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Roundtable: How badly do the Cleveland Cavaliers need shooting?

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Cleveland might need to stop bringing a knife to gun fights.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

What is the Cavaliers’ biggest need post-draft, and why is it shooting?

Evan Dammarell (@AmNotEvan): Let me break down Cleveland’s three-point shooting numbers last year for you (minimum 20 games played):

  • Taurean Prince - 41.5% (4.1 attempts per game)
  • Darius Garland - 39.5% (4.9 attempts per game)
  • Collin Sexton - 37.1% (4.4 attempts per game)
  • Dean Wade - 36.6% (3.4 attempts per game)
  • Kevin Love - 36.5% (6.2 attempts per game)
  • Larry Nance Jr. - 36.0% (3.3 attempts per game)
  • Dylan Windler - 33.8% (2.5 attempts per game)
  • Jarrett Allen - 31.6% (0.4 attempts per game)
  • Cedi Osman - 30.6% (5.5 attempts per game)
  • Isaac Okoro - 29.0% (3.2 attempts per game)
  • Damyean Dotson - 28.9% (3.5 attempts per game)
  • Brodric Thomas - 28.3% (1.9 attempts per game)
  • JaVale McGee - 25.0% (0.6 attempts per game)
  • Lamar Stevens - 16.0% (0.6 attempts per game)
  • Andre Drummond (lol) - 0.0% (0.3 attempts per game)

Removing Prince, McGee and Drummond and adding in Evan Mobley (30.0% on 1.2 attempts per game in college) and Ricky Rubio (30.8% on 3.1 attempts per game) to the mix for this year still doesn’t do much to improve a Cleveland offense that ranked dead last in three-point shooting last season. It’s also why the Cavs ranked twenty-eighth in offensive rating as well. There’s a direct correlation between teams that take (and make) more threes that also rank at the top in offensive rating. Sure, Cleveland can try and bludgeon teams to death offensively while grinding things out defensively. But, that style of basketball is better suited for the 80s and 90s. It’s time for the Cavs to adapt to today’s trends instead of raging against the machine and add some shooting that will make things on offense a bit easier. The best bet is to also hire an offensive-minded assistant to design a system that allows more looks from three as well. But, one step at a time.

Nick Trizzino (@trizweino): Assuming Kevin Love is bought out, the Cavs employ exactly three-and-a-quarter actively good shooters. Two of them are the starting backcourt, one is Dean Wade, and the one-quarter is Dylan Windler, who I think has a good shooter somewhere inside but was horrendous all last season outside two games in February. Even more horrifying: somehow, someway, Windler is still the team’s best shooting wing, and he’s the only one who shot better than Jarrett Allen last year! The good news is that Collin Sexton and Darius Garland have demonstrated varying degrees of pull-up shooting touch, which should open slivers of space here and there. But it’s well past time the Cavs give their primary ball handlers a healthy offensive ecosystem to operate in

Jackson Flickinger (@akron_jackson): There’s reason to believe the Cavs’ shooting won’t be as bad as it was last season despite not making a big off-season move. The Cavs had some shooting on the roster last season, but they either had career-worst seasons, didn’t shoot enough, or weren’t in the lineup enough to make a significant impact.

Cedi Osman came into last season as a career 36.4% shooter from deep. His field goal percentage from the floor barely eclipsed that last season (37.4%). Whether or not he can return to the player he previously remained to be seen, but if the Cavs can get the previous career average version of Cedi instead of the career-worst version, the bench shooting quickly becomes much more palatable.

Cedi returning to form isn’t the magic bullet that will save the Cavs’ shooting. But, if you couple that with Darius Garland and Collin Sexton upping their three-point volume and Dylan Windler or Kevin Love, if not bought out, being somewhat available then maybe your outside shooting doesn’t look like the glaring hole it was last season.

Mike Anguilano (@anguilanom22): In filling out the backup point guard role with Rubio, the Cavs can turn to their second most important task this offseason - shooting. While they did strike out on some other options this offseason (Alec Burks, Reggie Bullock, and Danny Green), there is always the possibility of regression to the mean from guys already on the roster - and given the bare free agent cupboard for shooting, that is likely what the team will be banking on.

As Jackson noted, one of those guys is Cedi Osman. Osman was downright horrible last season shooting the basketball and part of that can be attributed to him having to take on more of the offensive workload while others were banged up. His 20.7 usage was a career-high, and not in a good way. There is good reason to believe in a reduced, compact role that his 3-point shooting percentage will go back toward 35-37% as opposed to the 31% it was last season.

Speaking of guys banged up, we have to talk about Dylan Windler. This is a critical season for the Belmont product and the Cavs could really use his skill set. Windler can stretch defenses with his shooting (something Dean Wade already does) and he has fairly active hands-on defense. The key is him being available, something that has been an issue in his young career. Windler and Osman playing to their potential would solve some of the shooting issues with this roster.

Which current Cavalier is the best bet for a breakout shooting season?

ED: Collin Sexton. I talked about this in his player review but if Sexton wants to take his offensive game to an even higher level since I don’t think his playmaking won’t further develop, he needs to take and make more three-pointers. It’ll make Sexton’s life so much easier offensively and as Cleveland’s best offensive player it’ll make life easier for everyone else as well. Having players like Mobley who can facilitate as a fulcrum in the offense certainly helps generate those looks on the perimeter. So will having Mobley and Jarrett Allen gobbling up offensive boards. The blueprint is there for Sexton. Now he just needs to build upon it and make it a staple of his game.

NT: Remember all that stuff I said a long time ago about Dylan Windler having a terrible shooting season? It was definitely true, but I still believe that so is the part about him having a good shooter somewhere inside there. We got a fleeting glance of Good Dylan in his (only) two good games against the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets; he hit all nine of his three-point attempts and looked comfortable camping in the corner and sliding around the arc when the defense shifted. Windler also couples his size and range with a quick release, so getting his shot off over contests shouldn’t be a problem. There isn’t much competition for a potential breakout shooter on the Cavs’ roster. But if Windler can tap into the best version of himself, he could supply the Cavalier offense with some much-needed oxygen.

JF: Darius Garland. It’s weird to say that the best shooter on the Cavs roster is set for a breakout, but him taking a step forward is the quickest way to solve the shooting issues.

Garland shot an impressive 39.5% from three last season, but he only attempted 4.9 threes a game which was slightly down from his rookie season. Garland has the range and ability to pull from off the dribble that could make him dangerous as soon as he crosses half court. His shot volume and unwillingness to pull with reckless abandon keep him and the offense from utilizing those abilities to the fullest. If he gets to the point where he’s attempting 7 or 8 threes a game instead of 4.9, the Cavs' offense begins to look significantly more potent.

MA: I am here for the Isaac Okoro breakout season. After not having Summer League last year, Okoro will be in Las Vegas this time around to work on some things he and the coaching staff focused on this offseason. Reports have noted that the Cavs coaches have had Okoro work on his jump shooting, playmaking, and ability to work within the pick and roll. Those are all things the Cavaliers would really benefit from this season.

Last year, the team was desperate for another playmaker and shooter. Early last season, Okoro was mostly just a slasher and defensive anchor. This year, with some offseason work focused on offense and playmaking, he should be primed for a more carved out offensive role. Isaac developing a jumper and ability to take people off the dribble with more consistency will open up the Cavs' offense.

Are there any free agents the Cavaliers should be targeting, shooters or otherwise?

ED: In terms of who is left on the market, along with who the Cavs can afford, is dicey in terms of shooters. What’s available may not be exciting but at least it’s something, right? I did a little sniffing around the free agent market and have gathered the Cavs have some level of interest in these players. First, there’s Alfonzo McKinnie (41.0% on one attempt per game last season) who the Cavs are already familiar with. If not McKinnie, there’s also Ignas Brazdeikis (39.3% on 2.2 attempts per game last season) as well. Svi Mykhailiuk also just had his qualifying offer rescinded by the Oklahoma City Thunder and showcased an ability as a steady shooter during his time with Oklahoma City and the Detroit Pistons last season. I know that none of these options are the sexiest, but, sometimes you have to make the most with what you got. Especially when you’re Cleveland and have an albatross like Kevin Love’s contract around your next.

NT: Well, there were! Evan suggested Reggie Bullock and Furkan Korkmaz as targets when free agency first started. Either of those two would have made a great cost-effective signing for a team that doesn’t exactly have pools full of cash to swim around in. Of the players Evan just mentioned, I like the idea of throwing an offer at Mykhailiuk—while he didn’t shoot quite as accurately as McKinnie, I’ll take a slightly less accurate shooter if it means significantly higher volume.

JF: It feels like that ship has sailed at this point. This feels like something that would be best addressed through a trade although I’m not sure how realistic it is to expect the Cavs to make a move. I think they’re stuck with what they have.

MA: Today I learned that the Thunder rescinded Svi Mykhailiuk’s qualifying offer, and that would actually be an intriguing pick-up for the Cavs. Svi had ups and downs with the Detroit Pistons, but he has some shooting chops that would certainly help the Cavs. He shot 35% on threes last season but was more effective on corner threes (45.7%) per Cleaning the Glass. He will not generate looks on his own, and his defensive liabilities will have to be covered up, but the options are limited and the Cavs will be picking from the bottom of the scrap heap.

As soon as Alfonzo McKinnie was cut loose by the Lakers, #CavsTwitter was all over the reunion. I would not mind that either and he is definitely more well-rounded of a forward.

The Cavaliers will have had a successful offseason if...

ED: If they can buy out the remainder of Love’s contract, use some of the money he gives back to sign a respectable free agent shooter, sign one of the cheaper options I mentioned above, and then hire an offensive-minded assistant. Adding Mobley in the draft was a great start in the right direction and now the Cavs need to do everything they can to maximize the potential of their most promising young core member. A lot of it comes from help on the perimeter so hopefully, Cleveland figures it out sooner instead of later.

NT: The Cavs’ biggest dilemma entering the offseason was if/how they would find a franchise-level talent with what was likely to be a middle-of-the-lottery draft pick. Landing a player of Mobley’s caliber was enough to make this offseason a success by itself. They followed up by addressing their second-biggest need when they traded for Ricky Rubio. They seem to have struck out looking when it comes to adding shooting, but still, the Cavs rounded out a starting five with potential and built a solid eight- or nine-man rotation. If they can turn Love’s money into something positive, great. Either way, the Cavs have had a great offseason.

JF: This offseason is already a home run. Having Evan Mobley fall into your lap at three is an unbelievably good outcome. The team has a legitimate blue-chip prospect to build around. Retaining Jarrett Allen was a must and they were able to do it at a number that won’t be hard to move if things don’t work out with him and Mobley. Adding Ricky Rubio was the icing on the cake. If shooting was the biggest issue last season, that issue stemmed from not having enough ball handlers on the floor. Rubio helps in that department better than anyone they could’ve realistically gotten in free agency even if he doesn’t push them over the edge into being the playoff contender many were hoping they would become.

MA: I think getting Rubio without having to use the mid-level exception and having Evan Mobley fall to third overall is already a win, but if they can get Love to accept a buyout and give up $12-$15 million then the Cavs have had a smashing offseason. That frees up playing time, money and lifts an otherwise extraordinarily dark cloud from the roster. Adding a low-cost shooter will be tough, and it likely will end in mediocrity. But getting rid of Love and letting him sign for the veteran minimum elsewhere would be a gratifying break-up about three years in the making.

Something that has flown under the “need radar” a bit is replacing Lindsey Gottlieb. The Cavaliers...have not done that either. Finding an offensive-minded assistant to help J.B. Bickerstaff’s otherwise vanilla offensive game plans would go a long way in maximizing the current scoring potential of this roster. Which, right now, the offense seems like the weak point of the team.