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Cavs' New Offense


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Great article from Basketball Prospectus on the chances of the Cavs winning it all, and the impact of our new offense.


In the last 12 months, the Cavaliers made changes both to their roster and to their approach that would seem to have given them advantages they previously did not have. While they did not add a second superstar as a sidekick to LeBron James, they have put together a group of role players that is better suited to contribute based on James' skill set. The Cavs now feature a legitimate second scoring option in Mo Williams, a shooter who is very capable of keeping defenses honest. Placing him around a core of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace, Delonte West, Daniel Gibson, Anderson Varejao and Wally Szczerbiak gives the Cavaliers a balanced group, with Wallace and Varejao as lunch-pail guys, Ilgauskas as a skilled scoring (and shooting) big, and West, Gibson and Szczerbiak as designated shooters. Gone are Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden, good talents who were simply not a fit for what LeBron brings to the table.


The offensive strategy has evolved as well. Running fewer isolations and more passing game, the Cavaliers are taking the ball out of James' hands in order to get him the ball back in a better position. James seems more willing to receive passes in the post and in a position to attack, rather than isolating in a face-up against a pressure defense. There is more movement in what Cleveland is attacking with as well, with back-screen action available and other players willing to step up and make plays rather than defer to King James. This emphasis on the offensive end has placed the Cavaliers at the top of the league in Offensive Efficiency rating (according to Basketball-Reference.com), which is remarkable because, at least in the past, efficiency is not a trait that is often associated with Cleveland.


Part of this freedom comes from what appears to be a more concerted effort to get out on the fast break. Easy transition baskets give everyone confidence, and they help provide Cleveland with the cushion they are seeing in most of their games. While the statistics do not bear out a focus on transition offense (the Cavs are ranked #26 in the league in pace, also according to Basketball-Reference.com), it is hard to watch Cleveland without seeing multiple possessions of a freight train named LeBron racing the ball down the floor.

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It's amazing the difference it makes having LeBron play off the ball while the guard handle it. He still reverts to his old form occasionally and tries to play 1 vs. 5, but it doesn't happen much.


I absolutely love Delonte West. He may be the Cavs second best player for my money, and my first favorite. The guy has a world of confidence right now, he's insanely selfless and team-first, and most importantly, he busts ass for 48 minutes. There was a moment tonight where he was breaking away to score a dunk in the open court, and he gave up the points because LeBron was being egotistical and wanted to dunk it and show off to the crowd and get the easy points. There are a ton of guys around the league that wouldn't stand for that, but Delonte doesn't care. I absolutely fucking love that guy.


In the big picture, the key to this team is the chemistry, selflessness, and teamwork. That all hinges on LeBron keeping his own ego in check. Like I've said before, they're not all-stars. But together, they're a fantastic team and may have the best team chemistry in the NBA. It all hinges on how egotistical LeBron gets and how the players handle it when he does.

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