Cavs and Warriors: How they were built

VIDEO: Road to the Finals: Growing pains in Cleveland

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors reached The Finals in very different ways.

After making major changes last summer, the Cavs struggled out of the gate and made more changes in early January. Dion Waiters was sent to Oklahoma City. Timofey Mozgov was acquired from Denver, while Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith were brought in from New York.

In comparison, the Warriors have been rather stable. Like the Cavs, they made a coaching change a year ago. But while only 39 percent of the Cavs’ regular-season minutes were played by guys who were on the roster last season, that number was 82 percent for Golden State. And the Warriors were the best team in the league from start to finish, making only a minor change to their roster (swapping Nemanja Nedovic for James Michael McAdoo).

Still, if you look at the Warriors’ roster construction, it’s as much a mix of players acquired via the Draft, free agency, and trades as the Cavs’ roster is.

20150531_gsw_roster 20150531_cle_roster

Note: Andre Iguodala and David Lee were acquired via sign-and-trade deals, which are counted here as trades.

But the Warriors’ mix isn’t so even when you consider who’s getting minutes in the postseason. Steve Kerr is leaning heavily on the guys the Warriors drafted over the years.

20150531_gsw_minutes 20150531_cle_minutes

Only two of the six guys the Warriors acquired via free agency – Leandro Barbosa and Shaun Livingston – are in their playoff rotation. And those guys rank seventh and eighth in minutes played. Their top four guys in minutes – Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes – all came via the Draft.

The Cavs’ minutes pie leans more toward trade than free agency because Shumpert, Mozgov and Smith all rank in the top six in minutes, while Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and Kendrick Perkins aren’t in the rotation.

The contrast between the two teams is even bigger when we look at playoff production, as measured by the efficiency statistic.

Efficiency = PTS + REB + AST + STL + BLK – TO – Missed FGA – Missed FTA

20150531_gsw_production 20150531_cle_production

The Warriors are getting 2/3 of their production from guys they drafted, headlined by those four starters noted above. The Cavs, meanwhile are only getting about 1/4 of their production from guys they drafted (and didn’t lose to Miami for four years). Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson account for basically all of that. LeBron James was acquired (the second time) via free agency, and he accounts for about 1/4 of the Cavs’ production himself.

This is a copycat league at times, but there’s no definitive way to build your roster. For the Warriors, it’s been about the Draft. For the Cavs, it’s been about the best player in the world looking to come home, as well as some clever moves made in January.

20150531_gsw_roster_list 20150531_cle_roster_list


  1. Wiggins says:

    This would be a storybook ending to the LeBron James return to Cleveland, and the scary thing is Cleveland is only going to improve each and every year because they are a young team. For them to reach to finals from a tram that basically thrown together mid-year is nothing short of amazing, and shows the kind of talent LeBron has.

    lmao if only cavs had me..Wiggins = winners

  2. Wiggins says:

    Cavs can win it next year…but they will always regret trading wiggins.

  3. Mitra says:

    Honestly speaking, CAVS have a chance if Kyrie and JR played consistently well along side LeBron.

    LeBron is the best basketball player in the world but it is a team game and to stand up against a team like Warrior you need to have all your cylinders fired consistently and at a high level.

    I am sure LeBron will make a mark in this series but solid team performance is needed to win championship.

  4. B says:

    Cavs in 4

  5. Mark from Bay area says:

    Cavs have absolutely no chance of winning the Championship.
    It is the Lebron who carried them to this point.
    The question is “Does LeBron James have more left on him at this point?”

    Longer the Series goes, more miles on LeBron.
    I respect the LeBron for being the best player in history of the basketball.
    However, GSW has the Complete Team that can go off any day and night!
    Even if Curry does not score, you will see Green, Thompson, Barnes, Livingston, Barbosa, Bogut, Festus, David Lee, Speights, and others stand up to the challenge!

    Who do you have other than LeBron? Kyrie the Limper?

    • Ace says:

      I’m a Cavs fan, but that aside, I do think Golden state will win. However, don’t completely look over the what the Cavs as a whole have been doing. Yes LeBron is leading the charge, but if you think that nobody else on the team hasn’t been stepping up when it mattered the most, you officially just have a fan based opinion for your team

  6. Jon E.McCaskill says:

    Many people are feeling the Cavs. I dig Irving’s game & I definitely dig LeBron’s game but my favorite player is & has been Stephen Curry followed closely by Kyrie. However, I would employ a simple strategy that I’ve used very effectively as a coach. Let LeBron do his thang, give no quarter to no one else, even ma boy Kyrie. When LeBron gets his respite, turn up the heat & when he comes back into the game he’ll have an even bigger hole to one man band out of. Hold all the others in check & make LeBron work for his, he will undoubtedly git his, but absolutely no one else should be allowed to get off, at all. Can LeBron overcome 4, 5, or 6 games of that, as bad as he is?

  7. ty says:

    Cavs in 5…

  8. ArvinPH says:

    Lbj is the king, the one and only and nobody can stop him, i even tattooed my whole back of larry obrien trophy with cavs on it . Meaning cavs win this year. Its lbj era. Enuf said. Just sayin. U mad bro?

  9. zaphire says:


    But James Harden is NO Lebron James. Period!

  10. martinrterry says:

    The Golden State Warriors are running into a buzzsaw and the world will see just how incredible this Cavaliers team is and just how good LeBron is to take a banged up squad through the East, sweep a very good Hawks team and do this in the first year with brand new personnel.

    When LeBron is driving down Euclid driving one of his Ferraris during Cleveland’s parade on 6/21 after the Finals are over and the Cavs have emerged victorious, I will be back to tell all of you fan boys and wanna be NBA fans “I told you so!”

    The end.

  11. martinrterry says:

    The GSW are running full speed into a buzzsaw and don’t even know it. This Cavs teams is not the one dimensional Cavs from 2007 that got swept by the Spurs.

    The world will get to see just how great LeBron is: this Warriors team is incredible but not incredible enough to beat this Cleveland team.

    It is going to be historic and special, and when LeBron is parading down Euclid with the top down on a Ferrari you will know who the GOAT is…..

  12. J4CK Nicholson says:

    It’s either GSW in 6 games because of their relentlessness, or CLE in 7 because of LeBron’s leadership and experience. Just hoping that no 1 gets injured.

  13. ian says:

    cavs proves they can win with out their big 2 (love and erving) i guest wen erving wil play cavs become mor competitiv team in this series..cavs in 5 or 6..

  14. silentq says:

    cavs in 6

  15. cactusbylin says:

    LBJ’s four consecutive years in the finals is a powerful advantage. I believe that is what got Cleveland past Atlanta. He knows how to get his team to play through the setbacks. Golden State doesn’t have experience at this level. Cavs in 5 games.

  16. Tan says:

    I didnt see the importance of this article. hahaha. let the finals begin.

  17. Mon Echaluce says:

    Its the cavs will reign!

  18. DIEGO says:

    very simple to predict,,, if the cavs win game 1 then its a sweep,,enough of saying that cavs don’t play team your eyes and watch all their playoff games this year and think again…just imagine 2012 the healthy OKC team with durant, westbrook, and james harden who are now all super stars, mvps and scoring champions..they did nothing in the finals but watch lebron destroy them…yes warriors were great in the regular season but not as great as the cavs in the playoffs…however if warriors win game 1 then CAVS will win in 5 or 6…….kalas

  19. pd says:

    given how close the games were with rockets, warriors will have it tougher with than that with cavs for sure although the stats suggest otherwise.
    let’s see how curry and king responds to the challenge and which team keeps the nerves down and make better small small plays throughout the game. It’s those small things that going to win or lost the championship (note it down)

  20. jason says:

    akron born….curry will give in to lebron, allow gsw to lose for his hometown…..cavs in game 4

  21. BillCollector1999 says:

    Keep sleeping on the Cavs.
    If this cavs team were the GSW, you warrior fans would be saying curry who? Dont lie!

  22. KC says:

    First off,Draymond Green(6’7) is going to be guarding Tristan Thompson (6’10).This will be a good size advantage for Cleveland.Then Klay will be guarded by the cav’s best perimeter defender,Iman Shumpert,So no shots for him .Then u have the Kyrie/Curry matchup.Most people would agree when I say that Kyrie’s the better ball handler and he can hit three as well .For instance-the away game against the Spurs when Kyrie scored 57 and went 7/7 from behind the arc.He also didn’t miss a free throw that game as well .And then Lebron vs Harrison.Even though Barnes may be faster,but all Lebron really has to do is take score easy points in the paint.
    The Warriors may have a better record,but the cavs are better in the playoffs.They’ve won 7 straight while the dubs only won 1 straight.And with Lebron,Perk,Jones,and Marion the cavs have a lot of playoff experience.And with Lebron in his winning mentality,the cavs are in a good situation.He makes the other players better.Although it might be a tough task,I think the cavs sweep this series
    GO CAVS!!!!

  23. Jay-ar says:

    Atlanta and Warrior are much the same in so many field. Shooting Percentage, Triple, Rebounding, Inside and outside Field Goal percentage. Atlanta is the no. 1 team in East, But when the eastern final happened between cavs and atlanta. The atlanta demoralized, all the good shooting percentage and the triple was gone. Why? because of the presence of Lebron James. There’s no one ever can stop lebron james. Even Warrior, So my verdict cavs can win 4-0 vs warrios.

    • Derick says:

      This is the most ignorant response I’ve seen. First off, the gsw are no hawks. The Hawks had no playoff experience. If you watch them, you will have seen the struggle throughout. They struggled against the Hawks and only beat the wizards because of wall’s injury. When you were comparing the stats you forgot to mention that gsw are a better defensive team.
      No lead is save with gsw. The cavs cannot sweep warriors.

  24. renrich says:

    i was a lebron fans since he drafted in cleveland..but seems that 60% of this page or comment are lebron haters…you can’t accept the fact that lebron james is the best player of the world..i does not mean if you lose a championship last year you can’t win championship this year..this is her destiny to get the cavs a championship that he did not do last 3 season..please accept the fact is the best player in the world..

  25. alan says:

    This series could be decided by which team has the fewest injuries. If LBJ gets injured Golden State will win. If Irving is near to full fitness it could be close. If Curry gets injured who knows what will happen.

  26. Jude Morales says:

    Team Effort always win games. Golden State Warriors in 6games

  27. michael says:

    even though the cavs are without verejao or love they are still way better than the lebron’s heat. however, the warriors are having historic season, one that hasn’t been seen since his airness’s bulls……

    this matchup is one that would be the matchup of the decade…….

    i predict the warriors will win their first ring in 40 years in 6 or 7 games.

  28. andrew says:

    lebron is too good i dont but that wont be enough unless irving plays and is a major factor in atleast two of these games lebron can carry cavs against some teams but gsw too good for one player to win a series

  29. the 1 says:

    GSW will win it in 7 IN 2OT and Steph curry will win the finals MVP and he will go down in history to win that award in both the reg season and finals period now that is a good headline

  30. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    Power of Lebron the players and the GM’s know that with Lebron it’s championship now, he’s a once in a generation player, nothing wrong with building through the draft or building a team through free agency, But that’s give credit to the Cavs role players and team, there ball’n they have showed up, there team is just as good as the Warriors team, Lebron’s just so big that it shadows how well the Cavs are as a team.

  31. Johnlester23 says:

    We’ll just see the result. Leave it to Curry and James!

  32. Marion Warren says:

    I fully agreed. LeBron is in a zone that you can’t explain he will not let Cleveland lose! Death would be better for him than for Cleveland to lose the championship!

  33. dedefr says:

    The Cavs won’t win it this year, unless Joey Crawford goes and gives all the calls to the Cavs. LeBron, as great as he is, can only do so much when he is worn out and the other team can rotate 2 or 3 guys to guard him every other time down the floor. Irving is hurt, and no one can guard Curry. They’re loving the pressure, and aren’t likely to choke because of their defense. The Warriors are also virtually unbeatable at home, and they do have home-court advantage. Warriors in 5 or 6.

  34. BIG-GAME-JAMES-23 says:

    I won’t go as far to say that the GSW are going to get swept, but I believe that LeBron is on a mission to fulfill his destiny. This would be a storybook ending to the LeBron James return to Cleveland, and the scary thing is Cleveland is only going to improve each and every year because they are a young team. For them to reach to finals from a tram that basically thrown together mid-year is nothing short of amazing, and shows the kind of talent LeBron has.

    Obviously on paper the GSW are deeper, healthier, and have better chemistry because they’ve been together for many years. But i just think Cleveland will win in 5 or 6 games. I think they are going to choke the way OKC did against LeBron and the Heat in 2012. GSW are going to fold under the pressure of the moment and under the pressure of the King. I am a huge Steph Curry fan, he is probably going to go down as the best shooter of all time, but I don’t think that this is his moment. This is LeBron’s time. Curry will win multiple championships one day, and GSW will rule the West like the Spurs did one day, but for now this is LeBron’s moment, this is LeBron’s time… He is not going to let this championship slip away like last year, this champion is going to mean more than if he got 10 rings in Miami, this one is going to be special, that is why LeBron is going to play at such a high level that nobody will be able to stop him or slow him down.

    • Rumbero says:

      All is fine till you mentioned the championship he let slip away last year. Listen my friend, Lebron and Miami didn’t let anything slip away, they simply got schooled by the Spurs and their was nothing he could do about it, period. This championship was the biggest margin of victory in NBA finals history. In other words they got trashed by San Antonio. Add that record to Lebron’s resume.

      • ArvinPH says:

        Lebron is the king of all kings. Power and greatness. Enuf said.
        Cavs in 4, means sweep! Just sayin.. U mad? Lol

      • tas06 says:

        I think the spurs don’t get enough credit for the incredible and historic playoffs they played last year…

        I’ve been watching a lot of basketball in the last 15 years and I never watched a team play this sport so well. it was just amazing to watch even though I rooted for miami.

    • pg says:

      Are you serious, you either dont know a thing about basketball or you ‘re a complete fool.. This isnt his moment? I mean i just dont belive what im seeing… Curry is absolutly dominating! Everyone in gsw is playin great, they are playin as a team… And sure Lebron is great player, but he is a false leader, you cant take that many shoots, you cant take away ball from Kyrie who is cavs pg, but sure doesnt look like that.. I think gsw will win it in 6…

    • Derick says:

      OkC lacked experience and depth.

  35. ExLaker Fan says:

    If Speights was healthy, the chart would look a lot different for Warrior’s.

  36. Will says:

    Also, put LBJ and Delly in the drafted section and see what the numbers look like.

  37. Ben says:

    Interesting considering the Cavs have won the lottery 4 times since 2003.

    • tas06 says:

      yeah.. well.. I guess they picked the right guy 3 out of 4 times and they got rid of andrew wiggins to fast.. I never liked the addition of love even though he is a excellent rebounder and offensive player, he hurt the cavs defensively.

      it’s no suprise the cavs are somehow the best defensive team in the postseason..

  38. harriethehawk says:

    Interesting charts. But Cleveland still has the best player in the world. Then again, the Golden Flake Warriors are the best TEAM in the NBA. Can Lebron carry his team on his back like he has up until now?

  39. Ryan Patterson says:

    Lebron is obviously the Cavs’ best player. Here’s an article that further explains his greatness:

  40. Houston Fan says:

    Ahahaha sour fans unhappy that you can built a championship team with money. When your hometown star is currently the best player in the world, all you need is money to get the talent needed to win.

  41. Enrique says:

    Another words, GSW built their team and Cleveland naught theirs.

    • Spel check says:

      In other words* …bought*

    • Will says:

      We didn’t draft Andy Varejao, we traded for him about a month after he was drafted by the Magic.

    • ????? says:

      how so? are you implying that they threw a bunch of money at people until they came? Lebron chose to come back. Love, Smith, Shumpert, and Mosgov all were traded for. And the remaining people were either drafted or are end of the bench role players, there more for veteran leadership than playing.

      people need to get over the Miami superfriends. This was a team put together in a reasonable way and they earned a trip to the finals basically without Love and only half of Irving.

      Just stop hating.

      • Tom Conway says:

        I’m with you! Just stop the hating! Lebron is the best player in the world period! The Cavs in six!

      • jkrich says:

        You guys are right, lebron is the best player in the world. But players don’t win championships, teams do. And the spurs proved that last year. Considering that the warriors have the same type of style in team play, this is their championship to lose. Not to mention that they also have a few superstars that the spurs didn’t. Warriors will win this because cavs can’t beat them at Oracle Arena and warriors were the best road team. They definitely have rebonders to match the cavs Rebounder’s and have 4 guys that can guard lebron. Even if they can’t defend him 1on 1 people forget that they can always double team him the way they did with James Harden. Don’t forget that even when James Harden played well the first two games the warriors ended up winning anyway. If they can do it with that James they can do it with this James. Warriors in 6