How Beilein Fits With Cavs


The Cleveland Cavaliers’ recent hiring of John Beilein as head coach has brought both optimism and skepticism. He will be making the transition to the NBA from the college game, where he enjoyed great success as a head coach, amassing 754 wins.

Beilein had stints at Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia and Michigan, turning around many of these programs. Moreover, his win total is matched by only five others. Thus, to the casual fan, Beilein’s switch to the professional game seems timely, especially since he has little left to achieve at the college level.

Success in the NBA is far from guaranteed, however. Until Brad Stevens and Billy Donovan came into the fold in 2013 and 2015 respectively, college coaches have been known for their unsuccessful stints in the NBA. Even John Calipari, one of the greatest college coaches of all time, flopped in the NBA. Not only this, but the Cavaliers have also blown through numerous head coaches in the post-LeBron era, making this job even more daunting.

However, it is precisely for these following reasons that Beilein is actually a great fit for the Cavs. He has an uncanny ability to inculcate a winning culture, and his playing style suits today’s game. Let’s take a closer look into why Beilein will be just fine in the NBA.

3 pointers! And loads of them!

Beilein’s teams love to shoot three pointers, with his Michigan teams averaging roughly 830 of them each season. In fact, Beilein’s teams have been chucking up 3s even before this wave of three-point shooting basketball washed over the NBA.

His 2009 Michigan team tried a total of 808 threes during their regular season, a whopping 116 more than Iowa, which was the next closest team. With some capable shooters on his roster like (an improving) Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Darius Garland and Kevin Love, outside scoring should be one of the Cavs’ strong suits this season.


Long departed from his 1-3-1 days at WVU, Beilein has played much more NBA-oriented, man-to-man defense in recent years. After all, Beilein’s college teams have been notorious for their stifling defenses, especially his national title game teams.

Opponents only averaged 63.3 points per game with a field goal percentage of 42.4 percent in 2012-2013 and 42.6 percent in 2017-2018. Defense wins games, period. The 2017-2018 team exemplified this by making the national title game with suffocating defense and minimal blue-chip talent.

You can expect the Cavs to attempt more threes and clamp down their opponents next season.

Developing Talent

What do Caris LeVert, Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas, and more recently, DJ Wilson and Jordan Poole all have in common? They were all former three or four star Michigan recruits who became first-round draft picks. Even Ignas Brazdeikis, a second-round draft pick this summer, performed exceedingly well in the recently-concluded Summer League.

In terms of developing star talent, LeVert is set for a breakout year, a far cry from his high school days where he was ranked as only the 67th best shooting guard in the country. Players like Sexton, Osman, Garland, and Kevin Porter Jr. will definitely benefit from Beilein’s history of developing players.

Let’s hope John Beilein can lead this young, defensive-minded Cavs team to great heights this season.


About Tan Shi Hui

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