Many believe LeBron James is taking a huge chance by putting the next chapter of his legacy in the hands of a rookie coach with no NBA experience. But in reality, it was a genius move by James.
The Euro-Princeton offence.
David Blatt’s system can be traced back to his days as a player at Princeton and coach Pete Carril’s “Princeton offence” which utilizes plenty of movement and backdoor cuts. Blatt then tweaked that style with 20 years coaching in Europe.
Now he is bringing his European system to the NBA at a time when the American game is more European than ever and he will be the only coach in the league with experience as a coach in Europe.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, one of Blatt’s former players with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Devin Smith, described their play as “kind of like a San Antonio type of feel,” a style that LeBron loves.
In the NBA finals, the Spurs impressed LeBron with their motion offence and the way they spaced the floor and passed the ball.
Opening up the lane for LeBron.
While the European style is more team-oriented, Blatt’s system will also play to the strengths of LeBron James.
With the more spacing and constant movement of the ball, the lane will be less clogged with players allowing James to attack the basket.
This will be in stark contrast to the Heat, who often stood around allowing the defence to collapse. The result was James often drove the lane only to find three or four defenders waiting for him.
But the Cavs need one more piece for Blatt’s system to truly be lethal. They need what many around the NBA call “a stretch-4,” a power forward who can shoot from the outside.
And as Ben Cohen and Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal point out, the “stretchiest four” in the NBA is Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves. This is why it is so important for the Cavs to trade for Kevin Love and why they are willing to give up Andrew Wiggins, the top pick in this year’s draft, to get the deal done.
This past season, Love took 6.6 three-point shots per game, tops among big men in the NBA. Those shots will not only fit Blatt’s spacing, but it will further open up the lane for James to dominate.
“If I know David Blatt,” Maccabi center Shawn James told the Wall Street Journal, “he probably wants Kevin Love very bad.”
Blatt’s system is flexible.
Blatt is also smart enough to know that even the perfect system is only as good as the players running it and he knows how to adapt.
“The real key to David’s success,” Maccabi forward David Blu told the Wall Street Journal, “is that he’s able to adjust to his players.”
Blatt was recently asked by Jeff Goodman of ESPN specifically about how James will fit into his system. Blatt smiled and had the perfect reply.
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