Warning signs for Beilein could be traced to the Cavs’ Summer League schedule, when the rookie coach ran a collection of (mostly) G Leaguers and non-roster invites through extended practices, multiple times a day. This is precisely what Beilein would have done at Michigan, especially with an entirely new batch of players, this early in a season calendar. But players not only complained about the work, they also were drilled in games by opponents who were clearly well-rested. And this was in Summer League.
There was at least one player, though, involved in those early summer workouts under Beilein who was expecting to make a major contribution to the Cavs this season. Rookie Dylan Windler, a late first rounder, was supposed to compete with Cedi Osman for minutes on the wing. But he never played a game this season because of a stress injury in his left leg — which could be traced back at least in part to being overworked during the summer.
Would Windler have missed the season under a different coach? It’s impossible to say. Counterfactuals are complex.
But there was legitimate reason to be concerned with Beilein’s approach. Teams have learned the importance of rest. Fatigued players are more susceptible to injury.
Beilein’s longest college season was 41 games. He coached 54 games in Cleveland – and left with much of the season remaining.
Handling the grind of the NBA season was always going to be an adjustment for the long-time college coach. It probably got understated amid concern about him relating interpersonally to his players.
The Cavaliers needed practice time. They needed work to develop. That’s clearly what Beilein prioritized.
But they also needed to limit the physical toll, and it’s reasonable to question whether Beilein did enough there. Even if he was learning that the NBA is more marathon than sprint, the several months Beilein coaches the Cavs were enough to cause issues.