Cleveland Cavaliers: Two key team defensive goals in 2020-21

Cleveland Cavaliers wing Kevin Porter Jr. defends on-ball. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers wing Kevin Porter Jr. defends on-ball. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Larry Nance Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr. high-fives Cleveland guard Collin Sexton in-game. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Goal #2 for the Cleveland Cavaliers team defense in 2020-21: Forcing 15.0 turnovers per game

The Cavs’ defensive rotations need to be more consistent next season, and the help as was previously noted, needs to be more on-point.

Again, the Cavs’ youth played into that some, but in 2020-21, Cleveland needs to be more active in playing passing lanes off the ball, and aiding the guards in deterring passes to shooters coming off screens.

The Wine and Gold were only 25th in the league in opponent turnovers forced in 2019-20, as they had 13.0 per outing. To me, I’d like to see that average go up 2.0 per outing next season to 15.0.

At this point, that’d have tied for 11th in the league, and next season, doing so/placing in that realm doesn’t seem so unreasonable if Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff can get the group more on the same page.

While the sample size was only 11 games, and I understand that, Cleveland averaged 14.2 turnovers forced per game post-All-Star leading into the novel coronavirus-induced hiatus.

That placed a a fairly pedestrian 17th in that span, but the Wine and Gold’s rotations were more on-point in the time Bickerstaff took over the head coaching reigns in that stretch.

Larry Nance Jr., Kevin Porter Jr. and Sexton played a key role in that, as those three combined to average 3.7 steals per outing then. While Drummond was only active in six of those 11 games, due to a left calf strain, he had 1.7 steals per contest and led the Cavs in that stretch per game, too.

Related Story. Two goals for Collin Sexton for next season. light

Drummond was also second in the league in total steals throughout 2019-20, most of which came with the Detroit Pistons pre-trade deadline. He’ll likely do his part as a rotator inside (he could prove to be a valuable expiring trade piece next season, though).

As a great defensive communicator similarly to Nance, Tristan Thompson could help Cleveland’s rotations to help lead to more deflections/opponent turnovers, too.

Thompson could very well sign elsewhere this upcoming offseason, sure. According to a recent report from’s Chris Fedor, though, while it didn’t seem this way earlier on, at least currently, it is said to be “50-50” regarding Thompson returning to Cleveland, feasibly via the $8-9 million mid-level exception.

Fedor hit on how Thompson could maybe take a one-year deal in that realm, given how COVID-19 has impacted the league and the big-money offers in free agency likely won’t be there, also factoring in the loaded 2021 free agent class.

TT could again help in the team sense, but if he’s not back, the aforementioned Okoro, Williams and Okongwu could make their presence felt in a considerable way in creating turnovers thanks to their defensive instincts.

Okoro averaged 0.9 steals per game, Williams had 1.0 and Okongwu had 1.2 per contest, and they could definitely aid the Cavs’ efforts in turning opponents over more, and in turn, enable Sexton and others to get out and run.

The same goes for KPJ with him going into Year 2 as well, along with Nance, who is one of Cleveland’s best team defenders/rotators. To some degree, Alfonzo McKinnie and Dante Exum, who is a solid defender when healthy, tie into that, too.

Forcing 2.0 more turnovers per contest in 2020-21, though I’m not saying hunting them necessarily, would indicate the Cavs are disrupting opponent timing, and show the Cavs are perhaps allowing less productive ball-swings.

The Cavs conceded the second-most opponent assists per game in 2019-20, too, and the two areas are related.

Next. Cleveland Cavaliers: Two key team offensive goals for 2020-21. dark

More ball pressure/better rotational timing would go a long way in preventing easy buckets for opponents and allow the Cleveland Cavaliers to get more transition opportunities next season. Hopefully we see that.