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Just The Sports: Listen To The King

Just The Sports

Monday, February 12, 2007

Listen To The King

There are legitimate reasons for coaches being involved in sports. The majority of athletes, left to their own devices, will usually find themselves unable to make tactical decisions on a day in and day out basis that will lead them to success. That is why I was skeptical when LeBron James, among other Cleveland Cavaliers, criticized Mike Brown's offensive schemes, practically begging him to let the team run more and get out in transition in order to get easier shots. In this instance, at least, James is correct in his opinion the Cavaliers need fixing and he may even be right in his proposed solution.

Whatever change Brown makes, and if he is able to divorce himself from his offensive philosophy long enough to do so, he needs to do so soon if the Cavaliers hope to recapture the magic from last season. True, the Cleveland Cavaliers are 30-21 through fifty-one games, just like they were last season, but they have arrived at the same record through fantastically different paths. Last season for the first fifty-one games, the Cavaliers had an offensive rating of 109.4 with a 54.0 TS% and scored 1.08 points per shot attempt. This season all three of those statistics fell off dramatically. Despite playing at a similar pace and averaging a similar number of offensive possessions, the Cavaliers have only managed an offensive rating of 105.9, 51.8 TS%, and 1.04 points per shot attempt. Since the Cavaliers have not improved on the defensive side of the ball, with their drop-off in offensive production, they should consider themselves lucky to be as far above .500 as they are now.

With the team already struggling, there is no reason for Coach Mike Brown to disallow the team more fast break opportunities since lay-ups and dunks are the easiest shots available in the game of basketball.

Another reason for James's complaints could be his own shooting decline. He is not quite in the range of posting a stastically significant worse shooting percentage, but he is dangerously close. In addition to his true shooting percentage through the first fifty-one games of last year (57.3 TS%) decreased to 54.8 TS% in the first fifty-two games of this season, but his shot attempts have not yielded as many points (1.15 to 1.10). His precipitous decline in free throw percentage (73.9 FT% to 68.1 FT%) has only served to further exacerbate his shooting woes.

Speaking of free throw shooting, interesting enougly, the Cavaliers ignored that aspect of their offense when they were casting aspersions. While shooting better from the line will not solve all of their problems, it would be a great start. At the very least, greater concentration should be able to improve their free throw percentage from the 68.5% it is this season. Last year, in the aforementioned time frame, it was 74.6%.

In order for the Cavaliers to realize their potential, Mike Brown will need to swallow his pride long enough design an offense that actually takes advantage of the talents of his players. Playing a slow-it-down, half-court oriented offense with a roster that includes no true shooters is not very good coaching and kudos to the Cavaliers for calling their coach out on his poor strategy.



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