The 2020-21 Cleveland Cavaliers had another dismal NBA regular season and finished the year way out of postseason contention. They had a decent start to the year as they went 4-2 to start off. But the rest of the way was once again a callback to the Cleveland Cavaliers sans LeBron James in their modern era.
J.B. Bickerstaff's squad finished the 2020-21 NBA season with a lowly 22-50 record and 13th place in the Eastern Conference standings.
5 Areas that did not work for Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2020-21 NBA season
When a season goes as terribly wrong as the 2020-21 NBA campaign went for the Cavaliers, questions must be asked and issues will have to be fixed ahead of the next season.
In this piece, we will give you five things that went wrong for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2020-21 NBA regular season.
#5 The Cavs struggled at guarding the three-point line
The 2020-21 Cleveland Cavaliers had tremendous difficulties in most areas. But allowing opponents a high percentage from the three-point line was among their biggest problems.
The Cavs allowed opponents a 38.3% three-point field-goal percentage throughout the 2020-21 NBA regular season. They were third-worst in terms of defending the three-point line from a percentage standpoint, and it was one of the primary issues with the Cleveland outfit's defense.
#4 Larry Nance's unlucky draw with injuries
Larry Nance Jr. was one of the few bright spots for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2020-21 NBA season.
However, Nance only played 35 games during the 2020-21 NBA season due to injuries and illness that hindered his and his team's progress. The 28-year-old was undoubtedly the best defender on the Cleveland Cavaliers' 2020-21 roster, but struggled to feature regularly.
His impact on defense was noticeable during his 35 appearances as he ranked 10th in the league in percentage of the rivals' possessions ended in turnovers, with 3.3%.
Nance also averaged a career-best 1.7 steals per game during the 2020-21 NBA season while making a career-high 36% of his three-pointers as well. This is a small sample size due to the volume of games he missed, but Nance's impact was massive for the Cavs whenever he featured.
His season ended with a fractured thumb, and he had also suffered from an illness during the season that heavily impacted his physique.
#3 The Cleveland Cavaliers did not have an adequate defense in the 2020-21 NBA season
Apart from three-point line struggles on defense, the Cleveland Cavaliers allowed the second-highest field-goal percentage to opponents in the regular season. Guarding the three-point line is definitely a necessity for any team in the modern NBA, especially for one that does not have an adequate offense.
For the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 2020-21 NBA season was torture in terms of defensive efficiency. The team ranked only 28th in Defensive Rating in the entire NBA, allowing 114.4 points per 100 possessions to its opponents.
Moreover, the Cavs allowed a 48.4% shooting efficiency from the field to rivals. Though they showed nice disruptions on occasion, ranking 12th in turnovers forced on opponents, the Cavs only ranked 21st in blocks per game. This was despite having Jarrett Allen in the paint for 51 games.
#2 The Andre Drummond saga
Andre Drummond ended the 2020-21 NBA season with the LA Lakers after he signed with the team through the buyout market. He was reportedly looking to have a chance to play deep in the NBA Playoffs. While that did not work and he might now be signing with another team for next year, it all started with the Cavs.
Drummond started the year with the Cleveland outfit. But as he was playing in the final year of his five-year, $127-million deal signed with the Detroit Pistons in 2016, the Cavs chose to offload him in the middle of the season.
Drummond played only 25 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2020-21 campaign and the team even decided to sit him out until his future was decided. Before the Cavs' buyout of his contract and his debut with the LA Lakers, Drummond spent 47 days inactive in the middle of the year.
He averaged 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds for the Cavs in his 25 appearances last year, and his departure from the team was certainly not pretty. Drummond could have potentially helped the Cavs achieve a marginally improved end to the season. However, the team decided to make Jarrett Allen their future option at the center position after he arrived from the Brooklyn Nets in the James Harden trade.
Ultimately, Drummond left and the Cleveland Cavaliers did not receive anything in return.
#1 The Cavs' dismal three-point shooting
As mentioned before, the Cleveland Cavaliers struggled to defend the three-point line during the 2020-21 NBA season. However, the team's offense also failed to make an impact in terms of three-point shooting, making the 3P line simply a disastrous area for the Cavs.
The team ranked 30th in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage after making only 33.6% of their threes in the regular season. The Cavs were also 29th out of 30 NBA teams in three-pointers made per game with 10, while ranking only 28th in three-pointers attempted per game.
The Cleveland Cavaliers had only four qualified three-point shooters (Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Dean Wade and Cedi Osman) among the league's top shooters in terms of three-point percentage (155 players).