When the Cleveland Cavaliers signed Andrew Bogut at the beginning of March, the center was supposed to be someone the Cavs could lean on to give Tristan Thompson more rest, a big man to set screens on offense, a rim protector on defense, and an enforcer when the wine and gold needed him to be. That plan lasted less than a minute, after he broke his tibia 58 seconds into his debut with the Cavs. With the wine and gold still in search of a big man, they decided to sign Larry Sanders after waiving Bogut.
Sanders signing was completely different than Bogut. The last time he played in the NBA was December 23, 2014. After being out of the NBA for over three years, he not only had to get back into the game, but also into game shape. Bogut was set to make an immediate impact for the Cavs, while Sanders would need time before he could make any impact with the wine and gold. But, then again, maybe the Cavs signed him in order to be ready when it matters most: the playoffs. In order to help him get ready for the NBA playoffs, Sanders has went on assignment and played with Cavs’ D-League affiliate Canton Charge for four games through Sunday.
With the Charge, the 28-year-old has averaged six points, eight rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game while shooting 37 percent from the field and just 36.4 percent from the free-throw line. While it’s a small sample size, Sanders had shown signs that he can be a defensive stopper, especially with almost three blocks in just under 20 minutes per game. In his last two games in Canton on March 31 and April 1, he had 10 points and nine rebounds and four points and six rebounds, respectively. Here’s some highlights from his game on March 28:
While he has played well with the Charge, that doesn’t say much about what he can possibly bring to the Cavs. The D-League is obviously much different than the NBA. To put the two in perspective, while Kay Felder is adjusting to the NBA during his rookie season, he has averaged 29.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, six assists, and 1.5 steals while shooting 46.7 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from long distance in 36 minutes per game (11 games). Outside of garbage time, Felder hasn’t seen the floor much with the Cavs.
No hate for Felder, but no matter how good a player is in the D-League, it doesn’t necessarily translate into how well a player will perform in the NBA.
Sanders may need much more time than Bogut in order to contribute to the Cavaliers, but only time will tell if he can actually help the wine and gold down the stretch of the regular season and throughout the playoffs. He will also have to show that he is improving in order to make any impact on the Cavs this season.
Playing well in Canton is also better than the alternative.