Sometimes, self-awareness can go a long way. In the case of Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison, it’s going a very long way as the once-perceived malcontent is now in in mid-season form. And with the success on the floor comes the relative happiness off of the floor as the veteran “stretch four” is officially done pouting.
“I’m fine,” Jamison told the News-Herald. “It’s two things: One, getting healthy. Two, mentally not worried about coming off the bench and pouting like a little kid. Once I put it behind me and went out there and competed, no matter how many minutes I had, I started to get a rhythm.”
Jamison started the 2010-11 season shooting a woeful 31.8 percent from the floor, including a 1-for-7 disaster in a three-point loss (via second-half collapse) to the Sacramento Kings. He would then sit out the next three games with knee swelling, but he also had a few inner-battles to contend with over the course of that week.
Since returning, Jamison has notched double-figures off of the bench in every game, averaging 13.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.7 threes per game. His minutes are up, his shot-selection is better and he is averaging a consistent 12 shots per game. His best game of the season came in a seven-point loss to New Orleans, where he provided 20 points and 11 rebounds – reminiscent of his glory days in Washington.
Jamison’s latest production coupled with the recent struggles of the starting lineup have forced Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott to consider making a change. Last week, Scott told the media in attendance that he would look at starting the 6-foot-9-inch Jamison at the small forward in the event that there is larger forward starting for the opposition. Speculation was that he would consider this move against New Orleans, facing the 6-foot-8-inch Trevor Ariza.
This move never occured and now the Cavaliers are staring at a possible three-game skid with little-to-no production coming from the starting small forward spot. Currently, the lowest PER on the Cavaliers comes from the small forward spot, listed at 10.5 – well below league average. Opposing small forwards are compiling averages of 22.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and a eFG% of .568 (PER of 16.8), providing the Cavaliers with the biggest differential (-6.3) across all five positions.
Scott’s next chance to start Jamison may come this week when the Cavaliers travel to Orlando and then face Memphis at home, facing Rashard Lewis (6-foot-10) and Rudy Gay (6-foot-8), respectively. Of course, given the production that he is getting out of Jamison off of the bench, Scott could consider keeping him in that role as he has finally adapted, but continue giving him upwards of 30 minutes per game has he has since returning from the knee injury.
As stated earlier this season, the Cavs feel that if they can continue to audition Jamison as a player who can contribute solid and efficient numbers off of the bench, it would subsequently increase his value to a contending team – one which Jamison would gladly play for – which could use depth on their bench. The Cavaliers bench is currently leading the league in scoring as reserves, tallying 46 points per night. Naturally, this would be better if they were not outscoring the starting unit in nearly every game, leading to a large deficit when facing opposing starters. The chemistry and resiliency are definitely there.
Now, they just need wins.
(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)