INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – At the age of 36, the Cleveland Cavaliers feel like veteran guard and forward Mike Dunleavy still has a lot left in the tank.
But more specifically, the Cavs are excited to see how his ability to connect from deep matches up with the team’s propensity to create open looks for players on the perimeter.
“[He] gives us great shooting,” head coach Tyronn Lue said following Day 2 of training camp. “Dunleavy, last year, or over the last two years, has been shooting 52 percent on open shots.”
Cleveland’s consistent threat of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on the offensive side of the floor has made life easier for sharpshooters to thrive. J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova recently profited from a ton of open looks, as the duo were two of the best from deep with the Cavs over the past two seasons.
Smith is still unsigned and Dellavedova has since left through free agency, but Cleveland sees Dunleavy, an off-season trade pickup from the Chicago Bulls, as a perfect fit to pick up those minutes and cash in on the three-point opportunities.
“I just think when you play with guys like Kyrie, Kevin and LeBron, you can get all those you want,” Lue said. “If you can shoot the basketball, you can be very valuable.”
Dunleavy has shot 38 percent or higher from three for six consecutive seasons, knocking down 39.4 percent from deep in 31 games played with the Bulls last season. Off-season back surgery slowed the veteran down in 2015-2016, limiting him to just 7.2 points per game.
But the Cavs were attracted to more than just the 15-year pro’s shooting, according to Lue.
“He’s a guy who can straight line drive, and then when he gets to the basket, he can make a play, make a pass,” Lue said. “He’s a great passer. Defensively, he’s always in the right spots.
“I talked to [Tom Thibodeau] about him. He said he’s an underrated defender because he’s a great team defender. Whatever you do, he’s always going to be in the right spot, the right place.”
James is also a big believer in Dunleavy’s remaining talent.
“It’s just a guy with a high basketball IQ, comes from a basketball pedigree family, and over the course of his career, he’s just played winning basketball wherever he’s been – all the way back from high school to going to the University of Duke to all the teams he’s played with in the NBA,” James said.
“He’s a great locker room guy, too. Just a true professional. It’s great to have him.”