When LeBron James was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the idea was to surround him with shooters, players who needed to be defended on the perimeter so James had driving lanes to the basket.
The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t follow that blueprint last year, but that’s another story for another time.
That theory was before the sport and the people who build teams within it started to embrace the three point shot, and that revolution culminated in Golden State’s three titles in four years, the first centering around the long range shooting of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
While the 2018-19 Cleveland Cavaliers were a bad team, finishing 19-63, they did rank 13th in the league in three point shooting, led by Nick Stauskas’ 43% mark, while recently retired Channing Frye and rookie Collin Sexton both hit 40%.
Last week, the Cavs adding even more shooting drafting Darius Garland, Dylan Windler, and Kevin Porter Jr. in the first round of the NBA Draft.
Garland only played five games at Vanderbilt, but made 11 of 23 attempts from beyond the college three point line, and he hit 75% of his free throws.
And at his workout for the Cavs in Los Angeles, apparently he put on an incredible shooting exhibition from long distance. We can’t wait to see his range when the exhibition games start.
Windler, a four year player from Belmont, shot 40.6% from three throughout his college career, and the last two seasons, hit 42.6% and 42.9% from long range respectively. He was also a career 76.1% maker from the line, with a high of 84.7% last season.
Porter also made more than 40% of his long distance shots in his abbreviated college career (he played just 21 games), making 28 of 68 attempts. Unfortunately, he hit only 52% of his free throws, a figure that has to improve in the pros.
As they say, the NBA is a make or miss league, and it looks as though the Cavaliers got a few more guys who can make shots. We have always said, anyone can be a shooter, what you really need are makers.
The next part of the puzzle is to add size, which Cleveland has seemed to ignore over the past five years.
Outside of Ante Zizic, the wine and gold really don’t have a legitimate big man, although we have yet to see John Henson.
Kevin Love is 6’10” and has been miscast at center at times, but he’s a scorer and rebounder, not really a rim protector or a defensive force inside.
Tristan Thompson is a good defender and rebounder, particularly on the offensive end, but he is very limited offensively, and is still just 6’9″.
Larry Nance Jr. has incredible hops, so he can block shots, but he’s struggles to handle bigger players in the post.
We understand that the game has evolved and throwing the ball in the post is no longer needed to be successful, but having players who demand double teams near the basket helps.
Love does, but that’s probably it at this point.
We would like to see Koby Altman add another bigger player before the season starts. With all the shooters he is bringing in, that could be very important.