[I’m] excited. Motivated. Any word that explains, that expresses my joy and the way I feel about getting back on the floor, that’s the word I’d use. These past four years I’ve wanted to play, I’ve wanted the opportunity to get out there but it just hasn’t been my time. But I feel like now is my time and I’m ready for it.
— Daniel Gibson on Cavs media day.
The last time I posted on Cavs: The Blog, I gave my take on Daniel Gibson’s shot at redemption this season as he enters his fifth year with the Cavaliers. Exactly one week later, several Cavs players, including Gibson himself, echoed similar sentiments in front of dozens of reporters.
For those of you who missed it, yesterday was the Cleveland Cavaliers’ annual media day in Independence, Ohio. The stage was used by a handful of the team’s veterans and new coach Byron Scott to talk about how motivated they are this season, on a mission to prove many of the naysayers wrong.
“We’re gonna come in and work hard and we’re gonna shock some people this year,” J.J. Hickson told reporters at the Cavaliers’ practice facility. Antawn Jamison showed similar determination, telling the media, “We’ve still got enough talent to win and perform at a very high level.”
However, while many of the media day player quotes revolved around the idea of being doubted this season, quite a few Cavaliers touched upon the importance of new coach Byron Scott’s offense. Second year guard Danny Green stressed that he likes Scott’s mentality, stating that he’s “all about running and getting up and down the floor” like he did in college. Similarly, two of Cleveland’s more athletic players, J.J. Hickson and Christian Eyenga, both acknowledged that running is a big part of their game and that they believe Coach Scott’s offense will complement those abilities, which is worth noting since they both got a taste of what to expect this year in Las Vegas Summer League action.
As the quotes about what to expect in a new up-tempo offense kept surfacing, Cleveland’s guards continually mentioned one another and how they thought they could do big things this season. Anthony Parker noted his high expectations for Daniel Gibson this year, telling reporters, “He’s been in an unfortunate circumstance the last couple years, but we all know his talent level and what he can contribute, and I look forward to him really having a big year this year.”
On the other hand, Mo Williams expressed some lofty goals for his old teammate, yet new Cleveland addition, Ramon Sessions. “I expect a lot out of [Ramon],” Williams told the media on Monday. “I expect him to play big minutes, I expect him to play a big part,” he elaborated.
Despite the fact that Daniel Gibson saw very limited action late in the season and in the post-season last year and that Ramon Sessions was with a different team altogether, it seems that last season’s starting backcourt tandem has already warmed up to the idea of playing extended minutes alongside the two guards. And why not? If Cleveland can throw out a team that includes at least two guards capable of pushing the basketball as Byron Scott envisions, the Cavaliers could have many of the league’s more traditional teams on their heels this season.
With this idea of exploiting potential mismatches in the back of his mind, it will be interesting to see how Coach Scott uses his trio of quick and talented, yet undersized, guards. Perhaps he will spend a small chunk of each game using a three guard set, something common amongst the college ranks yet rarely used in the NBA.
When asked if he had any doubts on whether or not the trio of Mo Williams, Ramon Sessions, and himself could be successful on the court this year, Daniel Gibson told Cavs announcer Fred McLeod, “Not at all… You can think about us having to guard [bigger guards], but at the same token those guys have to come on the other end and guard us.” Gibson followed this up by stating that in a faster offense it will be more difficult for larger guards to chase him around, assuring Fred “I definitely think that we can be successful with us three, because we go hard.”
Ramon Sessions echoed similar sentiments, stating that, “Me, Boobie Gibson, and Mo, we’re three explosive, fast guys, so it’s going to be tough for teams to defend.”
However, just because Cleveland’s guards are all on board with the idea of a smaller offensive front, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Byron Scott will continually look to implement it throughout the course of the season. There’s no doubt that a lineup featuring quick guards in certain moments of the game has the potential to exploit slower teams, but it could come at the expense of the defense. Additionally, Coach Scott has yet to reveal his starting shooting guard, telling media day reporters “I have the starters in my head.”
Regardless, it’s nice to see the current group of guards band together and focus on executing the team’s new offense as they prepare for the new season. After all, as Mo Williams put it yesterday, “This is the hand [we were] dealt, and you’ve got to play the best you can.”
But in the end, it will be up to Byron Scott to show us whether or not his trio of guards is a true three of a kind or simply a trick up his sleeve.