Painful Time for the Cleveland Cavaliers

I was SO wrong about the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers.  Despite the departure of 27.5 wins from last season’s team, I thought the Cavs would rally and challenge the .500% mark.  Ah, no. 

The pundits were right (so far).  I was wrong.  Before the season many pundits were predicting that the Cavs would be the worst team in the NBA.  I said, “Come on now, the Cavs still have (or I believed they had) some decent win producers.”  I calculated the 3 year win averages for their remaining players, along with a guess at playing time, and I think I hit something like 42.2 wins.  They will never make it to that.  In fact, they project as the worst team in the NBA. 

But why?  Is it all because of LeBron?  Some of it is, obviously, but many of the players who have declined the most severely had track records of success before they ever played with LeBron… precedents I relied upon.  In fact, all of the huge decliners with the exception of JJ Hickson (who was never very good even with LeBron) had been positive win contributors on teams that did not feature LeBron.  So it doesn’t explain everything.

Here is the Cavaliers Win Chart to date, and below is the answer:

Cleveland Cavaliers
Win Score
Win Contribution
Player Winning
A Varejeo
5.0 +2.21
2.4__0.4 +0.258
D Gibson
1.0 -0.13
1.3__1.5 -0.015
R Sessions
1.6 -0.77 0.8__1.3 -0.069 .370%
A Parker
2.2 -1.73 0.6__2.2 -0.202
M Williams
1.4 -2.08
0.3__1.9 -0.194
A Jamison
3.6 -2.06 0.3__2.0 -0.196 .153%
J Moon
3.2 -2.32
0.2__1.5 -0.166
R Hollins
5.0 -2.54
0.1__1.3 -0.146
J Williams
3.1 -2.71
0.0__1.3 -0.152 .042%
L Powe
4.6 -4.03
(-0.1)__0.6 -0.093
M Harris
2.0 -5.94 (-0.2)__0.6 -0.103
J Graham
J Hickson
4.2 -3.44
(-0.2)__2.5 -0.324

MWS Record: 5.3__18.7

4.8__19.2 -1.610 (18.8__63.2)


Reason number one behind Cleveland’s poor start is their defense, or lack thereof.  By efficiency standards, Cleveland, behind new coach Byron Scott, has gone from one of the best defenses in the NBA to the absolute worst.   I attribute a large chunk of a team’s defensive play to its coach.  If the coach permits lax defensive effort, players will give lax defensive effort.  There is no incentive for maximum defense other than playing time, personal pride, or espirit de corps.  Players don’t get paid for defense.  If they did the Association would keep better individual defensive statistics.  

2. Jamario Moon

Jamario Moon has gone from a win producer to a huge negative.  He was once an efficient scorer due to this proficiency with 3 point shooting.  Not this season.  He was once a reasonable defender.  This season he is awful.  He once avoided turnovers.  This season he does not.  He once blocked shots.  He no longer does.  No player on the Cavaliers roster has been more disappointing to me than Moon.

3.  Mo Williams

We knew Mo Williams would probably regress this season, but I thought he would regress only to his Milwaukee Buck numbers.  He has regressed much further.  Again, the story is shooting efficiency.  Williams once turned scoring attempts to points on an above average basis, this season he does not.  And to make things even worse for Cleveland fans, he is shooting as often as a drunken cowboy at New Year’s. 

4. JJ Hickson

With the departure of LeBron, someone on the team was going to get more shot attempts.  Betcha didn’t figure it would be the aimless JJ Hickson.  It has been!  Somehow Hickson is using the second highest percentage of possessions on the team, and he is one of the worst scorers on the team.  He doesn’t even produce one point per scoring attempt… the absolute minimum acceptable level.  Thus, his shots are like turnovers.  God, is he awful!

5. Parker, Powe, and Jamison

The decline of these three I probably should have foreseen.  All three were, at one time in the recent past, very productive.  This season each is unproductive.  But I should have seen each decline coming.  Parker is 35 years old.   Powe has never really recovered from his knee injury.  And Jamison was in freefall until he came to Cleveland last season and briefly reversed his decline.  Why I thought he would continue his revitalization now that the Cavaliers are essentially a Midwest version of Jamison’s old Washington Wizards, I have no idea.

2 Responses to “Painful Time for the Cleveland Cavaliers”

  1. jbrett Says:


    I was of similar opinion; I thought they would be decent. Dare I label it the Keystone Theory? Remove it (LeBron) and the building collapses?

    Seriously, I shy away from Usage-based arguments as a rule; however, can we conjecture that losing LBJ’s high efficiency shifts the burden onto the remaining players much more than the usual cases?

  2. tywill33 Says:

    Hey, I like that!

    The other important consideration is who takes over the shooting. How on Earth did Cleveland decide it would be JJ Hickson?? If you notice, they were competitive last night when the more sensible choice (Gibson) took control. Sometimes its just based on assertiveness and reputation, not shooting efficiency.

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