Former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Ty Lue said last season won’t be measured in wins and losses, but rather “wins and lessons.” New head coach John Beilein has continued that, stating that this year is all about development will improving game by game. With that in mind, and in honor of the NBA Champion head coach, WFNY is going to follow along with what we learn every week.
As the first week-and-a-half of the season has proved to all of us, this year will be filled with plenty of ups and downs for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though it will be quite a rollercoaster, the most important aspect of the season is that the young, core group of players that the wine and gold will build around continues to improve and gain chemistry together. Wins are always a plus, which is obvious, but it’s important to remember that the development of the young players is very important.
Given that they are young players, their game-by-game stats and play will likely be inconsistent and quite a rollercoaster as well, just like the Cavaliers season will be as a team. Each player just has to continue to make strouds while developing with more experience under their belt, is all.
This past week proved that the wine and gold will be able to beat some of the teams in the bottom half of the league but will have a tough time beating some of the best. Cleveland will continue to keep things interesting and fun, all while keeping things close against some of the top teams, but it will just be tough for them to stay with those types of teams for an entire 48-minute game. I’m not saying it will never happen, it will just be tough to do so night in and night out.
The week started with the Cavs going against the Milwaukee Bucks, who not only have the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo but are one of the best teams in the East this season as well. The Cavaliers held a 31-30 at the end of the first quarter but then were outscored by 18 the final three quarters to lose the game, 129-112.
Then came the Chicago Bulls. While they also have plenty of young talent, Cleveland asserted themselves in the second half to beat the Bulls, 117-111.
With games against the Indiana Pacers and Dallas Mavericks over the weekend, the Cavs went 0-2 against two opponents that will very likely be playoff teams this season. Holding a 26-19 lead after the first quarter, the Cavaliers could never quite recover from an 11-point second quarter, losing to the Pacers, 102-95. Returning home to take on the Mavericks, the wine and gold allowed Dallas to go on big runs at some point every quarter. While they were able pull themselves out of that hole each of the first three quarters, Dallas proved to be too much in the fourth quarter as the Cavs went on to lose the game, 131-111, falling to 2-4.
Like we have continued to discuss, this season is once again not about wins and losses but rather wins and lessons. That continues to be the case.
Win: So Dan Gilbert does give his general managers a second contract?
For the first time since Gilbert bought the Cavs in 2005, the owner has extended the contract of his general manager. The Cavaliers announced on Friday that the team has given Koby Altman a long-term extension, keeping him in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.
“Koby has been a culture-driver and an innovator who has built a fresh, new foundation and environment for our front office and team that inspires everyone involved,” said Gilbert. “He is a passionate leader who is executing a very dynamic, strategic plan for the future of the team and our vision for growth and success. Koby’s collaborative approach has also extended beyond the team and had a consistent, positive impact across our entire organization. I look forward to seeing his hard work and creativity continue to make us better and help guide the team towards reaching our goals for years to come.”
Personally, I’m a fan of Koby. He’s a good dude and seems to be leading the roster, team, and organization in the right direction. While we might not know if he’s actually a really good general manager quite yet, it’s nice to have some stability and continuity in the front office for the first time in over a decade.
“I’m truly humbled and excited to sign a long-term extension with the Cavaliers and I look forward to continuing the overall development and growth we are experiencing with this team,” said Altman. “We have a first-class organization, led by our Chairman Dan Gilbert, an extraordinary fanbase and a great team behind the team, who provide incredible resources and opportunities for us to be successful. I’m also thankful to our players, coaches and support staff, who have shown continued trust and displayed their commitment to our process of establishing a sustainable and winning culture here in Cleveland. Northeast Ohio is a special place, and my family and I are thrilled to remain in this community for years to come.”
He’s done a solid job acquiring assets while the team is in a rebuild after the LeBron Era 2.0. Altman deserves to be here for the entire process while he tries to build a playoff contender once again.
Win: Kevin Love
Love will not only be leaned on to produce on the court but be a leader on and off of it as well, all while doing whatever is necessary to help the team and continue to develop the younger players as well. So far, so good this season.
While I wish he received more elbow touches throughout every game simply because that would make it easier for the offense to run through him, the big man continues to produce. In the four games this past week, Love averaged 20.8 points, 15.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists (tied for the team-high) in 33.6 minutes a night.
If Love can continue to be a really good leader much like he has been while also shooting 48.2% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc while he continues to be the facilitator offensively, it will only lead to good things for Cleveland. The fact that he’s leading the team in points, rebounds, and assists is quite impressive.
Oh, and K-Love showing up to the arena in a Halloween costume the night before Halloween and then doing postgame interviews in said mask following the game last Wednesday was awesome. He’s such an easy guy and player to root for.
Win: Collin Sexton
The rookie had some impressive plays this week, including this incredible dunk that blew the roof off of Rocket Mortage FieldHouse.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) October 31, 2019
The Cavs most likely drafted Sexton thinking that he would be their point guard for the foreseeable future, but it seems as though the second-year player is much better at making plays for himself rather than for his teammates. This past week, he averaged just 1.8 assists per game (now two assists per game so far this season).
Sexton proved his explosiveness with that dunk, but he has continued the momentum he had going at the end of last season to show that he has continued that development so far this year. In the four games this past week, the second-year guard averaged 16.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 30.3 minutes a game. His three-point shooting dropped quite a bit, shooting just 27.8% from long distance, but Sexton did well from inside the arc, shooting 45.2% from the field.
Lesson: Larry Nance Jr.’s three-point shooting
Nance worked on it throughout much of the offseason because he knew he had to be a competent three-point shooter to make things tougher for the defense and also not allow the defense to sag off of him, clogging the lane. In today’s NBA, having a big guy(s) that can shoot from beyond the arc is huge.
Although he worked on it throughout much of the past few months, he still has plenty of room to improve, as this past week proved.
Beilein says Kevin Love's done fine as a five in his system, but teams are still defending him as a four. He sees bigger issue is that opponents are playing "way off" Larry Nance Jr. and he needs to shoot the ball to make them pay. #Cavs
— Spencer Davies (@SpinDavies) November 2, 2019
An above-the-rim type of player, Nance recognizes that this part of his game needs improvement.
— Spencer Davies (@SpinDavies) November 2, 2019
So far this season, the big man is shooting just 28.6% from three-point range while taking 3.5 threes a game.
Win: Tristan Thompson
Just like he did the first week of the season, Thompson has continued to impress the last four games as well. He might not be the team’s leading scorer any longer, but the do-it-all forward is now averaging 16.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 33.1 minutes a night. He’s shooting 54.9% from the field. All of these numbers dropped a bit from the first two games of the season, but if Thompson can continue to do this on a nightly basis, that’s huge for a Cavs team that seems to have a very solid frontcourt.
Win: Cedi Osman
It seems as though Osman took that multi-million dollar extension last week and used it to improve his game. After somewhat struggling to score points the first two games of the season, Osman improved his production and efficiency in the last four games.
This past week, the forward averaged 10.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and one steal per game (30.9 minutes). It’s still not the type of numbers that the Cavs hope to get from Osman, but the improvement is there. Add in that he shot 45.5% from the field and 50% from long distance and his numbers will get up to par sooner rather than later.
Lesson: Darius Garland
Much like I’ve said already about other seasons (both individual and as a team), Garland’s rookie season will be like a rollercoaster, it’s just that the hope is that as the season goes on, it will be filled with many more peaks than valleys.
This week was filled with inconsistency and inefficiency for the young guard. After showing off his three-point shot and floater game during the first couple of games of the season, Garland shot just 27.5% from the field and a dismal 20% from beyond the arc while only averaging 7.3 points, 3.3 assists, and one rebound in 25.1 minutes a night.
When you break up his games on a week-by-week basis, it’s clear that the percentages and stats will fluctuate and change quite a bit. As he continues to learn the NBA and his opposition, along with continuing to improve his own game, the rookie will greatly improve.
Lesson: Kevin Porter Jr.
The things I said about Garland well, the same can be said for KPJ. Porter was never supposed to be thrown into the fire with this much playing time early on, but due to injuries, he’s doing just that.
Porter’s game is very, very raw and needs to improve. The only way that’ll happen is if he learns on the fly. The 19-year-old averaged just 6.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and one assist in the four games this past week all while shooting 33.3% from the field and 37.5% from three-point range.
He has shown plenty of flashes of his potential, which seems to be the one (and only) huge takeaway from Porter. The most important aspect of his game is that he continues to improve and develop i
Win: Jordan Clarkson
After I badmouthed him last week, the veteran and one heckuva performance in the four games this past week.
Whether it was shooting or passing, Clarkson showed off the type of game he has, averaging 17.8 points and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 52.4% from the field. The fact that he was second on the team in points last week isn’t too impressive, but him being tied for the team lead in assists, even if it is just a four-game sample, is something many wouldn’t have been able to guess.
When Clarkson is playing well, it completely changes this team.
Win: John Beilein
The first-year head coach will have plenty of growing pains, but the 66-year-old continues to say and do the right things. It’s key that he can improve and develop his players on the fly.
Other things from around the NBA:
The Warriors' starting lineup looks almost nothing like it did one year ago ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/SEXgr047kD
— ESPN (@espn) November 2, 2019
KAT and Embiid GOING AT IT.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 31, 2019