Cleveland Cavaliers Coach Kenny Atkinson Speaks on Team’s Depth

Kenny Atkinson, Cavaliers, NBA
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NBA offseason has been a busy one for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The first major change they made was firing head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and hiring Kenny Atkinson to replace him.

Bickerstaff found a lot of success in the last few seasons on the sidelines with the Cavaliers. The team made the playoffs the last two years, advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals just a few weeks ago.

Alas, ownership was looking for a head coach who they believed could help get them over the hump. A coach with experience developing young players was sought after and Kenny Atkinson fits that bill.

During his tenure with the Brooklyn Nets, Atkinson was lauded for his ability to connect with and get the most out of young players. He helped lead the franchise back to the postseason, overseeing an All-Star game appearance by D’Angelo Russell.

With the Cavaliers, several key young players are on the roster. Developing Evan Mobley to reach his immense potential is goal No. 1 for him. The same could be said of Isaac Okoro should he remain with the franchise after being a restricted free agent in the 2024 NBA offseason.

One of the strengths of the Cleveland roster is their depth. It is something that Kenny Atkinson spoke about earlier this week, as he intends to take advantage of all of the talent on the roster.

“Now, am I going to play Donovan Mitchell 25 minutes a game? No. But, I’m going to use my bench. 

… we are going to embrace that bench mentality.”

As we saw with many teams in the postseason, it became a war of attrition. Having players at the end of your bench capable of stepping into roles and producing is key to surviving the marathon NBA season.

Having the kind of depth the Cavaliers do is a luxury. Kenny Atkinson will have the ability to mix and match based on matchups, taking advantage of the different strengths his players possess.

There will be some pressure in the early going to find success. At the very least, Atkinson needs to lead this team back to the second round of the NBA playoffs, ideally even further than that.

His job became a lot easier knowing Donovan Mitchell would be there for the foreseeable future. He and the Cavaliers agreed to a long-term extension, which will make pitching free agents easier knowing Mitchell is locked in for the next few seasons

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