Well, it was fun while it lasted.
The Cleveland Cavaliers went in to the all-star break just a half game out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but dropping their first four games after the seasonal intermission pretty much eliminates any thought of the wine and gold rising from the ashes of last season and making the post-season the following year.
Anderson Varejao’s broken wrist shortened a roster limited in talent to the point that coach Byron Scott is forced to giving playing time to people who may not be on NBA rosters a year from now.
Scott switched up his starting lineup following Friday night’s blowout loss at the hands of the Chicago Bulls, replacing Omri Casspi and Semih Erdin with Alonzo Gee and Ryan Hollins.
Not the move we would make, but it is understandable why the coach made the move.
Erdin is certainly no Dwight Howard, but Hollins is a seven footer averaging two rebounds a game in 13 minutes. He has athleticism, but at this point, can’t play basketball. He may lead the league in getting his shot blocked. Other than that, he’s alright.
Certainly, Gee has earned his way into the starting lineup, but why not put him at the #2 guard spot in place of Anthony Parker?
The organization has a weird fascination with Parker, who averages a little less than six points a night! This is at one of the primary scoring spots for team throughout the league. Parker is shooting 37% from the floor, 33% from behind the arc.
Again, this is not to say Casspi is Larry Bird, but he is averaging a point and a half per game more than Parker in less minutes per game.
The only thing that makes sense here is that the trading deadline is less than two weeks away and maybe GM Chris Grant and Scott are trying to drum up some interest in Hollins and Parker. Coaches and GMs around the league are intrigued by athletic big men, and veterans who can shoot the three ball.
Varejao’s injury has hurt the Cavs’ defense, which is where Scott wants to build this team, and the offense is too dependent on rookie Kyrie Irving and fellow point guard Ramon Sessions, who is also on the trading block.
Veteran Antawn Jamison is the wine and gold’s second leading scorer at 17.7 per game, but he has taken 20% of the team’s shots from the field, and is making just 42%. He’s also shooting just 62% from a line, a poor figure for the guy who gets there the most on this squad.
While certainly Irving is holding up his end of the bargain, the likely rookie of the year is scoring 18.5 points per game, while shooting 48%, he hasn’t been helped by others who were supposed to provide some points.
Other than Irving, Jamison, and Varejao, only Sessions is scoring in double figures, despite shooting just 40%. He does it by getting to the line as much as Irving, with less minutes on the floor.
Besides the struggles of Parker and Casspi, Boobie Gibson is shooting just 35%, meaning Scott is getting virtually no offense out of his #2 guards. Casspi is shooting better than both which is why Gee should have replaced Parker in the starting lineup.
The former D-Leaguer would score in double figures with increased playing time (he’s at 9.8 now) and he’s shown to be a solid defender as well.
It is probable that another switch in the starting lineup with come after the trading deadline and also after the Cavaliers are eliminated from the post-season picture.
The organization needs to see if Erdin and Samardo Samuels can be contributors in the league, because Hollins has been around the association for a while, and just irritates because his athleticism doesn’t translate into basketball production. Also, rookie Tristan Thompson’s minutes should increase. He can be a guy who scores 10 and get 10 boards per night with increased minutes.
There is no question Grant needs to find some players who can put the ball in the basket for Irving to improve. Having more weapons will just make him even better.
Right now, his options to pass to are not very attractive.