Cavs: Larry Nance Jr.’s praise of J.B. Bickerstaff is on-point

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 clearly have their head coach in J.B. Bickerstaff.

After what transpired involving prior Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein and with how he eventually stepped down in that role during the 2020 All-Star break, it’s a relief that J.B. Bickerstaff was able to steer the ship in that role from there.

Beilein reportedly was set to aid Cleveland in their evaluation of collegiate prospects in a different role, and I’d think has been, but it’s evident he was out of touch in that prior head coaching role.

Fortunately, Bickerstaff seems to be doing a great job, by all accounts, thus far since taking over the head coaching reigns post-All-Star after previously being the Cavs associate head coach. The plan was that Bickerstaff would eventually take over the head coaching role, anyway, albeit he seems to have been the right person for the Cavaliers in that role, earlier than expected.

In that realm, a recent report first from The Athletic‘s Joe Vardon highlighted how Bickerstaff seems to have been an incredible leader for the Wine and Gold through his actions. And it further emphasizes how he’s an especially active member of the community, along with his wife, Nikki. They sent 10 kids from Cleveland iPads and a “year of Internet service” on Monday, along with “Cavs gift packs” and team apparel.

In a response tweet to that report, of which was seemingly backed up by’s Chris Fedor, and involved five high school seniors from “East Tech” and five from “John Adams College & Career Academy”, this from Larry Nance Jr. was very telling to me.

Nance’s praise of Bickerstaff/how he’s led the Cavs was on-point.

Nance’s above tweet was great to see as a Cavs fan, as it seems to give J.B. a stamp of approval regarding him in the head coaching role for the foreseeable future. Bickerstaff, even in this tremendously difficult time/with the hiatus and then the Cavs season being cut short, has seemed to keep the group engaged.

The Cavs not being an Orlando participant in the 2019-20 restart, even if that was just for some extra regular season games, was unfortunate for them. That could’ve been valuable experience for the squad, team chemistry and to aid in development of young players, in particular. The Cavaliers were not able to have that experience, though.

But even with that having been the case, Bickerstaff has reportedly kept the team together, via Zoom calls, the coaching staff aiding players seemingly virtually and it’s at least nice to have known that the Cavs players seemed really bought-in when Bickerstaff was leading the team in game action.

It was only 11 games leading into the hiatus/ultimately the end of last season for Cleveland, and teams are often galvanized for a bit after a mid-season head coaching change. In that span, though, the Cavs were playing better and had a respectable 5-6 record, as compared to their overall 2019-20 mark of 19-46.

In that stretch, Cleveland was in a nice rhythm, as evidenced by them being sixth in the league in assist rate and 10th in the NBA in effective field percentage. And Bickerstaff’s manipulation of lineups throughout games, such as even having Larry Nance Jr. at times at the 3, factored into the better results for the Cavs, too.

It’s not been just about the on-floor/developmental aspect in this time since Bickerstaff took over at head coach, however. It’s clear as day that he’s quite the leader off the floor/as a relationship-builder with players/others, too, as the above tweets stressed.

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In an interview with Fedor, Andre Drummond, for instance, detailed how Bickerstaff’s been an “awesome leader,” throughout this extended offseason.

That also seems to me to be something that will factor into Drummond likely eventually opting into his $28.7 million player option.

Kevin Love, Nance and others have been really complimentary of Bickerstaff, too. When it comes to off the floor, though, that’s again jumped out.

For instance, Bickerstaff, along with Nance, seemingly somewhat following suit of Kevin Love and Andre Drummond for Cavs/Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse event staff, donated to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and the Children’s Hunger Alliance, both of which the Cavs matched.

In addition, Bickerstaff going forward is going to be/has been a key leader in a league coaches committee predicated on preventing acts of racial injustice in NBA cities.

And the same goes for him being a heavily involved member of a Cleveland Professional Sports Social Justice Alliance featuring representatives from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Indians.

Moreover, Bickerstaff, along with Nance and others, have helped spread awareness for members of the local community to exercise their right to vote.

J.B. was among those that volunteered and participated on Friday, Oct. 23 near Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in helping out families in need during a Greater Cleveland Food Bank-Cavs event that centered on handing out food and personal protective equipment, too, of which Fedor gave further details.

So to reiterate, Nance’s above praise of Bickerstaff and his leadership as the Cavs head coach, both in the on-floor and off-floor sense, speaks volumes. It seemed to be on-point, and the Wine and Gold are clearly in outstanding hands with Bickerstaff leading them onward in coming years.

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And him, along with Cavs assistant coach Lindsay Gottlieb, among others, should set the right example for Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr., for example.