Earlier today I came across John Schumann’s article on NBA.com titled, “Jamison fitting in quite nicely with Cavaliers.” The article largely focuses on Antawn’s overall adjustment to playing with the Cavs.
Reading the article there were a few comments that I felt did not tell the full story. I have pulled a few of those comments out and added my own responses.
“They’ve done it [decreased opponents scoring] with Jamison, the guy who’s never been on a good defensive team before, playing 37 minutes a game. The competition hasn’t been great and the defense isn’t quite at the level it needs to be, but it seems the new guy has acquainted himself well to defending at a high level.”
It is true that Jamison has not previously been a part of a team that can be considered a good defensive team, so it is likely to believe that over his 11 year career, he has likely picked up some poor defensive habits. Schumann also points out that this mini-resurgence in Cavs defensive prowess has come during a stretch when they weren’t playing the most talented teams.
“As with any good defensive team, it’s about all five guys on the floor, a collective effort. Jamison’s a better defender when you surround him with better defenders and a coach who gets them to play the right way.”
This statement is likely true of any solid (or better) NBA vet and does not uniquely apply to Jamison. If you surround that player with teammates who are willing to play defense, a coaching staff that teaches defense, and more importantly requires you to play defense, then one would not be surprised that the team generally plays good sound defense. While there will be peaks and valleys in the team’s defensive performance throughout the year, in general it would be a safe bet that that team will be regarded as a solid defensive team.
“The biggest difference is the trust factor,” Jamison said. “You know where you’re supposed to be in certain spots. You know where your teammates are supposed to be. Just knowing that you have help, that’s something that I’ve never experienced before, as far as being part of a good defensive team.”
Jamison is likely comforted by the fact that he has good solid defensive teammates that know what their role is and who is supposed to help on any given offensive set. However, trust cuts both ways. During his time with the Wizards, Jamison has not always rolled to help out on plays when it appeared that he should. So would it not be likely that one of his teammates develop a lack of trust with his defensive effort?
One good place to see this demonstrated is on Kyle Weidie’s Truth About It.net. Following a number of games – for example this one versus the Knicks – he went out of his way to demonstrate through screen shots the inability of the Wizards (including Jamison) to play good sound defense.
While Jamison clearly has benefited by being part of a better defensive team and he is smart enough to know he has to pick up his defensive effort, it should not be made to seem as if he did not have a role in his previous teams generally poor defensive efforts. It will be interesting, however, to “witness” how far Jamison’s defensive skills have improved once the playoffs begin. When the games truly count, teams will begin to game plan to take advantage of the Cavs weaknesses. And until Jamison proves otherwise, he has to be considered a weak link in Cleveland’s defense.