My formative years in basketball were spent with a calculating coach named Lewis Seikel. He was a cutting, demanding and often fiercely sarcastic man. An accountant during the day, it was generally not a good thing once tax season started. He was my coach in seventh and eighth grades and, whether I knew it or not at the time, he largely shaped the way I look at basketball.
Coach Seikel played a tight 2-1-2 zone defense, we were not to leave the paint. This generally did not favor us when we played good shooting teams, you understand. On offense, any shot attempted outside 15 feet was sure to land you a spot on the bench. A 3-pointer? Ha, surely you jest. When two of our best pivot players didn't come out in eighth grade -- man, we had been a "long" team, jeez we must've have five guys 5-foot-10 or taller -- let's just say it hurt. We were terrible, but perhaps that was a personnel issue. Anyway, here's my point...I hate the jump shot to this day.
This no doubt colors the way I watch and evaluated the game and therefore, cover the Cavs. If any of you can actually be bothered with reading my game stories, you will notice I am constantly mentioning the scoring in the paint and the number of 3-pointers the Cavs attempt. Perhaps this is boring, but I firmly believe it is the proper way to evaluate a team's offensive efficiency. I eye the points in the paint stat as closely as any other stat during the course of a game.
Don't think I'm a basketball prude and think you can never take jumpers or craziness like that. I just don't prefer them. And when they are taken, they should be as a result of the ball coming inside-out, either from a pass from the post or off a drive and kick. Because, as we all know, it is much easier to make a jumper stepping into it after receiving a pass from dead on that dribbling into it or catching from the side off a pick-and-roll.
Which is why I'm constantly rolling my eyes at the Cavs offense. Regardless of the plays being called, I can't hear them anymore because they've moved my seat off the floor, the Cavs end up taking handfuls of these "bad jumpers." There are only three guys on the team that get to catch and shoot on a regular basis: Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall and Eric Snow. Jones is the best jumper shooter and is having a pretty good year, Marshall's skills have appeared to diminish, and Snow, well, no comment. In addition, when the ball does go into the post to Drew Gooden or Zydrunas Ilgauskas it isn't coming out, those guys COMBINE to average less than two assists per game. And with teams knowing the Cavs can be suckered into taking bad jumpers, they will just play zone or go under pick-and-rolls and make it all but impossible to drive-and-kick. How many times over the last month have you seen Larry Hughes start to drive and then pull up from 16-20 feet? This is why.
During the preseason I was impressed with the Cavs offense. I remember that night in Manchester, N.H., when they took the wraps off. I watched backdoors and lobs and middle posts for LeBron and my eyes glazed over. Driving, passing to the post, high-percentage shots. Oh, if only Coach Seikel had seen it, too! I waxed about it over and over for that month, even if it did seem so dry to the reader. I thought perhaps this would turn the corner.
Now I see the slow, muddy, bad-jumper mess it has been reduced to and I can only shake my head in print. Lame pick-and-rolls 23 feet from the basket, no inside-out action, standing around, fadeaway jumpers at the shot clock buzzer.
Oh, how I hate the jump shot.