Like the majority of people around the United States, LeBron James made some New Year’s resolutions before he entered 2017. While he still stands as the leader of a Cavaliers team that’s both the reigning NBA champions and the frontrunner in the Eastern Conference, James remained the furthest thing from satisfied as he entered 2017.
LeBron’s frustration became evident on January 6th when the 4x NBA MVP said the following to Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon:
While James would later say that he’s fine with the current pieces that he has around him, his frustration is definitely warranted. That’s especially evident with the team’s lack of a real point guard in their 2nd unit. With the offseason departures of Matthew Dellavedova (Bucks) and Mo Williams (retirement), the team was left with Jordan McRae and Kay Felder as players that would share a spot in the team’s 2nd unit. However, McRae has underachieved while Felder is still learning how to play in the NBA.
That struggles of McRae and Felder leaves Kyrie Irving and James as the only players on the Cavaliers roster that can be reliable faclitators. Have they done a great job in that role? Absolutely. Irving is shining as arguably the best offensive guard in the NBA. Meanwhile, James has continued to establish himself as one of the best front-court facilitators that the league has ever seen. James is currently averaging 8.45 assists per game with a pretty solid 2.0 Ast//TO ratio.
However, when you look at the full scope of the situation, you can clearly see why LeBron is upset about the team’s lack of a 2nd unit facilitator. As of the time of this piece, James is averaging a league-high 37.5 minutes, which could cause some future issues considering James just turned 32 and is looking to push his Cavaliers to win back-to-back NBA titles.
In response to James’ clear concerns, the Cavaliers held an open free-agent workout on Wednesday that featured more than a handful of free agent point guards. Some of the names that worked out on Wednesday include: Kirk Hinrich, Jordan Farmar, Mario Chalmers and Lance Stephenson. Out of that quartet, Chalmers probably stands as the favorite due to him helping James win back-to-back championships when they were both playing for the Miami Heat.
While it’s be a good idea for the team to bring in a veteran to help facilitate the team’s 2nd unit, the Cavaliers should also look to the D-League to help fill that need. As we’ve mentioned throughout the NBADL season, the D-League has been filled with quality point guards that could make an impact on any NBA team. That’s been made especially evident over the last few weeks as Yogi Ferrell and Spencer Dinwiddie have both impressed in the NBA since they were called up from the D-League.
A D-League guard that could be on his way to joining that duo is current Sioux Falls Skyforce stud Briante Weber. Throughout the D-League season, Weber has continued to stand as that one D-Leaguer that can just irritate an opposing team on both ends of the court.
Weber might actually be best on the defensive end as he constantly works his ass off to try to force the opposition to either commit a turnover or throw up an errant shot. His ability as a ball-hawk is undoubtedly Weber’s best defensive ability, evident from him averaging a league-high 3.2 steals per game. That ability to force the opposition to commit turnovers was most evident on Tuesday night when Weber was just one steal away from having the first quadruple-double in D-League history.
Despite how good he might be on the defensive end, Weber is a great fit for the Cavaliers due to how solid of a facilitator he is. Averaging 7.4 assists per game with a solid 2.43 Ast/TO ratio, Weber has showcased that he can be the kind of facilitator that a team can depend upon to help lead their on-court unit. When he’s controlling an offense, Weber looks more like an NBA vet than a D-Leaguer due to the way he controls the pacing and the overall direction of the Skyforce. That level of expertise is evident whether he’s working in transition or half-court.
While he’s fine in transition, Weber does his best work in half-court sets due to his love of working in the drive-and-dish. With pretty solid handles, Weber is regularly able to work his way towards the paint. Once he makes his way towards the paint, Weber showcases a great knack of being able to dish it out to a perimeter player or a cutting big. Weber’s drive-and-dish skills are seen in the play below where he makes a terrific dish to a cutting Patrick Miller.
Although not as important as his defense or his facilitating, Weber has showcased himself to be a pretty solid perimeter shooter. Currently, Weber sits as shooting 37% from beyond the arc on around 3 attempts per game. While that may seem like a slightly above-average percentage, it’s a definite improvement over the 24% from beyond the arc that Weber shot in November and December. That significant improvement is due to Weber shooting an awe-inspiring 54% from beyond the arc on four attempts per game during the month of January.
Even if you think that his perimeter improvement is more of a mirage than anything else, Briante Weber still stands as a player that could help the Cleveland Cavaliers. As we mentioned earlier in the piece, the Cavaliers are in desperate need of a facilitator that isn’t named LeBron James or Kyrie Irving.
Weber could definitely be that player that can be depended on to lead the team’s 2nd unit for 15-20 minutes per game. Alongside that, Weber brings the kind of defensive tenacity that could help push the Cavs to huge playoff wins in May or June. While the Cavaliers might be currently looking at NBA veterans, the best option might be sitting in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.