J.B. Bickerstaff sends bold message to anyone who thinks Max Strus only brings 3-point shooting to Cavs

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Back in July, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired former Miami Heat wing Max Strus in a sign-and-trade deal and inked him to a four-year, $63 million contract.

Strus is best known for his ability to shoot the ball from behind the 3-point arc, but Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff recently sent a bold message to anyone who thinks Strus only brings 3-point shooting to the team.

Strus went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft following a college career that included two seasons at DePaul University. He averaged 16-plus points and five-plus rebounds per game in each of his two seasons as a member of the Blue Demons.

His best season with the program came during the 2018-19 season, when he averaged 20.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 36.3 percent from behind the 3-point arc in 35 games played with the school.

The 27-year-old wing has played for two teams — the Heat and Chicago Bulls — across his four seasons in the NBA. He averaged 11.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in 80 games played with the Heat during the 2022-23 regular season. Along the way, he knocked down 41.0 percent of his shots from the field and 35.0 percent of his shots from deep.

He proved to be a very important member of the Heat squad that made it all the way to the NBA Finals a season ago. Arguably his best series of the 2023 playoffs came in the second round against Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and the New York Knicks. Strus averaged 14.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game for the series while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from behind the 3-point arc. The Heat eliminated the Knicks in six games.

Strus underperformed against Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals, however. He averaged just 5.8 points per game during the championship series and converted a mere 23.3 percent of his field-goal attempts.

While Strus’ 3-point shooting may be his most valuable trait, he’s not a one-trick pony. Here’s to hoping that the former Heat wing will put together the best season of his pro career to date during the 2023-24 season.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.