The Santa Clara
February 8, 2018
As of right now, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a negative scoring differential. That’s right, the team led by the best player the world has ever seen has been outscored for the season. LeBron James and Co. have a lot of work to do if they want to turn this downward spiral into a playoff run, but there is no team better equipped to accomplish such a feat.
Step one for the Cavs is getting healthy. Kevin Love, a key offensive weapon inside and out, is out with a broken hand for about seven weeks.
Without his three-point shooting and inside post-game in play, opposing teams can focus on thirty-three year old James and five-foot-nine point guard Isaiah Thomas.
The Cavs need their third star player in order to compete in the East.
The Cavs also need to address their offensive game as a whole. The Cavs are hurting in the point guard position. Sure, Thomas had two fantastic years in Boston before he was traded to the Cavs for star point guard Kyrie Irving. But Thomas has been extremely underwhelming in his return from a hip injury. He has been unable to facilitate and the offense has suffered immensely.
Followers of the NBA will realize his performance with the Cavs is strikingly similar to his performance on other teams prior to playing for the Celtics. Thomas has averaged about 15 points per game on every team he’s played for except Boston, where he averaged around 28 per game.
Above all, the Cavs are struggling to pass and find open shots. Love is an excellent passer for a big man and his injury has had its effects on the team, but ultimately Thomas is to blame for the passing woes. The fact that Thomas can’t even see over a fire hydrant because of his size greatly reduces the efficiency of the offense.
These struggles are just half of the nightmare that the Cavs have become for James—who has made his frustrations with the team clear. In terms of defense and scoring depth, the Cavs are lacking in those categories as well. Sure, the Cavs have the third-highest defensive rating in the NBA, but they are bottom five in steals, blocks and opponent’s points off turnovers.
That shows that the Cavs lack effort, which is the root cause of their struggles on both sides of the ball.
It’s no question that the Cavs locker room has a significant amount of animosity in it; fixing that is perhaps the most crucial key to turning this team around in time. For James to prove people wrong, he needs to be the leader he has shown to be in the past, and make this team gel with one another. Once chemistry builds within the locker room, the Cavs play will show significant improvement.
Another way to improve their quality of play is by receiving more help from offseason acquisitions Thomas, Jae Crowder and Jeff Green. These players have the ability to rise to the potential they showed us when they were on the Celtics.
There is no one better than James to lead the Cavs’ turnaround. If the Cavs can get healthy, build chemistry among players and rise to the elite level of play they have shown in the past, there will be nothing stopping them from receiving a gentleman’s sweep from the Warriors in the Finals.
Alex Stewart is a sophomore economics major.