The Cleveland Cavaliers put together 44 wins last year despite their mediocre offense. The Cavs ranked 20th in offensive rating at 110 points per 100 possessions — just in front of disappointing teams like the Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers.
Their offensive ineptitude was mostly due to their lack of ball handlers who could create for themselves and their inability to generate clean looks for shooters on the perimeter. As a result, the Cavs ranked 22nd in the league in three point attempts (32.8 per game), 20th in made three pointers (11.6 per game), 22nd in turnovers per game (14.4) and 18th in free throw makes per game (16.8).
Donovan Mitchell immediately helps the Cavs in meaningful ways in all of those areas.
Mitchell’s ability to create and convert off-the-dribble outside shots is among the best in the league. Mitchell completed last season with a 50.9 effective field goal percentage on 9.5 pull up attempts per game. That effective field goal percentage was good for 8th in the league among the 31 players who took seven or more pull up shots per game. He was able to convert 35.6% of pull up threes last season.
Mitchell has also proven to be one of the best tough shot makers in the league. As the focal point of the Utah Jazz offense, Mitchell was forced into taking many contested jumpers which he converted quite well last season. The three-time all-star converted 32.5% of the 2.5 closely contested threes per game he attempted — shots taken with the closest defender within two to four feet — and was 52.7% on 6.3 closely attempted twos per game.
This skillset should pair nicely with Darius Garland’s ability to shoot off-the-dribble. There are few teams in the league that have two players with this elite skillset. This will require defenses to pick up the ball much earlier than normal while not being able to over commit to either Mitchell or Garland with the fear of the other lurking off-ball. The Cavs spacing should improve considerably which will open up more lanes for Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley to attack the rim.
The abundance of Cavalier turnovers last season can be directly linked to the lack of ball handlers on the roster for the majority of the season. Garland took a major step forward in all aspects of the game which included his ability to get others involved. However, Garland did turn the ball over 14.5% of his possessions which put him in the 28th percentile among guards which is far from ideal.
Mitchell should help out with this considerably. The former Jazz man led all shooting guards with a 34.5 usage rate. However, that usage rate didn’t translate to an unreasonable number of turnovers. Mitchell turned the ball over on only 11.1% of possessions which is above average for guards. He also assisted on 26.7% of his teammates’ baskets while on the floor. This led to 5.3 assists and 3 turnovers per game.
Having another dynamic on-ball guard should ease the scoring and playmaking burden considerably for Garland. Garland was forced into playing 38.3 minutes per game after the all-star break. There shouldn’t be a reason to push him into such a heavy workload with another all-star guard in the backcourt.
Mitchell will also help the Cavs with his ability to get to the free-throw line. He has consistently shown that he can put pressure on defenses with his athleticism and ability to get to the rim. This has resulted in him being fouled on 9.3% of his shot attempts last season which resulted in 4.7 free throw attempts per game. It also helps that Mitchell converted 65.1% of his shots at the rim.
Mitchell is one of the most dynamic two guards in the league. His ability to efficiently score from beyond the arc and in the restricted area are among the best in the league. His skillset would go a long way in helping any team improve offensively but especially one that struggled mightily in those areas.
Koby Altman and company have decided to go all in on this core by adding Mitchell. His skillset should fit perfectly with what this team needs offensively.