The 2021-22 NBA season is officially in the books.
And once again, the Cleveland Cavaliers were not the team lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
No, those honors went to the Golden State Warriors, who have now won four of the last eight NBA Finals.
The Warriors have built a veritable dynasty that revolves around just a few pieces — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.
And over the last decade, the Warriors’ front office has done an excellent job at surrounding those guys with talented role players, while keeping an eye on future development.
Hence why Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala helped Golden State to win its first set of rings, followed lately by guys like Jordan Poole, Gary Payton II, and Andrew Wiggins.
If you’re wondering why I’m spending so much time discussing Golden State, it’s because they are the gold (no pun intended) standard.
Every player wants to be there (whether they want to admit it or not) and every front office tries to mimic them.
But not every team is set up to follow the Golden State model.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, if they play their cards right, very much could follow the model.
They have a ton of young talent, lots of draft capital, and a few players they currently sit at a crossroads with.
But more than anything else, Cleveland has options.
And while questions about to extend or not extend Collin Sexton or finally move on from Kevin Love will certainly remain, there are ways to add without necessarily subtracting.
Namely, finding alternate roles for players.
Normalize being a Cavs fans and appreciating the greatness of Steph Curry at the same time
— 𝗔𝗖™ (@CLETypeBeat) June 17, 2022
For purposes of this article, those “alternate roles” mean a reduction in responsibility.
Here are two players who could be headed for that reality:
1. Collin Sexton
The question here isn’t whether Sexton stays in Cleveland.
This article presupposes that will happen (though I do have serious fears about his fit).
The question really is what Sexton’s role is with this team moving forward.
He’s a great scorer, no questions.
In his sophomore and junior campaigns, Sexton put up 22.5 points on 47% shooting from the floor.
In addition, he proved to be an above-average player efficiency-wise, posting a PER of 17.1 over that stretch (the league average is 15).
But in his last full season of action, 2020-21, Sexton was a liability defensively, posting a 117.7 defensive rating.
Can Cleveland keep a player like that on the court for long stretches of time?
Maybe, given how strong the team is at defending as a whole.
Do the collective strengths of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley make up for Sexton’s weakness?
Let’s look at the Warriors as an example.
Jordan Poole, a scoring aficionado for the Warriors, consistently played 30 minutes in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
In the Finals against Boston?
Poole’s minutes dropped by ten — he averaged 20.2 minutes per game against the Celtics.
That’s due in part because whenever Poole was on the court, Boston hunted him.
Is that what the Cavs want in Sexton?
During the season it might not matter as much, considering the level of talent and stakes are much lower than in the Finals.
But Sexton is a starter and will be expected to play heavy minutes.
Poole was not a starter and thus could see his numbers cut in favor of better defensive players like Gary Payton II.
If the Cavs want to get ahead of this phenomenon, they might want to find an alternate role for Sexton and reduce his time.
2. Moses Brown
No knocks against Moses Brown, here.
But the worst-kept secret among Cavs needs is a backup center.
Celtics had their shot… East belongs to the Cavs now
— Brayden Todd (@BraydenBallin) June 17, 2022
Allen is excellent and Mobley perfectly capable of playing the five, but the Cavs should be in the market for a higher upside backup than Brown.
If Cleveland’s already scouring the overseas market (looking at you, Chinanu Onuaku), then it might mean Brown’s 12 minutes per night are headed for a heavy reduction.
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