Who were the Cavaliers‘ top shooters from three last season?
Kevin Love is a given; the three has been a strong part of his game for some time now.
Darius Garland clocks in as an obvious two, as the team’s primary shooting and playmaking threat.
But what about third?
Probably one of the team’s two guards, right?
Among Cavaliers who appeared in at least 30 games, the third-best sharpshooter last season was Lauri Markkanen.
I’ll wait to let you pick up your jaw off the floor.
Perhaps it’s a testament to the team’s lack of options from three, but 2021-22 was a solid season from the forward.
What can we expect in year two with the Cavs?
When the Cavaliers brought in Lauri Markkanen last season, many heads were scratched.
The team already had Jarrett Allen.
And Cleveland had recently drafted Evan Mobley, another big man/power forward.
We had seen lineups featuring two skyscrapers, but Cleveland was building something to rival New York City and Dubai for height.
In Allen, Mobley, and Markkanen, the Cavs had three players, nay, three starters at 6’10 or above.
Oh, and then there was the contract: four years, $67 million.
So you better believe Markkanen was starting.
The move was panned by the NBA world as another dumb misstep by a Cavaliers organization still reeling without franchise talisman LeBron James.
But as it turns out, President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman was the smartest one in the room.
But he connected on 35.8% of his threes and 44.5% of field goals.
Both his offensive rating and defensive ratings were career-bests (117 and 110, respectively).
While his rebounding numbers were down from career-highs back in 2018 and 2019, Markkanen was often sharing the floor with Mobley and Allen, two board gobblers.
Per PBP Stats, 27 NBA players attempted at least 100 “deep” threes from 27 feet and beyond last season. Here’s who was the most efficient 🎯
1. Bones Hyland – 39.0% 👀
2. Lauri Markkanen – 38.9%
3. Darius Garland – 37.7%
4. Garrison Mathews – 37.5%
5. Eric Gordon – 37.1% pic.twitter.com/JpJSBLrphf
— BasketballNews.com (@basketbllnews) July 30, 2022
And back in ’18 and ’19, Markkanen was on a rough Bulls team with little in the way of height or potential.
And Markkanen often formed some of Cleveland’s most lethal partnerships last season.
When he shared the court with Darius Garland, for instance, the team outscored opponents by over eight points.
With Mobley, that figure was 3.7 points and Allen-Markkanen combos outscored opponents by nearly six points (5.8).
What can we expect next season from Markkanen?
Improvement, for starters.
Playing a full season healthy will be vital if Markkanen wants to see his numbers tick up.
He spent much of the last campaign with a lingering ankle injury.
While he still appeared in 61 games, a fresh season fully healthy should be a boon to his game.
In the current Cavs lineup, Markkanen might also see his shot volume increase, which should help his production.
If Sexton isn’t part of the starting rotation (or team, for that matter), more scoring responsibility will fall on Markkanen.
Bleacher Report’s projected starting lineup for the Cavs:
Jarrett Allen pic.twitter.com/UAumClHTs5
— Cavaliers Nation (@WeAreCavsNation) July 26, 2022
Look to see Markkanen getting shots off at a higher clip and his points per game to beef up from that 14.8 last season.
Somewhere in the ballpark of 16.3 and 18.5 points might be required of Cleveland’s third-best three-point shooter.
If the Cavs want to boost their average offensive rating from last season, Markkanen might be the perfect candidate to make that happen.