From Distance: Twins?

four point play….

1. The Cavs now have a season long losing streak of seven games. Honestly, it feels much shorter than that. I guess compared to the joy that was the Cavs’ 26 game losing streak in Post LeBron Volume 1, this little seven game skirt is nothing but a minor setback.

Let’s be honest. The Cleveland fan base has more than enough training to get through a single digit losing streak without blinking. The Browns went 1-35 after all.

Even if a team loses practically every game, there can be some entertaining basketball to watch. When the Nets were terrible in previous years, they still ran solid action on both sides of the ball. They were schematically up-to-date and dedicated to the system.

There was, ya know, a system!

This Cavs team, for a variety of reasons, is only meeting one goal at the moment. They are properly losing games. No one is doubting it anymore. The Cavs are in full tank mode, having abandoned the last hope of competing for the playoffs when they fired Ty Lue.

The Kevin Love surgery was timed accordingly, and the subsequent trades were only done with the playoffs out of mind.

I have absolutely no problem with any of that. Lue was never a good coach even at his best. Love needs to get healthy either for the Cavs to trade him, or for him to lead the squad to a better future.

None of the guys whom the Cavs have traded away were in the medium term much less the long term plans for the team. With that in mind, I have generally found Koby Altmam rather competent at his job thus far.

The only real problem I see is in player development. Most of these guys will have nothing to do with the organization by next season, or the season after at the latest.

Still, the players that are in the long term plans of the team would be much benefited by establishing a consistent playing style that has a chance of being successful in 2020.

We all know that snaking the Pick and Roll into an open 18-20 footer off the bounce is not that offense for the future. It drove me crazy when Jarrett Jack did it, it drives me crazy now.

If it were only decision making mistakes that I see on a play to play basis, it would be one thing. Yes, it is hard to coach the mid-range out of a player, but it is possible.

What is tiresome are the consistent technical failures of team defense, e.g. knowing when to help off the “first pass”, which players to double on the first dribble and from which side, weakside passing lane cut-offs, and basic individual footwork against the pick.

Offensively, basic space filling and refilling seem to be difficult for the Cavs to grasp. Basically, if a guy cuts through the lane (which would be cause for celebration in and of itself), the rest of the team must adjust the floor geometry accordingly to maintain spacing.

This stuff isn’t super hard to teach if you care to.

That is the interesting (read annoying) thing about this particular squad. There is actually a good amount of talent on the roster. All but Rodney Hood play hard on a night to night basis.

The only way to ensure that they lose enough games is via injury (fake or otherwise) or an active lack of coaching, if that is possible.

There are stretches of games where enough smart veterans are on the floor at the same time (and/or Hood decides to tantalize) that it doesn’t matter that the team doesn’t have sound coaching principles. It is hard play too horribly if Delly, Burks, Cedi, Larry, and Tristan are at there running together.

Of course, that is why the above lineup won’t see playing time. If you toss in Jordan Clarkson to devalue Larry’s play-making and limit Burks’ off-ball wing attack possibilities via Jordan ball stagnation, you create a losing lineup out of a winning lineup. Success!

2. As you all probably know, I have never been high on Collin Sexton‘s star potential. I have maintained that he will be a Darren Collison 2.0 type player. Again, Collison is rather underrated, so it isn’t a straight knock on Sexton.

Initially, I made the comparison because both guys are lightning fast when sprinting, but don’t really utilize that speed in the half-court as much as one would think. They have good enough handle to be a point, but not the kind of handle that allows them to use their quicks if their primary move is cut off. They are small, horizontally explosive, but have limited hops. They are underrated, albeit mechanical shooters, but don’t always take the greatest shots.

That was before the season. The numbers seem to bear it out. If you look at their first year stats, they are remarkably similar. The biggest thing that jumps out is the assist disparity. I would say age and college choice are largely responsible for that stat.

I don’t much care about Fantasy, but check out this vid.  C’mon. Resemblance?!

In his time at UCLA, Collison played with Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook. He was the captain of that squad, running the offense and making sure to distribute accordingly.

Who knows how different Collin’s game might be had he had decent teammates at Alabama. Would he have learned how to create for others? We need not marvel at his three on five game. He played that way the whole season.

The point of all this is that these young guys need to learn. Good coaches not only recognizes their players’ faults, they do the physical and mental work to fix them.

Clearly, confidence guys like Cedi Osman, Rodney Hood, and even Larry Nance Jr to an extent need coaches to empower them in the right way. Light a fire, or pour extra confidence on them at times.

Guys like Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton need coaching that allows for their great passion, but channels that into productive play.

They all need to improve their footwork, regardless of mentality.

Right now, I am pleased that the Cavs show effort on the court, but it is clear there is little focused effort from the coaching staff on off days. And that is probably by design. Zion is pretty good after all.

3. That brings me to Bill Simmons and Clevelanders’ recent outrage over his remarks about the Cavs potentially winning the lottery again. Basically, Simmons joked about quitting all sports if Cleveland wins the lottery again and that Gilbert doesn’t deserve it.

Now, I don’t believe anybody “deserves” anything. That is another philosophical discussion for another time. As it pertains to this particular situation, Simmons still hasn’t internalized the fact that the Cavs got the number one pick for Kyrie not by tanking, but by making a great trade to eat Baron Davis’s contract.

Bill frequently overlooks a lot of the good GM work done during that Cavs period and only remember the fact the Cavs got lucky in a lottery. Well, yes. That is how a lottery works, via luck.

Beyond that, fans need to chill. This isn’t a dig at Cleveland the city, this is just the “Sports Guy” babbling on a podcast. If it makes you feel any better, Simmons said the Browns could win the Super Bowl next year.

4. I will take this moment to celebrate the fact that the Cleveland Browns have a real QB for the first time since Bernie Kosar. Sure, Vinny Testaverde and Derek Anderson each had one good season for the Browns in 1994 and 2007 respectively, but not since Bernie’s heyday has Cleveland had a young franchise quarterback that is clearly up to the task.

I love how Baker reads pre-snap coverage and understands where his windows will be. I am tickled by his leadership ability and the respect he commands in the locker room. But man of man, do I love his footwork and the subsequent accuracy. That accuracy is what will put him among the elite.

With the way modern QBs have played into their thirties, this could be the next great era of Cleveland sports. See, tanking does work!

 

 

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Grover13
Guest
Grover13
17 days 20 hours ago

New rule:

The next person who blames Sexton’s historically anemic assist totals for a PG on his “lack of quality teammates in college”, must in the same breath declare which Uber-talented studs Trae Young played with at Oklahoma that led to 9 APG.

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
18 days 21 hours ago

I know with Simmons it’s shtick, but not really interested in him talking about Cavs lottery picks when his team was the beneficiary of the biggest gift trade in league history.

John B
Guest
John B
18 days 17 hours ago

I mean I give Ainge credit for being able to continually pull off one-sided trades. The amount of assets he accumulates while seemingly fleecing other teams out of their picks is truly astounding. Feels like sometimes he is playing NBA 2k on easy where teams just gift him major assets.

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
18 days 14 hours ago

He’s also the guy who wanted to give the Hornets a huge haul of draft picks for the opportunity to draft Justice Winslow. He continually tries to screw other teams, but he’s also been lucky to not screw himself.

John B
Guest
John B
18 days 14 hours ago

Better to be lucky than good sometimes. He has hit more often than not in the draft in the past five
to six years. Nobody hits in the draft every year.

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
18 days 12 hours ago

Maybe. Until Brown and Tatum, the conventional wisdom about Ainge and the draft was that he was a terrible drafter. Celtics fans were saying this. Then he does the trade with the Sixers, Tatum turns out to be good, and he’s some sort of savant.

John B
Guest
John B
18 days 12 hours ago

Rozier is a decent player at that draft spot. Smart is essential to their d. Too high for the spot he drafted him, but he has a role in the nba.

Nate Smith
Admin
18 days 23 hours ago

Like this trade for both teams.

Nate Smith
Admin
18 days 23 hours ago

Another fun piece, Ben. I too get very angry at the poor coaching we see from this team. It does players a disservice. That being said, there’s only so many things a coach can control or fix at a time. There are only so many hours in a day.

I also don’t think people have internalized the new lottery odds at all. There’s a 48% chance the worst team won’t even be in the top four. When the Pelicans, Wolves, or Lakers end up with Zion and Celtics get Barrett (they have kings top 1 protected pick) we’re all going to be crying foul.

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John B
Guest
John B
18 days 20 hours ago

Yep. Very little chance for number one pick even with worst record. Almost half the chance compared to the worst record order in the old system.

John B
Guest
John B
18 days 20 hours ago

worst record odds

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