I keep trying to tell myself to remember that it’s still early in the season. And then I quickly try to forget that fact.
It’s far too early in the season to be this frustrated. Particularly when none of us expected the Cavaliers to be any good this season anyway. I predicted before the season that this Cavaliers team would be absolutely atrocious on the defensive end. So why am I so frustrated and angry when my watching it come to fruition on the court? I don’t know.
Here’s what we do know, though. The Cavaliers are 5-21 on the season. In his 2+ years at the helm, Byron Scott now has a record of 45-129. That’s a win percentage of 25.86%. The Cavaliers’ win percentage this season is 19.2%. Only one team in the NBA has a worse record than Cleveland. The Cavaliers are 23rd in scoring, and 23rd in opponents’ scoring. 26th in offensive efficiency and 27th in defensive efficiency. 27th in eFG% and dead last in opponents eFG%. They have exactly two players with an Efficiency Rating about 13 (where 15.0 is average).
No matter how you look at it, this team stinks. It’s the unfortunate truth. There has been precious little player development other than Anderson Varejao stepping up his game and Kyrie Irving’s offensive talent shining through. Beyond that, nothing but stagnant disappointment.
Look, I’m not breaking new ground here. Those familiar with this site know how frustrating the Cavaliers can be from time to time. I’ve written many of these words before. The thing that’s different now is that I’m starting to get tired of it, and I’m getting a sense that many fans are growing weary with the lack of forward movement as well.
I think we can all separate the excuses from this argument as well. It’s definitely worth noting that the Cavaliers are dealing with a ton of injuries1, there’s not a lot of talent on the roster to begin with, and the schedule has been insanely brutal and there’s no real respite from the schedule until February, either. So a lot of the frustration can be explained away.
So take it with a grain of salt. Maybe if everything was going the Cavaliers’ way the team would be 11-15 rather than 5-21. That would have the Cavaliers 11th in the East and a couple games out of a playoff berth. So perhaps this is all for the best.
It’s not like this Cavaliers roster isn’t capable of playing good basketball. The Cavaliers’ starting 5 of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, and Anderson Varejao still have the 5th best +/- of any 5-player combination in the NBA. In 8 of their losses the Cavaliers have held a lead for a longer period than their opponent.
So there are some signs buried beneath the surface that in some aspects things are getting better. For the previous two seasons the Cavaliers have been overwhelmingly uncompetitive in games. This year, the Cavaliers are certainly giving the effort. They’re hanging in there against teams they shouldn’t. But ultimately, they lack the talent and depth to make enough plays and get enough stops down the stretch to win the games.
Wednesday night the Cavaliers will play against another frustrated franchise, the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers it’s a road game on the wrong end of a back to back. It’s the 4th consecutive back to back the Cavaliers have had to play. All in all, it’s their 8th game in the last 13 days. So once again, don’t be surprised if the defense falters and the Cavs kind of hang around for a while before ultimately letting the game slip away. It’s what this team does.
I think it’s ok to preach patience and also be frustrated with this team. We can recognize that it’s a process and they are on a certain rebuilding path and also get annoyed with the long stretches of really bad basketball. It’s ok to question the development of players like Tristan Thompson, to question whether Byron Scott is getting through to this team, to wonder if the Cavaliers draft picks have all been the best. But it’s important to understand while asking those questions that everything is fluid right now.
Players can and do get better. Coaches adapt. This roster is so young that to think this is as good as it gets is marginally ridiculous. But the questions for many us refuse to go away no matter how patient we try to be. It’s been a trying two months to open this season for sure. There are still 4 months to go. All we can do for now is hope things get better and the patience part gets easier.