Cavs Off to Slow Start with LeBronAdded - Nov. 28, 2014 - Comments
There were a lot of hallelujahs in the city of Cleveland during the summer when Lebron James, who disappointed those fans so badly when he jumped ship to go to the Miami Heat (and win two NBA titles, we might add) announced that he was coming back to his hometown. And of course, as seems to be the custom in the NBA, the franchise felt compelled to pursue a "Big Three" just like Lebron was part of in Miami. Naturally the pieces were going to be different, and less experienced, but they were legitimate NBA All-Stars nonetheless.
Already in the fold was point guard Kyrie Irving, who played less than half a season at Duke before joining the NBA and immediately becoming an impact player who earned rookie of the year laurels. We know he is an All-Star, because he actually won the Most Valuable Player award in the All-Star Game last year. There seems to be no limit to his talent. The final piece was difficult, as Cleveland was looking for a big man and Minnesota's Kevin Love was looking for a new home, preferably one where he could get to the playoffs for the first time in his career. Love is a tremendous scorer, long-range shooter and passer, and perhaps most notably, he is one of the most prolific rebounders in the NBA. So naturally, the Timberwolves wanted considerable value in return. Whether they got it or not is a matter of opinion, but they were not well-leveraged because of the fact that Love was a year away from being a free agent. But they did manage to wrest Cleveland's first-round draft choice, Andrew Wiggins (another ultra-talented player) away from the Cavaliers.
So there you had all the components – the rebounding machine and inside scorer; the cat-quick point guard who could also fill up the hoop; and the finest player in the game. That's why NBA bettors are asking the question: why, as of Wednesday night, were the Cavaliers just two games over .500, and in the lower half of the Eastern Conference playoff queue?
The answer might be because out of this "Big Three," Lebron is essentially the guy who has to be allowed to do his thing, with the other two players accommodating him. And it has been something of a rough adjustment to Irving, who hasn't played point guard in quite the way he has been accustomed to in the past, when he ran the show without interruption. James often handles the ball, and in fact dominates it. He leads the team with 7.4 assists per game, while Irving has just 4.9. Frankly, Irving is not really used to playing "off the ball," and he has been awkward in doing so. As for Love, who is used to making his living on the inside (save for an occasional three-pointer, which he's very good at), he often has to clear out the lane to make way for Lebron on a drive. There are also defensive issues for Love, who has trouble with the league's better power forwards.
Something that should also be noted is that head coach David Blatt, who was hired before Lebron got to Cleveland, is a relative stranger to the NBA, having had all of his coaching experience overseas. Certainly we know who the REAL boss is with the Cavaliers, and maybe the "Big One" approach, which is what eventually degenerated into in Miami, is going to present more problems than anticipated for the Cavs, who were the overwhelming favorites to win the title in the NBA futures at the season's outset.