Byron Scott has seen mixed results thus far.
Like Kyrie Irving’s layup attempt at the end of regulation, however, a win for Cleveland didn’t bounce their way, as they were overcome by the Pacers’ size and superior talent in overtime.
Despite some nerve-racking free-throw shooting (the Cavs shot 18-of-31 as a team) and terrible officiating (Anderson Varejao couldn’t buy a foul call, and traveling seemed decriminalized whenever Danny Granger had the ball), there were more positives than negatives from yesterday’s game.
Kyrie has shown early flashes of potential.
He demonstrated great court vision against the Detroit Pistons. He showed off his scoring and rebounding abilities against Indiana.
Admittedly, he should have made the game-winning layup against the Pacers, but it was by no means a gimme.
Kyrie has shown an ability to finish with either hand and create shots for his teammates. He needs to work on his jumper and avoid trying to be overly crafty with his passes.
He’s also been solid on the defensive end, tightly guarding opposing point guards and altering shots.
The athleticism, basketball IQ and talent are there. Irving is by no means a finished product, but at 19, he will only get better as the season progresses.
Parker is a steady influence for the young Cavaliers.
Anthony Parker's presence has been vital to helping the younger players develop a collective defensive mentality.
At 36, his best days are well behind him. As a non-integral offensive player, however, Parker has shot the ball well, and usually takes high-percentage jump shots.
Along with Daniel Gibson, he’s the team’s best three-point option, and a reliable jump shooter.
Cleveland's bench has produced when called upon.
Byron Scott has been able to effectively utilize a 10-man rotation with each player providing something different. The bench scoring has been especially good, with the team amongst the league leaders in bench points.
After only three games, it seems as if Scott has found his regular 10, and can look to mix in Christian Eyenga and Semih Erden when he returns from his thumb injury.
Luckily for all Cavs fans, Ryan Hollins has promptly found his way out of the rotation.
Tristan Thompson is establishing himself on D.
Defense hasn’t been the mantra of the Cavs since LeBron left town.
After being embarrassed by the Raptors in the season opener, they’ve stepped up their defensive effort in the last two contests, challenging shots and forcing turnovers.
In Friday’s game, the Cavs’ strong defensive effort was especially evident in the first half.
Anderson Varejao has continued to be at the forefront of the defensive end, regularly harassing opposing bigs, drawing charges and being in the right place for loose balls.
Rookie Tristan Thompson has been a factor in altering shots, and it won’t take long for the league to take notice of his presence in the paint.
The Cavs can rely on Andy for nine to 10 rebounds a night.
Apart from Anderson Varejao, Cleveland doesn’t have a bonafide rebounder.
Antawn Jamison is more of a stretch four, Samardo Samuels has strength but needs to work on his positioning and Tristan Thompson will help, but is unproven on the NBA level.
The Cavs cannot continue to live and die on the contributions of Varejao, as his relentless playing style will likely cause him to miss some time due to injury.
Just as Andrea Bargnani exposed the Cavs’ weakness defending offensive big men, Roy Hibbert exposed the team’s lack of rebounding.
Antawn Jamison's offensive skills are in rapid decline.
On such a young roster, veteran leadership cannot be overemphasized.
Anthony Parker, Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao are all established and respected players, but none is overly vocal, commanding in the huddle or go-to guys in tight situations.
When it comes to crunch time, the ball will be in either Kyrie Irving's or Ramon Sessions’s hands.
LeBron isn't here anymore. The Cavs need creativity.
Late in Friday’s game, the Cavaliers fell into the old trap of standing around, watching the playmaker dribble and drive, much as they did during the LeBron era.
With defense as the focal point of the team memo, Byron Scott can’t forgo the offense when the team needs a bucket at the end of the game.
With a lack of experienced playmakers, the Cavs need to get creative with the playbook. They need to rely on more plays than just the pick-and-roll with Irving/Sessions and Varejao at the end of games.
Samuels can throw down. Can he finish the And-1?
Free-throw shooting has been a lingering problem the past few seasons.
The Cavs simply don’t have the talent to win games when they miss 13 free throws in a game. We have a few chronically bad foul shooters in Samardo Samuels and Tristan Thompson.
Cleveland has done a good job attacking the basket thus far this season, but needs to do a much better job of knocking down the freebies. Friday’s game was a prime example of how missed free throws cost the team a win.
Omri needs to step up his game.
Only three games into the season, its not fair to throw any one player under the bus. Byron Scott has some nice pieces to work with as the season moves forward. That being said, however, the Cavs need more from Omri Casspi.
At the beginning of the season, I predicted Casspi would be the team’s second-leading scorer, and I stand by that.
Judging from his performance thus far, he doesn’t look in rhythm with the offense. His game just seems passive at this point, and he doesn’t look confident with the ball in his hands.
This must change if the team hopes to be competitive this season.