Who is running the Cleveland Cavaliers? LeBron James or David Blatt? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. The biggest superstar on the team and in the league wants to get more rest for himself and the other member of the big three – Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, so the backup players get better, and the stars will be rested and ready for the playoffs.
Because this is LeBron James saying this, it’s causing a lot of reaction against it. Bottom line? He’s right. Playing 38-39 minutes all season long isn’t ideal, and the Cavs have depth and the star power to do some rotations and allow their best players to get some rest. Kevin Love and Irving can both carry the team from time to time, although they’ve rarely done it since this new project has been initiated. Moving Shawn Marion to the starting lineup has hurt Blatt’s plans to give James more rest.
The jokes are already here – heart of a champion James asks for more rest, cramping already and other wisecracks. But if any other player in the NBA would have said this, it probably would have been taken a lot more lightly and positively. James, no matter what he does or will do in the future, will always face some sort of backlash from a lot of fans around the league, and through the media as well. That’s just the persona he’s created for himself the day he left the Cavs for the Heat in 2010.
James, into his 12th NBA season, his third in the NBA in minutes with 39.1 a night. He averaged just under 38 minutes over the last three seasons in Miami. Irving (38.4) and Love (37) are fourth and fifth in the league. When three of your players are in the top 5 in playing time, something has to change. Blatt might be new to the whole NBA thing, but even he knows that 82 games is a very long time, and even young players like Irving and Love need their rest.
While the playing time results in James leading the NBA in scoring, something he really doesn’t care about, and Irving putting up 22.1 points per game, the bench unit, even with Dion Waiters on it, is one of the worst in the NBA, averaging just 23.9 points per game, 29th in the league. James has played less than 30 minutes only once this season, sitting out the entire fourth quarter in the 33-point win over the Atlanta Hawks.
While it’s nice making calculations, predictions and projections for the entire season, it’s not always predictable. The Cavaliers also want to finish first in the East, which is going to be difficult considering how well the Bulls are playing, while the Raptors and Wizards will also have a say in how things shape up near the top of the conference. There might be an overall number Blatt doesn’t want James to cross, but it all depends on how things turn out as the season unfolds.