The Cleveland Cavaliers will not win an NBA championship this season.
Sorry, Cavs fans. You’re all going to have to wait a little bit longer to taste the champagne because this Cavaliers team, the way it is currently constructed, is not good enough to win in June.
Here are four reasons why the Cavaliers won’t win an NBA title:
1) MIKE BROWN CAN’T COACH OFFENSE
The Cavaliers head coach came from the Gregg Popovich school of defense, but that seems to be the only thing he took with him to Cleveland. Brown can preach and teach defense, but he is an awful offensive coach. His set plays are so basic you might think the Cavs are running an offense from the 1960s. LeBron James is the most explosive, athletic and dynamic offensive player in the league but yet Brown has not been able to get him enough easy shots to help ease the gigantic burden placed on James’ shoulders to win games by himself. All too often, James is at the top of the circle running Brown’s 1-4 set. TNT”s Charles Barkley has said, in more than one occasion, that LeBron needs to play in a system that will take advantage of his speed and athleticism. Going one-on-three 80% of the time can be a bit taxing. Night after night, LeBron has had to work extremely hard for his baskets, and Brown has not done a thing to help his superstar. This kind of vanilla offense may work during the regular season, but it’s not going to get it done in the postseason. Brown’s latest concoction is this ridiculous experiment that has centers Shaquille O’Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas on the court at the same time. This makes the Cavs extremely slow on offense and defense, and it curtails James’ urge to push the ball and create fastbreak opportunities. As long as Mike Brown is the coach, the Cavaliers are not a championship team.
2) MO WILLIAMS IS NOT A STAR
To win an NBA title, you have to have a great 1-2 punch. I’ve always believed that if you give LeBron James an All-Star player to play with, the Cavaliers will be a powerhouse. I think it’s safe to say that the Cavaliers should keep looking for that All-Star player because it is certainly not Mo Williams. The much-celebrated offseason acquisition in 2008 has been somewhat of a disappointment. Sure he made the All-Star team last season, but that was only because LeBron begged the league to select him. Williams is not a clutch player, and it clearly showed during the playoffs. Though he finished with decent statistics, when it mattered most, Williams was MIA. He was outplayed by Rafer Alston in the series against Orlando and his decision-making got progressively worse as the games got close. The biggest play he made during the 2008-09 playoffs was his inbounds pass to James that resulted him LeBron’s game-winning shot in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. If Mo Williams wants to be the Scottie Pippen and be the No. 2 guy behind LeBron, he has to step it up big time. He has a career average of 17 PPG, but those numbers were built on against inferior opponents. Williams has to realize he’s no longer in Milwaukee where games don’t matter. He’s playing with The King in Cleveland. If Williams wants to be considered an All-Star, he needs to play like one.
3) TOO MANY OF THE SAME SLOW PIECES
The addition of Shaq made the Cavs bigger up front but it didn’t fix the Cavaliers’ vulnerability against quicker and more athletic big men. Matter of fact, Cleveland became more rigid and are now even more susceptible to quicker and more athletic frontcourts. At this stage of his career, O’Neal is a liability on defense and struggles against the pick-and-roll offense. The same can be said about Ilgauskas. Big Z got exposed big time in last year’s conference finals when the bigger and quicker Dwight Howard ran circles around him. The third part of Cleveland’s three-headed frontcourt problem is Anderson Varejao. Now, Varejao is a unique player who brings boundless energy to the court. However, he’s very limited offensively and lacks a consistent jump shot to space the court when he plays with Big Z or Shaq. In an ideal situation, Varejao is a backup at best. He’s great when he plays just 20 minutes, but when you stretch him to 30 minutes his effectiveness is compromised. He is much more effective in spurts where he can change the tempo with his hustle and can frustrate opponents with his nonstop action. When the Cavs got Shaq, they should have signed a big man who can shoot.
4) LEBRON’S LONG-TERM COMMITMENT
It would help the franchise if LeBron just said “Yes” to a contract extension and put all the rumors to bed. But his continued posturing and constant hints about playing elsewhere doesn’t exactly put the Cavaliers management, coaches, players and fans at ease. LeBron holds all the cards and he’s playing them like he has all the chips on the table – which he does. I find it amusing that he’s even considering playing in New York. The Knicks are a mess. Why would LeBron sign with a team that is about to unload half of its roster just to accommodate him? The allure of playing in Madison Square Garden and being in the center of the media storm can’t be that attractive when you’re playing for a lottery team. If LeBron James is serious about making Cleveland a champion, he needs to commit to the franchise long term.