Taking advantage in transition more must be point of emphasis for Cavs

Cleveland Cavaliers wing Kevin Porter Jr. brings the ball up the floor. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers wing Kevin Porter Jr. brings the ball up the floor. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Transition production needs to be a significant point of emphasis for the Cleveland Cavaliers offense going forward.

In coming years, the Cleveland Cavaliers need to be better when it comes to transition production, and I’d say they need to be focused on pushing the pace at times in stretches of games in 2020-21.

Now Andre Drummond doesn’t necessarily play into that, but his elite rebounding ability should help the likes of Collin Sexton, Kevin Porter Jr. and others after hitting them following closeouts.

Drummond, who reportedly said he’ll “definitely” be with the Cavs next season on a podcast appearance on Tuesday, and intends to opt into his $28.8 million player option, is a player that actually was second in the NBA in steals in his games active in 2019-20, too.

The Cavs and Drummond have reportedly “shown interest” in a contract extension of which could potentially be signed in late October, but that’s anything but a certainty.

Regardless, of what plays out with Drummond, though, pieces such as Darius Garland, Sexton, Porter, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. and others should be key players in Cleveland’s transition game in 2020-21.

Moreover, a significant point of emphasis for the Cleveland Cavaliers offensively must be their transition production, and converting there.

In this now-past season for the Cavs, they placed 21st in pace in the league, and I’d expect them to be in the 17th or so range there next season, which would be fine.

That said, leading into the hiatus, the ultra-speedy Sexton was getting more and more transition chances, and we were seeing Nance get out and utilize his improved handle as a defensive rebound grab-and-go threat. That aspect from Nance is something I’d like to see Cleveland encourage him to do more next season, too.

Nance, who had 3.2 assists per game in his last 15 games of 2019-20, consistently makes good decisions, and that carries forward in the transition game, and that meshes well with Sexton and Porter, along with Cedi Osman in some instances.

In Porter’s case, with his driving prowess even in settled offense and his finishing touch/ability to finish through contact with both hands near the rim, and with his explosiveness, the Cavs should be urging him to push the ball often in games.

Plus, Porter, who had 3.2 assists per outing in his last 12 games active, is a player that showed good passing feel as a rookie. He’s more than capable of hitting the likes of pieces such as Garland and Dylan Windler in the corners, and hopefully we see more and more in coming years.

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Speaking of Windler, with this handle, pull-up shooting polish and shooting, he should make the Cavs more dangerous in transition next season.

That’s if Windler can be mostly healthy/get his legs under him, and hopefully be able to go after he missed all of 2019-20 due to complications involving a stress reaction in his left leg.

Windler is a player that could definitely improve the Cavs’ in terms of an efficiency stand point in the near future in transition with his shooting/cutting and finishing.

Windler shot 40.6 percent from three-point land in a four-year collegiate career at Belmont, per Sports Reference, and in his minutes on the floor, he should be a player Cleveland is looking to feed in secondary transition.

That’s both as a trailing shooter and in trying to get switched/into a cross-match, and in that latter realm, in a similar way to Porter.

If the Cavs can get Porter more in the open floor in coming seasons, along with Windler, that should help improve their transition efficiency/and grab-and-go instances, as both are solid defensive rebounders.

Cleveland had the league’s second lowest frequency of transition occurrences last season, and only two teams graded out worse in those instances in terms of efficiency, per Synergy Sports.

The Cleveland Cavaliers need to make getting more transition production (only two teams averaged less transition points per game) a key point of emphasis. Doing so would enable them get favorable matchups more in stretches of games.

That’d realistically generate more free throw opportunities, of which 2020 NBA Draft prospects in Auburn’s Isaac Okoro or USC’s Onyeka Okongwu could aid in that regard as well.

Both are very good finishers, with Okoro being a highly capable driver and he makes sound decisions in those scenarios. Even for a big, Okongwu runs the floor extremely well, too.

Swinging back to Garland a bit here, hopefully he is ready to roll and able to push pace more next season, too, which he seemed hesitant to do last season as a rookie. That was understandable with him coming off a lone collegiate season at Vanderbilt in which he only appeared in five games due to a meniscus tear, though.

I would think we’ll see Garland attack more in transition scenarios as an off-the-bounce shooter more from now on, however. That’s also with how he seems completely ready to roll and won’t be thinking of his prior injury, as he touched on recently, per Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor.

Anyhow, looking onward, it’s clear that the Cavs need to make taking advantage in transition and secondary transition a priority, as pieces such as KPJ, Windler and Sexton could get favorable matchups in games from pushing it.

That would put constant pressure on opposing defenses, and likely lead to more higher percentage looks from mismatches and Cleveland could get their share of corner three-point shots, too.

It’s not just about pushing pace more, though. It’s likely more so about taking advantage and finding the mismatches to then lead to more free throw opportunities from early offense/secondary transition, and opening up driving lanes more in settled offense as a result as games progress.

Dylan Windler should get plenty of burn at the 2 and 3 in his minutes-share. dark. Next

Look to see more of that sort of thing stressed by the Cavs.