Delonte West’s recent arrest and probable multi-game suspension should worry the Cavaliers as it shows how fragile their starting back-court is.
While Cleveland has two other point guards on their roster, Mo Williams and Daniel Gibson, neither of them serve the many roles that West fills.
Williams and Gibson are not traditional point guards- and are much more comfortable taking shots- rather than distributing the basketball. However, if each isn’t hitting their shot, they serve little purpose on the court as they are not known for their defensive or ball-handling skills.
On the other hand, West can help the Cavs in many ways. He has quickly turned into one of the top defenders in the game. Coach Brown always unleashes him on the opposing team's top guard, and Delonte consistently rises to the occasion with a toughness that is often lacking on the club.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, perimeter defense was a huge concern for Cleveland when the length and athleticism of Orlando’s forwards dominated the series. If West is suspended for any length of time, or suffers an injury, the Cavaliers could face the same deficiency on defense, this time, with the guards.
Over the last couple of years, a big concern for the Cavaliers was the amount of time LeBron James had the ball in his hands, and the extra pressure that was put on him from bringing the ball up the court. Last season, having West and Williams in the lineup eased some of his ball-handling responsibilities and kept him fresh in the fourth quarter.
This was a trend that should continue this year, but there needs to be a more viable option off the bench other than Daniel Gibson.
Although Delonte West shouldn’t miss much time, his absence will illustrate how truly valuable he is to this team. This occurrence should also lead Danny Ferry to add another point guard to the roster for insurance purposes.