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Cleveland Cavaliers playbook: How the Cavs used Jeff Green against the Hornets

By not asking him to do so much, the Cavs are getting more from him.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Jeff Green is having something like a career reboot with the Cavs. While not suddenly the star some thought he could be when drafted, he’s become an important role player with the Cavs. (We can’t debate whether that’s good or bad later, but he’s at least had a positive impact on the team so far).

On defense, the Cavs are using him to guard anything from ones to fives. On offense, where he’s averaging 10.5 points per game and shooting 49.5 percent from the field, the Cavs are getting value from him by asking him to not do too much. That was on full display Wednesday in the Cavs’ win over the Hornets.

While coach Tyronn Lue has run sets where Green operates as the lead option on the elbow, they have been infrequent. More often than not, his job is to find an opening. Case in point:

Here, he is simply the open man. The Hornets are a) understandably focused on LeBron James and b) focusing on the not leaving Channing Frye or Kyle Korver open from three. When that happens, Green rolls and gets an easy two points when his defender, Frank Kaminsky, pays too much attention to Korver.

Green also is being used in more direct action. Take this play example:

This is a very simple play design. As Wade holds the ball, Kyle Korver screens down on Kaminsky. When Kaminsky is caught unaware, Green gets free roll to the rim and finishes the alley-oop. It’s not so much a play call for Green as it a set designed to maximize what Green is good at: being athletic, and dunking.

This is how the Cavs should be using someone like Green. Like they do with Korver and J.R. Smith as shooters, they are catering to him to be athletic off ball and dunk. With James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love the soon to be back Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs have the creators that will him to keep doing this, and perhaps keep getting open looks at the rim.