Apparently, every action in the Cavaliers’ playbook is named after an animal. We’ve got the inside scoop on what’s what.
On Friday, Joe Vardon and Shams Charania of The Athletic released a report about growing frustration in the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ locker room, specifically players chafing the college-style coaching of John Beilein. Among the delightful nuggets in the story was the reveal that the team’s offensive actions were all named after wild animals.
After consulting with several experienced basketball coaches as well as the World Wildlife Fund, we’re pretty sure we’ve accurately matched all of those Cavaliers’ offensive elements with their corresponding wild animals.
Golden snub-nosed monkey: Dribble handoff
Andean cock-of-the-rock: Pin-down screen
Guianan cock-of-the-rock: Backscreen
Temminck’s tragopan: That thing where a defender has their back to you on an inbounds play and you bounce it off their back and then take the ball yourself.
Lowland streaked tenrec: Double drag screen
Banded palm civet: Duck-in
Tasseled wobbegong: Just kind of stand around in the corner and hope someone passes you the ball.
Fried-egg jellyfish: Elevator doors
Screaming hair armadillo: Flare screen
Yellow-bellied sapsucker: Flex cut
Naked mole rat: Point to the stands. When the defender is looking away, hide the ball inside your jersey. When he’s distracted trying to figure out where the ball went, you quickly take it out and dribble past them.
Gerenuk: Iverson cut
Zebra Duiker: Flex cut
Superb bird-of-paradise: Kevin Love post-up
Cantor’s giant soft-shelled turtle: Pick-and-pop
Venezuelan poodle moth: As the Cavaliers bring the ball up court, the four other players make a shoulder-to-shoulder wall in front of the ball-handler. They just run full speed at the basket, moving all defenders out of the way while the ball-handler dribbles in behind them for an easy layup. It’s based on a variation of the testudo formation used by Roman soldiers and it has proven to be very effective in practice.