John Beilein was officially introduced as the Cavs’ head coach on Monday morning. There were some who questioned his decision to leave the University of Michigan after 12 successful seasons. Beilein, however, was intrigued by the chance to call plays for Collin Sexton.
Beilein spoke to members of the media on Tuesday morning. During his availability, he heaped praise on the progression Sexton made in his rookie campaign:
Beilein sees "an explosiveness that's incredible" with Collin Sexton. A terrific player with a high basketball IQ just looking for direction. He was a big reason why he decided to come to #Cavs.
Sexton was Cleveland’s No. 8 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He entered the league with a considerable amount of pressure, as he was taking the point guard position from Kyrie Irving, who joined the Boston Celtics in the offseason.
Two aspects of Sexton’s game were evident right away: his speed and accuracy at range. However, he struggled with ball distribution at times, though his assist totals came up towards the end of his rookie campaign. Still, he was often Cleveland’s No. 1 option on offense.
In 82 appearances with the Cavs this season (72 starts), Sexton racked up averages of 16.7 points on 43.0 percent shooting from the field (40.2 percent from beyond the arc), 3.0 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 31.8 minutes per outing.
Perhaps Beilein’s style of play will suit Sexton. After all, Beilein revolutionized several collegiate programs with his pace and space formats. And while it’s not clear what sort of playbook he’ll keep with the Cavs, there is a good chance he’ll get the most out of his players.
All in all, Beilein seems happy with his decision, and he says he’s had a great first week in Cleveland:
“It’s been a great week,” Beilein said during Tuesday’s media availability. “Not a good week… a great week.”
"It's been a great week. Not a good week… a great week."
Now that he’s officially been introduced as head coach of the Cavs, John Beilein is ready to get to work. He isn’t calling Cleveland’s situation a rebuild, though. The former University of Michigan playcaller is viewing it as “a renaissance.”
Beilein doesn't want to call this a rebuild, would rather refer to it as a renaissance. #Cavs
Beilein, who joined the Cavs as part of what is believed to be a five-year deal, answered a few questions for members of the media on Tuesday morning. He says it’s been a great first week:
“I see a lot of the potential and the high ceiling with the Cavs organization that we saw at Michigan, West Virginia, Richmond, Canisius… all the way back,” Beilein said. “It’s been a great week. Not a good week, but a great week.
“The more that I find out about the Cavaliers, the more that I find out about their players… every individual I meet here… I see this team of superstars off the court that allows us to have a great team on the court.”
Beilein is a highly-respected figure in basketball. He became the only active collegiate coach to record 20-win seasons at four different levels (junior college, NCAA Division III, NCAA Division II, and NCAA Division I). Furthermore, he is one of only 10 coaches to obtain 700 or more wins in Division I play.
At the University of Michigan, Beilein became the scool’s winningest coach and led the Wolverines to a pair of Big Ten regular-season championships and two Big Ten Tournament titles.
Beilein holds an overall win/loss record of 829-468 in the collegiate ranks. He racked up 20-plus win seasons on 23 occasions and finished with a winning record in 35 seasons, placing him in the top-10 for career victories among active Division I head coaches.
Beilein’s coaching style should serve the Cavs well. He’s an excellent teacher who’s known for his unique offensive sets, which focus on pace, space and scoring. However, it will be his first time coaching in the pros.
Cavs fans are still reeling from the NBA Draft Lottery that gave Cleveland the fifth overall pick, but the front office has no time to feel sorry for themselves. The Draft is only a month away, and the Cavaliers must decide what their plan of attack will be.
While they will most likely miss out on the three elite prospects this year, there will still be some solid players available, even if they may never become the franchise centerpiece the team was looking for. Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver fits this description, as he has flaws that will limit his ceiling, but he also has a variety of traits that make him an intriguing prospect.
Culver stands 6’6″ 195lbs with a 6’10” wingspan. He is a good defender and passer, and a solid scorer. His biggest weaknesses are his three-point and free-throw shooting. He is not the most athletic or quick player, and will need to add some weight to his frame.
After playing a complementary role during his freshman season, he led the Red Raiders to their best season in history, with 31 wins and a berth in the national championship game. Jarrett Culver averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.5 steals, while shooting 46% from the floor, 30% from beyond the arc, and 71% from the charity stripe.
He attempted 5.9 more field goals during his sophomore year as compared to his freshman season, and his field goal percentage improved by one point. However, his three-point rate dropped 8% on just 0.3 more shots. This is where the Cavs will need to spend the majority of their scouting time on Culver. Is he ever going to become a consistent enough outside shooter? They went through a very similar situation last year with Collin Sexton, who was not good from three-point range in college, and struggled throughout the first half of the 2018-2019 season for the Cavaliers, before a strong second half brought his season average up to 40% on 3.6 attempts per game.
Culver’s shot form is sound, and his ball has a naturally high arc. The foundation is there for a good outside shot, but if it never comes, Culver’s effectiveness will be limited.
Free-throw shooting must also be a main point of emphasis. A guard shooting 69% from the line over two years is simply unacceptable. Is the reason for this poor form? Nerves? Lack of a consistent routine? Whatever the case, Culver needs to improve his free-throw shooting to at least 80% if he is going to be on the floor at the end of games.
Thankfully for Jarrett Culver, he isn’t just a scorer. He played shooting guard, but he was often Texas Tech’s primary ball-handler. This skill is perhaps the biggest reason why he seems to be the most likely pick at #5 for Cleveland. New head coach John Beilein runs an offensive system that depends on both guards being able to run the offense and direct traffic.
Prior to the Lottery results, there was talk that Sexton could possibly move to SG if the Cavs were to draft Murray State PG Ja Morant. That ship has likely sailed, but the need for another capable guard remains. Jordan Clarkson is best suited as a 6th Man, and could be traded next season. Culver would start next to Sexton and add some versatility to the backcourt.
Defense is also something that Culver prides himself on. The 2018-2019 Cavs were historically bad from a defensive perspective, and need help at every position. Culver could guard PG, SG, and SF, and would probably be the team’s best non-big man defender outside of David Nwaba, if he is re-signed. Cleveland doesn’t have the offensive firepower needed to beat teams when they’re giving up 117 points per game. Culver would be a huge boost in that regard.
Culver is a threat off the dribble, but he needs to add more moves to his repertoire. He can’t just beat defenders using pure speed and athleticism. If he is to be a successful NBA player, Culver will need to become a technician on offense, which his mindset seems to point to happening.
His ceiling may not be as high as someone like Cam Reddish, but Jarrett Culver is a very low-risk prospect. The difference between him being a very good role player and a potential All-Star will be his three-point shot. If he can develop a reliable shot both off the dribble and the catch-and-shoot, he could be a great foundational piece for Cleveland. Sexton and Culver could be the next Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but hopefully with more playoff success in their future.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ rebuild continues in earnest this offseason. After hiring former Michigan head coach John Beilein to make the jump to the NBA, the Cavs are adding J.B. Bickerstaff to the team as the associate head coach:
Cleveland has hired JB Bickerstaff as associate head coach, league sources tell ESPN. Bickerstaff was a target of several teams, but Cavs were determined to pair him with John Beilein and made him one of league’s top paid assistants.
Bickerstaff served as the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies the past two seasons, accumulating a 48-97 record in 145 games. The Grizzlies went 33-49 this year despite trading Marc Gasol and losing rookie standout Jaren Jackson Jr. to injury in late February.
The 40-year-old has been in the NBA since the 2004-05 season, first serving as an assistant coach for the Charlotte Bobcats. He has since coached for the Timberwolves, Rockets and Grizzlies, with head coaching stints in Houston and Memphis.
Cleveland would have liked to welcome Beilein to town with Zion Williamson waiting in tow, but the Cavaliers fell to the No. 5 spot in the upcoming NBA Draft, which complicates their situation.
Although the team is reportedly high on Williamson’s teammate, RJ Barrett, the Cavs would likely have to trade into the top three just to have a chance at selecting Barrett, and the Grizzlies and Knicks do not seem like compatible trade partners.
If they miss out on Barrett, they may elect to draft a point guard — possibly Darius Garland out of Vanderbilt — and move Collin Sexton to the 2-guard. Wings like Jarrett Culver, De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish could also be options at No. 5.
Regardless of what Cleveland’s offseason entails, Bickerstaff has garnered a reputation for his ability to work with young players, something the Cavs will need as they look to improve on a 19-win season.
At the trade deadline in 2018, the Cleveland Cavaliers reshaped their entire roster, trading away six players and bringing in four new ones. 15 months later, half of those players have been traded again, but the two who remain are significant contributors. Jordan Clarkson is a 6th Man of the Year Contender, and Larry Nance Jr. looks to be a valuable member of the rotation for years to come.
His game is perfectly suited for today’s NBA, and he continues to perfect his craft. Nance was given a rich contract extension worth nearly $45 million over four years, and responded with the best season of his young career.
Drafted 27th overall in 2015 out of Wyoming by the Los Angeles Lakers, Jr. is of course the son of Cavaliers legend Larry Nance. He spent two-and-a-half seasons in LA before being traded to Cleveland for an NBA Finals run. In his 24 regular season games with the team, Nance averaged 8.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 20.8 minutes per contest. Very solid numbers for a bench player. Nance is a bit undersized for a big man at 6’9″ 230lbs, but he’s an excellent defender and has the agility and quickness to guard on the perimeter.
Nance’s playstyle is best described as a discount Draymond Green. He rebounds and defends very well, is a great passer from the post, and can score when needed, but is not an offensive focal point. Nance played in 67 games last season for Cleveland, and with injuries to both Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, ended up starting 30 of them. He played 26.8 minutes per night, and was able to show off the improvements he made to his game over the offseason.
He averaged 9.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game, with his marks in points, rebounds, assists, and steals being career-highs. He had clearly worked on becoming a better distributor from the post, and that ability should only improve as the Cavs add more perimeter shooters.
He only attempted 1.5 per game, but Nance shot 34% from beyond the arc, showing the beginnings of a three-point shot, which would do wonders for his offensive game. With his defensive prowess, rebounding and passing ability, and post finishing, adding floor spacing would make him a legitimate scoring threat and would open up the paint for slashers like Collin Sexton and Clarkson.
The great thing about Nance is he doesn’t need touches to be an effective player. Whether he plays 30 minutes or just 10, he’s going to make an impact. He always gives 100% effort and is a fantastic teammate. From the moment the trade was made, Cleveland gave up too much. The Lakers were looking to create salary cap space for the next offseason, ironically to pursue LeBron James.
The Cavs gave them two expiring contracts in Channing Frye and Isaiah Thomas, and took on Nance and Clarkson’s salary, as well as handing LA the Cavaliers’ 2019 first-round pick. Cleveland gave the Lakers everything they wanted plus a draft pick. But Nance’s performance has made that water under the bridge.
Larry Nance played the most games and highest minutes of his career last season, but his role could increase even more in 2019-2020. Both Tristan Thompson and John Henson are in the final year of their respective contracts, and could very well be traded prior to the deadline.
Even if that doesn’t happen, getting Nance more playing time should be a priority for new head coach John Beilein, as Nance is clearly the team’s most effective big man outside of Kevin Love. This will only become more apparent if he can continue to develop his outside jumpshot.
He presents a model for the young players currently on the team and those yet to be added. Nance puts in the work to constantly improve his game, and it’s paid off for him, both in the box score and the check book. It will be very interesting to see his continued development under Beilein, who is known for getting the most out of his players.
One of the most important players in Cleveland’s ongoing rebuild, Larry Nance is still just 26 years old and his best basketball is likely ahead of him. He should be a fixture in the rotation for years to come, and one of the team’s leaders for its next playoff appearance.
NBA legend Jerry West and newly-appointed Cavs head coach John Beilein shared a unique moment during Thursday’s draft combine sessions.
West, who is currently serving as an executive with the Los Angeles Clippers, was happy to hear that Beilein landed the job in Cleveland. However, West was also a bit surprised to hear that Beilein was leaving his post at the University of Michigan after 12 successful seasons:
Joe Vardon of cleveland.com documented the cordial meeting between West and Beilein at the combine. The two shared a handshake and a laugh:
There’s that warm handshake, sure, but then they grasped the other’s elbow with their free hand.
And then West said to Beilein: “Are you fucking crazy?”
“Then he said, ‘No, I know what you did, it was a great move,’” Beilein said of West. “He was joking at first.”
West went on to say that Beilein is one of the best coaches in today’s game, praising his concepts on the offensive end of the floor:
“I think at this point in his life, he’s been one of America’s best coaches, and great teachers, has a system that will play, should play very well in the NBA,” West told The Athletic. “Moving the ball, passing, emphasizing a lot of cutting — a thinking kind of an offense, where I think you would hope to eliminate a lot of the one-on-one play, make it more of a team kind of concept. Where people touch the ball more.
“I think he’ll be a great coach, he’s a great person,” West said in closing. “Couldn’t find a finer person. He’s been a helluva coach for a long time.”
Beilein is a highly-respected figure in the basketball-loving world. He became the only active collegiate coach to record 20-win seasons at four different levels (junior college, NCAA Division III, NCAA Division II, and NCAA Division I). And furthermore, he is one of only 10 coaches to obtain 700 or more wins in Division I play.
Beilein has served as a head coach for several schools over the years, including Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia and Michigan. With the Wolverines, he became the school’s winningest coach, leading the Wolverines to a pair of Big Ten regular-season championships and two Big Ten Tournament titles.
A proven winner, Beilein holds an overall win/loss record of 829-468 in the collegiate ranks. He racked up 20-plus win seasons on 23 occasions and finished with a winning record in 35 seasons, placing him in the top-10 for career victories among active Division I head coaches.
The 2018-19 campaign was not good for the Cavs, as they finished with a 19-63 overall record and failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in four consecutive seasons. Let’s see if John Beilein’s play-calling can lead the team back to the postseason.
The Cleveland Cavaliers learned which pick they will have in the 2019 NBA Draft during Tuesday night’s live airing of the lottery. The Cavs will have plenty of options with the No. 5 pick, and they’re scheduled to meet with Duke’s Cam Reddish on Friday.
Duke forward Cam Reddish will meet with the Cavaliers at the NBA Combine on Friday and there is a possibility the sides get to know each other well.
Reddish, now 19 years of age, is projected to be a top pick in this year’s draft. Some analysts have the Pennsylvania native going in the top five, while others rank him a bit lower.
The Cavs are likely taking a look at Reddish due to his upside and potential versatility. At 6-foot-8, he could be utilized at the 3 or 4 spot, and he has a decent shot from beyond the arc. He’s also a fairly solid defender, which should serve him well in the NBA.
In 36 appearances with Duke (35 starts), Reddish racked up averages of 13.5 points on 35.6 percent shooting from the field (33.3 percent from beyond the arc), 3.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals.
At Duke, Reddish played alongside two other top prospects in Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Reddish was clearly the third option on that team, but he still managed to make a name for himself:
“I can do it all,” Reddish told Amico. “I feel like I am capable of doing everything on both sides of the floor. I’m about to get the opportunity to show that.”
The Cavs will interview a lot of prospects at the combine and beyond. There are several players who might fall to the Cavs at No. 5, including Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter, Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland, Texas Tech shooting guard Jarrett Culver and North Carolina combo guard Coby White.
The 2019 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 20. Let’s see who else the Cavs meet with between now and then.
When the Cleveland Cavaliers traded guard Alec Burks at the February deadline, the return centered on Brandon Knight and his bad contract, as well as the Houston Rockets’ 2019 first-round pick, which ended up being 26th overall. But Houston also sent forward Marquese Chriss to Cleveland, a player who clearly had potential, but who had been unable to realize it over his first three seasons in the league.
Chriss got off to a good start in Cleveland, but by the end of the season, he had failed to build on that start, and again looked like the player who would never get it together in the NBA.
Drafted eighth overall in 2016 by the Phoenix Suns, Chriss was a project coming out of Washington. He was a supremely athletic 6’10” 240lbs, with the ability to be both a rim protector and a solid perimeter defender. He could rebound, finish inside, and shoot the three-pointer.
During his rookie season, he played in all 82 games, starting 75, and averaged 9.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 0.9 blocks per contest. He earned a spot on the All-Rookie team, and his career was certainly trending upward.
But during his sophomore year, Chriss failed to develop. His offensive stats fell across the board, and after the season, Phoenix gave up on him, and traded him along with Brandon Knight to the Rockets for Ryan Anderson’s albatross of a contract. Chriss was basically given away.
But now, he had a chance to earn a rotational spot on a championship contender. Houston wasn’t a bad situation for him at all. Unfortunately, he failed to carve out a role for himself, as he was active for just 16 games, averaging 6.5 minutes and 2.1 shot attempts.
In his Cleveland debut against the Washington Wizards, Marquese Chriss poured in 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc, along with eight rebounds. Five nights later, he erupted for 23 points against the Brooklyn Nets, the second-highest scoring output of his career. Maybe all Chriss really needed was a fresh start and consistent playing time in order to be effective.
Unfortunately, he would reach 10 points only once more in 2018-2019, and finished the season averaging 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game, while shooting 38% from the field and 26% from beyond the arc. He had flashes of excellence in his 27 games with the Cavs, but like the rest of his career, nothing was consistent.
Chriss is still just 21 years old, and will play the entirety of next season at 22. His youth and potential is still something that will intrigue teams, and should interest the Cavs in keeping Chriss around. The problem is that Cleveland’s frontcourt is extremely crowded. Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., Tristan Thompson, John Henson, and Ante Zizic all need significant minutes.
Henson and Thompson could be traded before next year’s deadline, but until that happens, Chriss would have a massive roadblock in front of him for playing time. However, because of his athleticism, Chriss isn’t limited to playing power forward or center. He can very easily play small forward, and that could be the best role for him moving forward.
This would of course take plenty of work from new head coach John Beilein, but turning Chriss into a hybrid SF/PF could be beneficial for the Cavaliers. They are weakest on the wing, and Chriss could help fill that need. He would need to work on three main things during the offseason; losing weight to give him some added quickness, improving his three-point stroke, and improving his passing ability.
This project would also hinge on the Cavs re-signing Chriss, which in spite of the frontcourt logjam, makes sense. He is young and loaded with potential, and as Cleveland missed out on a top-three pick in this year’s draft, the team is still going to have a few years to develop young talent before becoming legitimate playoff contenders.
There were also reports that Chriss was neither the best teammate nor the hardest worker in Phoenix, but by all accounts he’s been an excellent fit in the locker room for the Cavaliers. Beilein’s specialty is player development, and Marquese Chriss certainly needs plenty of it. Keeping him around for the chance he reaches his potential is worth the risk, as long as Cleveland doesn’t have to overpay.
The Cleveland Cavaliers shared the best odds for the no. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft alongside the New York Knicks and the Phoenix Suns. While the Knicks managed to stay in the top three, the Cavs fell to the no. 5 spot after the Pelicans, Lakers and Grizzlies all climbed up the board.
Cleveland was hoping to have the chance to draft one of Zion Williamson, Ja Morant or R.J. Barrett. Instead, they are likely to miss out on all three from their current draft position.
Still, there are some interesting options for the Cavs at the no. 5 spot, and a number of players who could have an immediate impact on Cleveland’s rebuild.
But in an incredibly top-heavy draft, there are also a number of players who may be suspect fits on this current Cavs roster.
With that in mind, here are three players that the Cavs should avoid in the 2019 NBA Draft.
3. Coby White
There are a number of reasons that the Cavs should avoid taking White. For starters, they had hoped that they drafted their point guard of the future when they selected Collin Sexton last season.
And while Sexton may be more of a combo guard, he certainly needs the ball in his hands to be a consistent playmaker. White is very similar in this regard.
Although White has decent court vision and has shown a capacity to shoot the three, his strength stems from his ability to get out and run in transition. White was one of the fastest players in all of college basketball last season, and he loves to push the tempo.
New Cavs head coach John Beilein is someone who prioritizes efficiency in the half-court offense, which does not quite suit White’s game. In addition to a potential inability to coexist with Sexton, it seems unlikely that White would thrive in a Beilein system that may choose to slow things down.
If the Cavs do decide to take a point guard, they may be better off taking a flyer on Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland, who is a better shooter than White and looks like more of a shot creator and playmaker in the half court.
2. Nassir Little
Nell Redmond/Associated Press
Cleveland would also be wise to avoid taking White’s teammate at North Carolina, Nassir Little.
While Little shined when he saw more minutes during the 2019 NCAA Tournament, his skill set at the three position simply does not mesh with the rest of Cleveland’s projected rotations.
Little plays in the paint, and uses his strength and athleticism to score inside. He has shown a tremendous ability to rebound for his size, but at 6’6″ he would still be pretty undersized at small forward and even moreso at power forward.
Then there is also the fact that Cedi Osman just had a breakout season, and is more perimeter-oriented in complimenting Sexton, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.
Taking Little at no. 5 would be a big reach anyway, but Cleveland should avoid making that mistake all the same.
1. Jarrett Culver
Matt York / Associated Press
Culver was sensational in Texas Tech’s run to the national title game. He averaged 18.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists in the NCAA Tournament, establishing himself as one of the best players in March and increasing his draft stock as a result.
But Culver’s weaknesses were exposed in the title game loss to Virginia. A 30 percent shooter from beyond the arc during the season, Culver did not make a single one of his six three-pointers, and shot just 5 of 22 from the field as he was harassed by UVA standout DeAndre Hunter.
At 6’6″ and under 200 pounds, Culver simply could not handle the physicality of Hunter, and it was evident that he was often off-balance throughout the game.
Now, Culver will almost certainly get stronger, and his athleticism and defensive abilities of his own make him a noteworthy prospect. But, like Little, he struggles to shoot from the perimeter and remains somewhat undersized at the two.
There is a chance that Culver could thrive in a system with more scorers and playmakers, but the Cavs are still a very young team predicated mostly on their inside-out scoring.
Cleveland would be far better off selecting Hunter–if he is still available–or taking a gamble on the upside of Cam Reddish.
The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t meet with Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The Cavs have the fifth overall pick in the NBA Draft, which is on June 20.
The Cavs finished with the second-worst record in the NBA this season. They hired Michigan head coach John Beilein on May 13.
The New Orleans Pelicans have the first overall pick and will select Duke star Zion Williamson. The Memphis Grizzlies are widely expected to take Murray State point guard Ja Morant with the second pick, and the New York Knicks will most likely select Duke forward RJ Barrett with the third pick.
That means the Los Angeles Lakers might select Garland with the fourth pick. The Cavs could take Duke’s Cam Reddish, Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter or Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver with the fifth pick.
The Cavs roster is headlined by Kevin Love, Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman and Larry Nance Jr. The development of Sexton, Osman and Nance is the most important thing for the franchise moving forward since they are all 26 and younger.