When this basketball season began, many people (us included) thought that Cavs’ GM David Griffin had put together a talented and deep basketball team.
We marveled at a second five that included four players who have been starters in the NBA: Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood, and Tristan Thompson.
With the season almost halfway through, we see how wrong we were.
First, Dion Waiters didn’t seem to fit with the starting unit, and first Marion, then Miller were inserted in the starting role for him. However, Waiters’ scoring and overall game should have been a boost to the bench bunch, and for the most part it has been.
Then, Anderson Varejao tore his achilles, forcing Thompson into the starting role.
In terms of efficiency, the wine and gold have played better with Thompson out there with LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving.
But, putting Thompson in the first five leaves a void because Haywood hasn’t been able to contribute for a variety of reasons.
He’s only played nine games this season, averaging just six minutes per night.
We believe the reason for that is the lack of low-post oriented centers in the league right now. In the Eastern Conference, you basically have Roy Hibbert and Andre Drummond.
The game has evolved into having centers who play away from the basket now, and based on what we’ve seen, Haywood would have a problem guarding these players out on the floor. That leaves rookie Alex Kirk, and he probably isn’t ready for the NBA game either at this point.
Then, LeBron James went down, and that forced Matthew Dellavedova into the starting lineup. Dellavedova is an energy guy, a player who moves the ball and plays solid defense, and he’s starting so Waiters can continue to come off the bench.
So, right now it leaves coach David Blatt with two players, Waiters and Marion, who are giving him quality minutes off the pines, and that isn’t enough.
The problem Blatt has now is too many of his reserves are too one-dimensional.
Since the injury bug has hit, the coach has tried to use James Jones more, but let’s face it, Jones is a one-dimensional player. He’s a shooter, a long-range bomber who is effective from outside the arc.
But he’s not a good defender, rebounder, or passer, so he’s reliant on guys who can penetrate and get the ball to him for open shots.
Lou Amundson can give the team some minutes at the power forward spot, but he’s another energy guy, who really doesn’t have the bulk (225 pounds) to guard the bigger forwards at the NBA level. As a comparison, Love weighs 260 pounds.
A. J. Price is the one guy who probably should get more minutes, but the void currently is up front, where somebody needs to give Love and Thompson some rest.
Blatt has tried using Marion at power forward at times, but he’s undersized at that spot too.
This is why Griffin needs to find the coach a big man who can give him some minutes, and he needs to do it soon. Friday night at Charlotte, the Cavs got hammered on the boards and this team needs to rebound well so they can run.
Before the season started, it looked like the Cavaliers had a good plan in place, but good GMs need to react when the original plan isn’t working.
The time for reaction is now.