The Cleveland Cavaliers were horrible on defense this season, allowing a league high 47.6% shooting percentage by their opponents. That followed the 4th worst figure in the NBA the previous year, allowing foes to shoot at a 46.7% clip.
The easiest way for the wine and gold to improve in 2013-14 is to get tougher on defense, and have them rank closer to the league average in points per game allowed (98.1) than the worst mark in the NBA (Sacramento at 105.1). Cleveland allowed an average of 101.2 tallies per night.
So, GM Chris Grant and owner Dan Gilbert hired a great defensive mind as Byron Scott’s successor in former Cavs’ coach Mike Brown.
We say the franchise needed to move in a different direction.
It would have been great to get a coach who understands the entire game of basketball, and the organization didn’t need to worry about how former players feel about the hire. They needed to get someone who understood both defense and offense.
And someone who can get the most out of the team’s best player, Kyrie Irving.
Brown certainly is a great defensive mind, but in watching his team play with the ball during his tenure here, it was surprising that he made it to the NBA level of coaching without having a clue as to what to do on offense.
And that isn’t criticizing the give the ball to LeBron James and everyone else get out-of-the-way theory that Brown seemed to espouse. Heck, Scott used the same theory at the end of games with Kyrie Irving, and probably had more success because Irving converted some shots.
The wine and gold offense was very stagnant under Brown’s guidance, and that means a lot of standing around and very little motion within the offense. While most of the NBA depends greatly on the pick-and-roll, you still need some movement by the players to force opponents to be honest on the defensive end.
In Brown’s years in Cleveland, the Cavs ranked 15th, 19th, 24th, 13th, and 9th in points scored per game. The dramatic jump came when Brown hired John Kuester to handle the offense. In his lone full year in Los Angeles, the Lakers finished 15th in scoring, despite having Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum on the roster.
The offensive weakness really showed in the playoffs, when teams would double and triple team James, daring the Cavs to have someone else to step up. Brown never developed an attack that would have helped the other players succeed on offense.
And don’t buy the “no help for LeBron” crap, either? The Cavs’ best chance, with the team that lost to Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals, had Mo Williams, Delonte West, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace, and proven veteran scorers in Joe Smith and Wally Szczerbiak.
If you were drafting one team out of the Cavs and Magic, James and Dwight Howard would have been the top picks. When would the next Orlando player have been picked?
Brown will demand Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters play defense, and that’s a good thing. However, can and will he utilize two players who can be good offensive players and in Irving’s case, one who can be an elite point guard in the NBA.
It appears that Gilbert and Grant overreacted to the wine and gold’s lack of defense to hire a coach who will take care of that, but little else. They had a chance to get someone who could impact both sides of the court, but they missed the mark like a Dwight Howard free throw.