The Cavs got their first road win of the season — and improved to 3-5 — with a 113-100 win over the Wizards on Friday. Let’s get into it.
POSITIVE: Tristan Thompson remains awesome
Thompson’s full-on resurgence is the best story of the young season for Cleveland, full-stop. He’s as mobile as ever, averaging a double-double and weirdly working as an effective cog in the offense. It’s unclear if this can sustain over the course of an 82-game season, but he’s been the Cavs’ best player so far. That’s miraculous when you consider what his last two seasons looked like.
If Thompson keeps this up, or at least play close to this level while staying healthy, that’s a big, big win for Cleveland. It helps the young guys and it makes him, in theory, more tradeable if the team wants to go down that route.
But seriously, look how good Thompson is playing:
NEGATIVE: Bad-ish Collin Sexton
Bad is too strong a word for Sexton’s performance Friday. He did have 16 points and made a three-pointer in the fourth that helped seal the game. Sexton also work his butt off in defending Bradley Beal for most of the game.
But it also wasn’t Sexton at his best. He finished 7-19 from the field, didn’t take a single free throw and had one assist. His shot chart shows that he was very comfortable in going for mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper:
Sexton has a good, very quick pull-up jumper in his bag. He shouldn’t not use it or ever take that shot. But it might benefit him to drive and seek out fouls instead of firing the shot off repeatedly, especially if it isn’t falling. He’s certainly athletic and fast enough to put defenders on their heals and force contact. It’s not something he’s particularly good at right now, but it might serve as a way for him to grow and become a more efficient offense player. Right now, per Cleaning The Glass, he’s just average at drawing fouls.
POSITIVE: Good performances from two rookies
Both Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. had their best career performances to date on Friday. For Garland, it was one of his smoother offense performances — he was so patient with the ball while showing a natural feel for the game — and he finished with a career-high 15 points on 6-11 shooting to go along with six assists. This feels like a game that should help him feel more comfortable in the league and perhaps start firing on offense a bit more.
As for Porter Jr., there were still some mistakes — take his turnover in trying to dribble by Troy Brown for instance. But his skill as a scorer, and feel for how to get a clean shot off, hasn’t never looked as good as it did against the Wizards. Porter Jr., in 21 minutes, was 5-11 from the field and scored a career-best 13 points.
He already has comfort in driving and either getting off a shot in the mid-range or getting to the rim — two things that help him to be playable when other parts of his game are still very, very raw. Like Garland, this is a game to build on for Porter Jr.