Larry Sanders May Save Cleveland’s Defense

FOUR years ago Larry Sanders was an integral part of the Milwaukee Bucks success. He finished the season 2nd in the league in blocks per game and went to war with the defending champs and the Lebron James led Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. Fast forward to the present and Sanders’ finds in Leborn’s company, this time on the same team with the same goal of winning a championship.

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SINCE that 2012-13 season it’s fair to say that Larry Sanders basketball career has nose dived. After peaking with averages of 9.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG and 2.8 BPG, Sanders found himself out of the league just two years later after battling personal and drug issues. Following a second suspension for marijuana use in Feb 2015, he opted to focus on fixing his depression, anxiety and mood disorders, walking away from the Bucks and the game of basketball.

SANDERS has been long linked to attempting a comeback with a team and for the majority of 2017 he was linked to playoff bound teams as a missing piece. His signing can’t come at a better time for the Cavs. A year after moving on from defensive big man Timofy Mozgov, the Cavaliers have struggled to find a piece in the middle that can alter shots. Tristian Thompson is a great rebounder and energy guy for his height, but he only do so much. Channing Frye is somewhat of a defensive liability and star forward Kevin Love has been sidelined for close to a month now with a knee injury. Just over a week ago they thought they had their answer, but newly acquired center Andrew Bogut went down with a broken leg just 58 seconds into his Cleveland career.

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THERE is no denying that Larry Sanders had elite basketball talent, emerging as one of the best interior big men in a short amount of time half a decade ago. After such a large chunk of time away from the game the belief is that Sanders will regather his timing and build his conditioning/confidence at the D-League level before joining the rest of his teammates in the big time. It is a gamble for Cleveland Gm David Griffin that could prove to be a masterstroke if successful, but regardless it is clear the Cavs need to do something. They currently rank 22nd in defensive efficiency and are right in the middle of the pack for rebounds a night. Since the All-Star break they have gone a pedestrian 4-6 and have only won the rebound battle twice, being out-rebounded 456-418.

Love’s absence plays a role in those numbers and if it wasn’t for Lebron averaging 12.3 boards over that 10 game stretch things could be a lot worse. However that rebounding trend will have to change, especially on defense, if Cleveland is serious about repeating as champions. With the Wizards and Cletics hot on their heels in the race for the #1 seed out East, Larry Sanders the self proclaimed person, father, artist, writer, painter, musician and sometimes basketballer might be their knight in shining armour.

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