The Cavs have had some awful games during their various rebuilds, but I can’t remember two worse games within the same week. They combined to lose by 81 points to the Detroit Pistons and the Philadelphia 76ers. Here’s what we learned.
The ball isn’t moving.
You aren’t going to have a good offense when you start two guards under the legal drinking age. With that said, it’s fair to expect a little more from both Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.
Beilein’s system was supposed to maximize ball movement, but it hasn’t so far. The Cavs are currently 19th in the league in total passes made, 28th in assists, 25th in potential assists, 28th in assist points created,and 28th in assist to turnover ratio.
Sexton and Garland share a lot of the blame for these issues. Garland has shown flashes of being a good passer, but doesn’t know how to create space in the NBA. He frequently finds himself in bod spots on the floor which often lead to turnovers. This has led to an atrocious 1.15 assist to turnover ratio.
Sexton on the other hand hasn’t shown the vision to make anything more than the simple reads. It appears his main goal in every possession is to find his own shot and not setting up teammates. This is why he is averaging the same assists per game as noted play-maker Tristan Thompson.
It’s important to be patient with the young guards, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the alarming signs both have shown. The career lifespan of a guard under 6’3” who can’t create for others is alarming short. The Cavs currently have a lot invested in two players who currently fit that mold.
We’re entering the darkest time of the rebuild.
Love’s been the source of endless trade rumors since 2014, but this time it actually feels real. Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cavs are listening to offers on Love despite saying otherwise to start the season. While it’s reasonable for them to listen to offers on every player on the roster, this coming out while Love appears to be giving up on the court is telling.
The point of keeping Love and Thompson around was to keep the Cavs competitive in games while showing the young guys how to play the right way. The biggest problem with the previous rebuild was the lack of leadership within the locker room and on the court. Keeping the vets was a way to ensure that 30+ blowouts weren’t the normal. That hasn’t been the case the last eleven games.
Love has been a by-standard on offense most of the season. He is averaging his fewest field goal attempts (11.1) since the 2009-10 season and his second lowest usage rate (21.7%) since being in Cleveland. A combination of the coaching staff, young guards who can’t create for others, and Love not being assertive enough can all be partially blamed for those numbers. However, the simple truth is that Love isn’t helping this team offensively and that needs to change.
The most disappointing time of a rebuild is when the team sells off all of its veterans. Given the results and how empty the cupboard is of future draft assets, the clock is ticking on the championship frontcourt’s time in Cleveland. How Koby Altman handles these next couple months will have a drastic effect on this organization for years.