Ex-Cats

Liggins hopes his knack for defense leads to spot on Cavs’ roster

Cleveland Cavaliers forward DeAndre Liggins poses during a NBA basketball media day, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Independence, Ohio.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward DeAndre Liggins poses during a NBA basketball media day, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Independence, Ohio. AP

Former University of Kentucky star DeAndre Liggins is hoping that his reputation for being a tough defender will help him make the Cleveland Cavaliers’ roster.

“Instincts are part of being a good defender,” the two-time winner of the NBA D-League’s defensive player of the year award said, according to a report on the team’s website. “You have to want to do it. The thing about defense: It’s hard — you have to want it.”

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported that a small part of Liggins’ “two-year, roughly $2 million contract” is guaranteed. With only 14 Cavaliers players with salary guaranteed, the newspaper reported that “it means the Cavs think he has a better chance to make their 15-man roster than the players in camp whose contracts aren't guaranteed.”

Defense is a part of his game that Liggins works hard on — and has a knack for.

“I know where to be,” the 6-foot-6 guard said. “I know where the rotation’s gonna be. I have an ability to know where to be ahead of time.

“I think I can help take some of the pressure off Kyrie (Irving) a little bit. Picking up point guards isn’t what Kyrie needs to spend his energy on. I’m here to help him in that aspect and just bring another dimension to the scene.”

Liggins said he’s glad he’s getting another shot at the NBA. He last played for the Miami Heat during the 2013-14 season, and that was only for one game.

“The past three years were on a downward slope,” he said. “I faced adversity, I overcame it. Now I’m just happy to be on an upward spiral, going upward.”

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