Stats & Info: Cleveland Cavaliers

What's behind the Cavaliers struggles?

November, 6, 2014
Nov 6

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
Nov 6

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: NBA Draft reaction

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27

Getty ImagesAndrew Wiggins (center), Dante Exum (left) and Julius Randle all found NBA homes Thursday night.
After Andrew Wiggins joined Anthony Bennett in Cleveland (both the only Canadian-born players to be drafted first overall), the 2014 NBA Draft was only getting started.

Here's a look at some of the top stats and storylines from one of the most anticipated NBA Drafts in league history.

Parker, Embiid fill out Top 3

With Wiggins off the board, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Jabari Parker second overall. Parker was part of an elite group of freshmen to dominate both inside and out in college during the last 15 seasons.

The Philadelphia 76ers chose Joel Embiid with the third pick, giving Kansas as many top-three picks in this draft as it had in the rest of the common draft era combined (Danny Manning and Raef LaFrentz).

When healthy, Embiid, along with last year's lottery pick Nerlens Noel, should help a Sixers team that ranked 28th in the NBA in rebounding percentage last season. In his freshman season, Embiid led all Big-7 players with a 20.5 rebounding percentage.

Randle continues Kentucky tradition

From one storied program to another, former Kentucky standout Julius Randle was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the seventh pick in the first round.

After the Lakers finished last in the NBA in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages, Randle will be expected to duplicate his double-double dominance from Day One.

Only Michael Beasley recorded more double-doubles in a freshman season than Julius Randle did last year.

Vonleh, McDermott stand out for Midwest

Noah Vonleh went to the Charlotte Hornets with the ninth selection. Vonleh led the Big Ten in field goal percentage (50 percent) on catch-and-shoot plays, ahead of Michigan's Nik Stauskas (minimum 25 plays).

This was the first time Indiana had top-10 picks in consecutive drafts since 1976-77.

Doug McDermott, who became the first Creighton player selected in the first round since Benoit Benjamin in 1985, continued the lottery legacy of Wooden Award winners.

Since 2005, every Wooden Award winner has been a lottery pick. The last winner to not go in the lottery was Jameer Nelson, who was drafted 20th overall in 2004.

UCLA trio pulls a first since 1979

The UCLA Bruins had three players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft for the first time since 1979.

Freshman point guard Zach LaVine was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 13th pick. The Memphis Grizzlies turned some eyes by selecting Bruins shooting guard Jordan Adams with the 22nd selection. And sophomore point guard Kyle Anderson sealed the deal when he went to the San Antonio Spurs with the final pick of the first round.

Anderson is one of three players in the last 30 seasons to average at least 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a season , joining Memphis State's Anfernee Hardaway (1992-93) and Ohio State's Evan Turner (2009-10).

Fixing weaknesses for 7 teams in draft

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
Cleveland Cavaliers – Post presence
According to Synergy Sports Technology, the Cavaliers averaged 6.0 post-up points per game last season, 26th in the league. On the defensive end, they ranked second-to-last in blocks per game.

Best fit – Jabari Parker
In his only season at Duke, Parker averaged 3.6 post-up points per game, shooting 55.4 percent on such shots.

Milwaukee Bucks – Inside presence
The Bucks grabbed just 71.4 percent of available defensive rebounds in the regular season, ranking 29th in the league. The team also allowed 108.9 points per 100 possessions, which trailed only the Jazz for the worst defensive efficiency.

Best fit – Joel Embiid
By himself, Embiid rebounded 27 percent of opponent's missed shots when on the court, the highest rebound percentage in the Big 12.

Philadelphia 76ers – Overall efficiency
Philadelphia was outscored by 10.7 points per 100 possessions last season, the worst rate by any team since the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats.

Best fit – Andrew Wiggins
The 76ers ran 151 more plays in transition than any other team last season, but scored only 49 percent of the time (worst in NBA). Wiggins could thrive in this run-and-gun system and would raise the team's efficiency, as he scored on 69 percent of his transition plays in his only season at Kansas, the best individual rate in the Big 12.

Orlando Magic – Playmaking in transition
The Magic struggled on both ends in transition, ranking 29th in transition offensive efficiency and 27th in transition defensive efficiency.

Best fit – Dante Exum
Although Exum has not played in the United States, he showed off amazing speed and quickness at the NBA draft combine in May. His 10.75 seconds in lane agility and 3.19 seconds in the three-quarter court sprint ranked second and eighth (tie), respectively. The combined rank of his times was the second-fastest, trailing just Zach LaVine among 51 players who participated in both events.

Utah Jazz – Defensive presence
The Jazz ranked last in defensive efficiency and struggled to pressure the ball, ranking second-to-last in opponent turnover percentage.

Best fit – Marcus Smart
Smart was one of the best defenders in the college ranks last season, ranking top-10 nationally in opponent points per game (5.3) and opponent field goal percentage (27.6 percent). Smart also ranked third in the nation with 2.9 steals per game and had a 5 percent steal rate, seventh in the nation.

Boston Celtics – Inside offensive presence
The Celtics struggled with offensive efficiency and were especially poor in the paint, ranking 27th in paint points per game last season.

Best fit – Aaron Gordon
Although Gordon was a poor jump shooter, he did a lot of damage inside the paint when it mattered the most: the NCAA tournament. Of his 57 points during Arizona’s tournament run, he scored 42 points in the paint on 61.8 percent shooting.

Los Angeles Lakers – Rebounding
The Lakers were abysmal on the glass during the regular season, ranking last in offensive, defensive and total rebounding rate.

Best fit – Noah Vonleh
Vonleh led the Big Ten in rebounds per game last season and in defensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 27 percent of opponent's missed shots in his only season at Indiana.

Vonleh also has an added dimension as a smooth jump shooter. He shot 16-of-33 on 3-point attempts, which would have ranked eighth in the nation percentage-wise if he had qualified with enough attempts. He also led the Big Ten with a 50 percent catch-and-shoot field goal percentage (minimum 25 attempts), ahead of sharpshooters such as Nik Stauskas and Gary Harris.

Cavs are worst drafting team in NBA

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20

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.

Why Cavs should pick Jabari Parker

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20

US PresswireJoel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins are expected to be early picks in the 2014 NBA Draft.
By jumping from the ninth spot to first in the NBA Draft Lottery, the Cavaliers expect to get a better player who makes a long-term impact. But how big of a difference is that eight-spot jump?

The Cavs gained 1.6 expected wins per season based on historical win shares at the first pick compared to the ninth pick.

Expected wins: prorated version of win shares for a season. It measures the win shares a player would be expected to produce if he played 36 minutes per game for 75 games.

Jabari Parker averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game during the 2013-14 season at Duke, earning the USBWA National Freshman of the Year Award and becoming a consensus first-Team All-American.

If the Cavaliers’ goal is to win now to fight for a playoff berth, retain Kyrie Irving and vie for elite free agents, Parker’s offensive polish makes him a safe pick.

Parker: Complete offensive package

Parker and Andrew Wiggins were focal points of their respective team’s offense, but Parker was more successful. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Parker ranked sixth among major conference players (AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) with 16.1 half-court points per game.

Despite being a freshman, Parker was one of five players in major conferences to have at least 600 plays. The other players on the list – Doug McDermott, T.J. Warren, Bryce Cotton and Shabazz Napier – were members of the All-American team or earned their conference’s Player of the Year Award.

One knock on Wiggins’ game has been his lack of aggression in attacking the hoop. Parker demonstrated his offensive tenacity by attempting 94 more shots in the paint than Wiggins this past season.

The Cavaliers were one of the worst teams in the paint during the regular season, shooting 51 percent (league average: 54 percent).

Moreover, the Cavaliers averaged six post-up points per game during the regular season, 26th in the league according to Synergy Sports Technology, shooting 43 percent on such plays. Parker averaged 3.6 post-up points per game, shooting 55 percent on such shots. His post-up efficiency was as good as Joel Embiid’s, who also shot 55 percent on post-up plays.

Although Wiggins is being labeled a perimeter player, Parker shot better outside the paint this season, including from 3-point range. Parker made 36 percent of his shots from outside the paint compared to 33 percent for Wiggins.

Perhaps history is on Parker’s side as well. Duke wing draftees have averaged 116 more games than Kansas wing draftees since the merger (since 1976).

Chance of Cavs' lottery riches: 1 in 163

May, 21, 2014
May 21
The Cleveland Cavaliers defied probability again Tuesday night, winning the No. 1 selection in the NBA draft lottery despite a 98.3 percent likelihood against that happening.

The Cavaliers also received the first pick in the 2011 and 2013 lotteries, beating teams with greater chances of winning the top selection.

After Tuesday’s lottery completed the Cavaliers’ three-times-in-four-years surprise, a common reaction was, “How likely is that?”

The relevant question isn’t based on the chances for only 2011, 2013 and 2014, but rather, “What are the chances the Cavaliers would get three No. 1 picks from 2011 to 2014, given their chances of winning the lottery in each year?” So we need to consider the chances of the Cavaliers winning the lottery in 2012, as well.
To the right are the chances of the Cavaliers winning each of the past four draft lotteries.

Based on those percentages, the chances of the Cavaliers getting the No. 1 pick in three of the last four years is 0.61 percent, or about 1 in 163. This takes into account the possibility of getting any three (or all four) of those No. 1 picks – so it could have been 2011/12/13, 2011/12/14, 2011/13/14 (what actually happened), etc. – which increases the likelihood compared with some estimates that looked only at the chance of winning in specifically 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Of course, this represents only the Cavaliers’ chances of winning three of four lotteries specifically from 2011 to 2014. The chances are higher if you look at the probability of any NBA team winning three of the four draft lotteries in that span, and even higher if you look at the probability of any team winning three draft lotteries in any four-year span.

Those calculations are much more complicated, but the point is that while what Cleveland has pulled off seems quite unlikely in isolation, the chances of any NBA team having done this at some point in the history of the draft lottery are much greater.

LeBron gets the best of the Cavs ... again

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
LeBron James was almost perfect to start Tuesday night's game against the Cavaliers.
This has been an interesting month for LeBron James from a statistical perspective. He's bookended a bit of a shooting slump with two of the best quarters in his NBA career.

James scored 25 points in the first quarter of Tuesday’s win over his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, on 10-for-11 shooting. His 25 points matched the Cavaliers' total for the quarter and tied the franchise record for points in a quarter.

James was unable to duplicate what happened the last time he tallied 25 in a quarter (earlier this month against the Charlotte Bobcats), tallying 18 points in the next three quarters combined. His 31 points at halftime marked the first time he’s scored that many in an opening half for the Heat.

His last 30-point first half was on Feb. 6, 2010 for the Cavaliers in a 47-point effort against the Knicks.

James finished 14-for-19 from the field (73.7 percent) for 43 points. That’s the third-best he’s ever shot in a regular-season game in which he took at least that many shots. He’s twice gone 16-for-21, once in 2011 against the Atlanta Hawks and once in 2012 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

It’s also the most points he’s ever scored in 13 games against his former team.

The key for James was that he was able to make his shots from 3-point range. LeBron entered the night six for his past 24 from 3-point range, but was 6-for-8 in this one.

It was the second-best he’s ever shot from long range in a game in which he took that many shots; he was 8-for-10 from 3-point range in the 61-point game against the Bobcats.

Next up for the Heat are the Boston Celtics, tomorrow night. James is one of two players who have played at least 10 games against the Celtics and averaged at least 30 points against them. His 30.1 points scoring average trails only Michael Jordan’s 30.7.

Elias Sports Bureau Notes of the Night
James is the first player with two 25-point quarters in the same month since Kobe Bryant, who had two in his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006 (27 in third, 28 in fourth).

James is 12-1 against the Cavaliers since leaving Cleveland (.923 winning percentage). The best record by a retired player against his former team, among players with at least five All-Star selections for that former team, is Oscar Robertson’s 19-2 mark against the Cincinnati Royals/Kansas City Kings.

Lakers win a wacky game

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
AP Photo/Mark DuncanRobert Sacre fouled out, but remained in the game on Wednesday vs the Cavaliers.
Wednesday’s contest between the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers began odd considering the Lakers dressed only eight players, but no one could have predicted how quirky the game's ending would be. The Lakers eventually pulled out all the stops to break a seven-game losing streak.

Sacre fouls out, keeps playing
Los Angeles dressed eight players for the game. Nick Young and Jordan Farmar suffered injuries and could not return. First, Chris Kaman fouled out, then backup center Robert Sacre fouled out with 3:31 remaining in the 4th quarter. Sacre was allowed to continue playing because of a little-known rule that stated the last disqualified player had to remain on the court if the team didn’t have any remaining healthy and eligible players.

The Lakers were assessed a technical foul because they did not have any remaining healthy players. Had Sacre committed any additional fouls (which he did not), the Lakers would have been assessed a technical foul as well.

Lakers huge offensive night
The Lakers were hot out of the gate tonight, scoring 70 first-half points. It was their highest scoring half of the season.

Steve Blake recorded his second career triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists. Over the last quarter century, the only other Lakers players with at least 15 assists in a triple-double are Kobe Bryant (once in 2002) and Magic Johnson (14 times from 1988-91).

The Lakers made 18 three-pointers, a franchise record for a regulation game. The only game in franchise history where they made more came in an overtime loss to the Wizards in December 2006.

Cavaliers trade making no difference
A futile first half hurt the Cavaliers. They shot 1-18 from three-point range in the first half, the worst half for any team with at least 15 attempts in a half this season.

The Cavaliers have now matched their season-worst losing skid at six. Since trading for Luol Deng on January 7, they are 5-10 – an identical record to the 15 games before the trade. Deng was 1-10 from the field Wednesday. His 10 percent from the field was the worst shooting percentage of his career in a game in which he had at least 10 attempts.

Anthony Bennett struggles out of the gate

November, 6, 2013

ESPN Stats & InformationAnthony Bennett has yet to make a field goal in his NBA career
The top overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft has started his career on the wrong foot.

Anthony Bennett has scored just two points (two free throws) over the first four games of his career despite seeing 50 minutes of playing time.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the fewest points by a No. 1 overall pick through four games in the common draft era (since 1966).

Bennett has taken shots from various areas of the floor, but of his 15 misses, eight have come from the 3-point line.

The only other UNLV player to be drafted first overall was Larry Johnson by the Charlotte Hornets in 1991 (now the New Orleans Pelicans). In Johnson’s first season in 1991-92 (in which he won Rookie of the Year), he recorded at least one field goal every game. Johnson played 707 games in his career and was held scoreless in only three.

And when comparing Bennett to the Cavaliers' other recent first overall picks, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, he doesn’t stack up well, either. James has never had a 0-for-15 stretch in his career, and he’s in his 11th NBA season.

Irving has just one 0-for-15 stretch in his career. It was from Feb. 13-20, 2013, when he missed exactly 15 straight field goal attempts.

The Elias Sports Bureau tells us the last player to start his career by missing each of his first 15 field goal attempts was Rolando Ferreira of the Portland Trail Blazers. Ferreira missed his first 17 to start the 1988-89 season.

Bobcats fighting odds in Lottery

May, 28, 2012
The NBA Draft Lottery Wednesday (ESPN, 8 ET) sees the Charlotte Bobcats with the best odds at acquiring the top selection (25.0 percent) after finishing 7-59 on the season. But the worst record hardly secures the top pick, as just last year the Cleveland Cavaliers won the Draft Lottery with only a 2.8 percent chance.

In addition, since the lottery moved to its present format in 1994, the team with (or tied for) the best odds has won just three of the 18 lotteries: Philadelphia 76ers in 1996 (Allen Iverson), Cavaliers in 2003 (LeBron James) and Orlando Magic in 2004 (Dwight Howard). By comparison, the teams with the third and fifth-best odds have won four times.

It is new territory for the Bobcats franchise. Since joining the NBA in 2004, Charlotte has never held the No. 1 overall pick, and the Bobcats highest selection was in 2004 when they picked Emeka Okafor No. 2 overall (Bobcats originally had the No. 4 pick, but traded with the Los Angeles Clippers).

Ten current franchises have never made the No. 1 overall pick in an NBA Draft since 1966 (start of common draft), and along with Charlotte, the Phoenix Suns (0.6 percent chance) are the only other team in the 2012 Lottery.

The Houston Rockets, meanwhile, have a 0.5 percent chance of winning the Lottery, the third straight year they have held the worst odds. In addition, this is the third straight and fifth time in the last 12 years the Rockets have missed the playoffs despite having a winning record.

Looking ahead, since the start of the Lottery in 1985, 13 of the 27 No. 1 overall picks have gone on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, including 2011 No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving. In addition, since 1990, four overall No. 1 picks went on to win the Rookie of the Year award and make the postseason (Derrick Rose, Tim Duncan, Chris Webber and David Robinson).

Some NBA teams clutch in crunch time

April, 17, 2012
“Crunch Time” is defined as less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter or overtime with neither team ahead by more than five points. In these crucial situations, plus-minus is a very effective measure of team performance because scoring while keeping opponents off the board is the difference between a win and a loss. It’s not surprising that the top six teams in Crunch Time +/- this season have already locked up playoff spots (Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls).

This can also shed light on just how important key players are to their franchise. For example, the Cleveland Cavaliers led the league in Crunch Time +/- three years in a row (2007-08 to 2009-10), but once LeBron James left for Miami the Cavaliers’ +/- plummeted. The Cavs averaged +113 with James during those three seasons, and +1 since.

- The Lakers have by far the best Crunch Time +/- this season (+79, the Pacers are second at +65). Pau Gasol (+78) has been their biggest star, followed closely by Andrew Bynum (+74). Kobe Bryant ranks third at +58.

- The Dallas Mavericks have had the biggest drop-off in Crunch Time performance, from a league-leading +117 last season to a paltry -16 this season.

- The Houston Rockets (+31) and Memphis Grizzlies (+28) are the best Crunch Time teams this season that have yet to lock up a playoff spot. The Los Angeles Clippers (-9) are the only playoff team with a negative +/-.

Statistical support for this story given by

Irving better than Paul, LeBron as rookie?

January, 19, 2012

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty ImagesKyrie Irving is just 13 games into his NBA career, but he's already had a big impact on the Cleveland Cavaliers and is on pace to be one of the greatest rookie guards.
Last fall, USA TODAY published an article about the Duke men’s basketball team, in which head coach Mike Krzyzewski compared then-Duke star Kyrie Irving to NBA All-Star Chris Paul.

When told of those comments last month in an interview with USA TODAY, Irving paused, then said,

“There’s only one Kyrie Irving.”

While a comparison to Paul may be bold, Irving’s performance through his first 13 games can draw comparisons not only to Paul, but is also surpassing what LeBron James did as a rookie for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The New CP3?
Irving has backed up his comparisons to Paul in his rookie season. As a rookie in the 2005-06 season, Paul’s player efficiency rating was a 22.1, the second-highest among rookie guards in the three-point era, beginning in 1979-80, trailing only Michael Jordan.

Irving’s pace is just a tick behind Paul’s, at a 21.8 through his first 13 games. But that would still be enough to put him third, ahead of the current third-place on the list, Magic Johnson.

Among all rookies with a minimum 2,000 minutes played, Irving’s 21.8 PER would put him eighth in the three-point era. Along with trailing Jordan and Paul, you can add players like David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan to the players Irving is trailing.

Who Needs LeBron?
Previous to Irving, the last time the Cavaliers had the first pick in the NBA Draft, they took LeBron James, and we all know how that turned out.

The good news for Cleveland fans is that Irving’s performance as a rookie is on pace to best what James did his first year in Cleveland, outdistancing James in scoring and assists per 36 minutes, as well as Player Efficiency Rating and Win Shares per 48 minutes.

In fact, his current 21.8 PER would place him 11th on the all-time Cavaliers list, not just among rookies, among players with at least 2,000 minutes played.

When you limit it to non-LeBron James seasons, Irving would jump to fifth, trailing only the best seasons for Brad Daugherty, Terrell Brandon and Mark Price.

Renaissance in Cleveland
It’s clear what kind of impact LeBron James’ departure had on the Cavaliers. From 66-16 and 61-21 in his last two seasons with the Club, to 19-63 last season in Cleveland’s first year without him.

At 6-7 this season, Cleveland still has a lot of room to go to return to their previous glory, but the Cavaliers nearly have a third as many wins as they did all of last season.

After ranking 29th in both offensive and defensive efficiency last season, the Cavaliers rank in the top 20 in the league in both categories this season.

There’s also a noticeable improvement for Cleveland when Irving is on the floor, showing he’s one of the main components of their turnaround. Cleveland is averaging 101.5 points per 100 possessions while Irving is on the floor, 95.2 when he’s not.