Monday, September 22, 2008

Thoughts on Mo's move to Cleveland

With their recent acquisition of Mo Williams, the Cavs are stepping it up in the East. Williams has a $50 million contract, so trading for him took some guts.

I like the move as CLE's roster now includes three combo guards who will be listed as point guards: Williams, D. West and D. Gibson.

With the constant double-teams and defensive attention opponents give to LeBron, perimeter shooting is critical to the Cavs' success.

For the Cavs, the point guard spot could be played by committee. It will be interesting to see who will be manning the point late in the game or in the last two minutes of a close game.

As in the past, James will have the ball late in games for isolations and handling in pick-and-roll situations. But Mo Williams gives CLE another late-game option as he can handle on pick-and-rolls with James as the screen-setter in pick-and-rolls.

This set would give Cavs' opponents problems.  Most teams like to switch any guard to guard or guard to small forward pick-and-roll. But with James' size, strength, and pick-and-roll to post-ups, he'll punish opposing point guards in the post on any switches.

And Mo Williams can really score out of pick-and-rolls.

The fact that Gibson can make clutch 3-pointers is a key as he could be on the floor as a weakside spot-up shooter and an added scoring threat.

We'll also have to watch which player is more effective at getting CLE into its half-court sets in the five minutes before the last two minutes, when true PG's can have the biggest impact on a game.

As for Mo Williams, he's a talent who probably needed a change of scenery. He's young, but he was slowed by injuries in MIL where, at times, his injuries seemed to linger.

He's a scoring point who has become a better distributor, but his strong suit is how he can spread the floor with the ball in his hand in pick-and-roll and make scoring plays.

I think he'll fit well with what the Cavs want to do in making him a playmaker alongside of LeBron. He was fantastic under Coach Terry Stotts in Milwaukee playing some 2-guard or off-guard when the Bucks had TJ Ford on the floor with him in Coach Stotts' first year in MIL. At that time, MIL's small lineup was often the most effective one they had.

Defensively, he needs to become a better defender. From watching him, he needs to improve on squaring the ball up and keeping his man in front of him. The Cavs have been a good defensive team and Coach Mike Brown's solid defensive schemes will help. 

And, as always, Cavs' asst coach Hank Egan will be able to offer individual defensive tips and teaching.

Williams sometimes struggles to keep guys in front of him at the point of attack, which forces his team to scramble and your timing on rotations are effected .

Further, at times he has a tendency to lay into screens defending pick-and-rolls, showing some reluctance to fight over the top. But these are things he can improve quickly with some focus.

Mo isn't a vocal leader on the court, but he's an excellent pick up for the Cavs. He's a guy who is respected by teams -- players and coaches both -- for his offensive skills. I've always felt he was a tough cover.

From Milwaukee's side, the trade was designed to break up the Williams-Redd backcourt. It was probably time for one to get traded, especially with a new GM and a new coaching staff.

Also, Williams' contract is a big number, so the Bucks gained quite a bit of flexibility by moving him.

Williams may not be a guy who puts the Cavs over the top, but he's a tremendous young talent that -- assuming he stays healthy -- makes Cleveland better.