JJ Hickson, welcome to LeBron’s circle of trust

J.J. Hickson scores 20 in Cleveland’s 107-103 win over Utah, 4-0 as a starter…
We all remember Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Detroit.  Boobie went bananas and after a timeout, Lebron was in his ear giving him a pep talk. You could see the rookie’s confidence swell up with every word the Chosen One spoke. JJ Hickson, he’s in your ear now.  The King asked the young PF to spend some time with him travelling this offseason and POOF.  A star was born.  Well a star may be a tad optimistic but Lebron’s new sidekick has helped fuel the Cavs on this 4 game win streak including two tough ones in Orlando and in Miami.  The young man who was certainly aloof at times last season suddenly just gets it.  He has a role and has embraced it.  You can almost hear the words coming out of Lebron’s mouth.  “Play hard at the defensive end and work off the ball on offense and I’ll take care of the rest.”  Lebron has used JJ beautifully on offense and his play leaves me extremely excited to see if he can take it to yet another level.
On Coach Brown….
When things go bad Coach gets destroyed.  It’s praise time for Mike Brown.  Previously I gave Coach the benefit of the doubt that he would get the rotation figured out.  I never thought he’d have it pinned down already.  As Brendan referenced in the WFNY post last Wednesday, the button he pushed moving JJ to the starting lineup was bold, and more importantly, it’s been extremely effective.  It’s no picnic in the NBA to tell a starter that he’s going to the bench.  While Andy has always been a team guy this move was handled perfectly and it caused no issue whatsoever.  Coach Brown obviously knows how to communicate with his troops.  Big ups to him for scrapping the Z/Shaq experiment.  In hindsight it’s hard to blame Brown for giving it a look and it might have succeeded a little more if Z’s jumper wasn’t abducted by aliens.  The bottom line is that the gains were far outweighed by the defensive liabilities and Mike shelved it right away.  I really like that he’s found some stable time for Jamario Moon as well.  The guy can make plays, he’s very underrated on the boards and eventually he’s going to be asked to shut down Rashard Lewis.  If he goes on any more 8-0 runs for us it’s going to be hard to keep him off the floor.  One things for sure, we didn’t sign him to rack up DNP’s.
Mo’s redemption trail….
After Mo’s highly public short comings in the Conference Finals a year ago, he has a different look about him.  Last year he had an aura about him that he was just happy to be a part of a winner.  This year he seems to be more workman-like.  He’s also stepped up his game when it comes to creating on offense.  We’ve seen him countless times this year force the action to the baseline on a drive only to drop off to a cutter in the lane or kick out to the 3 point line.  Lebron can use all the easy buckets he can get, but mostly, our 2nd unit needs someone who can create off the dribble on occasion, especially with Delonte’s status up in the air.  Redemption can’t truly be obtained until the late spring/early summer, but I love Mo’s attitude this year.  You can tell he’s not just happy to be here anymore.

Shouts out to the Hawks, Pacers, and Buckeyes…

In final, I want to give a shout out to the Atlanta Hawksand Indiana Pacers for doing work amidst our win streak.  Nice work boys! Any day the Buckeyes vault themselves back to the Rose Bowl, the Cavs win, and the Celtics lose is a great day to be a sports fan.

Bill Nagel wrote this post for Stepien Rules.  Bill is a regular contributer here at SR, and for more from him click here.  To contact Bill directly, hit him up at bnbrowns@yahoo.com.
Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.