It was one of the less talked about moves at the trade deadline, but it could turn out to be one of the more important ones as we head towards the NBA playoffs.
At the NBA trade deadline, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired forward Channing Frye in a three team deal with the Orlando Magic and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Cavs sent big man Anderson Varejao and Jared Cunningham to the Blazers along with a first round pick.
It was a hefty price tag that the Cavaliers gave up to get the veteran forward, but he has turned out to be a good fit for the Cavaliers in his time on the floor. The problem is that he hasn't gotten that much time.
Spreading the floor
Frye is great at spacing the floor. He shoots the ball pretty well from three also as he shoots around a career average of 38.8%. Frye's ability to hit from deep and spread out the floor can create problems for defenses. He plays very similar to Kevin Love and having both on the floor can really open up a defense. For a Cleveland team that is 4th in the league in terms of three-point attempts, acquiring Frye was just adding more depth.
Bringing Frye on board allows Tyron Lue to basically run the same type of lineup for the Cavaliers when Love is on the bench. Cleveland's big man combination usually has a traditional big man (Timofey Mozgov) and a more less traditional big man at the four (Love). But when Love was on the bench, Cleveland didn't have a big man that can spread the floor. Tristian Thompson and Mozgov aren't shooters as both of their strengths are inside the paint and rebounding. With Frye, the Cavaliers are able to spread the floor even when their bench is out there.
The chart above, from via NBA.com, shows Cleveland's best four man linueps based on 3-point percentage. You can see that Frye is on a couple of lineups on this list including a lineup that shoots around 58.3% from three, which is very good for a Cleveland team that only shoots 35.8% from that distance. Once again, his ability to spread the floor and knock down shots from the outside has helped Cleveland.
The only problem with Frye is that he isn't the best at rebounding with the rebounders that the Cavaliers have on their roster, they are able to mask that weakness.
With Varejao out of place in Cleveland, the Cavaliers recieved a solid player in return. A player that can help them down the stretch and in the playoffs. But Frye needs to recieve more playing time to be effective.
More minutes for the big man
In his 17 games he has played for the Cavaliers Frye has averaged around 15.8 minutes per game, good for 11th on the team. That number needs to go up and that is something the Cavaliers plan on doing.
"We have to continue to use him,” said Lue (via WKYC.com) after Clevelands win over the Denver Nuggets a week ago, a game where Frye played 25 minutes and scored 14 points.
"Depending on how the flow of the game goes, he’ll play more minutes." Lue also added.
Frye has seen an uptick in minutes from 15.8 to 18.4 in the past ten games as he continues to get more comfortable in Cleveland. Maybe the increase in minutes can lead to more playing time come playoffs.
Frye is a good fit for Cleveland. He can stretch the floor with his shooting and allows the Cavaliers to either to go small with him and Love at the four or go big with Mozgov and Thompson on the floor. But he needs to play more to be effective for Cleveland.