A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Cavaliers

Breaking down the Cleveland Cavaliers’ last place defense

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The Cleveland Cavaliers just made NBA history by setting the all time losing streak at 26 and counting and now sit 30th in both ORTG and DRTG, giving them a record of 8-45. The last place offense was foreseeable with the lack of talent without Lebron. But the defense dropping from 7th last season to 30th this season is shocking. In their honor, I decided to finally dive into their shockingly bad defense with a wannabe basketball analyst’s best friends, basketball-reference.com, hoopdata.com, and 82games.com

Surprisingly, peripherals indicate a defensive strategy of play. According to basketball-reference.com, the Cavaliers rank 15th in DRB% and 29th in ORB% (when I began writing this the Cavaliers ranked 5th in DRB%, but nevertheless the gap is large enough even as it stands). A large difference between DRB% and ORB% in either direction is the easiest way to tell a team focuses on either side. The Cavaliers’ low ORB% indicates they prefer leaving players back to protect transition buckets instead of going for offensive rebounds, and their DRB% ranking top 5 for most of the season shows preferring defensive rebounding and stopping putback points over letting players leak out in front of the opposing team to score fastbreak points. Yet the Cavaliers are still 30th defensively behind teams like Toronto and Golden State who don’t even try to protect transition buckets or grab defensive rebounds? How do we explain this?

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Developing an NBA GMing strategy: Entrepreneur/Net Worth Theory

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One question defines the search of NBA GMs and backseat fans alike:

“What’s the best way to improve this team’s position going forward?”

Of course this appears a near answerless question. Or else we wouldn’t argue so much about it. But the easy answers are “be lucky” and “make good decisions.” Most concede the biggest common denominator on championship teams are superstar players. Superstars are usually acquired via draft which is luck heavy. Thus luck is the most inarguable dominant factor in making succesful teams.

But it’s not everything. Success is luck + good decisions. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ failure after drafting Lebron, among others, prove teams that draft superstars need to make good decisions to win. Furthermore even if you believe ‘tanking’ for superstars is the best way to go about succeeding, this fits under the strategic decisions umbrella and as a plausible answer for the ‘good way’. Though it’d only explain how to start a team, leaving the other half of our strategy empty.

Thus in search of our definitive NBA strategy, we turn back to the question ‘What’s the best way to improve this team’s position going forward’:

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Cavaliers’ Fall now Worst in History

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Well, after last night’s horrendous 55 point loss to the Lakers, it’s worth revisiting the poor Cleveland Cavaliers.  Their SRS for this year is now down to -10.19, the worst of any team in the past decade.   That also puts their SRS fall from last year at -16.36, which surpasses the ’98-99 Bulls -15.82 for worst fall in history.

Again we can talk about how the Cavs are down on themselves and have had some injuries, but so have plenty of other teams in history, and none have fallen like this.

Written by Matt Johnson

January 12, 2011 at 10:29 am

Greatest SRS Improvements in NBA History; Notable Players & Coaches

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I wanted to follow up on the Fall of the Cavaliers post, where I posted the 10 greatest falls in NBA history.

First, I compiled that list, and the list below by hand.  It’s possible I missed teams, especially those from defunct franchises.  I’d welcome any corrections.

The 10 greatest SRS improvements in NBA history and the notable changes those teams:

Note that the improvements from Oakland and New Jersey (known at the time as New York) occurred in the ABA before their NBA-ABA merger.

Seeing these top 10s obviously begs the question of who was involved in multiple massive changes in team performances.  Observations I’ve made looking at SRS changes of 6 or greater (which is roughly the 100 biggest changes in history):

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The Fall of the Cavaliers

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Great post on Back Picks about how much worse the Cavaliers have gotten without LeBron.  I was actually fixing to make a similar post myself, but now I’ll just keep it brief:

-The Cavs are on pace for the 2nd biggest fall in SRS (team performance based on point differential and strength of schedule) in NBA history.  Here’s a table, with the top 10 falls and the changes involved:

-You cannot simply dismiss this as the Cavs’ tanking for a good draft pick because the rest of the supporting cast is still in place.  Yes poor performance leads to de-motivation which leads to worse performance, but that’s true of every team in history, and still only once has there been a falloff this bad.

-It is utterly unreasonable to expect anyone with a supporting cast this bad to win a championship.  I’m not saying it was impossible, just that it’s an unreasonable expectation.  People still debate about who is and was better between LeBron and Kobe Bryant, and many give Kobe this edge based on championships, but there is simply no way that any supporting cast Kobe’s won a title with could be this bad without him.  Last year for example, the Lakers went 6-3 without Kobe.

Clearly the impact LeBron was having in Cleveland was up there with any in all of history.

-Going back to the Decision, there is a lot you can blame LeBron for, but I’ve maintained that since the Boston series last year, LeBron must have been thinking “my teammates just aren’t that good, we’re not as close as I thought to being the best, and there’s no reason to think we can get much better”.  You combine that with all the criticism LeBron got for being unable to win the big one, and it’s pretty easy to see why he left Cleveland.  It was much less about going to South Beach, and much more about getting out of a situation that he saw as no-win.

Written by Matt Johnson

January 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm