The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly had an angry team meeting following a 29-point drubbing at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves this week. They have hopes that Andrew Bynum could feature in the line-up this weekend, but the reality is that the Cavs won’t be finding any positive answers beyond the fact that this line-up just isn’t good enough.
There were some who felt that this team was just about ready to compete for one of the lower playoff spots in the Eastern conference, and they might still be right, but the reality is that this line-up has never looked like a serious contender in that regard.
The expectation that Bynum could be a serious contributor was always something that needed to be seen before it could be seriously believed. The big 26-year old center has missed three of the past four games and has played more than 20 minutes in a game this season just once.
Meanwhile, 2013 first overall pick Anthony Bennett should be a strong NBA player one day, but growing issues had to be anticipated for a player who doesn’t quite fit in as a small forward or a power forward in this league. He is averaging just 11.7 minutes and 1.4 points per game so far through his rookie season. It looks like Bennett is set to be lost in the shuffle.
The effective absence of Bennett and Bynum has basically left the front court at status quo from the team that ended up earning the first overall pick last year. Tristan Thompson is playing good basketball down there picking up 12.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, but he needs help.
The biggest concern for the Cavaliers and main reason for the team’s disappointing 3-7 record is the play of what should be a dynamic back court duo in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
Waiters emerged as a pretty decent scoring presence from the two-guard spot last year, but he is down in terms of point per game average and in terms of assists per game. The 21-year old is unquestionably highly-skilled, but has struggled for rhythm offensively so far this season and hasn’t been helped by illness, which is keeping him from travelling this weekend.
A bigger concern is the play of third year forward Irving. The 21-year old former Duke point guard emerged as one of the league’s very best last year and appeared to be on the verge of superstardom. However, things haven’t worked out quite so well so far in 2013-14. Irving is shooting at below 40% from the field and even got into a heated on court debate with head coach Mike Brown during one of the team’s recent losses.
Angry team meetings and altercations with the team’s star player on court will bring the microscope onto Brown and his leadership. The returning head coach is known as a decent systems man, but there have been criticisms of his offensive creativity levelled in the past.
The Cavaliers will start playing better basketball at some point in the near future because it is inevitable that Irving will pick up his game. Still, those expecting a serious playoff push from Cleveland, even in the weak Eastern conference are deluded. This team isn’t getting the sort of help that many people were projecting at the start of the year.