I’ve seen several editions of these midseason report cards but was a bit bothered by the grades received by a few players. Many others have put out grades for players strictly based on how impressive their stats are through the first half but let’s all keep in mind that we only have one LeBron James. Each other player on this team has a role to fulfill and here’s how they’ve fared through 42 games this season:
Mo Williams — Mo kicked off the season with a slow start but has produced very similar numbers to his totals last year. Playing in all 42 games this season, he is averaging 16.7 points, 5.0 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game. His point totals are down a hair from last year but he has improved in the assists and steals categories. The Alabama alumni has struggled shooting the ball as of late but he is still the second half to Cleveland’s potent offensive attack.
Anthony Parker — At 7.3 points and 2.7 assists per night , Anthony Parker’s stat line is unimpressive. However, AP was brought to Cleveland to do two things: 1) Knock down the three ball and 2) Use his length to harass opposing players on the defensive end so that LeBron gets a bit of a break at times during the games. Parker has connected on 59 of 127 shot attempts from downtown for a 47% effort. His defensive effort is best noted by his outstanding performance against Kobe Bryant on Christmas Day. Parker combined with Jamario Moon to hold Kobe to 11 of 33 shooting as the Cavaliers picked up their 27th victory of the season in a convincing 102-87 win.
LeBron James — LeBron leads the Cavaliers on both sides of the basketball and accounts for nearly 30 points a night. The King adds 7.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists per game, 1.5 steals and close to 1 block per contest. He has poured in over 30 points in five consecutive games and has single handedly taken over games down the stretch for the Cavs. TheBron is undoubtedly (unless you’re a Lakers fan, in which case your opinion is irrelevant) the best player in the NBA and will pick up his second straight MVP trophy at the end of this season.
Grade: A+ (only because the grading scale doesn’t go any higher)
JJ Hickson — JJ Hickson is, by far, the most inconsistent player on the Cavs roster this season. He’s averaged about 6.5 points and 4 rebounds a night but probably will see his workload shrink once Leon Powe is back and ready for action. JJ is still young and has a lot to learn but I am not completely sold on his future with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Shaquille O’Neal – Shaquille O’Neal has been played an integral role in improving the Cavs’ interior defense this season. His presence in the paint has discouraged opposing teams from attacking the basket and has allowed Cleveland the luxury of not having to double team throughout the game. His offensive numbers are way down but he’s also not getting many touches. Shaq’s only averaging eight shot attempts per game and is accounting for about 10.5 points per night to go along with 6.8 rebounds. Though he is not putting up big numbers, O’Neal is certainly fulfilling his role within Mike Brown’s schemes.
Delonte West — After suffering through off-court issues during the beginning of this season, Delonte West has come on strong as of late. In 36 games this season Delonte is averaging 7.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Playing significant minutes as Cleveland’s point guard, Delonte has done an excellent job of taking care of the basketball as he only turns the ball over once a night. Delonte provides energy and toughness off of an explosive Cleveland bench.
Daniel Gibson – Gibson has seen his playing time diminish over the last several games but not because he has played poorly. Boobie has regained his pure stroke and is among league leaders with his 48% three point shooting percentage. With his recent decrease in minutes, Gibson may very well be used as trade bait as the deadline approaches.
Danny Green – We really haven’t gotten the opportunity to see Danny Green play a significant number of minutes this season but he has played fairfly well in his limited time. Green is obviously not in Cleveland’s short-term plans but he could be a steady role player in the future.
Jamario Moon — Jamario Moon is another significant piece to Cleveland’s championship run this season. His length gives Cleveland an explosive weapon on the defensive end and, like LeBron, is a human highlight reel.
Jawad Williams — Jawad Williams has come on strong for the Cavaliers in place for the injured Jamario Moon. He has been solid on defense and has knocked down some clutch shots down the stretch. Hot Wad will likely lose most of his minutes when Moon returns but he has been a steady replacement thus far.
Anderson Varejao – Andy might be the second most valuable player for the Cavaliers because of the incredible energy that he brings to the floor. Andy leads the league in plus-minus ratio and grabs a team-best 8.2 rebounds to go along with 8.4 points per night. Perhaps his most memorable moment this season was the three pointer he calmly canned in the closing minutes of a 106-101 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas — Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a difficult time adjusting to his new role off the bench but has given a steady effort as of late. Ilgauskas provides 7.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers and provides Cleveland with a different look when he spells Shaquille O’Neal. The addition of Shaq has also given Mike Brown the ability to go with an extremely tall “twin tower” look with his two very different seven footers.
Darnell Jackson — Like Danny Green, Darnell Jackson has seen limited minutes again this season. He has posted 18 points in 18 appearances this season and he provides a lot of muscle for the Cavs when he gets the opportunity.
Coach Mike Brown — It took Mike Brown a few weeks to figure out how he was going to use certain players on the Cavaliers’ roster but has done a great job with rotations lately. It was his brilliant idea to move Anderson Varejao back to the bench and promote JJ Hickson to the starting five after only a few games this season that sparked Cleveland’s tear.