Fixing the Cleveland Cavaliers Offense for Mike Brown

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Fixing the Cleveland Cavaliers Offense for Mike Brown
Eric P. Mull-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody has ever mistaken Mike Brown for an offensive guru.

The Cleveland Cavaliers brought Brown in to fix their 25th-ranked team defense from last season. Now, it's the offense that's suffering.

The Cavs are currently ranked 23rd in scoring, 26th in field-goal percentage and 26th in total offensive efficiency. Even teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic are scoring more than the Cavaliers this season.

Kyrie Irving is struggling through the lowest shooting percentages of his career, and the team is still trying to integrate Andrew Bynum's post game into the offense.

As Cleveland is still very much a playoff contender, here are some quick fixes Brown can make to kick-start a stagnant Cavaliers offense.

 

Keep Kyrie in Pick-and-Rolls, Less in Isolation

Every NBA team uses at least some pick-and-roll action, as it's an easy way to free up a guard and let him make a play.

With Kyrie Irving, the Cavs have one of the best pick-and-roll weapons in the entire league. Irving, despite what his current percentages might say, is a very good shooter when given space. He's also very skilled at attacking the basket.

Josh Martin of Bleacher Report brought up some very interesting statistics regarding Irving using the pick-and-roll.

He writes that Irving is 11th in the NBA in points per possession when given the ball in pick-and-roll situations. He's shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from the three-point line coming off the screen. Comparatively, his overall percentages are just 41.1 percent from the field and 32.5 percent from three.

Despite this success, Martin states that Irving is only using the pick-and-roll in 37.9 percent of his offensive plays. When Irving goes into his me-against-the-world isolation mode, which he does 15.1 percent of the time, he's far less effective. His points per possession drop to .83, 38th in the NBA.

If the Cavs ran Irving less in isolation and more in the pick-and-roll, the offense would be much more effective.

 

Look For Bynum, But Don't Force It

Andrew Bynum can be a unique offensive weapon.

He's part of a dying breed of traditional back-to-the-basket centers who rely on post moves more than athleticism. Few can match up with Bynum's 7'0", 290-pound frame. Cleveland needs to take advantage of this and get him touches, as long as it doesn't kill the rest of the offense.

Brown has been honest about the Cavs' problems getting Bynum the ball, telling The Cleveland Plain-Dealer:

I'd love to get him the ball, but right now, we don't know how to get him the ball when teams front him. You watch any game we play and teams front him, we have a tough time getting him the ball. Sometimes it brings us to a standstill and makes us real stagnant offensively.

Bynum is capable of getting the ball 10-15 feet out and beating his man off the dribble. When players force him further out than that, Bynum struggles to create a shot.

NBA.com/stats
Bynum is much more efficient in the post than from mid-range.

Cleveland needs to keep Bynum near the basket. It can use Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao or whoever is playing power forward to set a low screen for Bynum to get him an open look. The guards also need to know when this switch happens and pass Bynum the ball immediately.

If Bynum doesn't get open, the Cavs can't just stand around and wait for him. Cleveland too often falls out of rhythm on offense while waiting for Bynum to establish his position.

 

Put the Ball in Anthony Bennett's Hands

The rookie and first overall pick is averaging just 10 minutes a game and is spending about 9.5 of those standing at the three-point line.

While that might be a slight exaggeration, the Cavs need to do a better job getting the ball to Bennett inside the arc.

Right now, Bennett's usage percentage (an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor) is just 18 percent. For comparison, Irving's usage percentage is 30.9 percent.

Twenty-three of Bennett's 65 total shot attempts have been from three, where he's shooting an abysmal 17.4 percent. A combo forward who can play with his back to the basket or knock down jumpers, Bennett is an ideal pick-and-roll partner for the Cavalier guards.

Cleveland needs to do a better job of isolating Bennett in the post and using him in pick-and-roll situations.

 

Screen for Shooters

This should be another easy adjustment.

The Cavaliers have some good shooters on the roster but do a poor job of getting them open. Cleveland is just 19th in three-point attempts (19.8 per game) and 15th in three-point percentage (35.3 percent). The league's top five three-point shooting teams (Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards and Miami Heat) are a combined 91-43 this season.

The NBA is a copy-cat league, and here's a play Cleveland should steal from Golden State.

On this play, the Warriors open up Stephen Curry, who set the total single-season three-point record last year.

Youtube

The Warriors start with a guard at the top of the arc, waiting for Curry to start the play. Curry takes off for the baseline with his man trailing behind.

Youtube

In this play, shooting guard Klay Thompson crosses Curry near the baseline, trying to get open or create a distraction on the other side. Golden State uses a big to slide over after Curry curls around to set the pick.

Youtube

The other team is now trapped. Does it hope Curry's man can fight through the screen fast enough to contest the shot, or does it switch its big out to guard him?

Either way, the offense wins.

With Irving, C.J. Miles, Dion Waiters and Sergey Karasev, Cleveland has three-point threats. It just needs to get them open.

These four steps, if executed correctly, would do wonders for the Cavaliers offense.

Mike Brown may have the defense playing better, but Cleveland will need a complete team effort if it wants to turn around a disappointing offensive start to the season.

 

-GS

 

All stats via Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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