The Cleveland Cavaliers filled one of their huge needs when they signed Mo Williams as their back up point guard for the upcoming season. Williams, a fan favorite who was with the Cavaliers the last two years of LeBron James first stint in Cleveland, is a quality back up point guard who can start whenever the need arises. Specifically, when Kyrie Irving goes down with an injury. Finally the Cavs have an answer to the question: what happens to our backourt when Kyrie once again succumbs to the injury plague?
A veteran scorer with a chip on his shoulder at all times, Williams can control the pace of a game, make shots, issue demands, find the open man and go on hot streak and score in bunches. He left the Cavs in 2011 via a trade and had a good showing with the Clippers and Jazz, was an afterthought with the Blazers, and rebounded last year with a 17 point year in Charlotte, nearly a career high. Four of the last five years, he has averaged six assists per game.
The Cavaliers needed Mo Williams this past June when, once again, Kyrie Irving couldn’t stay healthy and the Cavaliers were forced to go to Matthew Dellavedova, a hard working, gritty and intense Australian but someone who lacks the driving ability, quickness and general experience to fill in for an All-Star. The Cavs were forced to extend Dellavedova which eventually sent him into the hospital for dehydration and it was a cautionary tale for the future. Bet on Irving going down during part of the season because it happens as frequent as death and taxes. A backup point guard is a must.
Without a second driver and scorer to relieve the pressure of LeBron James, the Cavaliers, as witnessed in the NBA Finals, are not just a slow team they are also one-dimensional and pretty easy to defend. Mo Williams gives the Cavaliers more versatility in their backcourt and because he can also slide over as the shooting guard, his flexibility allows the Cavs to diversity their offense.
One other thing that makes the Mo Williams signing perfect for the Cavs is that he has a natural recalcitrant nature. He doesn’t roll over for anyone. He once said that Lebron James is your best friend until he walks all over you on his way out the door. That is vintage Mo Williams and is exactly what the Cavaliers need to keep them from getting too immersed in LeBron James, the myth. The Cavs need another leader and veteran on the floor who isn’t intimidated or shy or too young to speak up and say what he thinks even if it is not popular.
The last time Mo Williams was on a LeBron James playoff team it ended in a disaster. The Cavs were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in 2010, a series that ended in a game 6 in Boston with a peculiar game by LeBron James who seemed particularly disinterested given the stakes. In the four losses in those semi-finals, Williams shot 15-44 (34%) and fell out of favor with LeBron James who no longer trusted his teammates to get him to the NBA Finals. Soon afterwards, James embarked on The Decision.
Now the gang is back together again. At least, part of it. LeBron James, Anderson Varejao and Mo Williams were teammates in 2009-10. Six years older, more experienced, having gone through some things, Williams and company hope to repeat the magic they had in those Cavs glory days.
photo via flickr