The Cleveland Cavaliers rehired Mike Brown as coach because they wanted to re-establish a defensive identity.
Last season, they ranked 25th in the NBA in points allowed per game at 101.2 and were the league’s worst team in defensive field goal percentage, allowing opponents to shoot 47.6% from the floor.
However, this season the Cavs have actually allowed more points per game at 101.3, but their defensive field goal percentage has dropped to 16th in the Association at 45.1%.
The wine and gold is actually rebounding better defensively as well, ranking last in the NBA in 2012-13, and this year improving to 14th.
So, the case can be made that the Cavaliers do play better defense, which is what Brown was brought in to accomplish.
While we have been critical of Brown’s ability to coach offensive basketball, how does the scoring compare to last season?
Last season, the Cavs scored 96.5 points per night, and shot 43.4% from the floor. This year, the points are down to 95.5 (one point per game) and the shooting percentage has also dropped to 42.2%.
So, Cleveland has improved the frequency with which their opponents make shots, but they are still allowing the same amount of points while they are scoring less than last year.
Therefore, there hasn’t been any improvement in total.
The record hasn’t improved all that much as Byron Scott’s team was 7-25 after 32 games, while this year’s edition of the Cavs is sitting at 11-21.
It’s the lack of dramatic improvement that gets basketball fans in Cleveland antsy. Many people thought the natural progression of young players, the return to health of Anderson Varejao, and the addition of Andrew Bynum could get the Cavaliers over the .500 mark and into the playoffs.
The return to the playoffs is still a possibility as the wine and gold is still just three games out of a post-season spot despite their mediocre record.
That’s why a change is needed and the quicker the better.
With the amount of youth on this basketball team, there isn’t a huge gain to be made by making the draft lottery again. To be sure, the fans and media who believe that everyone in the draft is great will disagree, but really, GM Chris Grant needs to change the culture of losing that has seeped into the franchise since LeBron James departed.
That’s why if Grant can get C/F Pau Gasol from the Lakers for Bynum, he should do so immediately.
If Gasol comes here with the right attitude, and he hasn’t had any character issues in the past, he would provide a player who has been on winning teams and would also provide a legitimate scoring threat, averaging 15.3 points per night this season.
Remember, the Cavs are dealing a player they no longer want in Bynum and perhaps, if the rumors are true, a wing player who has fallen out of the rotation in Alonzo Gee, so it’s hard to be critical of the move.
Plus, Gasol can be a free agent at the end of the year, which helps with salary cap implications.
It still doesn’t address the need of a legitimate #2 guard and/or a small forward, positions the Cavs need to take a leap in the standings and also to balance the roster, but it is getting something for nothing.
However, Grant then needs to make another move to bring in players at other spots besides guards who handle the ball who can score. And he needs to do that as quickly as possible.
The Cavs need to do anything they can to make the playoffs and show young players like Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Tristan Thompson what it’s like to experience playoff basketball.
That’s what the “draft people” don’t get. The franchise needs to take a step forward and the quicker the better.