The Cavaliers basketball IQ is amongst the worst I have ever seen in pro sports, and I do not hold very high standards for professional athletes. In today’s world, superstars and role players alike know very little about the history of the game. They know even less about the fundamentals of the game. Most NBA players were handed a ball and were born with a unique ability to jump out of the gym. And as a Cavs fan, it's frustrating to me knowing that there are some simple things that the Cavs could do better, just by being more intelligent.
Since everything on this team starts with LeBron James, we may as well dissect him first. I know we are offensively challenged. I know Coach Brown has his “plays” (I swear he says he has them). I no longer care about those “plays”. What I know is quite simple. When the Miami Heat are going to guard LeBron with Jason Kapono, Mr. James should be intelligent enough about the game of basketball to run as fast as he can to whichever block he chooses, post up and receive the basketball within six seconds of the possession. Jason Kapono could not stop LeBron on the block with a shield and sword. LeBron must recognize these situations, and demand the ball. He should not have to be told this. He should not have to have this play called. What would Michael Jordan have done if they tried to run Jason Kapono at him?
This leads to our next basketball IQ issue. When LeBron does have the ball, he demands attention. Yet the rest of the players on this offense are caught standing and watching far too often. I'll be the first to admit that Mike Brown is no offensive guru, but can his offense possibly call for this much standing around? Assuming it can not, the athletes on this team need to cut to the rim more, and the shooters need to do anything besides standing in the same spot and hoping their guy sags off of them.
And if your basketball IQ tells you that at any given time you have the two best athletes on the floor, who like to run, but your in way over his head coach wants you to walk it up the floor a la Princeton, what do you do? I appreciate that you want to listen to your head coach, it's almost admirable in this day and age. But have you ever seen a defender faced with the choice of LeBron streaking down one side and Larry Hughes on the other? Either have I, but the image of a deer and a headlight seems to pop into my mind.
For the most part, this has all been about making decisions on the basketball floor, decisions made by the players not by the coach. Of course, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the “King of IQ”, Drew Gooden. As many have pontificated on before, this guy will never be confused with that dude that had the apple fall on his dome, Sir Isaac something or other. Hey Drew, when your guy is setting a pick on your teammate, the wrong answer will always be to help him by setting a moving screen for him. NEVER. Either pick up the available player, or get the (insert your own word that rhymes with duck here) out of the way. In case you were wondering Drew, the defensive rebounds are probably more important right now than the offensive rebounds. I know, the only way you get to score is off the offensive glass, but maybe if you grabbed a couple of caroms off the defensive glass, this could ignite the fast break. Heaven forbid this could result in a couple of easy hoops for the rest of the team.
Z. I have a lot of love for the Big Guy with Bad Feet (and not because of the injuries). Here is what you have to start doing. First, help Drew on the defensive glass, PLEASE. Do not tip it to yourself 5 times. Go up and grab it. The tip drill looks fun, but while this is happening the defense is getting back and shutting down a potential fast break. For your homework, I would like you to practice jumping with both hands in the air. It might require a little more effort and could even cut down from 8 to 5 pieces of paper we could slide under your feet when you jump, but it will help. Secondly, on the offensive end of the floor, you are SEVEN FOOT THREE INCHES tall. Do you know how many other guys are 7’3”? Not a lot. I enjoyed your couple of seasons where you were our best spot up shooter, but those days were not so good for us Clevelanders. Get your gigantic frame down by the basket. A high basketball IQ would tell you the advantages you have there. Do your homework, or go to your room. If you pick go to your room, please leave your contract at the door so it can be properly disposed of.
Larry Loves Strippers. Which is cool. What I would like Larry to start loving is the free throw line. Maybe the paint? How about the rim? See Larry, there is a little thing I like to call “match-up advantages”. You are very skilled at beating your man off the dribble. You did it for most of your career, when you had the other teams best defender against you. Now, you get the advantage of LeBron drawing the other teams shutdown guy. So what do you do? Sure, settle for jumpers. Brilliant! It must be fun to hang around the 20-foot mark and await that orange thing before launching another jumper. Quite possibly it is because I am a short, slightly overweight, white guy, but I am positive throwing a basketball through a hoop in another man’s face is even more fun. It will probably even go in at a higher rate than your jumper.
Finally, Mr. Al Roker, errr, Mike Brown. Mike, I know you are a defensive genius. I know you got to where you are learning with a couple of the best defensive teams in the NBA in the last decade or so. I know you think the defense wins titles, which I agree with, to a point. You do not have Tim Duncan to make up for perimeter mistakes. You do not have Ron Artest to shut down the other teams best player. You do not have the personnel to play shut down defense, without sacrificing offense. Let me explain something to you: The only thing that matters right now is LeBron James being happy. Do you know what makes LeBron happy? Raise your hands in the audience if you know what makes LBJ happy. Wow, that is a lot of hands. Mike? You with us Coach Brown? You give up so quickly? OK, I will tell you, LeBron likes to run. He likes to get way above the rim and throw down dunks with the thunder of Zeus.
Having your point guard walk the ball up the floor will definitely lead to your team giving up fewer points. Of course it takes away from what your players do best. I suggest you call Mr. Popovich and ask him what has made him so successful. I will bet my last dollar it does not involve square pegs and round holes. He adapts his teachings to what his players do best. You could always blow this team up and bring in the top defensive players in the league. Until that happens, I suggest you sharpen your IQ (the good one) and start fitting your system to match your talent. Or, throw away one of the best opportunities a 35 year-old coach with no head coaching experience has ever received: The chance to coach a once in a lifetime superstar in a city starving for a winner.