This was a tough week for the Cavs as they were run off the court in three of their four games and had a tough loss in the final minute in the other. We knew weeks like this would happen when we saw the schedule for February, but that doesn’t make it much easier.
Here’s what we learned from another difficult week.
Collin Sexton’s shot profile could be better.
Sexton came into the league with an inconsistent outside shot and was too reliant on midrange jumpers. While he’s drastically improved his outside shooting as he’s shooting 42.5% from deep going into Sunday’s game against Los Angeles, he still isn’t fully incorporating that skill into his overall game.
The third-year guard is having his most efficient season (.578 true shooting percentage) while also posting his highest usage (27.4%) of his career. However, that increase in usage hasn’t resulted in an increase in three-point attempts.
Sexton is averaging 3.6 three-point attempts per game which is identical to what he was averaging his rookie season. This is also down from the 3.9 he averaged last season. Only 21.0% of his shots are coming from distance this season which is the lowest percentage of his career. This has come with an increase in shots from 10 to 16 feet (.186 FGA%) and 16 feet to the three point line (.073 FGA%).
Sexton has been efficient this season, but it feels like it should be better. Especially when you consider Sexton is shooting 43.8% on pull up threes on the season. Sexton’s game could go to the next level when he turns some of his 5.3 two point pull up shots a game into threes. He has shown he’s a good shooter. It’s time to put that good shooting into practice.
The offensive process isn’t there.
This team doesn’t have the skillset to be a great offense. This is especially true with Kevin Love out of the lineup. However, not having talent doesn’t excuse bad process. Right now, the process is completely messed up and the Cavs have the worst offense in the league with a 104.1 offensive rating going into Sunday’s game as a result.
Jordan Zirm had a great article for Ineligible Man Downfield last week detailing the Cavs lack of three point shooting if you want to read more about that. In short, the offense emphasizes getting to the rim, which is good, but does this at the expense of the outside shot. The offense runs on dribble drives but when the lane closes, because there’s no threat of an outside shot, it leads to endless midrange jumpers. The offense is just a steady, unhealthy diet of contested shots at the rim and long twos.
The offense also relies heavily on their centers which is certainly against conventional thinking. As a result, Andre Drummond has a usage percentage of 30.3%, JaVale McGee has a usage percentage of 23.8%, and Jarrett Allen has a usage percentage of 17.5%. Those are all high for their position.
The NBA is a three-point shooting league. It’s becoming the most emphasized skill in the game. The Cavs young backcourt of Sexton and Darius Garland are both shooting over 40% from deep, but the offensive philosophy revolves around the play of their centers and trying to get to the rim. I don’t understand why the Cavs are playing away from what their guards best and most useful skills are. Having a bad offense is one thing, but having a bad offense that emphasizes archaic elements of the game is inexcusable.
It’s too early to write off Isaac Okoro.
The rookie hasn’t started the season as he would’ve liked. Okoro entered Sunday’s game averaging just 7.6 points per game despite playing 33 minutes a game.
Okoro came into the league with the reputation of being a good defensive player and he’s lived up to it so far. His on-ball defense on guards is advanced for his age. He does a good job of making it difficult for guards to get to their spots and has shown flashes of being a good help defender as well. Those skills don’t show up in the stat sheet.
The skills that do show up on the stat sheet need work. Okoro’s offense is very much a work in progress. His dribble isn’t as good as you’d like it to be which makes it difficult for him to get to the basket or the spots he wants to on the floor. Okoro’s outside shot is as bad as advertised, but that is a skill that can be improved. This has relegated him to being mostly a ball mover who can finish at the basket when he moves properly off the ball or in transition.
Rookies generally struggle on defense. Okoro’s defensive impact will become more noticeable as he gets used to NBA schemes and matures physically and mentally. His offense has been disappointing, but he’s shown enough flashes to make you believe he can become solid finisher at the rim especially if he develops a decent handle.
Okoro isn’t as good as many would’ve liked out of the gates and there isn’t any reason to believe he still can’t become the type of player the Cavs hoped they were getting when they selected him fifth overall. Both statements can be true.