Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman discussed the team’s 2018-19 season in a recent interview, and him having an optimistic mindset from it is right, even though the end result wasn’t what the team wanted going into the year.
The Cleveland Cavaliers had a 19-63 record (per NBA.com) in the 2018-19 season, which was tied for the NBA’s second-worst record, and on the surface, that wasn’t exactly ideal.
As we’ve often touched on here at KJG, though, it wasn’t all bad, because several young pieces got to play big minutes, and it appears that Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic could be valuable parts of the team in the near future after last season and what they showed.
Sexton was second among qualified Cavaliers in scoring with 16.7 points per game and actually shot 40.2% from three-point land, and again, as we’ve often referenced here at KJG, he led Cleveland in the scoring department post-All-Star break with 20.8 points per game, in large part by shooting more three-point shots (5.8 per contest) and increased his true shooting rate to 58.5% (as compared to just 48.9% pre-All-Star) in that 24-game stretch to end the year (per NBA.com).
Want your voice heard? Join the King James Gospel team!
Write for us!
Though the passing/playmaking splits don’t show it, Sexton was making better decisions as the season progressed, too, and showed more willingness to initiate ball-swings and kick the ball out more frequently when he drove, which didn’t happen nearly as much in the first half or so of his rookie season.
Osman also demonstrated that he looks like one of the team’s most important players in the coming years, as he had solid numbers in his first season playing meaningful minutes on a nightly basis.
He had 13.0 points on 53.6% true shooting, to go with 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 32.2 minutes per game in 76 appearances (per Basketball Reference), while shooting 34.8% from three-point range (though he was streaky there).
More from King James Gospel
I also liked what I saw from Zizic when he was given opportunities in meaningful minutes last year and believe Cleveland should definitely pick up his team option for 2020-21.
He had 7.8 points per game on 55.3% shooting, to go with 5.4 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game in 59 appearances (per Basketball Reference), and showcased a good mid-range shot as well which he should use more often in coming years, as our own Robbie DiPaola hit on.
So yes, the Cavaliers didn’t have the season they would’ve hoped for going into the year, and having Kevin Love active in only 22 games mostly due to reported toe surgery (along with other notable injuries which we’ve emphasized to pieces such as Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr., who did have a career year otherwise, though) didn’t help, but plenty of the young pieces established themselves as key parts of the team’s future, so that was encouraging.
General manager Koby Altman had that sort of mindset when asked about the season in a recent interview with Cavs.com/Fox Sports Ohio reporter Cayleigh Griffin, and his outlook was right, and reading into it, was truthfully more than just uber-positive and team/GM-speak.
Here’s the recent interview I’m referring to (courtesy of the Cleveland Cavaliers and h/t Cavs Nation’s Kenny Honaker).
Boy, I tell ya, Altman absolutely LOVES that “cultural driver” term for what he and the organization was looking for, and they believe, ultimately landed in Cleveland head coach John Beilein (and seemingly the mostly-new coaching staff around him as well).
Moreover, with the way Altman in that interview with Griffin essentially discussed how there was “tremendous growth” in Sexton, Osman and Nance throughout last year, he was right-on with that mindset for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ last season.
Looking toward 2019-20 and in the coming years, I would imagine that Altman and company certainly believe 2019 NBA Draft selections Darius Garland, Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr. will be big contributors and project as key pieces in the near future.
Of course, next year will have its share of growing pains and likely another piling-up of L’s, but if young players such as Sexton and Osman continue to develop more and show a bit better defensive output, and the three rookies show growth as the year progresses and the Cleveland Cavaliers eventually keep their 2020 top-10 protected first-rounder, all is well for Altman and company.
Plus, Cleveland should feature much more ball and man movement and more three-point shooting, and really, be much more fun to watch on a nightly basis.
Like Altman did in the aforementioned interview, have a positive outlook, Cavs fans.