The Cavaliers went 0-3 this week with two close losses to playoff teams. They continue to play tough against good teams, but haven’t been able to finish the job. Here’s what we learned this week.
Larry Nance Jr. and Cedi Osman are hitting their spot up threes.
Both players are playing their best basketball of the season due in part to their ability to knock down their threes. Osman is averaging 14.4 points per game with a 57.5 effective field goal percentage in his last five games. Osman is also shooting 42.9% on 4.2 catch and shoot threes a game during that stretch. On the season, he’s shooting 37.3% on 3.5 catch and shoot threes per game.
Nance has made the most of his increased role with Kevin Love missing a couple games. He’s averaging 13.6 points with a 69.6 effective field goal percentage and 8.8 rebounds in his last five games. During that stretch, Nance has upped his catch and shoot three point attempts and percentage as he shot 42.9% on 4.2 catch and shoot threes during that time period. On the season he’s now shooting 42% on 2.9 catch and shoot threes a game.
Their ability to improve in this area could determine whether or not the long-term commitments to both work out. Nance and Osman’s offensive games are limited as they haven’t shown the consistency to create their own shot or for others. Being able to stretch the floor like they have the last couple games remedies some of those concerns to a degree.
Collin Sexton continues to struggle with his efficiency.
Sexton’s biggest improvements last season came with his reworked outside shot. That improved shot carried over into the preseason and the beginning of this season. Unfortunately, he has hit a cold spell with his outside shot recently. He’s now shooting 33.3% from distance and has a 47.7 effective field goal percentage overall. In his last five games he’s shooting just 23.1% from deep.
Sexton’s shot selection could be blamed for his loss of efficiency. Sexton is taking 24.8% of his shots after taking seven or more dribbles with an effective field goal percentage of 42.6% on those shots. Just under a quarter of his shots on the season are coming outside of the flow of the offense. On the other side of the coin, he’s flourishing when he is playing within the offense. He has a 61.4 effective field percentage when taking no dribbles and is shooting 44.7% on two catch and shoot threes a game.
Sexton has not found the right balance of when he should take over a possession or not. He has shown he can be an effective scorer when he’s attacking in transition, spotting up, or playing within the offense. However, his ineffective numbers are largely due to him trying to create his own shot too often. There’s a time and place for that, but doing so on nearly a quarter of your shot attempts isn’t it. Sexton has the skills to be an effective scorer, but he needs to figure out when and where to attack within the offense.
Darius Garland is beginning to find his way.
Garland is beginning to show the skills that made him the fifth pick in the draft. He is starting to hit on threes with increased regularity which should unlock the rest of his game. As a result, Garland is averaging 16.0 points on 53% shooting from deep on 6.0 threes a game. This has led to an efficient 61.7 effective field goal percentage over that stretch. The rookie is now shooting 38.1% from distance on the season.
Garland is still learning how to play in the NBA. The rookie struggled to protect the ball against Orlando and Brooklyn as he combined for two assists and 13 turnovers in those two games. The encouraging part is that he followed those performances up with six assists and one turnover against Milwaukee.
The rookie still has a ways to go in becoming a good player. He struggles to get to the rim and his floater continues to look awful. However, you can begin to see the player he has the potential to become. You can’t put a ceiling on a guy who can shoot that effortlessly from behind the arc.