2014-2015 NBA Season Analysis- Cleveland Cavaliers
“I’M COMING HOME”. This little sentence put the whole state of Ohio on their feet.
It turned a team that didn’t make the playoffs last year into a championship contender all of the sudden.
Obviously, the acquisition of the third leg of the Big Three a month later completed the great team the Cavaliers have been able to build up in such a short period of time.
Although this last movement has been slightly criticized because it meant giving up the last two #1 overall picks, I do think it’s the right choice if you’re looking for the ring right from the beginning, what, no question about it, it’s both LeBron’s and Cleveland’s goal.
Coach: David Blatt
PG: Kyrie Irving; A.J. Price; Matthew Dellavedova
SG: Dion Waiters; Mike Miller; Joe Harris (Rookie)
SF: LeBron James; Shawn Marion; James Jones; Shane Edwards
PF: Kevin Love; Tristan Thompson; Louis Admunson
C: Anderson Varejao; Brendan Haywood; Alex Kirk (Rookie)
Once we’ve settled this, let’s analyze the Cavs’ season in a deeper way.
It is pretty obvious that having LeBron James in your roster opens up plenty of different options on both sides of the court, since he might be the only player in the history of this ball game who can play all 5 positions rather successfully.
Let’s first talk about the offensive end of the court:
Due to LeBron’s ability mentioned above, the possibilities are endless. We might see moments during games when LeBron is the primary ball handler, with Kyrie playing off the ball as a sort of shooting guard, something he is certainly capable of due to his outstanding shooting ability. In this situation, I see K-Love’s screens on Lebron’s defender especially useful for many reasons: they can play 2-on-2 situations with Love playing pick and pop, what makes the PF defender choose between helping out on LeBron either leaving Love wide open (and we all know what he can do from downtown) or leading to a miss-match having to defend a quicker LeBron; or closing out on K-Love, what will allow LeBron to penetrate easily, where he is unstoppable. This last movement usually leads to an extra defender rotating over to help on LeBron’s penetration, which due to LeBron’s proven passing ability, will end up on a wide open shot for outstanding shooters like Kyrie or Mike Miller. In this particular situation, an improvement on Dion’s shooting ability would lead to an even more dangerous Cavs team.
Both LeBron and Kyrie can also play pick & roll with Varejao or Tristan Thompson, with the defender more likely to close out on them leaving room for the pass, and both players can finish at the rim. Anderson is also a good passer, so he’ll be able to find the open man, either on the corner or through big-to-big passing with players like Love or Marion, who are great at moving and finishing around the rim. The brazilian is also a great screener, and via indirect ones, the ball handler is gonna be able to find the spot-up shooter or designed plays for LeBron’s, Kyrie’s or even Waiters’ penetrations.
Obviously, another strength of this team is the fact that all members of the Big Three can both create their own shot and pass the ball well, what allows them to play isolation and make defenders’ choice tough on whether to help out on them or not.
Finally, we shouldn’t forget that they’ve probably got the best frontline in the league in terms of offensive rebounding, what will create many opportunities for extra shots.
Let’s now take a look at the defensive end of the court:
Again, LeBron’s versatility opens up plenty of different options. He can play defense on SF or PF, switching with K-Love depending on who’s a bigger threat (we all know Love’s defense 1-on-1 is still one of his few liabilities on the court). He could also eventually defend smaller players with Shawn Marion defending the main threats from the forward position, something he’s still certainly capable of; or they could even switch with Marion defending guards, as we’ve seen him perform successfully on guys like Tony Parker (not an easy task). Anderson Varejao also plays a major role defensively, because he’s not only a great defender 1-on-1 on the post, but also a willing helper, so he’ll be able to step up on guards’ penetrations and rotate over to help Love in the PF position.
I also believe Dion Waiters can become a great defender on the SG spot, so with this fact and LeBron’s and Marion’s versatility, Irving can play a minor role defensively on less capable offensive players or simply spot-up shooters.
Finally, I think David Blatt’s experience in Europe will be an extra asset for the Cavs in terms of team defense; and let’s not forget he also knows American basketball.
Likely Starting Line-up
Irving – Waiters – LeBron – Love – Varejao
Here's a preview of what we might see this NBA season for the Cavs: