This summer on Cameron Radio we talked about which NBA Cats would make the most of their opportunities this season, so far I don’t think any of our predictions have been wrong.
Anthony Davis started the season on an unbelievable offensive attack, Karl Anthony Towns is making a resume for MVP consideration, and Rajon Rondo has found great success in his new role in Chicago.
One Cat that I’ve particularly had my eye on this season is DeAndre Liggins.
Liggins, who was signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers this off season, has been drawing quite a bit of attention around the league for not only his talent but for his “always ready” mindset.
Last night in Cleveland’s crucial win over conference rival Toronto, Liggins stepped up to the plate in the Cavaliers time of need.
Cavaliers guard JR Smith has been battling minor injuries this season, and last night he went down holding his knee. As Smith was assisted off the court, excitement seemed to surge throughout Toronto’s fans as Smith is high on the depth chart for Cavalier offense.
The Cavaliers, who had lost three straight, are still the top team in the Eastern Conference this morning as they held on to win 116-112. A large portion of that credit goes to Liggins.
He didn’t put up 30 points or hit a game winner. What he did was probably more important than that. He was ready, just like he always is.
With Liggins on the floor, the Cavaliers were +12.
He scored five points, grabbed five boards, and dished out an assist while helping the Cavs seal a much needed win on the road to break their three game skid.
His biggest contribution was slowing down the Raptors back court of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
After the game, Cavaliers forward LeBron James awarded DeAndre the game ball.
James credited Liggins for staying ready for his moment, for giving the Cavs the fight they needed to get the win.
Now in year three since James returned to Cleveland, he has preached that this team is built on grit, and that is the only way they can succeed, by being a team that hustles, never quits, and is always ready.
In the 2015 NBA Finals with All Star starters Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love out with injury, James credited role players like Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov for stepping up and displaying that spirit in the biggest of moments. Despite the Cavaliers loss in 2015, James credited everyone for staying ready for their moment.
Last night was one of the many moments Liggins stepped up for that the Cavaliers will need, and James acknowledged it post game in the locker room when he gave Liggins the ball.
“How he plays hard, it’s just big for us.” Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said post game.
With Smith listed day to day, there is a good chance that Liggins could potentially see more minutes when the Cavaliers take on another conference rival and powerhouse in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday when they play the Knicks.