There is no doubt in my mind when I say that the Cavaliers have the worst bench in the league. There was a point in the offseason when I was excited that we were bringing C.J. Miles to the team. He hasn’t produced. And I thought that I saw flashes of averageness from Donald Sloan last season, but he hasn’t done squat this season. Will Daniel Gibson be healthy? He has been the only star off of the bench. You just know things are bad when Luke Walton is getting meaningful minutes.
But with Tyler Zeller back, the Cavaliers may be able to survive and fight with their main star sidelined. Kyrie Irving will be missing up to a month, and that mean that Cavs will be without the sixth leading scorer in the league for 17 games. They are 2-8 right now, will they even make it to 10 wins in that stretch?
If Gibson can be healthy and even come off the bench as a starter now without Irving and have Dion Waiters bring up the ball, we may see Gibson’s stats reach double-digit levels that will be good enough to get by as a starter. We would need players like Zelller, Miles and Samardo Samuels to start developing quicker. The Cavaliers would be in their best scenario without Irving in this case, according to 82games.com. Gibson has proven that his shot is back this season after having it absent the past couple.
Just look at his stat line, as he is playing the third lowest minutes in his career: He is averaging 9.3 points, 1.2 steals, while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 44.2 percent from three, the second-highest percentage in his career. Alonzo Gee has played stingy defense, but Gibson needs to be the wing player that is still absent in this team. He can do it with the way he’s been shooting the ball from long this season.
I think the Cavaliers, in my opinion, have the best chance of winning when Zeller gets playing time. In the first four games the Cavaliers played, which they went 2-2 in, Zeller had a combined 30 points and 18 rebounds before going out with an injury against the Clippers. Zeller had 15 points in that game, the biggest victory of the season.
In the last two games, the first two games that Zeller has been back, the Cavs have been closer to winning games. The Cavaliers last by double digits in four of the five games in which Zeller missed. In the last two games, in which he has been back, the Cavaliers have lost by a combined 15 points. They face Philadelphia at home, and I think the Cavaliers can break the losing streak even without Kyrie being in the lineup. It will be a hard fought win, and I think it will come down to Zeller’s leadership on the bench and Boobie stepping up in his extended role.
After Gibson and Zeller, the next leading scorers after the top five starters, the bench combines for 18.9 of the team’s average of 95.7 points. That’s a pitiful 19.7 percent of the Cavaliers points. Someone needs to step up other than Zeller and Gibson, and I don’t see anyone on the roster who is capable of doing that.
Samardo Samuels had such a good showing at the Summer League in Las Vegas. He had slimmed down and looked like he was going to make some noise for the Cavaliers this season. He hasn’t had the chance to do that. C.J. Miles averaged the second highest points on the Cavaliers in the preseason, so everyone had high expectations from that. Rightfully so, but Miles came out flat and stayed that way. The rest of the bench is made up of players who seem meaningless minutes, meaning that they don’t have much of an impact when they’re in.
Will there be a big trade to help this bench? Who knows, that seems to be the hot topic right now that we will discuss thoroughly on Right Down Euclid this week. Let’s see if Gibson and Zeller are ready to step up, and if Varejao can play even more out of his mind.