The Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings snuck-in one last order of business before the NBA goes into lockout-mode in 10 hours. The Cavs sent promising young big man JJ Hickson to the Sacramento Kings for swing-man Omri Casspi and a heavily protected first round pick.
You could call this a bit of a breakout season for Hickson, taking advantage of starting and more playing time to average nearly 14 points and 9 rebounds. But his jump in scoring this past season was a product of taking a lot more shots, and from further away. His field goal attempts nearly doubled (from 6.4 in ’09-’10 to 11.7 last season). He took a lot more shots from mid-range (1.4 per game in ’09-’10, 4.2 per game from 10-23 feet last season). Meanwhile his shooting percentage dropped from 55.4% to 45.8%.
The Cavaliers obviously think highly of fourth pick Tristan Thompson. He was clearly drafted as Hickson’s replacement, though he’s obviously not ready to handle the same burden. Thompson is not going to step into the league and drop 14 points a game. But he will defend and get out on the break. He’ll have to use his athleticism to score until he can develop a back-to-the-basket game.
Omri Casspi will be looked at to pick up some of the scoring slack from Cleveland’s perspective. Casspi’s offense primarily came from long-range last season. His 37.2% clip put him in the same class as Paul Pierce, Toney Douglas and Sasha Vujacic last season. He scored only 8.6 ppg after averaging 10.3 ppg in his rookie season. That can be attributed to taking fewer shots 9 feet and in (2.4 per game last season, 3.9 in ’09-’10). Casspi will likely step into Anthony Parker’s role off the bench as Antawn Jamison’s back up.
In Sacramento, Hickson has a chance to slide right into the starting power forward role. DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson are both nearly 7 feet tall so they can both play center. Of course, the Kings don’t HAVE to start him at the four, but it’s a possibility. They could choose to play Hickson off the bench, keep him at about 25-30 minutes a game, and be the guy that maybe helps carry the second unit offensively. If he’s playing along side Jimmer Fredette on the second unit, he can try to use that extra space Fredette’s shooting can create to take better shots.
Here’s the protection breakdown of the pick, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein
Protected 1-to-14 in 2012, 1-to-13 in 2013, 1-to-12 in 2014, 1-to-10 from 2015-2017
In the end, not an earth-shattering deal for either side. The Kings get a decent player who, if he finds any consistency, can be pretty good. The Cavs are showing some faith in their draft pick and they get a wing player who can hit from long range. With some more time and the right usage, Casspi can help the Cavs off the bench. They also get a pick that they might be able to use as a trade chip down the line.
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