When John Beilein stepped down as the Cavaliers head coach, everyone thought it was another bad hiring from the Cavs like normal. They were already going on to their fourth head coach since Lebron had left, and it wasn’t looking pretty. So when J.B. got promoted most people thought he’ll go down as another failed head coach, but I’m here to tell you likewise.
First off, this signing was planned. Bickerstaff was reportedly always meant to become the head coach after Beilein, but maybe not this fast. John Beilein was chosen as the head coach because of his ability to teach/upskill guards, and his two guard system. Because of Beilein’s age, there was no way he could last coming into the future, which is why Bickerstaff was there. Per Cleveland.com, it was even in his contract that he would become the head coach once Beilein stepped down. So now that it is clear that this wasn’t another one of Dan Gilbert’s antics, what will make Bickerstaff such a good coach and good fit for Cleveland?
Unlike the Cavs’ last couple of head coaches, Bickerstaff has already had some NBA head coaching experience, especially taking over in the middle of the season – which he did in Houston after Kevin McHale, and in Memphis after David Fizdale. Even though his career coaching record was 85-131 before being promoted in Cleveland, he has shown lots of promise, as he led the Rockets to the playoffs in the 2015-16 season. So far, Bickerstaff’s relationships with the players have been a key reason to the Cavs pre-coronavirus success, and it looks like he relates to the players a lot better than 67 year old Beilein. With a more team-first approach, the players seem to enjoy having him more than Beilein, who treated them like college players, and almost had practice on Christmas. Because of this, the players have been playing a lot harder for him then they ever did for Beilein, and it’s been translating on the court. So even if he’s had some short term success, what makes Bickerstaff a good coach for the Cavs?
To add on to how he improved the Cavaliers’ chemistry, his system greatly improves the team as a whole. Both offensive and defensive ratings have improved under Bickerstaff. Their offensive rating has gone from 24th overall, to 21st post All-Star break – when Bickerstaff took over – going from 106.3 to 109.9 points per game. Their defensive rating went from 29th in the league before the All-Star break to 17th afterward, with their exact rating going from 115.1 to 113.1 points allowed per game. Adding to that, individual stats are also going up. Since Bickerstaff took over, potential franchise player Collin Sexton has been averaging 25.5, four assists, three rebounds, while shooting 53% from the field and 43% from deep, which are just absurd numbers, ones we would have never been able to see under Beilein.
If the Cavs continue to improve at a good rate, and play as hard and determined as they have been under Bickerstaff, they will be fun to watch at their full potential.