David Blatt Must Expand Rotations With Matthew Dellavedova Out

Oct 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova (8) dribbles against the Milwaukee Bucks at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland won 106-100. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova (8) dribbles against the Milwaukee Bucks at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland won 106-100. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

After forming the fairy tale ‘Big 3’ of Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and Kevin Love in the offseason, the Cleveland Cavaliers have only had an average start to the 2014-15 NBA season. With a 2-3 record and losses to the Knicks and Jazz, the Cavs have shown signs of weakness and things to improve upon.

After a rough start to the season, head coach David Blatt decided to replace Dion Waiters with Shawn Marion in the starting lineup to perhaps add some more experience and give Waiters a chance to regroup. Aside from that, Blatt has not made too many changes in his rotation.

With Matthew Dellavedova now out four to six weeks, Blatt has a good opportunity to dig deeper into his bench lineup and give the younger players a chance to get involved in the nightly rotation.

Cleveland announced Sunday that Dellavedova will be out for a month or more after injuring his left knee against Portland earlier in the week. He sat out games vs. the Jazz and Nuggets before being evaluated in Cleveland. The results showed Dellavedova suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee.

Dellavedova hasn’t been anything special off the bench, but has been a solid distributor in his small sample size of games played. In the two games Dellavedova missed on Cleveland’s recent road trip, Blatt decided to increase his starters’ minutes instead of bringing someone new off the bench.

Against Utah, Blatt only brought Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Mike Miller off the bench, while playing James and Irving over 40 minutes and Love 38. In Denver, Blatt pretty much played the same rotation with the additions of Joe Harris and Will Cherry to the bench, but for only two and three minutes. James again played 40 minutes, with Irving playing 39 and Love playing 36.

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Without Dellavedova, Blatt’s rotation has been only eight players consisting of the Big 3, Marion, Anderson Varejao, Miller, Thompson, and Waiters. The Cavaliers’ top five most played lineups consist of just those players with Dellavedova making an appearance after that. Five more lineups after that consist of the same eight players before Dellavedova again shows up in the 12th most played group. If you want to consider Dellavedova apart of a nine-man rotation when healthy, no one different appears until the 19th and 20th most played lineup.

As Gregg Popovich has shown down in San Antonio, taking advantage of all your players and limiting the stars’ minutes will pay off in the postseason when you have more players with experience and a healthy, rested core.

Last season, the Spurs’ top five most used lineups consisted of 10 different players, and top nine consisted of 11. One or two players may not seem like a huge difference, but having a couple of players come in for even just a few minutes a game, taking time away from James or any other starter, will make a huge difference when April comes around. Those few minutes per game will add up over the lengthy NBA schedule.

A rookie out of Virginia, Harris showed to be a very capable shooter in the preseason, along with an average assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.00. While Harris is listed as a shooting guard, we all know the NBA is a positionless league and he at least deserves a chance at running the point to see how it goes. Cherry is an actual point guard who played for the Cavs’ D-League affiliate–the Canton Charge–where he was some sort of a star last season.

Cherry also gave Trailblazers’ point guard Damian Lillard all kinds of problems in high school and college before coming to the pros.

Cherry is a pretty good on-ball defender and found plenty of transition points for himself and teammates off of steals in the D-League last season. Giving him a go at running the point off of the bench may be a good risk to take for Blatt with Delly out.

While the Cavaliers’ noticeable problems have nothing to do with the rotation right now, it could become a problem as the season rolls along. Reducing minutes for LeBron specifically is necessary if Cleveland hopes to reach their championship aspirations in their first season together. Even with plenty of talent around him, LeBron needs to be the guy down the stretch and in the end of games, but if he’s dog tired in the fourth quarter and playoffs, there is no way the Cavs bring home the championship they want to win for Cleveland so bad this season.

With Dellavedova sidelined, hopefully we get the chance to see some of the younger players join Cleveland’s rotation for the time being.

Next: NBA Power Rankings: Cavs Slide