As the first person to speak at Monday’s media day, first-year Cavaliers head coach John Beilein set the tone by offering his view on what the 2019-20 season is all about.
“We’re going to have an incredible growth mindset all year long,” Beilein said Monday as the Cavs kicked off training camp. “We are going to develop players, develop staff and develop teams.”
“It won’t be on a number of wins,” Beilein said later in his availability when asked how to define success for this Cavs team. “When we are at the point where our guys are improving daily, being at their best, showing great habits in games and practices — are you seeing this steady rise in our play? The wins will take care of themselves. If we get better every single day we are going to have a heck of a year.”
Every Cavs players who spoke echoed Beilein’s sentiment. Take Collin Sexton, the Cavs’ second-year guard and a key part of the rebuild, for example.
“No matter the wins and losses, you can control your attitude,” Sexton said. “You can control you coming into work each and every day with the right attitude and wanting to get better and trying to get better.”
Darius Garland, the Cavs’ top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, said something similar.
“I don’t think there’s any expectations for us,” he said. “I do that for myself. I’m coming into this season just to learn and play really well of course. Get some wins. Play really hard every day. I’m here. I’m here to learn thing from Coach Beilein, from guys like Collin, Tristan [Thompson], Larry [Nance Jr.], K. Love. They’re going to teach me a lot, so I’m just going to soak it all in.”
Ditto for Kevin Love, the current face of the franchise and the current best player on the team. Love, who Beilein visited twice this summer in New York City to talk shop, had more of an eye on winning now (which make sense), but also noted that this is a process.
“It was good to open up that dialogue and conversation about where he sees this team going, how we can all be of service to each other and how we can help the young players come along so we can make a big step forward,” Love said. “It was just expectations, making sure we’re on the same page.
“But I don’t think that’s [accomplished] spending a week or 10 days together over the two or three trips that he came to New York. Tomorrow and these next few weeks are going to be huge for us.” He also said that there is a “balance” to find in being “selfish” and carrying the team and doing the little stuff on both ends to support everyone else.
What the Cavs are saying here is that they don’t necessarily expect to be a contender this year. And unlike last year, they didn’t speak openly about still contending for the playoffs and remaining competitive. The vision, based on what was said at media day, is practicing patience and process for the 2019-20 season.
Ideally, this is a group that will win more than 19 games — even if the Cavs miss the playoffs and keep the top-10 protected pick they owe the Pelicans. And, as several players pointed out, won’t be one of worst defense’s in NBA history for the second straight year. But if the wins don’t show up, it won’t sting as much if improvement comes. That applies for the team as a whole and each player too.
“Embrace the product, be patient with it and hopefully as we go along, you’re going to see steady improvement in the wins and in the losses,” Beilein said.