The Cleveland Cavaliers have opened the season 9-29 despite the dominant play of Kyrie Irving and the resurgent rebounding Anderson Varejao. The talent on the Cavs’ list is from championship calibre, or maybe even playoffs quality, but second last in NBA for wins behind the Wizards is laughable and represents a much further problem with the Cavaliers organization beyond the standard rebuilding pains.
Often, firing a coach from their post is a poor way to scapegoat an individual when a team has a multitude of personnel issues on the roster and in the front office (what’s up, Mike Brown?), but in the Cavaliers’ case it is definitely the best way to move forward. After three years of not just failure, but embarrassing record-breaking failure, the Cleveland Cavaliers must part ways with Byron Scott if they hope to move from stalling to progressing any time soon.
The ultimate goal of any time that is developing is fundamentally to improve, and the Cavaliers have failed to do so as a team this season while they manage to do so individually. In the first season after LeBron James left for sunny South Beach, the Mo Williams/Antawn Jamison led Cavaliers sat at 8-30 after 38 matches, while improving to 15-23 at the same mark the following season under Kyrie Irving and the veteran Jamison. The following season, they’re one missed Kyrie Irving jump shot away from matching the horrendous start to the 2010-11 season.
During that season, not a single player averaged more than 20 points per game, nor did a single Cav pull down more than 10 boards per game (Varejao came close with 9.7 in his 31 appearances). This wasn’t a situation like the championship Detroit Pistons, where the talent pool was balanced and deep – it was a team built to accommodate a star and a contract like LeBron James, only it lacked LeBron James.
The turnaround the following season yielded two more truimphs and eighteen less defeats in the lockout compressed season. They were the only team, along with Indiana, Minnesota and the Clippers, to improve their record in spite of the shortened season. Personnel wise, the Cavaliers didn’t drastically improve. While Kyrie Irving was the huge new face, the Cavaliers lost the duo of Baron Davis and Mo Williams from the season prior and also dropped Ramon Sessions at the deadline; which meant Irving alone couldn’t justify the huge swing in record. Tristan Thompson, drafted fourth overall, didn’t make a huge impact in his maiden season.
Entering the second year of the Kyrie Irving Era in Cleveland, expectations were growing. Although the loss of Antawn Jamison was always set to hurt the Cavaliers’ offense, it provided a chance for Kyrie Irving to up his scoring (check) and rookie Dion Waiters to dazzle (inconclusive) while giving increased time to rebounding sensation Tristan Thompson to expand his game. The addition of former Jazz guard C.J. Miles also gave the Cavaliers a unique scoring punch that gave them one of the better young backcourts in the NBA.
Despite the roster overhaul, built mainly through the draft, the Cavaliers are still struggling. Byron Scott was brought in to help foster Kyrie Irving’s development given his success in New Orleans with Chris Paul and likely has retained his position because of Kyrie Irving’s impressive leap after his Rookie of the Year debut season. Even if the hype behind Scott’s ability to develop a young point guard is to be believed, Irving has done enough on his own to demonstrate he is here to stay regardless of who’s calling his plays.
When the crosstown Cleveland Browns fired Coach Pat Shurmur, Bryon Scott told CBS Cleveland he was surprised with the move.
“Just watching them I think they made leaps and bounds over last year. They have a lot of good pieces, they have a good quarterback, a good running back, and some good receivers, and a solid defense.” he said, justifying Shurmur’s case to keeping his job.
That opinion didn’t gel with the ideas of the Browns’ front office, but Scott better hope the Cavaliers feel differently. The Cavaliers also have a lot of good pieces, they have a very good point guard, a good Center, and some good prospects and a not-at-all-solid defense, and his failure to get them to improve as a team this season in spite of their individual improvements should see Bryon Scott join Pat Shurmur on the unemployment line.