When the Cleveland Cavaliers signed big man Edy Tavares in the 11th hour, prior to last Wednesday’s playoff roster deadline, many people were surprised by the signing. Whether it was that he had very little NBA experience or just that that the wine and gold gave up on Larry Sanders (and released him in order to sign Tavares), the signing raised the eyebrows of Cavs fans. While the 7-foot-3, 260-pound center missed out on his Raptors 905’s D-League championship appearance, he was named the 2016-17 D-League Defensive Player of the Year, the league announced Tuesday afternoon.
While helping Toronto’s D-League affiliate to a league-best 39-11 record, Tavares averaged 10.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and a league-high 2.7 blocks while shooting 59 percent (eighth in league) from the floor in 23.6 minutes per game (48 games, 41 starts). In a game on March 25, the 25-year-old recorded a D-League season-high 12 blocks and added in 15 points and 11 rebounds en rout to a triple-double.
He anchored a defense that held opponents to a league-low 90 points per game and just 42.3 percent shooting. Whether it was blocking shots or just being a big man down low on both sides of the ball, Tavares was one of the main reasons why Raptors 905 was the best team in the D-League this season.
In his only game action with the Cavaliers, Tavares totaled six points, 10 rebounds (four offensive), and six blocks in 24 minutes during the Cavs regular season finale last Wednesday night. The last Cavalier to achieve similar feat was Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who denied six shots all the way back on Nov. 16, 2007.
Tavares may not have an immediate impact on the Cavs, especially joining the team just prior to the postseason, but the big man has plenty of potential. Whether it’s the fact that he’s 7-foot-3 or knows how to be a rim protector, Tavares could earn time in the 2017-18 season.
Former Cavs guard DeAndre Liggins won the same award for his efforts during the 2013-14 D-League season.