Don’t Call it a Comeback

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Larry Sanders

After a season of misdirection and teasing of an NBA return, Larry Sanders is back…sorta.

It was reported by ‘The Vertical’ earlier, that former Milwaukee Bucks Center Larry Sanders has signed a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers
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This is another attempt by the Cavaliers to make small steps towards bolstering their roster before the playoffs. Currently sitting at 1st in the east, the Cavaliers are having to fend off other teams to secure home court. With the Wizards and Celtics just two games back and streaking, the Cavs will need all the help they can get.

They thought they had that help when they signed veterans Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut. Although just 56 seconds into his debut, Bogut broke his Tibia in an on-court collision. Bogut has had a history injuries over the past years he has been in the league. Sanders has not played in the league since December 23, 2014.

Sanders the Person:

For Sanders, empathy is needed when looking at his situation. The stress and pressure of being a high paid athlete is immense and often ignored.

Consequently Sanders was the subject of a mixture of anger and understanding from media members and fans alike. Sanders has spent the past few years living in relative obscurity. Occasionally sending out tweets and posts to rile-up fans who theorize what his return might do for their team. With the potential of Sanders returning to the biggest stage, we must wonder if he will be able to handle the pressure.

Any team that is a favorite to make it to finals will have a tremendous amount of pressure. Now put LeBron James on that team and add double or triple the pressure. While Sanders is signed to the Cavs he’ll be playing with their D-League affiliate through the regular season. This may make his transition easier as he attempts to go back to the NBA. Even if Sanders is mentally ready to play the question remains can he still ball?

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Sanders the player:

Coming in as the 15th pick in 2010, Sanders has played a total of 5 seasons. In those 5 seasons he played in more than 55 games in only 2 seasons. In his best season 2012-2013 he averaged 9.8 points and 9.5 rebounds a game in 27 minutes. He averaged 2.8 blocks which was 2nd in the NBA and that was his best season. At 6’11”, Sanders has shown to be extremely limited offensively but explosive defensively. In previous seasons, Sanders’s defensive stability has at times made up for his offensive shortcomings.

Excluding the 2012-2013 season, Sanders’s team with him on the floor has a net rating per 100 possessions of -3.5 points. That being said, Sanders is not coming in to start for them. He’s not even coming in to be a rotation Character. The Cavs took a flyer on a guy who hasn’t played professional basketball in 27 months. The Cavs need him to fill out a role so they can cut down on the minutes for players like Richard Jefferson and Tristan Thompson.

As of right now the Cavs are a mediocre defensive team and having Sanders could help them win a championship while playing 8-10 minutes a game. With his speed and movement he’s shown in the past, he has potential to work in the Cavs system to guard smaller and quicker forwards.

Sand(er)s of time:

At 28, this may be Sanders last shot at an NBA career. If he can get himself in to shape, he will have a golden opportunity. He will have the opportunity to be on one of the few teams to win back to back titles. The same goes for the Cavs. With Sanders, the Cavs could add another aspect to their game. With J.R Smith and Kevin Love coming back and the possibility of Sanders, could allow the Cavs to play a Rockets style of basketball. With Sanders versatility, we could see the Cavs offense and defense be able to cope with LeBron on the bench. Sanders return to basketball hopefully means a more entertaining postseason and with any luck, Sanders could play meaningful minutes for a championship team.

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