Stats & Info: Cleveland Cavaliers

James has historic futility at line

March, 1, 2015
Mar 1

Bill Baptist/Getty ImagesSunday’s game against the Rockets was memorable -- for the wrong reasons -- for LeBron James.
In a close loss, LeBron James has never been worse from the free throw line, and it cost the Cleveland Cavaliers, who went down 105-103 to the Houston Rockets in overtime Sunday.

James made three of 11 free throws (27 percent). That is the worst free throw percentage of any game in which he has had at least 10 attempts in his career, including the postseason.

And, relevant to Sunday’s game, the eight missed free throws match his career high in a game in which his team lost by three or fewer points.

Perhaps the most memorable misses by James came with four seconds left in overtime and the Cavaliers trailing by one point. James missed two free throws, forcing the Cavaliers to foul the Rockets. Overall in the fourth quarter and overtime, James missed three of the four free throws he took.

It was the first time in his NBA career -- regular season or playoffs -- that James missed more than one potential game-tying or go-ahead free throw in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime of a game.

It was the ninth time in James' career he shot below 50 percent from the line with at least 10 attempts. His eight missed free throws tie the second most in his career.

Harden's drives lead to the line
James Harden scored nearly half of his 33 points on drives Sunday. Harden’s drives also resulted in 11 free throw attempts; the Cavaliers shot eight free throws as a team off drives.

Sunday’s game was Harden’s 15th as a Rocket in which he had at least 30 points and at least 15 free throws attempts. That broke a tie with Moses Malone for the most in franchise history.

James struggles late
In addition to the missed free throws, James struggled from the field. He shot 22 percent from the field in the game's final 10 minutes.

In the clutch (defined as the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime when the score is within five points), James was 2-of-9 from the field and 1-of-4 from the free throw line for six points Sunday. It was the first time he missed seven field goal attempts and three free throws in the clutch.

The Cavaliers had 40 3-point attempts, tying a franchise record.

The Cavaliers had won their previous 16 games in which they scored at least 100 points, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was the longest streak of its kind in the NBA and the longest such streak for the Cavaliers since they won 21 straight games in which they scored in triple figures in 2009-10.

4-Point Play: Cavaliers vs Wizards

February, 20, 2015
Feb 20

Gary Dineen/Getty ImagesMarcin Gortat could play a huge role in tonight's matchup with the Cavs.
The 4-Point Play looks at the four analytics-based storylines that will make you smarter when watching Friday’s game between the Cleveland Cavaliers (10th in BPI) and Washington Wizards (13th in BPI) at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Our BPI gives the Wizards a 51 percent chance of winning:

1. The Wizards need to control the glass to keep their offense moving. They have an average offensive rebound percentage of 25 percent, and when they are above that, their offense scores 106 points per 100 possessions. In games where they are below that, Washington scores 100 points per 100 possessions.

2. The Wizards also need to keep Marcin Gortat involved on the offensive end. In wins, Gortat has an average assist percentage of 7 percent. In losses, his assist percentage is only 4 percent.

3. The Cavaliers' biggest problem all year has been on the defensive end, and their defense performs best when it is able to generate turnovers. When the Cavaliers force 10 or more turnovers per 100 possessions, their defense gives up 100 points per 100 possessions. When they are below that level, they give up 110 points per 100 possessions.

4. The Cavaliers are 8-2 over their last 10 games. During that run, Kevin Love has averaged 6.5 3-point attempts per 36 minutes. He averaged just five 3-point attempts per 36 minutes before this run.

Cavaliers extend win streak to 12 straight

February, 6, 2015
Feb 6
David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Cavaliers are one win shy of their longest win streak in team history

The Cleveland Cavaliers have extended their win streak to 12 straight games following their 11-point win over the Los Angeles Clippers. They are one win shy of matching the longest win streak in franchise history.

LeBron James has been involved in each of the three longest win streaks in Cavaliers team history. This is the fifth time in James' career that his team has won 12 straight games.

Cleveland was in control throughout the entire game. After a brief 2-0 Clippers lead, the Cavaliers tied it up with a basket of their own and never trailed again. In the third quarter, the Clippers trailed by as many as 32 points, their largest deficit of the season.

Kevin Love and James led the Cavaliers' charge, combining for 47 of the team's 105 points.

Love got off to a hot start, scoring 10 of his game-high 24 points in the first quarter. It marked the 15th time this season Love has scored in double figures in the opening frame. He's done so just three times in the other three quarters.

James did most of his damage in the first half, as he went into halftime with 15 points and eight assists. It was the fifth time he has posted those numbers in the first half of a game in his career, and the first time since March 16, 2012, against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The third member of the Cavaliers' Big Three, Kyrie Irving, was a non-factor in the win. He was averaging 25.8 points per game on 51.5 percent shooting in Cleveland's previous 11 wins, but finished with 10 points on 1-of-5 shooting Thursday night.

Entering the game, the Clippers were averaging 106.7 points per game, good for third in the league. They finished with 94 points Thursday night and were led by Blake Griffin's team-high 16 points. It was the first time this season no Clippers player scored more than 16 points in a game.

Keeping the streak alive

The Cavaliers will look to make it 13 straight wins Friday night against the Indiana Pacers. According to ESPN's Basketball Power Index, they are a 55 percent favorite to win the game.

In fact, the Cavaliers are the favorite in each of their next three games.

How can the Cavs get Kevin Love going?

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
Last season Kevin Love, then with the Minnesota Timberwolves, ranked eighth in the NBA with nearly 88 touches per game. This season he’s down to 35th, averaging 70 touches per game. However, that was to be expected after joining forces in Cleveland with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

Love has a player efficiency rating of 28.1 in the first quarter this season, the best mark in the league among the 112 players who have played at least 250 first-quarter minutes. That number, however, drops all the way to 15.1 in the second through fourth quarters, only slightly above the league average of 15.0.

What has been alarming is Love's lack of involvement in the offense as the game goes on. So what can the Cavaliers do to get him going?

Last season, Love averaged nearly 12 touches per game on the elbows (second in the NBA), which gave him room to operate and either initiate a post-up, shoot a jumper, drive or make a play for his teammates. This season, he’s averaging just three elbow touches per game.


With Love getting so many fewer touches at the elbow and down low, he has a career-low offensive rebounding percentage this season at 6.9 percent; he has never been below 8 percent in his career. That results in fewer putbacks per game. Nearly 11 percent of Love’s points came from putbacks last season and it’s down to 8 percent this season.

That could explain why he’s averaging a career-low 5.3 points per game in the paint this season.

Getting him involved early and often in the offense could increase his energy levels on the court.

The best way to have fun on the court is to get layups and transition baskets. With Love on the court, the Wolves had the fastest pace in the NBA last season, averaging 102 possessions per game. Among big men, Love was second only to Blake Griffin in points in transition last season.

This season, the Cavaliers are averaging just 94.5 possessions per game with him on the court, which would rank 24th in the NBA. Love ranks seventh among all big men in transition points.

Numbers back criticism of Cavs' coach

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16

Jason Miller/Getty ImagesDavid Blatt has come under fire for the Cavaliers' slow start this season.
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt has been criticized for his coaching this season. The numbers back up the criticism:

The Cavaliers have the most inconsistent offense of any team this season. How do we measure that? Well, it's measured using the standard deviation of offensive efficiencies for each team’s games, adjusted for opponent strength.

The Cavs also have the 10th-most inconsistent defense. They’re the only team to rank in the bottom 10 in consistency in both offense and defense this season.

Coaching in the clutch
One of the ways to measure how well a head coach performs is to look at clutch situations. The Cavaliers have the worst effective field goal percentage in the last three minutes with the score within three points. They also have the fourth-worst offensive efficiency in those situations.

After timeouts
It has been said that a good measure of a head coach is how they execute out of timeouts. The Cavaliers rank 16th offensively and 27th defensively this season in points per play out of timeouts.

The Cavs have the fourth-worst points-per-play differential after timeouts; only the Timberwolves, Jazz and 76ers are worse. Every other team in the bottom 13 is currently out of the playoffs right now.

Lineup combinations
Part of coaching is finding the right lineup combinations.

The Cavaliers have a five-man lineup that has played more than twice as many minutes as any other lineup this season. Of their 16 lineups that have played at least 20 minutes together, that lineup doesn’t rank in the top five in offensive or defensive efficiency. Perhaps luckily for Blatt and the Cavs, that lineup (Irving/James/Love/Marion/Varejao) includes Anderson Varejao, who is out for the season.

The Cavs' lineup with the best offensive and defensive efficiency has only played 28 minutes together this season (Dellavedova/Irving/James/Love/Thompson). That lineup has played the most “clutch-time” (last five minutes with score within five points) minutes of any Cavs lineup: 13 of their 28 minutes together have come in clutch time. They’ve outscored their opponents by 19 points in 13 minutes in clutch time.

So then, why has that lineup only played 15 other minutes together all season despite being the Cavs' most efficient offensive and defensive lineup?

Falling below expectations
The Cavaliers have not yet met the lofty expectations set for them this season, including those of Las Vegas.

Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook projected Cleveland's win percentage to be .713 this season, but its actual win percentage is .500. That differential of minus-.213 is the second worst in the NBA with only the New York Knicks (minus-.372) having a harder time meeting Vegas' preseason projection.

What does that mean for Blatt to be so far under expectations? Six of the eight worst teams last season in terms of differential between actual wins and Las Vegas preseason expectations parted ways with their head coach.

Top stats to know: Spurs edge Cavs

November, 19, 2014

David Richard/USA TODAY SportsKawhi Leonard's tough defense helped the San Antonio Spurs come away with a win against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The San Antonio Spurs beat the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 10th straight time Wednesday. Here are the top stats you need to know about the game.

Rare un-clutch turnover for James
LeBron James turned the ball over with just under two seconds left and the Cavaliers down by two points. It was the first time James had a turnover in the final five seconds of a one-possession game since January 4, 2009 against the Wizards.

James finished with five turnovers on the night, his second-highest total of the season. The only game when he had more was in the season-opening loss to the New York Knicks when he coughed it up eight times.

Leonard shuts down James
Kawhi Leonard was tasked with guarding James for most of the game. Leonard held James to 3-of-11 shooting and an average field-goal attempt distance of 13 feet. Against all other defenders, James shot 3-of-6 with an average attempt distance of under seven feet.

Defense was the difference
The Cavaliers entered the game as one of the worst teams in defensive efficiency and they struggled to close out on Spurs shooters Wednesday. Cleveland contested just 16 percent of Spurs jumpers, while San Antonio contested 61 percent of the Cavaliers jump shots.

Contested jump shots are pull-up or catch-and-shoot jumpers in which the defender was within four feet of the shooter.

The Spurs adjusted at halftime to stop the Cavaliers transition offense. In the first half Cleveland scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in transition. In the second half, the Cavs were held to five points in transition.

The Cavaliers had the best offensive efficiency in the league over the previous 10 days but they ran into a defensive juggernaut. The Cavs were held 26 points per 100 possessions below their average over their previous four games. The game was played closer to the Spurs tempo, as the Cavalierss had five fewer possessions than they averaged in their previous four games.

Is Waiters Cleveland's problem?

November, 7, 2014
Dion Waiters is playing less lately, isn't playing when the game matters, is getting many fewer touches than last season, hasn't been getting passed to as much by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving over the last two games, isn't passing as much when he gets the ball over the last two games, and thus has been less efficient with the ball lately.

Dion Waiters
Waiters came off the bench Wednesday for the first time this season, and he's been used much less since the fourth quarter against the Bulls. Over the last two games, Waiters is averaging 11.5 fewer minutes per game than the first two games.

In a close game against the Bulls, Waiters was on the bench for the final eight minutes. Matthew Dellavedova played those final eight minutes.

In a close game against the Jazz, Waiters played just three seconds of the final 8:56. Mike Miller played the final 4:57.

The Cavs offense has been much better with Waiters off the court this season -- they're scoring seven more points per 100 possessions without him.

Do James and Irving not trust Waiters anymore?

In the first two games, 51 percent of the passes Waiters received were from James or Irving. In the last two games, only 33 percent of the passes Waiters received were from James or Irving. (example: click here)

Waiters is averaging 17 fewer touches per game and has the ball in his hands for less than half as much time as he did last season (2.9 minutes of possession per game last season, 1.3 minutes of possession per game this season). Per 36 minutes, he's averaging 15 fewer touches.

Over the last two games, Waiters is touching the ball just as often when he's in but he's passing the ball much less often -- on 54 percent of his touches compared to passing on 65 percent of his touches in the first two games.

And Waiters has been less efficient in the last two games, with 20 percent fewer points created per touch compared to the first two games.

What's behind the Cavaliers struggles?

November, 6, 2014

AP Photo/Rick BowmerTrey Burke (3) and Gordon Hayward celebrate after Hayward's buzzer-beater to beat the Cavaliers.
After adding LeBron James and Kevin Love in the offseason, the Cleveland Cavaliers were instant championship favorites, but they’ve been slow out of the gate, losing three of their first four games.

Only five teams in NBA history have won the championship after starting 1-3, and none since the 1990-91 Chicago Bulls.

What has been behind the slow start? Here’s a few reasons.

Not Enough Offense
The Cavaliers are averaging 100.5 points per 100 possessions this season, 19th in the NBA, and actually lower than the 101.3 they had last season without James and Love in the lineup.

The team is especially struggling in the pick-and-roll, specifically with James handling the ball. In 32 plays this season as the pick-and-roll ball handler, James has scored just 10 points, shooting 4-22 (18.2%) with 9 turnovers.

His 0.31 points per play as a pick-and-roll ball handler this season is the worst in the NBA among players with at least 20 plays.

A possible solution is getting the ball to the roll man more often. Only 21.6 percent of their pick-and-roll plays result in the roll man making a play, the third-lowest rate in the league.

However, the roll man has been effective when he is targeted, averaging a league-best 1.41 points per play. The ball handler on those plays is averaging 0.61 points per play, 28th in the NBA.

Cleveland has also been guilty of not playing as a team offensively. Nearly 14 percent of their offensive plays have been in isolation, the highest mark in the league.

Where’s the Passing?
Wednesday night, the Cavaliers finished with six assists, tying the fewest in a game in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That’s also the fewest ever by a team with LeBron James playing.

The other two times a Cavaliers team had six assists in a game, they finished with fewer than 20 wins on the season.

Point guard Kyrie Irving had no assists in Wednesday’s loss to the Jazz, just his second career game without any assists.

Irving has now taken 36 shots since his last assist.

Or Is It the Defense?
While the Cavaliers rank 19th in the NBA in offensive efficiency this season, they’ve actually been worse on the defensive end.

Defensively, Cleveland is allowing 109.7 points per 100 possessions, the third-worst mark in the league, only ahead of the Lakers and Jazz.

It’s been worse with the new “Big Three” on the floor. With James, Love and Irving on the floor together, the Cavaliers are allowing 111.2 points per 100 possessions, while generating 106.6 on the offensive end.

Top stats to know: Cavaliers fall to 1-3

November, 6, 2014

Steve Dykes/Getty ImagesLeBron James' team is 1-3 for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

The Cleveland Cavaliers fell to 1-3 on the season after suffering a 102-100 loss at the hands of the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. Despite Gordon Hayward’s late heroics, where the Cavaliers really struggled was in sharing the basketball.

Cavaliers not sharing well
Cleveland posted just six assists, tied for the fewest in franchise history according to the Elias Sports Bureau. They are the first team since the Trail Blazers in March 2012 to post 6 or fewer assists in a game. Of the Cavaliers 30 made baskets, only 20 percent of those were assisted on. That is the lowest assist percentage ever in a game played by a team with LeBron James.

Kyrie Irving had 34 points and zero assists, finishing with no assists for only the second time in his career. Irving has 36 field-goal attempts since his last assist. He took 23 shots tonight and had 13 in his previous game after recording his last assist.

Dion Waiters has also struggled to find his teammates in the early going this season. He has just one assist over his last two games and four assists over four games this season. He averaged three assists per game over his career entering this season.

Historical context for Cavs
The Cavaliers stand at 1-3, a historical red flag. Only five teams have ever won the NBA Championship after starting 1-3, none since the 1990-91 Bulls. The last team to reach the NBA Finals after starting 1-3 was the 1997-98 Jazz, who lost to the Bulls in six games.

This season marks the first time a LeBron James team has started 1-3 since his second season in the league (2004-05). Each of the previous two times one of James’ teams started 1-3 or worse, they missed the playoffs. However, those were his first two seasons in the NBA, and this team has much more talent around James and should be able to turn it around eventually.

Hayward ends it
Gordon Hayward sank his first career game-winning buzzer-beater to conclude the game. It was the fourth time the Cavaliers have lost on a buzzer-beater with LeBron James, and second time they’ve lost on a buzzer-beater against the Jazz during that time. Sundiata Gaines hit his first and only game-winner against LeBron and the Cavaliers in January of 2010.

Hayward’s buzzer-beater was the second game-winner of the day, as Tobias Harris sunk a jumper as time expired to defeat the 76ers on Wednesday as well. Wednesday marks the first time that two game-winning buzzer-beaters occurred on the same day since December 8, 2010, when Andrew Bogut did so for the Bucks and then-Lakers guard Derek Fisher did so as well.

Top stats to know: Cleveland Cavaliers

September, 26, 2014

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsThe Cavaliers signed LeBron James and traded for Kevin Love during a busy offseason.
The Cleveland Cavaliers had one of the more interesting offseasons in recent NBA memory.

Less than a month after finishing their fourth straight losing season despite winning nine more games than the year before, the Cavaliers fired head coach Mike Woodson after one season.

Less than two weeks later (and with only a 1.7 percent chance) the Cavaliers won the NBA Draft Lottery, which they used to select Andrew Wiggins.

They also named Dave Blatt head coach; signed Kyrie Irving to a contract extension; signed free agent LeBron James; and acquired Kevin Love in a three-way trade with Minnesota and Philadelphia (sending Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to the Timberwolves).

Did the Cavs have the best offseason in NBA history?
Cleveland became the first team in NBA history to acquire two players which ranked among the top five in total points the previous season.

LeBron James and Kevin Love were the third and fourth-leading scorers in terms of total points last season.

Most NBA experts could tell you the Cavaliers won the offseason, and win shares can help us see the degree to which this is true (win shares are an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player).

The Cavaliers added over 21 win shares more than they lost, the best total in the NBA by a wide margin. Only three other teams added more than four win shares this offseason.

What LeBron means to Cleveland
• In seven seasons with James, the Cavaliers won more playoff games (42) than in 37 seasons without him (28). For his career, James’s postseason player efficiency rating (PER) of 27.7 ranks second in NBA history behind only Michael Jordan (min. 50 games).

• The only Hall of Famer to have two different stints with a single team prior to turning 30 years old is Gail Goodrich (Lakers). James turns 30 in December.

• James played seven seasons in Cleveland from 2003-10 and left as the franchise leader in win shares, points scored and minutes played. Since James left for Miami, the Cavaliers have had the league’s worst record (.311 win percentage).

Was trading for Kevin Love the right move?
Love ranked third in the league in rebounds per game (12.5) and fourth in scoring average (26.1) last season.

He became just the fifth player in NBA history to change teams after averaging at least 25 points and 10 rebounds the prior season and the first since Shaquille O’Neal left the Magic for the Lakers in the summer of 1996.

Love, who has been selected to the All-Star team in three of his last four seasons, is entering his seventh season in the league and has still yet to reach the playoffs.

In fact, the only time the Timberwolves posted a win percentage of at least .400 during Love’s career came last season (.488).

Formidable trio gathering in Cleveland

August, 7, 2014

Getty ImagesKevin Love joins LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to give Cleveland a formidable big three.
The Cavaliers, Timberwolves and 76ers have completed a three-team trade, with Cleveland getting Kevin Love from Minnesota while the Timberwolves get Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young. In return for Young, the 76ers receive Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Alexey Shved and a future 1st-round pick.

Rare blockbuster swap
Wiggins is only the second player since the merger to be drafted first overall and then traded before playing a single game. Chris Webber was traded to the Warriors after the Magic drafted him No. 1 overall in 1993.

Love is the third player in NBA history to change teams in the offseason after averaging at least 26 PPG and 12 RPG the previous season (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Moses Malone). Abdul-Jabbar and Malone eventually went on to win NBA titles with their new teams.

What Love brings
Love is coming off the best season of his career. He produced 14.3 win shares last season, easily a career high. He also set career highs in points per game, assists per game, 3-pointers made and player efficiency rating.

He averaged 26.1 PPG and 12.5 RPG last season, marking the second time he averaged 26 and 12 in his career (also did so in 2011-12). Before Love, the last player to average at least 26 and 12 in a single season was Shaquille O'Neal in 2000-01.

As one of the best passing big men in the league, the Timberwolves ran much of their offense through Love. He averaged 86.2 touches per game last season, most in the NBA among non-guards according to player tracking data.

He created 8.5 assist opportunities per game, defined as passes that lead directly to a shot, and if made, would be an assist. That was the most among all power forwards last season.

Many of those opportunities came in transition, where Love, known for his outlet passes, created fast-break chances. The Timberwolves averaged 17.2 fast-break points per 48 minutes with Love on the floor last season and only 12.8 with him on the bench.

What the Cavs look like
A big three of LeBron James with Kyrie Irving and Love could be the best trio in the NBA.

According to win shares, which measures the estimated number of wins a player contributes to his team’s total, those three combined for 36.9 last season. That is more than any trio of teammates, and more than the win totals of 11 NBA teams last season.

Irving and Love are a combined 15 years younger than Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and Love alone had more win shares (14.3) than Wade and Bosh last season (13.5).

Timberwolves rebuilding
With Wiggins, Bennett and Young, the Timberwolves look to begin the rebuilding process. Minnesota has missed the playoffs 10 straight seasons, the longest active drought in the NBA.

Did you know?
Both Wiggins and Bennett were top picks in the NBA draft, making this the fifth time in the common draft era (since 1966) that multiple No. 1 overall picks will be involved in the same trade. But in each of the previous four instances, the players were traded for each other, meaning the Cavs will be the first team to deal two former No. 1 overall picks in a single trade.

Going Back To Ohio

July, 11, 2014

AP Photo/Mark DuncanLeBron has now changed teams twice after scoring 27 PPG.
You may think that LeBron James was the first player to leave Cleveland, win two championships in Miami and then return to the shores of Lake Erie, but he’s not.

Long before James there was Hall of Fame NFL receiver Paul Warfield who spent six seasons (1964-69) with the Browns before being traded to Miami where he won two Super Bowls in five years (1970-74) with the Dolphins, including as part of the 1972 Perfect 17-0 season. After spending a year in the World Football League Warfield returned to Cleveland for his two final NFL seasons (1976-77).

The major difference is that LeBron, like only Gail Goodrich before him among (current or extremely likely) Hall of Famers, is returning prior to his 30th birthday with many prime playing days ahead.

Point of Departure

Scorers of his magnitude do not often change teams yet this is the second time LeBron James sought a change of scenery following a season in which he averaged at least 27 PPG.

Over the past 30 years only three others – Tracy McGrady who went from the Magic to the Rockets in 2004, Adrian Dantley who went from the Jazz to the Pistons in 1986, and Kiki Vandeweghe who landed in Portland after averaging over 29 PPG for the Nuggets—changed teams after dropping in 27 or more per contest.

Odds and Ends

Once LeBron James announced that he’ll return to the Cavaliers next season, oddsmakers in Las Vegas were sent scrambling. According to the Las Vegas Superbook - Hotel & Casino, Cleveland is now a 4-1 favorite to win the 2014-15 Pro Basketball Championship. Cleveland’s odds opened at 60-1 while Miami opened as a 2-1 favorite and are now 40-1.

Top of the Charts

With all due respect to Mark Price, Brad Daugherty and even Foots Walker, there’s no disputing the greatest player in Cavaliers history. LeBron James leads the franchise in most major categories. Those that he doesn’t will be sure to fall in swift succession over the next four years.

Who’s No. 1? Take Your Pick.

Should the Cavs stand pat right now they would have the first roster with four top-overall draft picks since the 1986-87 through 1988-89 Showtime Lakers featured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969), Mychal Thompson (1978), Magic Johnson (1979) and James Worthy (1982). James (2003) joins Kyrie Irving (2011), Anthony Bennett (2013) and Andrew Wiggins (2014).

King When It Counts

The 2014-15 Cavaliers are getting one of the greatest postseason performers ever. James’ career PER of 27.7 in the postseason is second only to Michael Jordan’s 28.6 (with a minimum of 50 playoff game appearances). The average NBA postseason PER is 15.

James had a string of six straight seasons leading the league in player efficiency rating (PER) snapped in 2013-14 when he finished second to Kevin Durant. Only Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan have led the league in PER more often than James.

2014 NBA Draft recap

June, 27, 2014

Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsAndrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker went at the top of this year's draft.
The 2014 NBA Draft is in the books. Here are the stats you need to know about the top seven picks.

No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers – Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins became the 2nd Canadian-born player to be drafted No. 1 overall, joining Anthony Bennett last season. There are now three Canadian-born top-5 picks in the common draft era, and all are on the Cavaliers (Wiggins, Bennett, Tristan Thompson).

Wiggins also joins Danny Manning, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1988, as the only players in Kansas history picked first overall.

No. 2 Milwaukee Bucks – Jabari Parker
Parker became the sixth Duke player drafted in the top five since 1999.

He should be an immediate help for the Bucks in the post. Milwaukee averaged 5.9 post-up points per game, 27th in the league. Parker averaged 3.6 post-up points per game on 55.4% shooting.

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers – Joel Embiid
Embiid gives the 76ers a good two-way post player. On offense he shot 55 percent on post-ups this season, best in the Big 12 (minimum 50 plays).

In the last 15 games he played with Kansas, Embiid held opponents to 29% shooting in the post.

No. 4 Orlando Magic - Aaron Gordon
Gordon is the fourth Arizona player drafted in the top five in the common draft era, joining Mike Bibby, Sean Elliott and Derrick Williams.

The Magic also pick up the youngest player in this draft class. Gordon does not turn 19 until September.

No. 5 Utah Jazz – Dante Exum
Exum joins Kyrie Irving and Andrew Bogut as the only Australian-born players picked in the top five in the common draft era.

The only other international point guard drafted in the top 10 was Ricky Rubio.

No. 6 Boston Celtics – Marcus Smart
Smart is the highest drafted Oklahoma State player since Bryant Reeves in 1995.

The last time the Celtics took a point guard this high in a draft was in 1997 when they drafted Chauncey Billups third overall.

No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers – Julius Randle
Last season the Lakers ranked last in both defensive and offensive rebounding percentage. Enter Randle, who led the nation with 24 double-doubles last season.

How prolific was Randle? The only freshman in Division I history to ever record more double-doubles in a season was Michael Beasley, who had 28 for Kansas State in 2007-08.

What to expect from top-10 in NBA Draft

June, 25, 2014
Lofty expectations from ownership make the NBA Draft a high-stakes affair for general managers and coaches. The perceived wrong move can doom the job of the guy who makes the final decision.

What can teams rightly expect to get with the top pick in the NBA Draft? What about the rest of the top 10?

To come up with an expectation for each pick, we developed a profile for each pick in the top 10 using average win shares per season and career games played. Looking at all players drafted from the NBA-ABA merger in 1976 to 2010, we identified a player who best matches that statistical profile.

Profiles were built using Basketball-Reference’s win shares, which measure a player’s contributions to a team in the wins his performance is expected to add. Average wins per season, listed with each pick below, are defined as the average win shares a player produced in each season he played in the NBA.

No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers – 5.6 wins per season, 745 games

Comparable players: James Worthy (5.4 wins/season), Yao Ming (5.5 wins/season)

James Worthy was a steady scorer in the NBA, as he averaged between 17.7 and 22.0 points per game in all 12 of his NBA seasons. He put up 14.8 career win shares in the playoffs.

Best-case scenario: LeBron James (CLE), 15.3 wins/season
Worst-case scenario: Michael Olowokandi (LAC), 0.2 wins/season

No. 2 Milwaukee Bucks – 3.8 wins per season, 696 games

Comparable players: Marvin Williams (4.1 wins/season), Steve Francis (3.6 wins/season)

Steve Francis averaged 19.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game over the first six years of his career. He ranks 55th all-time with 6.0 assists per game in his career.

Best-case scenario: Kevin Durant (SEA), 12.7 wins/season
Worst-case scenario: Darko Milicic (DET), 0.6 wins/season

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers – 4.5 wins per season, 692 games

Comparable players: Shareef Abdur-Rahim (4.7 wins/season), Baron Davis (4.2 wins/season)

Before his career ended at the age of 31,Shareef Abdur-Rahim averaged 34.8 minutes per game, which is in the top 100 all-time.

Best-case scenario: Michael Jordan (CHI), 14.3 wins/season
Worst-case scenario: Adam Morrison (CHA), -0.2 wins/season

No. 4 Orlando Magic – 3.8 wins per season, 695 games

Comparable players: Donyell Marshall (3.9 wins/season), Byron Scott (5.0 wins/season)

In his best seasons, between 1998 and 2004, Donyell Marshall averaged 14.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He also reached a career-high 5.5 defensive win shares in 2003-04.

Best-case scenario: Chris Paul (NOH), 12.8 wins/season
Worst-case scenario: Marcus Fizer (CHI), 0.2 wins/season

No. 5 Utah Jazz – 4.1 wins per season, 728 games

Comparable players: Devin Harris (4.2 wins/season), Juwan Howard (4.0 wins/season)

Juwan Howard ranks 33rd all-time with 1,208 career games played. He is in the top 100 all-time in field goals, rebounds, and points.

Best-case scenario: Kevin Garnett (MIN), 12.6 wins/season
Worst-case scenario: Nikoloz Tskitishvili (DEN), -0.1 wins/season

No. 6 Boston Celtics – 2.3 wins per season, 535 games

Comparable players: Trent Tucker (2.3 wins/season), Martell Webster (2.7 wins/season)

Trent Tucker made a living as a bench player for most of his career, averaging 14.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per 36 minutes. He ranks 20th all-time with a 9.1 percent career turnover percentage.

Best-case scenario: Larry Bird (BOS), 9.7 wins/season
Worst-case scenario: Jonny Flynn (MIN), -0.2 wins/season

No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers – 2.9 wins per season, 640 games

Comparable players: Eric Gordon (2.9 wins/season), Randy Foye (2.7 wins/season)

Eric Gordon has averaged 17.5 points per game in his career, including two seasons of 20 or more. Gordon made the All-NBA rookie team in 2008-09.

Best-case scenario: Stephen Curry (GSW), 7.6 wins/season
Worst-case scenario: Quintin Dailey (CHI), 0.8 wins/season

No. 8 Sacramento Kings - 2.7 wins per season, 610 games

Comparable players: Chris Wilcox (2.2 wins/season), Brandan Wright (2.4 wins/season)

Although Chris Wilcox had an 11.9 usage percentage with the Celtics in the 2012-13 season, he was extremely efficient in the half-court on offense, averaging 1.17 points per such play, which led all players with at least 100 plays.

Best-case scenario: Robert Parish (BOS), 9.8 wins/season
Worst-case scenario: Lancaster Gordon (LAC), -0.2 wins/season

No. 9 Charlotte Hornets - 3.4 wins per season, 650 Games

Comparable players: Gordon Hayward (3.8 wins/season), Rodney Rogers (2.6 wins/season)

Gordon Hayward has averaged 15.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game over the last two years. Last year, Hayward finished in the top 10 in the league with 36.4 minutes played per game.

Best-case scenario: Dirk Nowitzki (DAL), 12.3 wins/season
Worst-case scenario: Patrick O’Bryant (GSW), 0.1 wins/season

No. 10 Philadelphia 76ers – 2.8 wins per season, 574 games

Comparable players: Spencer Hawes (2.5 wins/season), Andrew Bynum (4.2 wins/season)

Hawes finished tenth in the NBA by shooting 41.6 percent from behind the 3-point line last season. Hawes is averaging 14.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per 36 minutes in his career.

Best-case scenario: Paul Pierce (BOS), 9.6 wins/season
Worst-case scenario: Roy Hamilton (DET), 0.0 wins/season

Cavs are worst drafting team in NBA

June, 20, 2014

David Richard/USA TODAY SportsAnthony Bennett is the latest top pick who is under performing for the Cleveland Cavaliers
For the second straight year and third time in four years, the Cleveland Cavaliers have the No. 1 pick -- all since losing LeBron James in 2010.

In seven seasons with James, the Cavs won 60.8 percent of their games, made five playoff appearances and won 42 playoff games. The Cavs have not made the playoffs since James left and they have won 31.1 percent of their games, the lowest win percentage in the NBA during that time.

Their lack of success on the court over the last four seasons could be attributed to a lack of success in the NBA Draft.

Over the last 10 NBA Drafts -- since they drafted James -- the Cavaliers are statistically the worst drafting team in the NBA.

The Cavaliers average draft pick is 2.4 win shares per season worse than the average win shares for that draft slot, among top-20 picks. Win shares are an estimate of the number of wins a player contributes to his team due to his offense and defense.

For example, the Cavaliers drafted Luke Jackson with the 10th pick in 2004. He produced a total of 0.2 win shares in four seasons for an average of 0.05 per season. The average No. 10 pick over the last 10 drafts has produced 3.95 win shares per season, for a difference of -3.9.

Only two of the Cavaliers' seven top-20 picks since 2004 have produced more win shares than the average for their draft position -- J.J. Hickson and Tristan Thompson. The other five -- Jackson, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and Sergey Karasev -- have performed below expectations in terms of win shares.

Since 1985, Bennett had the fewest win shares of any No. 1 pick in their rookie season, -0.4, which was slightly worse than Michael Olowokandi during his rookie campaign.

Best drafting teams

On the other end of the spectrum, the Indiana Pacers have been the most successful team in the NBA Draft over the last 10 years, followed by the Thunder/SuperSonics franchise. The Pacers successes include Paul George and Danny Granger, while the Thunder/SuperSonics successes include Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.