The Cleveland Cavaliers should be a cohesive unit in 2020-21

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) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers should be on the same page in the overall sense next season.

The Cleveland Cavaliers did not seem to be a group that was fully bought-in for much of John Beilein’s tenure as their head coach. Beilein proved to be an awful fit as Cleveland’s head coach, and he clearly did not relate to his players at all.

Additionally, Cleveland’s young pieces such as Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. were still finding their footing, and especially Garland, in the first few months of 2019-20. Collin Sexton, to a degree, still had to adjust to Kevin Love, most notably, too.

Granted, as the year progressed for Cleveland, Garland and KPJ got more comfortable playing alongside, Love, Sexton, Cedi Osman and others, and post-All-Star break, the Cavs seemed to be turning a corner.

In that stretch of 11 games, of which J.B. Bickerstaff took over the head coaching reigns, the Cavaliers were a more respectable 5-6.

In that span, Cleveland was sixth in the NBA in assist rate and 10th in effective field goal shooting percentage, and the group seemed re-energized with Bickerstaff in that role.

Bickerstaff was also even experimenting with lineups to an extent, and it was a pleasant surprise to see Larry Nance Jr. prove to be a viable 3 man option at times, for instance.

It was unfortunate for the Cavs that the league’s novel coronavirus-induced suspension ultimately would end their season, with the team not being one of the top 22 squads invited to the 2019-20 season resumption in Orlando, but next year should be better.

The Cleveland Cavaliers should be a cohesive unit in the 2020-21 campaign and be more respectable game-to-game.

The Cavs were much more dialed-in with Bickerstaff as their head coach. Now, I fully understand it was an 11-game sample size. That’s completely fair, for possible doubters.

That said, you could just tell in that stretch that Cleveland’s defensive rotations were more on-point, and that even related to Kevin Love. Plus, the ball movement was more purposeful and the game was slowing down for Garland before he missed what would be Cleveland’s last five games due to a left groin strain.

In his last 10 games active, Garland had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.9-to-1.8, and he hit a better 44.1 percent of his shot attempts. Meanwhile, Sexton continued on quite a scoring tear, and averaged 25.5 points post-All-Star.

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With next season in mind, it’s evident that the Cleveland Cavaliers should be a cohesive unit, and again, with Bickerstaff as the head coach having to do with that, to a large degree.

Assistant coach Lindsay Gottlieb, especially in relation to seemingly Sexton and Garland in what will be her second season with Cleveland, does, too.

Whether or not Tristan Thompson eventually re-signs with Cleveland, which is a “50-50” possibility, feasibly via the mid-level exception for 2020-21, per’s Chris Fedor, though it is a ways away, I’d expect Cleveland to more competent.

Andre Drummond, who was starting to mesh with Love and others better leading into the hiatus, is reportedly likely to pick up his $28.8 million player option for next season.

While I can’t say I’m certain if he’ll be a key player long-term, he should still be a go-to option on the interior for the Cavs throughout games next year. He’s coming off a career-high 17.7 points per game in 2019-20, and is one of the game’s best rebounders.

He also, in games active, placed second in the league in steals, and had 1.4 blocks per outing with the Cavs in his brief stint, and could help Cleveland in a big way in terms of his presence on the interior defensively.

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Though he’ll likely take a bit to get his legs under him, I’d expect Dylan Windler, who did not play at all in 2019-20 due to complications regarding a stress reaction in his left leg, to be a good piece for the Cavs off the bench.

Windler, who is a solid ball-mover, good cutter/finisher and terrific shooter, should mesh seamlessly in a variety of lineups for the Wine and Gold in 2020-21.

Him, KPJ and Nance should provide a tremendous bench spark for Bickerstaff and company, and I’d expect Porter to have more and more of an impact game-to-game with an expanded role.

I could see Matthew Dellavedova help Cleveland in the reserve playmaking department in a big way at times, too, if he’s re-signed. That is seemingly a high possibility via team-friendly deal as well.

In terms of nice defensive rotational pieces (aside from Porter/Nance), Alfonzo McKinnie, in particular, and potentially Dante Exum (if healthy), should be quality options for the Cavs, too. Both seem to know their primary roles in that way, also.

To me, no matter what direction the Cleveland Cavaliers go in the 2020 NBA Draft, the group should be much more on the same page and be a cohesive squad next season. That’s factoring in Bickerstaff’s influence and their improvement post-All-Star.

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Don’t expect the Cavs to have the league’s second-worst record again in 2020-21.