As Cleveland Cavaliers fans are well aware of, Dylan Windler has had tough bouts with injury in his NBA career so far. In the 2019-20 campaign, he missed what was formally his rookie season because of complications involving a stress reaction in his lower left leg and he had a rough go of it health-wise last season, too.
In his first game with the Cavaliers at the outset of last season, he fractured the fourth metacarpal on his left hand and ended up missing 13 games, although one was due to a hardship exception signing.
Windler would then show some positive signs as a catch-and-shoot threat, did nice work as a team defender and I thought his finishing as a cutter was a plus.
Nonetheless, it was again not ideal for Windler health-wise as the season wore on, as he would then miss a large chunk of games first due to left knee soreness, and then would eventually be shut down and had surgery in late April to repair “ongoing tendinopathy concerns.”
Windler would be sidelined from March 27 on, and he’s reportedly expected to be out through Summer League.
That said, I would think that Windler should benefit from a full offseason ahead, and be able to be fully or mostly healthy by the start of next season. In the event that’s the case, he will need to be more consistent as a catch-and-shoot player, clearly.
It is crucial that Windler is locked and loaded for letting it fly, though, and he can’t be hesitant when the opportunities arise.
Windler must come in ready to fire next season for the Cavs.
When he was out there for the Cavaliers in rotational playing time, Windler was somewhat underwhelming as a shooter from three-point range.
He had 5.2 points in 16.5 minutes per outing and hit 33.8 percent of his 2.5 attempts from deep on average in 31 appearances. And while there were flashes of deep range that he displayed often in his collegiate career at Belmont, he wasn’t able to establish a rhythm nearly enough in his first year playing with Cleveland.
Windler was in a shooting slump leading into his absences/eventually being shut down, as evidenced by him knocking in only 21.4 percent of his three-point attempts in his last nine games active. There was only 10.7 minutes per appearance in that span, albeit with the struggles from three then for him, it didn’t aid his case.
And from my perspective, though the injuries of course didn’t help, Windler too often when he was able to go didn’t appear as confident as one would’ve liked.
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The lack of rhythm was one thing, but Dylan was seemingly hesitant to let catch-and-shoot looks fly from deep too much, and even at times when he did let looks go, he still wouldn’t just let them go right away when that was feasible. That can’t continue in 2021-22.
At the outset of next season, if he’s good to go, when the PT does come for him in spurts, Windler needs to be ready to fire from deep off of kickouts from Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman and/or others.
While last season he was inconsistent from the outside, when Windler was demonstrating more confidence and actively looking for perimeter shots more/appearing to be more assertive in that way, he had more success.
Granted, the Cavs getting him more looks off movement would help, and when he was amid a hot stretch, that was paying off for him, as KJG’s Amadou Sow touched on.
In any case, when Windler is in there, it’s also on him to be ready to fire more and get himself going/establish a rhythm too, to help himself be much productive for Cleveland more game-to-game as a shooter.
That’d fully maximize his impact in a rotational role, along with his defensive rebounding, continuing to play solid team defense, and be a timely/heady cutter as a counter.
Moreover, for hopefully Windler to make himself a viable piece for coming years, aside from getting/staying mostly healthy, the mindset to be fully ready to fire and not showing any hesitation needs to play out with him. That’s something I’ll be keeping an eye on in his PT with him I’d imagine in there in rotational minutes early on next season.
It remains to be seen if Windler will be actively looking to be aggressive and assert himself more, though. For a player that hit 40.6 percent of his 534 career three-point attempts at Belmont, that should be the case, but I can’t guarantee it will be after his confidence seemingly waning too often last season.
I’d imagine Dylan will have the right mindset, however, provided he can have a meaningful/productive offseason.