Part One: Thoughts on the Bench / Rotation

November 12th, 2012 by Kevin Hetrick

A day after Colin loosely criticized criticizing rotations; I have a full post doing that.  At Cavs:the Blog, that is what we call synergy.

If someone told me the following things would be true in 2012 – 2013:

  • Kyrie tallies 23 points and 6 assists per game on 57% true shooting;
  • Dion averages 15 points with a 17.5 PER; and
  • Andy plays 85% of Cleveland’s contests and posts a nightly 13 & 13;

My guess would have been, “Ready or not, playoffs, here we come!!”  Instead, Cleveland sits with a record of 2 and 5, and the sixth-worst point differential in the league.

You know the problem: bench play.  Aside from Daniel Gibson, the weighted-per-minute-PER for the non-top-six players is 5.8.   Their worth according to basketball-reference…negative 0.7 win shares.   That must be league worst.

Let’s assume for a minute that a season where Kyrie and Dion thrive, that is sabotaged by the bench, and results in another top-eight pick is a bad thing.  What can Cleveland do with the current roster to avoid the lapses of quality basketball caused when the starters sit?

Andy is furious about losing. He is willing to play 12 minutes a game without Kyrie to make it stop.

  1. Already enacted is step one; no more Luke Walton.  Mr. Walton, you clearly have a good head for the game.  May your coaching career bring many successes.
  2. This is the most important one; make sure that Kyrie or Andy is on the court at all times.  Did you realize that in Andy’s six games, he has played only seventeen minutes without Kyrie?  There are two players on the team where I confidently think the opponent can not forge any 12 – 0 runs, and their minutes need dispersed a bit more.  If both continue to play 35 minutes per night; start them both, sit Andy with six minutes to go in the first, while Kyrie plays the entire quarter.  Sit Kyrie for the first half of the second quarter, with Varejao on the court all twelve minutes.  Repeat in the second half.
  3. CJ Miles must stop being horrible.  Four straight seasons each featuring over one-thousand minutes, he posted PER’s above replacement level and offensive ratings over 100.  Each of those years included decent assist rates and low turnovers.  He is not in the same universe as those numbers through the early portion of this season.  Time for him to figure things out and return to prior levels.
  4. Tyler Zeller needs back on the court.  In the two games prior to injury, he totaled 17 points and 14 rebounds.  Get well soon, TZ.
  5. Approaching 100 games into Samardo Samuels’ career, he remains a sub-replacement-level player.  I would like to see Jon Leuer continue seeing playing time.  Slightly younger than Samuels, Leuer posted solid NBA numbers last year.  Cleveland knows what exists with the old guy; give the new blood an opportunity.
  6. Sorry to repeatedly be so hard on you, Donald Sloan, but you must go.  Now 744 minutes into your career, an 8.7 PER does not portend NBA-caliber performance.  When Kyrie sits; Cleveland needs to suit-up a crew featuring Dion AND Andy, or something like: Gibson, Miles, Gee, Leuer, Varejao.

I continue to think that, when healthy, the five starters, plus Boobie, Miles, Leuer, and Zeller can resemble a decent nine-man rotation.  Sure, this is contingent on CJ Miles not resembling a steaming pile of garbage. Let me know your ideas, or if your preference is a season of Kyrie = All – Star, Dion = first-team-rookie, Cavs = 25 wins and high draft pick thanks to crappy bench play…let me know that, too.

Finally, come back Tuesday morning for “Part Two: A Numerical Take on Dion’s First Two Weeks”.