Scout: LeBron James 'hasn't been the same guy in Cleveland'
The Cleveland Cavaliers are struggling. They have lost three games in a row and will be without forward LeBron James for at least two weeks as he deals with various injuries, including a balky knee and a lower back strain.
SI.com’s Chris Mannix asked a Western Conference scout about the Cavaliers to get an idea of what is plaguing the team. Cleveland is currently 18-14 but only six games out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The scout says Cleveland’s issues start on the defensive end, where it is giving up 105.6 points per 100 possessions, which is among the worst in the league, and 99.6 points per game.
Offensively, it's no better for the Cavaliers. The scout said, “They are not really running much of anything. Everyone was anticipating David Blatt running a lot of Princeton, but they have been really simple. It’s just simple NBA stuff."
They have really bad body language right now. Even when they are ahead in games, they just don’t look like they have any passion. Guys go hard, then as soon as an opponent hits back and makes shots, it gets bad. They don’t have a rim protector, which has been a major problem. Tristan Thompson is the only guy out there who can block shots. The effort on defense is not there.
In Miami, Mario Chalmers was a defender, Dwyane Wade would at least play with intensity…..When LeBron was in Miami, he was all over the floor, running, double teaming. And when LeBron was out there, it was hard to get the ball into your initial pass to get into the offense. He hasn’t been the same guy in Cleveland.
Cleveland only has one player in the top 50 in blocks and rebounds per 48 minutes (Thompson). Only seven other NBA teams rebound the ball worse than the Cavaliers.
- Scooby Axson