We were 29th in opponents 3 point % last season. We were bad all the way around defensively last season.I was looking at John Hollinger's season preview for the Cavs and I snipped out some of it.
The Cavs finished 22-50…The Cavs surrendered relatively few 3s and didn’t foul but surrendered way too many shots in the paint (they were second in opponent shots at the rim)…Cleveland was last in 3-point percentage (33.6 percent) and fifth from the bottom in frequency. Cleveland was also a poor 2-point shooting team, but at least offset that with a high free-throw rate. With too many players in roles outside their skill set, the Cavs also had the league’s second-highest turnover rate.
…this was a pretty good offseason for Cleveland. We’ll start with Mobley, a consensus no-brainer pick…he flashed Chris Bosh-type upside at USC.
Turning Prince into Rubio was an obvious win; if the Cavs falter this year, they can easily get their draft pick back by trading Rubio again at the trade deadline.
The other moves address a lack of shooting up and down the roster that should make the Cavs much more viable offensively…. most notable, however, is the Nance-for-Markkanen swap. While Nance was a valuable player, he was 29 and his contract expired in 2023. The entire point of having him was to be able to flip him to a win-now team for a younger player, and no team more desperately needed to take a shot at a stretch big than the Cavs.
The truth of any rebuild is that almost nothing else matters besides hitting big on a lottery pick. Without an All-Star-caliber centerpiece, it becomes incredibly difficult to assemble the other pieces necessary for playoff contention. That’s particularly true when a rebuild begins the way Cleveland’s did, with its best player departing for no compensation.
We’re in Year 4 post-LeBron and nearing decision time on some of those high lottery picks, and we don’t have a centerpiece yet. Partly, the lottery gods that so smiled upon Cleveland in the past haven’t been as kind — the Cavs won it four times in the LeBron years but landed eighth, fifth, fifth and third over the last four drawings.
The first three of those picks — Garland, Sexton and Okoro — haven’t busted exactly but have also yet to define themselves as core carry-forward pieces. All three are likely to start this year, owing as much to their draft position as their performance, and one can still make a glass-half-full case for each. It’s not like the Cavs missed out on some mega-star either; Sexton over Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was a mistake, but Garland’s draft class was brutal and the picks immediately following Okoro haven’t exactly torn up the league either.
Nonetheless, the pressure now shifts to Mobley to see if he can be The Guy, the player who is good enough to snap everybody else into a complementary role and make it plausible (not to mention attractive) to acquire good veterans.
So while the Cavs’ big-picture focus seems to be on making a half-push forward to playoff contention, the underlying issue hasn’t gone away. None of the last three lotto picks projects as a $10 million player for the coming season, and it’s hard to imagine Cleveland’s fortunes dramatically shifting without at least one home-grown breakout player.
Weaknesses remain — the forward depth is shaky at best, and three roster players (Love, Valentine and Windler) are perpetual injury questions. But the biggest issue is the one I alluded to above: Cleveland doesn’t have a best player. Or even really a second-best player. The highest-rated player on the team, BORD$-wise, is Rubio, who might not even start.
The Cavs will be pesky and force turnovers, Sexton will have some banger shooting nights, and another year of development will be a wind at the back of virtually every player on the roster. Garland, in particular, could have some breakout potential this season. The upgraded shooting on the wings will also help shove an archaic offense into the 21st century.
Nonetheless, I smell impatience in the air, and I’m hopeful the Cavs don’t overreact to a slow start. The biggest risk factor for the season is that the Cavs lose patience and opt for quick fixes to jet themselves into a slightly better present at the cost of a more genuinely rewarding future. The hardest part of any rebuild is right before the sun rises, and it’s not quite dawn here. - John Hollinger, The Athletic, 2021-22 season preview
Last year the Cavs were abused at the rim (although not as bad as when they had Love and TT at the 4 and 5), didn't shoot many 3's, and didn't make the ones they shot. All that should change this years. Opponents will be less likely to take it to the hole with Allen, Mobley, and Markkanen lurking. There is an emphasis on getting the ball up the floor faster and taking more 3's.
So there should be some dramatic improvement in the areas the Cavs were worst in last year. But we still don't have a centerpiece, "The Guy", and we won't have one this season.