The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 4-4 start to the year caught many people off guard. While they’re obviously not contending for a title any time soon, nobody expected this team to even be average.
Their offseason drama only further made people dismiss their prospects of putting together an even somewhat half-decent 2021-22 campaign.
A number of players contributed to Cleveland getting off to this sort of start to the season.
But one in particular caught the eye of Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
“Evan and Jarrett, I think coming into the year we knew what to expect,” Bickerstaff said after last Wednesday night’s 92-79 road victory over the LA Clippers (via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com). “The biggest shout out has to go to Lauri Markkanen. He’s playing a position that he hasn’t naturally played growing up or coming up. He’s guarding people that he typically hasn’t had to guard.
That’s one way to do Halloween. https://t.co/YmqiqaNaYN
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 1, 2021
“I thought he did a great job tonight defensively containing the ball and executing our coverages and schemes. It’s different for him. I think it has impacted his shot a little bit because he’s doing some different things defensively. But the effort that he’s putting in, if he continues to do that his shots are gonna fall. He’s the reason why it works. His willingness to do that and sacrifice some comfort. He’s the reason why we’ve been able to get away with it so far and why it’s been able to work.”
Cleveland has the bones of a really good, young team. Obviously it will take some time for everyone to develop, and clearly the Collin Sexton situation needs to be sorted, but this group could grow up to make some noise in the foreseeable future.