Saturday, February 10, 2007

LeBron Wants to Run.

So LeBron wants to run. Well, no surprises there: even before Steve Nash and the Suns turned pushing the ball into some eclectic blend of art and science, getting into the open court has been the deepest desire of every kid to pick up a basketball. Ever. No kid has ever demanded their playground mates slow it down and execute their half court sets; well, maybe Tim Duncan. You could make a sound argument that there is more fun to be had in between the three point lines than there is inside them.

Few questions, though: Is pushing the ball the best way to utilize LeBron? Is pushing the ball the best thing for the Cavs as a team, given their current personnel? What is more important, getting the most out of LeBron or getting the most out of the Cavs, and are those two issues the same thing?

First, pushing the ball is absolutely the best way for LeBron to play. Hands down, no questions asked. LeBron is a playmaker, first and foremost. Not a scorer, not a passer - a playmaker. Sticking him in predictable sets - the scouting in the NBA is so in-depth it doesn't even make sense; the other teams know what is coming, trust - limits his abilities to make plays.

Getting out in transition eliminates all of that. Not even the player with the ball in his hands knows exactly what is coming. It is where playmakers are at their best. I'm not saying playmakers can't be effective in the half-court; they can. But they are better in the open floor. It's like the Colts offense - they can win on grass, sure, but they are much better on turf. It enhances their already considerable skill set. It is the ideal premise for what they do best.

LeBron doesn't want to score to win games, either. He likes to pass. Look at the Olympics. Clearly, he was the most talented on the team, but Melo was the leading scorer. I think that says as much about Melo's determination as it does LeBron's playing style. (Chris Webber was always saying he wants to play like this, though, and we see how that turned out. Actually, Webber is getting to play exactly how he wants, and pressure free. This could be a very good thing for the Pistons. But I digress...)

But is pushing the ball the best thing for the Cavs as a team? Well..maybe. Their bigs are not suited to run. Big Z is either most well known for his hook shot that starts at his knee caps, his Russian-mobster beard or his bad feet. It's a three way tie, really. None of those scream, "Throw me the oop in transition!" Gooden is a bruiser. Eric Snow...not so much. But now that Daniel Gibson is getting more minutes, along with Varejeo (I'm not looking up how to spell it; Hubie Brown can't even say it and you expect me to spell it?) and Sasha Pavlovic, it just might. Playing in transition helps Larry Hughes, too, I think - he can shoot the 15-footer all day.

Overall, the Cavs aren't ideally suited to push the ball, but they have lineups that can do it. They can't turn into the Suns, I don't think, but they can selectively push it. To push it all the time, you need a superior decision maker, and unless those outlets passes are being thrown to LeBron, the Cavs don't have one.

But what is more important here - making LeBron happy, even if it doesn't suit the team the best, or doing what the team is best suited to do, even if it makes LeBron grumpy? Well, if Mike Brown wants his job, I'd say make Bronny happy. But if making Bronny happy ends up regressing the team, he's likely gone anyways. He might as well do things his way, 'cuz I think he's gone. Listen to some of these quotes from Bronny:

"We've got enough athletes where we can get up and down the court. At times the coaching staff feels the same way, at other times, no. We're kind of playing basketball for the playoffs. Our offense is geared toward half-court basketball instead of getting out and running.

"At the end of the day, if you don't put points on the board, you're not going to win basketball games. You can hold a team to 42 percent shooting, but if they make enough offensive plays and we don't, you're going to lose.

"We don't get easy buckets. I don't get easy buckets like I used to. Easy buckets can always help, it doesn't hurt. At times, it's fun to get up and down and throw lobs, I've probably caught two lobs this year, that's a career low."

Reading between the lines, I'd say the players are pissed with Mike Brown and he's gone. Larry Hughes, among other, backed Bronny. That doesn't bode well for the coach, who doesn't inspire that much confidence to begin with (actual quote from someone who had never seen Mike Brown before during last night's game, after his fifth straight close up: "What is the matter with that guy? Is he going to throw up?")

Seems to me, with all my inside knowledge, that Brown is gone after this year. He has Doug Collins written all over him. If you are going down, Mike, might as well go down your way.

3 comments so far. Might as well add your own.:

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure about Gooden being a bruiser.. Sure maybe that
s what he does now, but remember him back in Kansas under your boy Roy Williams. I don't think it would be that big of a stretch for him to get out on the open floor.

point23 said...

you're right, labeling Gooden as a bruiser is really one-dimensional and limits what he does...maybe it was more wishful thinking than anything.

i don't know about him in transition though...maybe he can do it, but if you are building a team to run, he's not on your wish list, i don't think. i'd feel much more comfortable with the ball in his hands in the half-court than catching a bounce pass in transition. and he's really only a threat to score on a lay-up in transition, he's not running to the wing for a J.

but yea, "bruiser" is unfair. see? i an admit when i am wrong. kinda.

Lily said...

Not that this wouldnt be fun to watch...but unless lebron can pass it to himself the plays will be a real let down when they all finish in a weak lay up or a top ten Oden-style block.