On the NBA Beat Ep. 17a: Conrad Kaczmarek: “LeBron Controls As Much As He Wants to Control”

Nearly two weeks ago, the best team in the Eastern Conference fired its head coach. Conrad Kaczmarek, former editor of SB Nation’s Fear the Sword, makes an appearance to discuss the state of those Cleveland Cavaliers. Although they still boast the conference’s best record and are showcasing electric offense under newly named lead man Tyronn Lue, minor weaknesses are discussed. Also, Conrad explores the instrumental play of Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson as well as LeBron James’ impact on personnel decisions.  

5:55-7:00: “Even though [LeBron James] is a monster in transition, his teams are never high-pace teams… I think the tendency for a lot of his teams is for them to slow it down, play in the half court, and let LeBron do his thing, which works great a lot of the time… I think there’s a lot being talked about with Tyronn Lue trying to push the pace and have them play at a faster pace, but the numbers don’t really bear that out in the first six games that they’ve played. They’re pretty much playing at the same pace if not a little bit slower at times.” 

11:25-12:20: “When Kevin Love is not hitting the wide open shots that they’re getting him, they have a tendency to lose confidence in him pretty quickly… They have a tendency of doing that too much and getting away from Kevin, then he struggles to get into a rhythm later. So I think it’s definitely a process still – this core has not been around together for very long – but I think that’s the next big step: that when Kevin hits a little bit of a shooting slump, they need to resist the urge to go away from him… They need to keep it in the flow, keep running the same stuff and just trust that these are really good players… and the shots are going to fall eventually.” 

12:55-13:25: “I’m admittedly biased… but I don’t see really any way short of LeBron getting hurt that the Cavs don’t make it out of the East. We saw last year where Kyrie and Love were hurt in the playoffs and they still walked through the East without much resistance. So it appears, and history suggests, that as long as LeBron is there, he’s going to the Finals.” 

17:40-18:20: “I think LeBron controls as much as he wants to control. If he wanted to call all the shots and pick the coach and pick the assistant coaches and pick the equipment manager, then what choice would the Cavs have but to let that go? Having LeBron, even if he were difficult in those ways, is better than not having him, so if he wanted to make those calls then they’d let him… I think he has to have a decent amount of power, and you need to keep LeBron happy.” 

19:35-20:40: “[Matthew Dellavedova] went from a cute little story in the Finals that nobody thought was sustainable to… one of the better back up point guards in the NBA. He’s a knockdown shooter from 3… he’s a very good passer and he rarely turns the ball over… He’s turned himself into a pretty ideal backup point guard.” 

23:10-24:00: “I think something that a lot of Cavs fans are missing is that this is an extremely good team. In a normal year, I don’t think people would be dissecting them so much… It’s just we have this monster in Oakland that just obscures everything about this league, because if you aren’t a perfect basketball team, then you need to make a change… When you have a team like the Warriors, where they just, up and down the roster, have answers to everything no matter what style you want to play, then you have to be perfect, and it’s really hard to make a perfect basketball team.” 

27:15-27:45: “I know [Tristan Thompson] came out of college as an undersized power forward, but he more than holds his own at center against all but the most monstrous of centers, like the DeMarcus Cousinses of the world… When the Cavs play him at center, Kevin Love at power forward and LeBron at small forward, they’re monstrous. They’re super-elite. They blow teams off the floor.” 

Music: “Who Likes to Party?” by Kevin MacLeod