A Look Back At The 2021 Cleveland Cavaliers

July 19th, 2021

By Alan Lu

The Cavaliers lost many games this season, but they were able to get Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince in an early season trade, which will definitely help them rebuild for the future.  They ended up buying out Andre Drummond, and they traded away Kevin Porter Jr. for basically next to nothing, but the Cavs arguably may have gotten their best young player in Allen in the meantime.

From a future standpoint, this season had his ups and downs.  The Cavaliers were not likely going to make the playoffs, but the Cavaliers may have put themselves in a slightly better position to build for the long haul.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ guard, Collin Sexton had a very good year individually, but his team missed the playoffs once again.
(Photo:
David Richard/USA Today Sports, via Akron Beacon Journal)

G Collin Sexton
2021 (CLE): 60 GP, 24.3 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 48 FG%, 37 3PT%, 81 FT%, 18 PER, 57 TS%, 3.5 WS, .080 WS48

Sexton is a very athletic, skilled combo guard that really excelled at shooting and scoring the basketball, and he put on some very good offensive performances throughout the season.  The highlight of his season was when he scored 42 points in his team’s double overtime win early in the season against a Brooklyn team that had a healthy Durant, Harden, and Irving.  Even more impressive, Sexton scored 20 straight points for his team in overtime that day to get his team the victory.

On the other hand, Sexton will need to improve his defense, but he had a good season overall, and he looks to be a rising star in the Cavaliers’ organization.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Solid starter on the Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars (3.5 stars potential)

Cleveland Cavaliers’ center, Jarrett Allen played very well this past season, and he was a good get for his team this year.
(Photo:
Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports, via Fansided’s King James Gospel)

C Jarrett Allen
2021 (BRK/CLE): 63 GP, 12.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.4 BPG, 62 FG%, 32 3PT%, 70 FT%, 20.1 PER, 66 TS%, 6.4 WS, .166 WS48

Jarrett Allen excelled as an interior player in the NBA this past season.  He was an incredibly efficient inside scorer, and he also rebounded the ball very well.  He was active as a shot blocker and interior defender, but he struggled to defend more with Cleveland.

2021 Season Grade: B (A- on BRK, B- on CLE)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Solid starter on the Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars (3.5 stars potential)

Allen will be an impending RFA at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

Darius Garland had a fairly solid second season despite his team’s struggles this year, and he was invited to play with Team USA during the exhibition matches recently.
(Photo:
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images, via Fansided’s King James Gospel)

G Darius Garland
2021 (CLE): 54 GP, 17.4 PPG, 6.1 APG, 2.4 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 45 FG%, 39 3PT%, 85 FT%, 14.2 PER, 55 TS%, 1.2 WS, .033 WS48

Garland is a skilled playmaker that did a good job of shooting and passing the basketball this year.  On the other hand, he really struggled defensively, and he would sometimes be a ball-stopper on offense.  He had a relatively solid season, and he figures to a vital player to the Cavs’ future.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starter or good bench player on the Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (3 star potential)

F-C Kevin Love
2021 (CLE): 25 GP, 12.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.5 APG, 41 FG%, 37 3PT%, 82 FT%, 15.1 PER, 56 TS%, 0.9 WS, .073 WS48

He is an offensively skilled big man that excelled as a shooter and passer, and he also rebounded the ball well for his team.  On the other hand, he really struggled to defend when he was on the court.  He is an aging veteran that has his limitations, but his offensive and rebounding skills could make him a solid role player on an NBA team next season.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starter or good bench player on the Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

G-F Isaac Okoro
2021 (CLE): 67 GP, 9.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.9 APG, 42 FG%, 29 3PT%, 73 FT%, 7.9 PER, 51 TS%, 0.9 WS, .020 WS48

Okoro is a very athletic swingman that excelled at attacking the basket to score the basketball, and he also passed the ball well.  On the other hand, he didn’t shoot nor defend well, and he didn’t grab nearly enough rebounds in games.  He’s an athletic slasher that got plenty of playing time, but he still has a long way to go before he can truly make his mark in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (3 stars potential)

F-C Larry Nance Jr.
2021 (CLE): 35 GP, 9.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 47 FG%, 36 3PT%, 61 FT%, 13.2 PER, 56 TS%, 1.8 WS, .080 WS48

Nance had a strong all-around season, and he excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor.  He may never be a high volume scorer, but his ability to efficiently score and defend makes him a valuable role player for NBA teams to have.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starter or good bench player on the Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

F Taurean Prince
2021 (BRK/CLE): 41 GP, 9.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.9 APG, 40 FG%, 40 3PT%, 86 FT%, 12.1 PER, 54 TS%, 1.0 WS, .052 WS48

He played early in the season for Brooklyn before being traded later on to Cleveland.  Prince excelled as a three-point shooter and as a facilitator, especially for Cleveland, but he struggled to consistently defend his opponents, and he also ended up going down to an ankle injury.  Next season, he will likely be a solid rotation player in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: C (C w/BRK and CLE)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

C Isaiah Hartenstein
2021 (DEN/CLE): 46 GP, 5.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, 55 FG%, 65 FT%, 17.9 PER, 58 TS%, 1.6 WS, .134 WS48

Hartenstein played fairly well in his role, but he had trouble getting consistent playing time because he was consistently behind more talented big men in both Denver and Cleveland’s rotations.  He played well on both ends of the floor in limited minutes, and he has the skills to be a solid backup center in this league.

2021 Season Grade: B-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Hartenstein has a player option for next season.

G-F Cedi Osman
2021 (CLE): 59 GP, 10.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.9 APG, 37 FG%, 31 3PT%, 80 FT%, 10.3 PER, 49 TS%, 0.5 WS, .014 WS48

Osman is an athletic, high-motor swingman that passed the ball well, but he struggled to shoot, score, or defend this past season.  He had a rather disappointing season overall, and time may be running out to see if he can consistently be a solid 3 and D type of role player in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: D+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

F Dylan Windler
2021 (CLE): 31 GP, 5.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, 44 FG%, 34 3PT%, 78 FT%, 10.8 PER, 57 TS%, 0.5 WS, .045 WS48

Windler generally rebounded and defended well when he was on the court, and he also was able to provide his team with some scoring on offense.  He’s been quite injury-prone over the years, and he ended up missing the rest of the season due to a knee injury.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter, but he could project well into a 3 and D role in the future.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

F-C Dean Wade
2021 (CLE): 63 GP, 6.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, 43 FG%, 37 3PT%, 77 FT%, 11.3 PER, 57 TS%, 2.0 WS, .080 WS48

Wade excelled at shooting and scoring the basketball, and he provided solid floor spacing for his team on offense.  He also passed the ball well.  He didn’t grab as many rebounds and was fairly middling as a defender, but his offensive skills could allow him to be a solid rotation player in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: B-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

Wade is on a non-guaranteed contract for next season.

G-F Damyean Dotson
2021 (CLE): 46 GP, 6.7 PPG, 2.0 APG, 2.0 RPG, 41 FG%, 29 3PT%, 67 FT%, 8.1 PER, 50 TS%, 0.0 WS, -.002 WS48

Dotson did not have a very good season this past year with the Cavaliers.  He did pass the ball well, but he really struggled to shoot, score, or defend, as he just did not fare well in most elements of the game this year.  He’s a shooting specialist that didn’t shoot the ball well, and he will need to play significantly better next season.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Dotson is on a non-guaranteed contract for next season.

G Matthew Dellavedova
2021 (CLE): 13 GP, 2.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, 1.8 RPG, 25 FG%, 16 3PT%, 100 FT%, 7.3 PER, 31 TS%, 0 WS, .005 WS48

Dellavedova passed the ball well as he was able to rack up assists off the bench, and he also excelled as a free throw shooter in games.  However, he struggled to do nearly anything else at a reasonable level this past season.  He didn’t shoot nor defend well, and it’s been awhile since he’s last been a viable role player in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Dellavedova will be an impending UFA at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

C Mfiondu Kabengele
2021 (CLE): 39 GP, 2.4 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 37 FG%, 26 3PT%, 80 FT%, 9.5 PER, 49 TS%, 0.2 WS, .026 WS48

Kabengele is an athletic stretch big that has some defensive skills, but he had an extremely disappointing sophomore season in the NBA.  He didn’t do any one thing particularly well in the NBA this past season, but he did show some shot blocking and interior defensive skills.  His offensive efficiency plummeted this year, and it is uncertain if he has what it takes to be a regular rotation player in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: D- (F w/LAC, D w/CLE)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

Kabengele is on a non-guaranteed contract for next season.

F Lamar Stevens
2021 (CLE): 40 GP, 4.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 46 FG%, 16 3PT%, 73 FT%, 10.5 PER, 52 TS%, 0.4 WS, .043 WS48

Lamar Stevens showed that he can score and defend at the NBA level, but he will need to improve his outside shot and playmaking skills in the meantime.  It was impressive that he was able to make the Opening Day roster, but he probably could have used some time in the G-League to polish up his skills.  Still, his ability to make hustle plays could enable him to make the Cavaliers’ roster next season as well.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

Stevens is on a non-guaranteed contract for next season.

G-F Brodric Thomas (Two-Way)
2021 (HOU/CLE): 32 GP, 3.9 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 36 FG%, 27 3PT%, 67 FT%, 8 PER, 49 TS%, 0.1 WS, .006 WS48
2021 (G-League): 14 GP, 18.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.9 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 45 FG%, 41 3PT%, 57 FT%, 18.2 PER, 57 TS%, 0.5 WS, .053 WS48

Brodric Thomas didn’t really do much well at the NBA level, but he showed some passing and defensive skills in limited minutes.  He didn’t really do much to show that he could be a regular rotation player, but he played significantly better in the G-League this year.

2021 Season Grade: D+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1 star (2 stars potential)

G Jeremiah Martin (Two-Way)
2021 (CLE): 9 GP, 2.4 PPG, 27 FG%, 25 3PT%, 20 FT%, 1.4 PER, -0.3 WS, -.207 WS48
2021 (G-League): 15 GP, 18.5 PPG, 5.1 APG, 3.7 RPG, 2.4 SPG, 47 FG%, 23 3PT%, 76 FT%, 18.2 PER, 55 TS%, 0.3 WS, .031WS48

Martin played fairly well in the G-League, but none of that translated into NBA success this year.  He didn’t play well when he was with the Cavaliers this year, but he is an athletic, physical playmaker that could compete for a backup point guard role on the team next season.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA (or solid starter in the G-League)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1 star (1.5 stars potential)

No Longer With The Team:
F-C Thon Maker
2021 (CLE): 8 GP, 3.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 56 FG%, 0 3PT%, 63 3PT%, 18.6 PER, 66 TS%, 0.3 WS, .174 WS48

Thon Maker was released prematurely, as he did a very good job of scoring and defending in limited minutes for his team.  He didn’t make a single three-point shot, though, and as he went unsigned for the rest of the season, it seems that NBA teams have seemed to lose patience and the will to develop his talents and skill set.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Free Agent, or Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G Quinn Cook
2021 (LAL/CLE): 23 GP, 3.3 PPG, 43 FG%, 42 3PT%, 88 FT%, 12.7 PER, 53 TS%, 0.2 WS, .061 WS48

It was surprising that Cook was let go by two teams this season, considering that he’s been a reliable backup point guard that has provided solid outside shooting and adequate defensive skills.  He played much better on the Lakers during his brief time on the court than he did with the Cavaliers, and his skill set works better on a playoff team than on a bad one.

2021 Season Grade: C (B w/LAL, D w/CLE)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

C Marques Bolden
2021 (CLE): 6 GP, 1.2 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 33 FG%, 63 FT%, 13.3 PER, 54 TS%, 0 WS, .063 WS48
2021 (G-League): 10 GP, 9.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.2 BPG, 1.0 APG, 51 FG%, 87 FT%, 18.2 PER, 59 TS%, 0.4 WS, .070 WS48

After receiving a short stint last season with the Cavaliers, he didn’t get nearly enough playing time with them this season, but he also didn’t make enough of a lasting impression on them.

He didn’t shoot or rebound well from the field, but he excelled at drawing free throws, and was a solid interior defender in his limited time on the court with the Cavaliers.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Fringe roster player, possible back end rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

C Anderson Varejão
2021 (CLE): 5 GP, 2.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 25 FG%, 56 FT%, 12.9 PER, 33 TS%, 0 WS, -.029 WS48

He hadn’t played in the NBA in the past couple of years, so it was all the more surprising when he came back to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Why they brought him back, I’m not entirely sure, but I’m fairly certain that the fans loved it when he suited back up for their team.

This past season, he rebounded the ball well, but he didn’t do much else, and his stay was short lived with them.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Free Agent (Rotation player overseas or retirement)
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 0.5 stars

Head Coach:
J.B. Bickerstaff
2021 (CLE): 22-50, did not make the playoffs
Coaching Career: 112-187, 1-4 in his playoff career

Bickerstaff had a successful run as an interim head coach in 2020, and he was able to be the Cleveland Cavaliers’ full-time head coach this season.  Unfortunately, his team didn’t win nearly as many games as expected, but they were able to get solid seasons from their second-year guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, and they also received a very talented big man in Jarrett Allen in a trade with Brooklyn.

On the downside, he and the Cavaliers seem to really botch the handling of Kevin Porter Jr.  The Cavaliers had traded 4 second round picks to get him in the 2019 draft, and it was well-documented about his off-court troubles.  Even though they had their run-ins with Porter, Porter was still a talented young swingman that can score the basketball, and they should have either tried to resolve their issues with him or have tried to get more in a trade for him.

Bickerstaff had an eventful year, but he hasn’t really held down a head coaching job in the NBA that long, so it will be interesting to see if he can continue to get the Cavaliers to move forward in a positive direction next season.

2021 Season Grade: D+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Head Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

As the Cleveland Cavaliers were really disappointing this past year and have not been to the playoffs for awhile, J.B. Bickerstaff could be on the hot seat for next season.

A Brief Summary of the 2020-21 Cleveland Cavaliers’ Season:

The Cavaliers had another lost season, but they are starting to develop their younger players fairly well in Sexton, Garland, and Jarrett Allen.  They waived Andre Drummond, they traded Kevin Porter Jr. to Houston for basically next to nothing, and Kevin Love seems to be stuck on a bad Cleveland team that doesn’t seem to have a plan for him, but the Cavaliers are starting to build a core that could be interesting in the future.

The 2020-21 Cleveland Cavaliers’ Season Grade: D+

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Projected 2021-22 NBA Rotation:

Projected Starters:
C Jarrett Allen
F Isaac Okoro
The 3rd Overall Pick of the 2021 Draft
Collin Sexton
Darius Garland

Key Reserves:
F Larry Nance Jr.
F-C Kevin Love
G-F Taurean Prince
G-F Cedi Osman

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
C Isaiah Hartenstein
F Dylan Windler

Impending Restricted Free Agents:
Jarrett Allen – Expected To Be Back

Impending Unrestricted Free Agents:
Matthew Dellavedova – Not Expected Back

Players with an Impending Player Option:
Isaiah Hartenstein – Expected To Be Back

Players on Non-Guaranteed Contracts Next Season:
Damyean Dotson – Not Expected Back
Dean Wade – Not Expected Back
Mfiondu Kabengele – Not Expected Back
Lamar Stevens – Not Expected Back

Projected Players Cut From Next Season’s Roster:
Jeremiah Martin (Two-Way)
Brodric Thomas (Two-Way)

Projected Offseason Plan for the Cavaliers:
The Cavaliers might have some money to spend, but most likely, they will try to retain Jarrett Allen, so they probably won’t have much money to spend in free agency.

If they do have some money to spend, they could look to add more wing players, and taller, more athletic forwards to add more shooting and defensive versatility.

In the draft, they could look to select more wing players in order to improve their shooting and defense.  They also could look to take the best player available in the 2021 draft.

The 2022 Cleveland Cavaliers’ Expected Win-Loss Record, and Projected 2022 Season Finish:
32-50, 13th in the Eastern Conference

Expected 2022 Season Outcome:
They could compete for the 8th seed in the East next season, but Cleveland may likely miss the playoffs next season.

I primarily went to Basketball-Reference and No Trade Clause for research purposes. For more information on my ratings scale and how I rate NBA players and coaches, you can find it here. Thanks for reading.

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