After two wholly successful yet mostly overlooked seasons as the Miami Heat’s head coach, Erik Spoelstra suddenly found himself guiding the most heavily scrutinized team in sports come fall 2010. When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and company opened their first season together by going 9-8, many were calling for the seemingly overwhelmed Spoelstra’s head. That was eons ago, of course, and Spoelstra used all that talent to win two championships, make four finals appearances, and firmly establish himself as one of the best coaches in basketball throughout the ensuing several seasons.
New Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, a Euroleague legend but NBA newcomer, can only hope for similar success helming James’ latest super-team. And despite just three days with his latest head coach, Cavs sharpshooter Mike Miller makes it seem obvious that Blatt will achieve it.
After Cleveland’s Monday practice, Miller – a 14-year veteran who has played for eight head coaches, including Doc Rivers, Hubie Brown, and Spoelstra – called Blatt’s offensive principles “borderline genius.”
This begs many thoughts, first and most important of which is why did Miller stop at “borderline?” If he was really that impressed with Blatt’s system, would he really need the qualifier? Everyone has a different interpretation of “borderline,” anyway; just how big is Miller’s line? We implore reporters of Northeast Ohio to investigate further.
Seriously, Miller’s sentiment isn’t surprising but certainly encouraging. Blatt is a renowned offensive technician who blends Princeton-style cuts and reads with plenty of modern day pick-and-roll basketball. His Maccabi Tel Aviv teams were notorious for their seamless and unrelenting execution on that end of the floor, and that coaching prowess was even on display for the Cavs in July at Las Vegas Summer League.
It’s a system that demands motion and continuity, two attributes best applied by players of high skill-levels and hoops IQs. In terms of schematic and personnel fit, Cleveland is the perfect team for Blatt – one rife with ballhandlers, shooters, and veterans that just happens to employ the most talented and cerebral player in the NBA.
Clearly, training camp is going well for the Cavs thus far. But despite Blatt’s confirmed offensive genius, don’t be surprised if Cleveland labors out of the gate, either. Building a team takes time, and Blatt’s group just hasn’t had much of it so far. Considering his coaching acumen, the precedent set by Spoelstra’s Heat, and the Cavs’ talent-level, though, those relative struggles surely won’t last very long.
Is Blatt the right coach for Cleveland?
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