The Cavs started the season with a 1-7 record and the firing of head coach Tyronn Lue. Then Kevin Love went down with an extended injury. With Love’s injury adding to the current mess, they need to take a step back and find their identity.
It seems as if every night the team changes their course direction. At the start of the year, it was a positive tone of fighting for the playoffs and competing every night. After a rocky start, the younger players essentially filled the rotation while the veterans sat out. Now, with Kevin Love’s injury keeping him out for an undetermined amount of time and the team struggling to hang around in contests, one must wonder what the organization’s game plan for the future is.
Because right now, no one has any clue what’s going on.
If there are any dots to try and connect about this current collection of players, it’s that they are scrappy and tend to crash the offensive glass with an extreme intensity. Cleveland ranks just behind Oklahoma City for the top offensive-rebounding team in the league. At 13.4 offensive boards per contest, the opportunities are there for the taking.
But the Cavs are failing to execute on said opportunities. They’re shooting just 44.7% from the floor, good enough for only the nineteenth-best mark in the NBA.
However, they do have some talent that needs to step up in order to improve. That’s been the biggest issue, as there’s no consistent scoring coming from any of the starting five as constructed. Due to Kevin Love’s injury, the starters just never had a real chance to gel before a switch ensued.
Rodney Hood and Cedi Osman seem to be in a friendly game of tug-of-war to determine who the number one option will be while Kevin Love is out for an extended period of time. Both guys present a lot to like about their offensive games.
Osman is the better passer out of the two, in this author’s opinion. He’s been trusted to orchestrate a lot of the halfcourt sets and as a result, he’s been extremely pass-first to start the campaign. That can be a good and bad thing, all at once. Cedi’s seen the benefits and consequences of being too concerned with moving the ball.
Cedi’s still averaging 13.1 points per game though. After a really promising opening week, he’s really simmered down. The Cavs can’t have a top option score thirteen points a night. That’s where the problem lies.
Hood, on the other hand, seems to never get an even distribution of the offensive share. He put together a season-high 26-point performance against Atlanta on Tuesday where he looked super comfortable in his shot. He hit all four of his three-pointers attempted and even tallied three steals on the other end. It was arguably his best game as a Cavalier.
But just like Cedi, Hood isn’t giving any consistency to the organization. However, his situation is a tad different. Cleveland should look to get him the ball a lot more and even turn their attention towards him as a leader during this time.
Figuring out the bench is something the “voice” of the Cavs, Larry Drew, will have to sort out, also. Jordan Clarkson has cemented himself as the first guy off the bench for his fast start to the campaign. But after him, it gets tricky.
Rookie Collin Sexton has to play. He was drafted eighth overall and has to get some minutes to find his rhythm at the NBA-level. Right now, he’s backing up George Hill. While some would say that it’s time for Sexton to get the starting nod, this author would argue that Sexton’s stats are a bit more appealing due to some garbage-time chances. Either way, Sexton needs to get looks at important situations more than he’s being allowed currently.
So after Clarkson and Sexton, the team then has to look at their jumbled mess of veterans and lack of bigs.
With Love’s injury, the team has Larry Nance Jr., Tristan Thompson, Ante Zizic, Sam Dekker, and Channing Frye at the forward position. Dekker and Frye have already notched a start in his absence and it hasn’t been too great. Obviously, that depletes the bench a bit and leaves Cleveland with not much to work with. Possibly calling up Billy Preston wouldn’t be the worst idea for a rebuilding team, given the fact he’s only 21-years old and can provide some energy with the second unit. He definitely had some moments in the NBA Summer League that had Cavaliers fans salivating at what he could become. There’s certainly some promise there to be looked into.
J.R. Smith is out of the rotation for the foreseeable future or until he’s out of town. Kyle Korver has been treated almost alike, rarely seeing steady time on the court and reportedly being shopped for a potential trade. So where’s David Nwaba? Where’s a guy like John Holland?
It seems as if the Cavs are trying to stave off the thought of an actual rebuild until they literally have to tear it down. What an awful idea, if true. With so many young guys (something the Cavs never had before during LeBron’s run, naturally) and a notion to not give the veterans minutes, why not start selling soon and getting some reps to the potential future?
That’s what it all boils down to. We can spend another time pointing out the miscommunications on defense and possibly slowing the pace of play down. But right now, the roster’s makeup is the biggest issue. There’s no formation that makes any sense.
The Cavaliers have an identity crisis and we’re all doomed for a long time if they don’t act fast.