It was a memorable week off the court as John Beilein stepped down as head coach. On the court the Cavs had an exciting fourth quarter comeback against Washington and yet another loss in Miami. Here’s what we learned this week.
We are beginning to see some of Andre Drummond’s limitations.
Drummond is a traditional center in every way. He likes to operate with his back to the basket, dive to the rim on pick-and-rolls, and protect the paint on defense. Unfortunately, the traditional center archetype isn’t what teams are necessarily looking for in today’s league.
The skillsets among the top players on contenders are more homogenized than ever. Ideally you want to build a team around players who can guard multiple positions and are versatile offensively. Traditional centers don’t fit either category.
Bam Adebayo exposed some of Drummond’s defensive limitations on Saturday night. Drummond defended a couple feet off of Adeboyo for most of the night because of the speed advantage Adebayo has. This resulted in Adebayo being able to survey the floor and set up teammates at will as he ended up with nine assists in just over 25 minutes of action.
Being exposed by Adebayo isn’t a big concern, but it does reinforce Drummond’s defensive limitations on the perimeter and high post. Milwaukee used Drummond’s lack of perimeter defense to play him off the floor in their first round series with Detroit last season. Not every team has the ability to play Drummond off the floor, but the better teams in the league will have the personnel to do that. Drummond’s limitations can be mitigated but that would require a commitment to build around his particular skillset.
There is a dilemma here if the Cavs do in fact view Drummond as being a long-term fit. They will need to either build around his perimeter weaknesses, which would require targeting players who can fit around him defensively, or live with the fact you’re committing a large percentage of their cap to someone who won’t always be in your closing lineup Who Koby Altman targets in the draft and free agency this off-season could give us an idea of whether he feels Drummond is a long-term fit in Cleveland provided Drummond picks up his player option.
We saw some decent play from the young guys.
Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Cedi Osman all showed some good signs in the first two games after the break. Sexton has shown a concerted effort to make the extra pass more often. This showed Saturday night as he finished with nine assists. Garland’s game looked more consistent as he made some nice plays to close the game in Washington and followed that up with a decent 14 point and 5 assist performance in Miami. Osman had two solid scoring outings as he finished with 16 points in Washington and 19 in Miami.
Consistency is the number one thing you want to see from young players. Nearly every top prospect can have nights where they look promising. Consistency is what separates them. All of the Cavs young players have had stretches of good play, but outside of Sexton’s scoring the consistency hasn’t been there. Hopefully we’ll get to see some more consistency from the young players to close the season.
Stats as of Feb. 24 before Cavs-Heaat