Mailing it In: Post All-Star Break Wish Edition

February 20th, 2013 by Nate Smith

No major content this morning.  Instead, a topic: pick a Cavalier, and describe one thing you’d like him to improve before the end of season.  I’ll start.

I’m hoping that Kyrie starts to distribute a little more, especially at the ends of games.  Kyrie Irving’s AST% (the percentage of teammate field goals that he assisted on while on the floor), is down from 36.5% last year to 30.7% this year according to basketball-reference.  (It’s down to 32.4 from 28.9 according to NBA.com).  His assists per 36 minutes are also down from 6.4 to 5.7 this year (basketball reference).  The perplexing thing about this is that his teammates are better this year, at least anecdotally.  Yes, Kyrie’s scoring is up 5 ppg, from 18.5 to 23.5 and the Cavs per game scoring is higher this year improving from 93 ppg to 97, with a slight increase in pace of 91.3 to 92.5 possessions per game.

But Kyrie tries to force things in the fourth quarter this year.  Last year, Kyrie’s fourth quarter shooting was .518 FG% and .410 3P%, which was higher than what he shot in the first three quarters.  This year, it’s .438 FG% and .283 3P%, which is lower than his first three quarters shooting percentage.  (Kyrie shoots a ridiculous .511 and .519 from 3 in the the first two quarters, this year).

Checking NBA.com’s, fantastic interesting new stats engine (I’m not sure they’ve worked out all the bugs yet), we can see that Kyrie’s assist percentage does not fluctuate much from quarter to quarter.  But what does fluctuate is the defense.  As we’ve been able to see, defenses are keying on him in the fourth, knowing he’s going to force it.  Passing it to a wide open teammate on the wing versus throwing up a double teamed 3 pointer is always going to be a better option  Kyrie may have to learn to pass more when he’s being trapped and double teamed until defenses even out on him.  Let’s hope his teammates step up and help him out.

So commentariat, what would your focus be if you were the Cavs player development coach?