The Cleveland Cavaliers have been in the Eastern Conference cellar for the last two years. However, before the COVID-19 shutdown, the Cavs were playing their best basketball since the beginning of the season as they were 5-6 and beating teams such as the Heat, Sixers, and Nuggets. The Cavs showed a glimpse of what the future could look like.
Here’s how they can continue to improve for next year with player development and schemes.
- Continue developing Kevin Porter Jr.
Kevin Porter Jr. has been one of the lone bright spots for the Cavs this season. Before going out with a knee sprain in early March, KPJ had a great month of February. He scored in double figures in 8 out of the 12 games, including 30 against the Heat. He was also efficient shooting 44% from the field and 38% from downtown. Porter Jr. has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone alongside Collin Sexton. His continued development is key for next season.
- Move Darius Garland to the bench
Darius Garland is a tremendous talent and a diamond in the rough. His shooting, and playmaking ability are great assets to the team. However, him and Sexton is an incredibly small backcourt. Both of them are not great defenders, but Sexton makes up for it by averaging 20 PPG. Garland has just been average, and with the rapid ascension of Kevin Porter Jr., Garland may be best suited for a sixth man role. A Sexton-Porter backcourt could thrive, and Garland could turn into a great sixth man with his scoring punch. JB Bickerstaff the head coach should think long and hard about this.
- Defense, Defense, and more Defense.
The Cavs have been at the bottom of the league for defensive rating for two years. This year they are 29th in the league with a defensive rating of 114.8. Needless to say, that is not great. They have some good athleticism on defense in Larry Nance, Kevin Porter, Jordan Bell, and Andre Drummond. They need to incorporate that, and play defense like a team. If they can do that, then everything else will fall into place.
The Cavs have some good pieces for the future, and a great coach in JB Bickerstaff to lead them. Now it is all about improving for next season, and beyond to become a great team again. Part two will be coming soon.
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