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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Denver Nuggets player grades: Was anybody good?

Cavs struggle after a step forward against the Hawks

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start with a couple team statistics before we try and grade these guys individually: the Cavs attempted just 18 three pointers, and just 19 free throws. Good luck trying to put together a league average offense with those numbers. The Cavs struggled offensively, and it starts with the makeup of the roster and the coaching of the team. That’s going to bring everyone’s grades down a bit.

George Hill: D+

George Hill did not seem to work particularly hard in this game. He made both of his three point attempts, and has been a good three point shooter in his career. Maybe he should take more of them? He picked up four fouls in 24 minutes, which honestly to me just highlights the lack of effort - he was getting beat and then had to cheat.

Rodney Hood: D

Hood followed up his best game of the season with one of his worst. He was just one of nine from the field and missed all three of his attempts from distance. He got a lot of love after the team’s win over the Hawks, but was not able to build on that performance. If you’re looking for a bright spot, he filled up the stat sheet a bit with a few rebounds and assists, and he did get to the free throw line a bit. He wasn’t floating in space, exactly. Still, it was a bit of a bummer.

Cedi Osman: C

Cedi’s decision-making is a little wild, and he’s forcing things in transition, but he’s learning to defend a bit without fouling. He’s actually attempting three pointers, which actually boosts his grade a little bit. The Hawks, Nets, and Sixers are teams that have had bad three-point shooting, but taken them anyway because their organizations understood the value of a system that prioritized them. Someday the Cavs might consider it.

Sam Dekker: C-

35 Minutes for Sam Dekker? I guess that’s what happens when Kevin Love is out and Dekker is really the only power forward left on the roster. The Cavs tried some Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. minutes, but that’s never going to work consistently, especially when the Cavs don’t really have guards that can shoot. Anyway, Dekker wasn’t good but it’s hard to really blame him. He’s being asked to do things that don’t really make sense.

Tristan Thompson: C

Thompson played a great first quarter and then ... couldn’t really do a whole lot after that. He gets some credit for pedestrian performances from Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap, but he also didn’t record a steal or a block and the Cavs need that to succeed and get out in transition. Far from the problem, but lacking the skillset to be the solution.

Collin Sexton: C

Weird game from Sexton who did flash some finishing ability and some athleticism that could help him be a valuable player at some point. Still, he’s passing up threes for midterm jumpers in transition, playing a bit out of control and turning it over more than he hands out assists. He did make the only three pointer he attempted, but again, the Cavs need him taking more.

Kyle Korver: D

Fairly invisible, but worth noting the Cavs were only outscored by two points in 18 minutes. If Nance and Thompson are gonna share the court he better be out there because otherwise the team has no shot.

Larry Nance Jr.: D+

He’s still fouling like crazy. The Cavs would love for him to assert himself and be clearly better than Tristan Thompson, but it just hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully he can get some sustained run with Kevin Love when he gets back, as they seem to have mostly missed each other and make a pretty good fit.

Jordan Clarkson: D

14 shots and 0 assists for Jordan Clarkson in 20 minutes of action is very Jordan Clarkson. It makes no sense for him to spend any time on the court with Collin Sexton, because it just hurts the rookie. He missed all three of his attempts from distance.

David Nwaba: Incomplete

No reason not to play him. The team needs a backup power forward, and even if he’s severely undersized you need to find a role for him.

Ante Zizic: Incomplete

The Cavs outscored the Nuggets by seven in his five minutes but I’ll be honest I didn’t really notice much about his time on the floor.