady play from Max Strus is gift that should keep on giving for Cavs

Max Strus, Cleveland Cavaliers
Max Strus, Cleveland Cavaliers / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Leading into 2023 NBA free agency, Max Strus was a name that had been linked to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and with his shooting skill set, that was hardly surprising. Cleveland would end up adding Strus over the offseason via sign-and-trade from the Miami Heat, the team he made deep playoff runs with and the 2023 NBA Finals.

The Cavaliers would sign Strus to a four-year, $62.3 million deal over the summer, and while that may have seemed like an overpay to some initially, he's clearly been a heck of a player for this group.

Thus far, Strus has had 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per contest, all of which are on pace for career-highs. There have been some inconsistencies from three-point range with his overall deep shooting clip at 34.8 percent, but with the gravity Strus has as a movement shooter, and with what he's provided from an all-around perspective, he's been a true difference-maker.

Piggybacking off of that to some degree, with what he's brought to this team on the floor and with his emerging leadership, after yesterday being Christmas Day, it's very evident that Strus' play should be a gift that keeps on giving.

Strus' play has been such a welcomed addition to the Cavs, and that's a gift that should keep on giving.

Strus would’ve appeared to be a player that would give Cleveland a different dynamic as a shooter coming into the season, and even with fluctuation as a long range shooter, he has been huge for this team.

Whether he’s hitting his deep shots or not in games, his constant movement and gravity with his range and quick release has helped those around him, and he’s enabled the Cavs to often have better movement in set possessions, even with so many changes in lineups because of injuries. Though there have been some peaks and valleys for the overall unit, partially because of new guys getting acclimated and injuries, it’s still been fulfilling to watch how a movement shooter of Strus’ caliber can make things easier on offense.

But it hasn’t just been his shooting/off-ball impact. Strus has given the Cavaliers legitimate secondary playmaking, and he’s continually been a connective passer on the wing. After showing he can be a nice ball-mover last season with the Heat, regardless of the injury element, Strus has exceeded expectations as a ball movement presence with Cleveland.

He's again had a career-high in assists per game and has placed in the 78th percentile this year in assist rate among wings, per Cleaning The Glass. As the season has progressed, guys such as Jarrett Allen, Donovan Mitchell and Dean Wade are getting more and more comfortable playing with Strus, and it's been rewarding to see Strus help others find their rhythm from that perspective as well.

Last but definitely not least, Strus' defensive contributions on-ball against opposing wings and forwards, couple with his feel as a team defender has led to him being one of Cleveland's most impactful contributors on a consistent basis in games.

Strus has often been tasked with tough matchups defensively, where he has typically more than held up. He's taken some fouls from a bit of overaggression from time to time, but by and large, he's taken the challenge defensively, and has been more competent with the matchups he's had than anybody could've realistically expected.

Along with those elements on the defensive end, Strus has had a career years' start on the glass for Cleveland, too. He's had over five rebounds per contest this season, thanks to great positioning and urgency, and even if he's not gotten the ball down off the board at times, he has regularly had timely tip-outs to teammates which have led to more transition looks for the Cavs.

Overall, how Strus has performed on both ends and how much he's affected winning has been such a treat so far this season. His two-way expertise has resulted in Cleveland being 14.4 points per 100 possessions better when Strus has been on the floor this season, which has graded out in the 96th percentile in that swing metric, according to Cleaning The Glass.

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Needless to say, Strus' play should be a gift that keeps on giving for the Cavaliers. He's been a true home run acquisition for the Wine and Gold.