Larry Drew deserves credit for the job he's doing with the Cavaliers

Drew is keeping this team afloat

James Rapien
December 19, 2018 - 12:37 pm
Dec 18, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. (22) shoots against Indiana Pacers forward Thaddeus Young (21) during the third quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

© Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) ­– Larry Drew is doing one heck of a job with the 8-23 Cavaliers.

Yes, I said it, and I’ll say it again. Drew is coaching his tail off and the young Cavs are responding.

Before we dive into what happened last night in Indianapolis, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at where we were one year ago today. The Cavs were 23-9 and had won 18 of their last 20 games. The team started the season 5-7 before the hot streak. They were starting to click and Isaiah Thomas hadn’t returned from injury. The early-season woes seemed to be fixed, but they weren’t. The Cavs lost 13 of their next 20 games.

Thomas returned to the lineup on January 3, but he clearly wasn’t himself and the team looked lost. The Cavs could’ve guest starred in a daytime soap opera with the drama that surrounded them. Instead of standing pat, general manager Koby Altman decided to make moves. He added George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, and their 2018 first-round pick.

No one thought the trades would put the Cavs in position to beat the Warriors, but it gave them a younger roster that could rejuvenate LeBron James in a season that was going off the rails.

Let’s fast forward to Tuesday night’s game in Indianapolis. The Cavaliers look much different than they did a season ago. There weren’t any more expectations. No one is talking about the playoffs and some fans want the Cavs to lose so they can get a higher draft pick.

They were on the road and playing against a red-hot Pacers team that had won seven-straight games. The Cavs were without Clarkson, who they acquired in February to be a role player on a championship contender. Now, he’s arguably their best scorer.

This team could’ve folded the moment Kevin Love got injured at the beginning of the season. They could’ve stopped trying when their head coach was fired after an 0-6 start. They could’ve thrown in the towel when Tristan Thompson sprained his foot.

Instead of giving up or giving in, they’ve continued to fight. Hood and Nance led the way and the Cavaliers beat the Pacers 92-91. The players on this roster are fighting. They may not be the most talented group of players, but no one can accuse them of going through the motions. No one can say this team looks disinterested.

Drew deserves credit for keeping them together. He’s the voice they need during this rebuild. That doesn’t mean he should be the head coach when they’re good again. It doesn’t mean he should be the coach next season. It does mean he deserves credit for the job he’s done. It isn’t easy walking into an 0-6 team without its’ best player.

The Cavs are entirely different from where they were a season ago. The expectations are gone. The superstars are gone and the national attention left with it. The championship aspirations went out the window.

It would be easy for this team to go through the motions. Instead, Drew has his team playing hard. The Cavaliers aren’t going to turn their season around. They will lose more games than they win moving forward. The losses will mount and night’s like Tuesday won’t happen often. It is safe to say this team is going to play hard and give it everything they have, everytime they take the court and Drew is a big reason why.

Other Cavs Notes:

Delly’s Numbers Live Up to the Hype – Matthew Dellavedova is a fan-favorite, but I’m not sure anyone expected him to produce like he has since returning to Cleveland. Delly is shooting 57 percent from the field and 52 percent from three-point range. He’s averaging 11.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists off the bench. His plus-minus of +41 leads the team over the five game span. Yes, it is a small sample size, but he’s exceeded expectations since joining the Cavaliers. Meanwhile, George Hill is still trying to get comfortable in Milwaukee. He’s shooting 21 percent from the field and hasn’t made a three-point basket yet. Again, it’s a small sample size, but the trade has worked for the Cavs so far.

Nance Stepping Up – Larry Nance Junior has had an impressive four-game stretch with Tristan Thompson out. He’s averaging 9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists over that span. He’s also shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc. Everyone knows how great of an athlete Nance is, but injuries to his teammates have allowed him to show off the rest of his game. He was great on Tuesday night, finishing with 15 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and made the game-winning basket at the buzzer in the Cavs’ 92-91 win over the Pacers.

Hood’s No Trade – Rodney Hood has a no-trade clause, but he isn’t thinking about a potential deal according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The Cavs should absolutely consider trading him, but it might be wise for Hood to stay put. He’s making $3.4 million this season and will hit free agency in the summer. He’s been the Cavs’ go-to playmaker with the game on the line in crunchtime.

Hood is averaging 13.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. It might be wise for the 26-year-old to stay put, continue to put up numbers and hit the market this summer.

He has an affordable, expiring contract, which means the Cavs will get calls about him. Hood struggled in the playoffs last season, which was more about him overthinking than anything. He may want a shot at playoff redemption – or maybe he’ll choose to stay in Cleveland where he can have a bigger role. The trade deadline is February 8.