Cavs Midterm Report Card
The second first-season post-LeBron in Cavs history has gone about as well as the first: god awfully.
Not all members of the Cavs are equally to blame, however. As the team shifts from perennial Finals contender to gut renovator, and legitimate competitor to asset evaluator, let's take a look at how the current Cavs have performed, in order of minutes played in the Wine and Gold:
I don't get the Collin Sexton animosity. He's fourth among rookies in scoring, and while he hasn't been terribly efficient, he's shooting 39% from three, and has three assists and three rebounds to go with his 15 points per game. For a rookie thrust into a starring role on a team in transition, he's been as good as can be expected for the Cavs thus far. Of course, the Cavs are 12-46 coming out of the All-Star break, so that has to figure in as well. Midterm Grade: B-.
The Cavs were certainly hoping for more this season from Cedi Osman. While LeBron's size 15s are basically impossible for anyone to fill, Osman had become a favorite of Lebron himself last year, and has a versatile game that many around the team hoped to blossom with more playing time. But while his minutes have tripled, his efficiency has dropped and his per-36 minutes have held steady. That's resulted in a mediocre season at best. Midterm Grade: C-.
With LeBron gone and Kevin Love injured for most of the season, someone had to take the shots: that someone turned out to be Jordan Clarkson. He's taking the most shots of his career at 15 per game, and scoring the most points -- just a shade over 17. He's mostly allergic to passing, but as far as instant offense off the bench? Only three players in the league provide more. When the calendar flips over to the 2019-20 season, he'll be an attractive trade piece as his contract enters its final year and becomes expiring.
Midterm Grade: B.
Larry Nance Jr.
When you look at the counting stats, Nance's season looks better than it is. His 9.1-8.3-3.0 points-rebounds-assists per game are the best of his career, but his per-36 minutes and efficiency are both down, so he is yet another Cav who didn't capitalize on more playing time. Nance signed a big contract extension that will come into effect next year; he'll need to do more to justify the Cavs' investment as he moves into his prime.
Midterm Grade: C-.
While the roster was littered with players who did less with more minutes, Thompson was one of the few to capitalize. The only Cav who has been on the team before-during-and-after LeBron's second tenure (Matthew Dellevedova left and came back), Thompson brought his numbers back to their pre-LeBron heights and raised them higher. He finally became a double-double player in his 8th season and, from all accounts, provided a great deal of necessary leadership to a young squad. As the owner of an expiring contract in 2019-20, the Cavs will have to weigh his contributions to the team as a player versus as an asset as well.
Midterm Grade: B+.
Stop me if you've heard this before: a Cavalier who has played more minutes this year has better counting stats but worse efficiency. I don't want to come down too hard on a 22-year-old second year player of whom little was expected, but Zizic certainly hasn't been part of the solution.
Midterm Grade: C.
It speaks to the roster turnover the Cavs have experienced this year that the current Cav with the seventh-most minutes didn't even join the team until December. Taken on its own, the Cavaliers portion of Dellavedova's campaign may be his best season yet, but that's not saying much. As a member of the Cavs 2016 Championship team, Delly shouldn't but himself a drink in the city of Cleveland ever again; that doesn't mean he's doing much for the 2019 edition.
Midterm Grade: C-.
New York Post
Nwaba bet on himself by signing a shorter deal than was available to him in last year's free agency and it's not clear if he'll reap the rewards of that choice. He's shot worse this year, scoring fewer points, and averaging fewer rebounds and assists per game as well. He's a hard worker and a professional, but if 'Win Shares' are a meaningful and accurate statistic, he hasn't made the difference in a single win for the Cavs thus far.
Midterm Grade: D+.
The 25-year-old rookie has had one of the more prominent roles in the Cavs' rotating cast of players auditioning for a future with the franchise. The knowledgeable NBA fan realizes that a player like Blossomgame is one of the 500 or so basketball players in the world; in his current incarnation he's a fringe NBA player at best.
Midterm Grade: D.
There was a spate of stories during the championship campaign about how Channing Frye, upon arriving from a downtrodden Orlando Magic team couldn't believe how miserable the Cavs were, and set about infusing them with excitement and enthusiasm over being the best team in the East. He succeeded. He came back to the Cavs in free agency to provide veteran leadership. The jury's still out on that.
Midterm Grade: D-.
What other grade could you give to the malcontent Smith, who, dissatisfied with being part of a rebuilding Cavs team, calls management liars and tries to force his way out of town? Cavs fans will always have fond memories of his shirtless victory parade, and not his final year in Cleveland.
Midterm Grade: F.
Kevin Love, Marquese Chriss, Nik Stauskas, Brandon Knight
None of these four have spent so many as 200 minutes in a Cavs uniform this season. All four are pedigreed players -- high draft choices and/or recipients of large contracts in their NBA careers, but due to injury or inefficiency on other teams, have yet to make any meaningful contribution to Cleveland on the court.
Midterm Grades: Incomplete.
It hasn't been a great year in Cleveland. In many ways, the best thing the Cavs can do now is keep losing to ensure their best odds of a high draft pick, so these grades will have a tough time rising in the coming months. If you're a Cavs fan, you hope that those who aren't longterm pieces of the puzzle contribute as much in trade as the dearly departed Kyle Korver, George Hill, Rodney Hood, Alex Burks, and Sam Dekker.