It was an up and down week for the young players and the Cleveland Cavaliers as a whole. We saw an exciting win over the Chicago Bulls, but that was partially overshadowed by losses to the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, and Dallas Mavericks.
Here’s what we learned this week.
Kevin Love is the focal point of the offense on the perimeter.
Getting Love more elbow touches has been a talking point since 2014. Love has had success running an offense through the elbow in Minnesota, but he hasn’t fully gotten the opportunity to do that for the Cavs. Love entered Sunday with just 0.8 elbow touches a game which is a low for his time in Cleveland.
Despite the lack of elbow touches, Love is leading the team in assists with 4.3 per game. Most of his assists are coming from the top of the key or the wings which is where he’s been most efficient this season. Defenses typically shift their attention to Love when he’s in those areas which leaves the defense vulnerable to back-door cuts and dribble handoffs.
Love isn’t putting up gaudy point per game numbers so far this season, but his offensive impact is still there. It’ll be interesting to see how Love’s role in the offense evolves as the team becomes comfortable with Beilein’s system.
The Cavs need a healthy center.
The starting lineup continues to be a bright spot for this team. The five man unit of Garland, Sexton, Osman, Love, and Thompson have a 15.3 net rating through six games. The problem is they average just over 14 minutes a game together due to not having a backup center.
Coach John Beilein has been forced to stagger a large portion of Love and Thompson’s minutes with the injuries to Ante Zizic and John Henson. Hopefully this starting unit will be able to play more consistent minutes together when Zizic or Henson return to the lineup.
Darius Garland is struggling with his shot.
It was rough shooting week for Darius Garland. It was highlighted by a 0 for 10 performance against Indiana. The rookie has relied heavily on his three point shot and floater. Neither of which are falling now despite being able to get those shots off pretty consistently. As a result, he shot 27.5% from the field and 20% from deep this week. He now has a 36.9 effective field goal percentage on the season.
Overall it’s not concerning that a rookie point guard who played four college games is struggling. How Garland reacts to this slow start on and off the floor could tell us a lot about the player he’ll one day become.
Cedi Osman could be the glue guy the Cavs need.
Most of Osman’s struggles last year came from him playing a role he wasn’t suited to play. This year, he’s benefiting from playing in a much more conducive role.
Osman’s offensive utility will largely be predicated on his ability to knock down catch and shoot threes which is something he’s struggled with in the past. So far this season, he’s been able to do that with consistently. He came into Sunday’s game knocking down 52.9% of his catch and shoot threes on 3.4 attempts. This is a marked improvement from last season where he shot 33.7% on 3.5 catch and shoot threes a game.
Osman has the skills to be a fifth starter or valuable bench player on a good team. Whether or not he lives up to that potential will likely be based on his ability to space the floor consistently. Osman has been able to do that so far which is one of the reasons he currently has the best net rating on the team.