With the NBA season on hiatus due to the spread of the coronavirus, basketball fans around the world are currently wondering what will become of the remainder of the games to be played this season. For the Cleveland Cavaliers, there isn’t much to play for other than finishing in a good position for the upcoming draft lottery.
If the playoffs began immediately after the league returns, the Cavaliers would have the joint-best odds for the top overall pick with the Golden State Warriors (I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll end up with the #1) and the Minnesota Timberwolves. With their poor record, the Cavs will be in a good position to draft a blue-chip forward to deepen the rotation.
However, for a team this deep in the lottery, I still think the Cavs have a lot to smile about from this season.
Collin Sexton has continued to develop from a dominant college guard to a player who understands professional basketball. After dropping 41 on the Celtics, I think we can say that he is a far cry from the player who was called out for “not knowing how to play” back in 2018. From this vision, he has been able to orchestrate the offense and get to the free-throw line more often, where he is an 85% shooter.
While he hardly gets attention aside from his flashy dunks, Larry Nance, Jr. has quietly improved again this season like he has for most of his career. He’s averaging a career-high in points and three-point percentage. He plays hard and makes hustle plays on both ends of the floor.
Finally, and what I believe to be most importantly, the Cavs finally have what seems to be competent leadership. (I may regret saying this in a year. Please don’t quote me on this.)
Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has got the team playing hard and the team schematics look much stronger than under John Beilein or Larry Drew. By securing and re-inventing Andre Drummond, who is now shooting close to 30% from downtown, the Cavs grabbed an All-Star level center and adapted him to today’s game. Having a front office and coaching staff that can do that is invaluable in professional sports. In addition to that, Kevin Porter, Jr. has shown flashes that he could be what he was hyped to be while he was in high school and in college at USC. The Cavs got him with the last pick in the first round. And we haven’t even seen Belmont sharpshooter Dylan Windler yet.
The Cavs are certainly making progress in this re-build. Things are not pretty, but at least they are looking up. With another solid summer in the draft and player development, perhaps a playoff spot for the Cavaliers isn’t as distant as it may seem.