Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff deserved plenty of praise for his defensive and cultural leadership since taking the head coaching position in Cleveland. His offense, however, has often been repetitive and easily countered. In the playoff loss to the Knicks, Bickerstaff’s indecisive rotations made for poor chemistry on the court and very few good moments in the short five-game series.
As a handful of legacy NBA coaches lost their jobs this summer from an unceremonious postseason exit, Cleveland President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman kept faith in Bickerstaff, opting to add players who fit the team’s system better than last year’s squad.
With a more versatile team and offense, Bickerstaff needed to make the alterations necessary to integrate the newest Cavs into the plans. Though Georges Niang struggled to shoot early in the year, the Cavaliers ran more plays to get Niang open. Eventually, he started making a better impact. He has not been a knockdown sharpshooter yet, but Niang’s overall game has been indisputably useful for the Cavs.
Additionally, Strus’ emergence as a capstone for Cleveland on both sides of the ball highlights Bickerstaff’s abilities as an offensive coordinator. The next test will be to lead the Cavs to a winning record soon and regain their Eastern dominance. Thus far, though, Bickerstaff is a worthy head coach.
While the Cavaliers seem to see Mobley as a starting center in the longterm, Jarrett Allen’s presence has been crucial for the Cavs’ frontcourt. With Allen on the court, Cleveland’s interior defense looks just as good as it did last season. In the preseason, Allen suffered a left ankle bone bruise that kept him out of the preseason and earliest regular season action. After recouping, Jarrett Allen has looked great.
One aspect has stood out most for both Allen and Mobley. Both players are crashing the boards and absorbing contact in the post in order to chase missed shots. Allen averaged 3.5 offensive rebounds in the last two games in 27 minutes per game. For most of these games, Mobley and Allen have split minutes at the five, avoiding last year’s unimpressive shooting prowess.
Jarrett Allen is willing to take hits and not back down. His better mental and physical playstyle alone is reason enough for appreciation. The Cavaliers desperately need Allen and Mobley to play stronger, and both are showing this change.
Up next, the Cavaliers will visit the Sacramento Kings on Monday Nov. 13 at 10pm ET. The Kings, led by De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, will be a fantastic opportunity for the Cavs to gain momentum and restore their confidence for the rest of the campaign.
Cleveland will need more out of Allen and Mobley to make the most of this season, but Allen’s recent production is showing signs of real growth opportunities for the Cavaliers frontcourt this year.