Where’s the shooting?
It’s become a 3-point shooting league. The Cavs were 2nd in the NBA in 3-pointers made per game last year (13 per game), 2nd in 3-pointers attempted per game (33.9), and 2nd in 3-point percentage (38.4%). So where’s the problem? Gone is Kyrie Irving; replaced (for a couple months, maybe longer) by Derrick Rose. He’s only cracked 30% on 3-pointers once in his career (in 2013, in 10 games before he got hurt). He shot 21% on 3-pointers last year in New York. The Cavs have also decided to start Dwyane Wade over JR Smith. For his career, Smith has shot 37 percent on 3-pointers. Wade is a career 28 percent 3-point shooter. He shot 31 percent from deep last year.
To offset this, the Cavs have moved Kevin Love to center and inserted Jae Crowder at forward. You’ve now created a setup where the Cavs have two guards who can’t shoot from deep; and three forwards who can. Crowder shot 39 percent on 3-pointers last year in Boston, a career high. It’s pretty clear opponents will clog the lane and give Rose/Wade any shot they want. How Ty Lue handles this until Isaiah Thomas (37 percent for his career from deep) returns will be fascinating.
Everyone loves the Cavs depth. The names are there. The talent is/was there. But look at the ages: Channing Frye is 34, Wade is 35, Kyle Korver is 36, Jose Calderon is 36. There are seven players on the Cavs who are 31 or older. With questions about age come questions about durability: Wade has played more than 73 regular season games once in the last six seasons. When you’re in game 95 of the season against the Celtics in May, how will the old men hold up?
I’ve joked for years that LeBron is a cyborg. He’s played in the Finals seven straight times, a modern record. That’s an extra 146 games, or nearly two extra seasons. Only 32 years old, LeBron’s already played more NBA minutes than Michael Jordan, Bill Russell and Charles Barkley. LeBron has never missed more than 13 regular season games in a season. Fourteen straight seasons of that is absurd. Yeah, age is a factor.
Is this LeBron’s final year in Cleveland? Why hasn’t he committed to an extension? What’s he going to do next year? These are all questions that will be asked all season, and never answered because frankly, (I won’t mention the last two times this happened; he lost in the playoffs to the Celtics; and then his Heat were smoked in the Finals by San Antonio after being pushed to the limit by the Pacers). LeBron doesn’t have to make a decision now, and he’s one of the greatest players of all-time. As soon as a 10-game winning streak happens: Maybe LeBron stays. When they lose three in a row: Welp, he’s gone. That type of twice-a-month issue will wear down even the most veteran teams. I think it gets ’em in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Big Lead