Cavs: 3 takeaways from J.B. Bickerstaff recent conversations with media

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff signals to his players in-game. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff signals to his players in-game. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff talks with Cleveland guard Darius Garland. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Takeaway #3 from Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s recent media availability: How Garland can improve, Cavs’ 2020 NBA Draft focus

The last takeaway from Bickerstaff’s recent media availability was, along the lines of the further progression of young pieces, was how Garland can take a step forward next season.

Garland’s playmaking vision and feel was a plus to me this season, given his collegiate inexperience, and it was nice from my perspective that he had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.9 assists-to-1.8 turnovers in his last 10 games.

That was before he missed the Cavs’ last five games heading into the hiatus, but regardless, it’s clear that Garland was fairly underwhelming as a pick-and-roll scorer as a rookie, given his handling ability and natural shooting polish.

Going forward, he needs to be more aggressive as a scorer, especially in pick-and-roll situations, and being more decisive in the PnR overall, in the grand scheme, needs to be a key area of focus for him, and Bickerstaff hit on that in relation to this quote, as was h/t WKYC’s Ben Axelrod.

The key that jumped out from that quote is that I’d like to see Garland get the Cavs into their offense quicker next season, which Bickerstaff seemed to emphasize. Hopefully, that can be the case, with him more comfortable alongside Love and other pieces, such as KPJ and Larry Nance Jr. in some instances, too.

Garland needs to find a way to generate more separation consistently as a shooter when he gets PnR switchouts, too, which was in that realm from Bickerstaff as well.

Along with this bit on how Garland can improve his PnR game, Bickerstaff seemingly touched on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2020 NBA Draft focus, too. This was not explicitly about the draft, rather about how the Cavs can take “the next step,” as’s Chris Fedor alluded to, but it did again seem to touch on the draft/roster accumulation.

Axelrod noted how Bickerstaff/the Cavs should be prioritizing players that can create their own offense, and with them having playmaking feel/versatility on both ends.

These comments again admittedly have me thinking draft in the more immediate sense. With that in mind, they lead me to believe that the Cavs will have their focus on LaMelo Ball, previously of the NBL’s Illawarra Hawks, along with feasibly Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, a likely high-upside 2.

Ball had just shy of seven assists per game in the NBL before his season ended due to a foot injury, but he’s the kind of player, though defense is a question mark, that could fit what Bickerstaff was referring to. Again, the draft wasn’t the sole focus necessarily, but that’s what stood out from those comments.

Ball has a great handle, and though he only shot 37.7 percent in NBL play, the shooting range he’s flashed, and he has a high ceiling as a finisher with creativity. On top of those things, he did average 1.67 steals per game in 12 NBL games, per Real GM, which was encouraging in terms of off-ball feel as a rotator.

If that’s the route the Cavs ended up going with their 2020 NBA Draft selection, which will be highly likely a top five pick, that’d be more than fine with me, given Ball’s playmaking upside at 6-foot-7 size.

I’m personally not a fan of Edwards from the Cavs’ perspective, given that his passing feel is limited, and that makes it difficult to see how he’d be going forward as a 2 alongside Sexton and KPJ among others, but he is very talented.

In terms of another player that could be in the conversation based on those Bickerstaff comments, I could very well see Auburn’s Isaac Okoro in that realm. Again, the draft wasn’t the sole emphasis here, but that is crucial in this regard.

Okoro, though his shooting has a ways to go, is a polished finisher that had 12.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.9 blocks per game, per Sports Reference. Plus, he is a really switchable defender at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds already, before getting to the NBA.

Most notably, Okoro is just that “Swiss Army” defensive piece the Cavs need for their defense to improve.

Also, while the 2.0 assists per game he averaged didn’t show it necessarily, he’s a player that could very well function as a secondary playmaking piece, and makes good decisions leading to efficient shots.

Next. Cavs can't go wrong with Isaac Okoro in the 2020 NBA Draft. dark

The Cavs/Bickerstaff need more of those types of players and/or defensive pieces.