INDEPENDENCE — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is counting on Rodney Hood reverting to form and flourishing in his first full season in Cleveland.
Lue said Wednesday he believes Hood’s performance in Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals is more indicative of the type of player Hood is even though the 25-year-old shooting guard averaged just 5.4 points in 17 postseason games.
At Quicken Loans Arena as the Golden State Warriors completed a sweep, Hood scored 15 points with six rebounds in Game 3 and totaled 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists in Game 4, posting a minus-1 plus/minus despite 4-of-14 shooting.
Hood averaged 10.8 points during the regular season after being traded by the Utah Jazz on Feb. 8 and struggled acclimating to the looser style of offense the Cavs featured with LeBron James.
Now with James gone, Lue expects big things from Hood.
“Right now he’s probably going to be our second-leading scorer behind Kevin [Love]. That’s what I see,” Lue said. “Scoring the basketball, attacking the basket, doing everything with pace and speed.
“Having those last two games against Golden State where he played well, that’s the Rodney Hood that we know. For him getting a taste of that on the big stage, in the Finals, I think did a lot for him. That’s the talent that he is and that’s what we’re going to need from him every night.”
During the offseason, Hood said he concentrated on post-ups and ball-handling as well as moving without the ball and coming off screens. But as of Monday, he said he hadn’t talked to Lue extensively about his role.
“He mentioned he’s going to put the ball in my hands a little bit more, let me create for myself. He wants me to get back to myself,” Hood said during media day. “Last year was kind of tough to do that on the fly. With the team we have now, he wants me to be real aggressive and try to score the ball. He’s going to put me in position, so I’m excited to see what that looks like.”
Lue conceded the difficult adjustment Hood faced after being traded, with Hood playing in 21 regular-season games.
“He came from Utah where coach [Quin] Snyder ran a lot of stuff for him coming off the bench and kind of ran the offense through him,” Lue said. “Coming to a situation where LeBron had the ball in his hands a lot, the second unit was different with [Kyle] Korver and different guys, it was a change for him and to only have 30 games with that change was tough.
"Now he understands what we’re looking for, he’s going to be a big option on this team. He knows where his shots are coming from now, so that’s a good thing.”
Smith sitting out
J.R. Smith, bothered by a sore hip he said was a result of summer workouts, participated in the morning’s noncontact practice, but Lue said Smith would sit out the evening scrimmage.
“I’ll be ready,” Smith said of the regular-season opener on Oct. 17 at the Toronto Raptors. “Nothing that we need to worry about right now. Talking to the coaches, talking to some of the vets, they want me for the regular season and not worry about training camp. I’ll be back soon.”
An avid golfer, Smith called Tiger Woods’ victory Sunday in the Tour Championship “the best thing of my year so far.” It was the 80th victory on the PGA Tour for Woods and his first since the 2013 Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club.
As Woods walked down the 18th fairway, security allowed the gallery to follow right behind.
“Just to see him back to his older self, hitting those shots with the swag and cockiness that he’s supposed to have, that’s something to see,” Smith said. “I think the best part was how they let the crowd embrace him and walk behind him. That’s something special. That’s something Arnie [Palmer] would do back in the day when they were hitting shots and the crowd would just walk up and shake your hand.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.