After declaring a rebirth of sorts for the Cleveland Cavaliers in my last piece, I now feel a bit of egg running down my face after the team has dropped two very winnable games this past week. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss two factors that I think led to these disappointing outcomes.
I have said this before, and it rings true this week as much as it has all season. We MUST win the games we are supposed to win!
No one takes us seriously when we beat the #2 team in the league one week and lose to a sub .500 team the next. It makes fans and the national media question whether we are actually a good team or just putting on a show with smoke and mirrors.
Offensive Strategy: At times, I find the strategy that the Cavaliers decide to use on offense, offensive. Meaning that it offends my common sense approach as an analytical fan.
For example, when the game is close or we are starting to squander a lead late in a game, why on earth do any of these professional players think that the best idea is to run the shot clock down and hoist up a three pointer? Is it an engrained desire to be the hero as they have practiced thousands of times since they were first introduced to the game as kids?
Sure, sometimes the shot goes in and we all talk about how clutch that player is and how they always seem to bail us out. Most of the time, those shots do not go in and amongst fans there seems to be no accountability for having just wasted a crucial possession.
We should be taking high percentage shots from the paint in these situations. This is the most opportune time to rely on Kevin Love.
He has shown over the last few weeks to be not only shooting a high percentage from down there, but it also puts him in a great position to possible secure an offensive rebound for another clock eating possession. I don’t understand why we settle for just running out 24 seconds and taking a low percentage shot when we can get a higher percentage shot and possibly the chance to run out 40 seconds.
I also want to complain about one more strategy on offense that goes hand in hand with the one I just mentioned. That strategy is the isolation play for James.
Yes, I realize that he is The King and can make his way past most defenders one on one and get a high percentage shot, but it is what consistently happens AFTER he makes it past the player defending him that is in question.
Either he takes a tougher than necessary shot trying to get an “And One” and doesn’t get the call, OR if he does get the call and misses we take our chances at the free throw line.
For being a superstar in our league and contending with James Harden for most “And One” opportunities amongst all players, he has been mostly inconsistent at the free throw line. In close games like the 104-103 loss to Boston, #AllFreeThrowsMatter
Another thing that the isolation play does when you run it over and over, is that it gives the opponents time to rest as the play usually consists of James on one end of the court and the rest of the players just standing around watching on the other side. Make these guys run the slalom around picks at the end of the game so that the fatigue catches up with them and they will make more mistakes.
If Lue is dead set on running the ISO in these situation, PLEASE do it with Kyrie! At least he is shooting a reasonable percentage from the line and finishes just as well or better than James.
Bench Play: The contributions off of the bench in these two most recent losses have been truly disappointing as a collective group. Dellevadova being out with a hamstring issue only cements my suspicion that he is maybe the most important component of the second unit.
The strength of the second unit is clearly anchored in Iman Shumpert’s ability to steal the ball and make players think twice about lazy passes. This is an invaluable asset that we have as it gives us more possessions in addition to take potential points off of the board for our adversaries.
From an offensive standpoint, we just cannot produce consistently. Just when we think that Mozgov has “figured it out” he reminds us that there is a reason he is not starting anymore with another blunder at a crucial juncture.
Against the moderately talented Charlotte Hornets all that out five bench players could amass was 13 points. Delly is averaging over 8 points per game on his own so his contributions are clearly missed.
We cannot expect to win close games without these intangibles. I challenge the players and coaches to play a smarter game and, if necessary, make some key changes to the team that put us in a stronger position to contend in the Finals.
Even if we play horribly, we will get one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference purely based on our talent level. Having Kyrie and Love in the Finals this year will not matter though unless some of these issues are corrected.
I’m ready to see if Tyronn Lue is up to that challenge.
All-Star Synopsis: LeBron James, SF, Cavaliers
This website contains many great opinions and information on the Cleveland Cavs and of course LeBron James, so I am going to join the party after James was named NBA Player of the Week for a record 47th time. James led Cleveland to a perfect 3-0 record this past week, averaging 25.7 points per game on .51% shooting, including 24-30 from the foul line, 5.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 2.3 steals in 33 minutes per game.
We’re slowly trying to figure out the Cavs’ identity while the players do the same. James has delivered as the leader, obviously, and has taken control of this team that has struggled to find any kind of consistency.
Blake Griffin, PF, Clippers
Like James, Blake Griffin contributed big in his teams’ perfect 4-0 week showing off his array of skills. Griffin averaged 23.8 points per game, 9.8 rebounds, 5 assists on 51.3% shooting. Side note: he did this all on the road. Griffin benefitted off his low-post game with the majority of his domination covering the colored area. The four-time All-Star continues to show a vast improvement year to year and is on pace to have his best in 2014-15.
KJ McDaniels, SG, 76ers
Shooting guard KJ McDaniels continues to impress in his underrated rookie season. As a 6’6’ guard with an improved shooting ability, McDaniels looks to have a nice future and also had a fine week at that. McDaniels had a three-game stretch in which he averaged 16.3 points, 1.3 steals, 1.6 blocks, and 9.3 rebounds per game. Unfortunately, the 76ers trend of losing has continued and will contend to tie the NBA record for worst record to start the season (0-18) and McDaniels has gone unnoticed, but his high flying ability has made many highlight reels this season so far.
Like this one versus the Mavericks on Saturday:
Flying Under the Radar:
Wesley Matthews, SG, Trail Blazers
Wesley Matthews has been on fire as of late hitting on all cylinders averging 25.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists over the past three games. Matthews has continued to try and develop as a consistent knockdown three-point shooter and he is currently 40% from behind the arc this season. Matthews is and will be a key component to the Blazers’ success in 2014-15.
1. Golden State Warriors (14-2)
Steve Kerr’s team continues to win and running smoothly on offense knocking down 48% of their shots. The defense sees improvement each week and leads the league in field goal percentage defense at 40.7%. The nine-game winning streak is impressive enough, but the improvement of key bench players in Harrison Barnes, Marreese Speights, and Draymond Green have been huge plusses and continue to thrive when called upon. Upcoming Games: vs. ORL, vs. NO, @ CHI
2. Memphis Grizzlies (15-2)
Going into Portland and winning convincingly is no easy task and the Grizz came away unblemished. Memphis is 11-0 versus the West and is neck and neck with the dubs at No. 1. Memphis will, once again, go to prove themselves against a few of the top teams in the league starting off the week with a road trip to Houston. Upcoming Games: @ HOU, vs. SA, vs. MIA
3. San Antonio Spurs (12-4)
3. San Antonio Spurs (12-4)
Remember when the Spurs slipped up to the Kings in Novemeber and people thought this might be the end? Well, San Antonio has ripped off seven straight wins since and has defeated the Cavs, Grizz, and Kings giving them the 12-4 overall record. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if this team has the best record on Christmas Day. Upcoming Games: @BRK, @ MEM, vs. MIN
4. Portland Trail Blazers (13-4)
The Blazers remain at four for another week. Wesley Matthews has been tearing it up as stated earlier and has picked up the slack for the injured Nic Batum. The Blazers could have really solidified themselves as possibly the top dogs in the NBA if capturing wins at home over an earlier game versus Golden State and last Friday to Memphis. Instead , they lost both. Even though the Blazers still have a cushy upcoming schedule, and will until Christmas rolls around, don’t count these guys out yet as serious contenders in the West. Upcoming Games: @ DEN, vs. IND, @NYK
5. Los Angeles Clippers (11-5)
I kept wondering when LA was finally going to crack my top five. Many chatter occurred when LA was yet to travel outside the state of California and what did they do? Won four straight road games and that’s what gives them the nod over Houston and Dallas. Upcoming Games: vs. ORL, vs. NO
28. Charlotte Hornets (4-14)
I wonder if it’s still OK to consider them the Bobcats, because that’s what I see when watching this team play. The team holds the longest active losing steak in the NBA despite that team at 30. Yeah, they belong in that category with that team. Upcoming Games: vs. CHI, vs. NYK
29. Detroit Pistons (3-15)
With a decent starting lineup, a great coach, and a somewhat struggling division, I thought Detroit would be a major sleeper in 2014. Instead, the team continues to lose and is on a nine game losing streak entering Wednesday night. Upcoming Games: vs. LAL, @ BOS, vs. PHI, vs. OKC
30. Philadelphia 76ers (0-13)
Yup. Yeah. OK.
Upcoming Games: Does it matter?
Damian Lillard, PG, Trail Blazers
The NBA has “oohed and awed” over Damian Lillard’s ability in his young career with excellent passing skills, high-percentage three point shooting, and his ability to somehow always get to the basket. Lillard has been a vital part in building up this once down franchise to a legitimate championship threat out west. Lillard’s play this week sparked many putting together his best statistical week in his career. Lillard, with LeBron James, was nominated as NBA Player of the Week.
Lillard’s Stats Week Three: at LA Clippers (L, 102-106): 25 points (4-8 from 3P), 8 assists, 7 rebounds vs. Charlotte (W, 102-100): 29 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals at Denver (W, 130-113): 27 points (5-6 from 3P), 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals vs. Brooklyn (W, 97-87): 28 points (4-6 from 3P), 10 assists, 5 rebounds
Lance Stephenson, SG, Hornets
The Hornets’ signing of the Pacers’ X-factor guard Lance Stephenson made big headlines and was easily the strongest move this past offseason outside of Cleveland. Stephenson highlighted the 2013-14 season with multiple triple-doubles while helping lead the Indiana Pacers to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. With his stock high, the Hornets acted fast picking up the hot name, whether that meant overpaying the young gun or not. While the season is still young, Stephenson has yet to blossom into that All-Star type shooting guard the Hornets were expecting. Stephenson has shown some glimpses foreshadowing that he will get to that point.
The streaky shooter has become more efficient as of late versus quality playoff teams with performances with 14, 13, and 16 points accompanied with some high rebounding numbers. The LeBron James agitator started out slow, but seems to be becoming into his own mold after a rough first week and a half.
He was known this week for a stunt only he could pull off:
Jabari Parker, SF, Bucks Jabari Parker has been a big proponent on how the Bucks have managed an early .500 record, even though he doesn’t have gaudy numbers. Parker averages 11.6 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game (both statistics lead all rookies in those categories). Parker didn’t have a fantastic week with a tough three game stretch versus Oklahoma City, Orlando, and Miami in which he combined for just 25 points on 11-23 shooting (not terrible) within that span. Parker is becoming a valuable piece to this trending Bucks team as his minutes increase and his role becomes more demanding.
Flying Under the Radar:
Jrue Holiday, PG, Pelicans
When healthy, Jrue Holiday is one of the more productive point guards in the league and he is proving that statement in an underrated fashion this season. Holiday is not the primary scorer as he was in Philadelphia and doesn’t look to return that form, but he is becoming a more well-rounded point guard and is a vital part in the Pelicans’ 2014-15 possible journey to the playoffs. Holiday averages 16.3 points per game, just fewer than seven assists per game, and is shooting 48% from the field.
Reggie Jackson, PG, Thunder
Following the injury to Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson’s role increased in becoming the starting point guard for the Thunder. On paper, Jackson is one of the league’s leading stat packers with 21.5 points per game, 7.6 assists per game, and 4.9 rebounds per game. Regardless of his stats, the Thunder are still losing, but mostly due to the domino effect of injuries Scott Brooks has had to deal with. Jackson is doing all he can to keep pushing and carrying this team until the All-Star duo returns, hopefully, in December.
The Thunder appreciate his contributions (rumored):
1. Golden State Warriors (8-2)
Records aside, Golden State is the best team in the league and may have one of the best coaches, even though being in his first season. No, Golden State didn’t have the best week with back-to-back losses to Phoenix and San Antonio, but the turnovers have been lowered since the time I wrote about them last week. While the offense continues to impress, the Warriors are off to their best start since 1975 at 8-2 and should improve this week to 10-2 with games versus Utah and OKC. Remember, this team is still without one of the league’s better rebounders in David Lee.
2. Houston Rockets (9-1)
Even with ugly wins versus Philadelphia and OKC, the Rockets are still one of the top teams in the NBA with a 9-1 record. Houston has been known for its offense in recent seasons finishing in the top five in three of the last four seasons in scoring, but the trend of this 2014 Houston version is the improved play of the defense, especially James Harden.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (9-1)
The Grizzlies franchise is not familiar with quick starts as this season marks only the third time the Grizzlies have exceeded the .500 mark within the first ten games in the team’s existence. The Grizzlies have benefitted off of two close losses giving them a 9-1 overall record. The upcoming week should give us a good idea of how strong this unit is with home games versus Houston and LA Clippers and a road trip to Toronto.
4. Chicago Bulls (7-3)
I’m a little higher on the Bulls than most right now, as I’m not putting much stock into the chain of Derrick Rose injuries. The offense has seen improvement whether Rose is on the court or not with improved play from Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson and good minutes from Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich off the pine. A Chicago team that is the ninth ranked offense in the league is unheard of which makes this team even scarier with the already tough Tom Thibodeau defense led by reigning defensive player of the year Joakim Noah.
5. San Antonio Spurs (5-4)
Many other teams including the Mavericks, Raptors, Clippers, and Trail Blazers could place here, but the Spurs get the nod this week with impressive back-to-back wins over the Warriors and Clippers. The Spurs haven’t been as effective in scoring this season averaging just 94.4 points per game which ranks 24th in the league. Tony Parker is the team’s leading three-point shooter. Take that in whatever way you want.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-7)
Minnesota is one of the less intriguing teams in the NBA possibly even behind Philadelphia, but let’s not get too carried away now. The defense has been terrible with Ricky Rubio’s absence and the offense hasn’t been much better. This was a terrible week for the Wolves giving up a combined 270 points to Dallas and New Orleans. Minnesota has a nice stretch of home games coming up with New York, San Antonio, and Sacramento all coming to town.
29. Los Angeles Lakers (1-9)
If you follow me on twitter (@cpage2911) I constantly like to bash the Lakers and their decision to overpay Kobe Bryant, therefore receiving an incredibly weak roster. Kobe has produced, but that was expected. The defense is the worst in the league and will get smashed this week with three straight road games at Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (0-9)
The 76ers continue to lose big and find a way to give up and blow the close ones, but what more can you expect from this roster? Tony Wroten is the team’s leading scorer. Yup.
If you don’t watch ESPN, I will update you on the Cavs real quick. After the 1-3 start the Cavs have reeled off four straight wins. A dominating win over Atlanta sparked many, but the defense still needs some work. LeBron has been, well, LeBron in this four game winning streak and the team chemistry and body language seems to be improving in the eye’s of this non-psychology major writer.
The Kings are protesting last week’s loss to the Grizzlies countering the officials’ final decision on the “game-winning” buzzer beating alley-oop. You be the judge:
(All stats and records taken before Monday, November 17th)
Last Thursday night, after months of debate and wonderment, the basketball world finally saw the Cleveland Cavaliers use their number one pick in the 2014 Draft. That pick turned out to be Kansas star wing Andrew Wiggins over Duke forward Jabari Parker or trading down. The Cavs also made two more picks in the second round that resulted in Virginia wing Joe Harris and (unofficially) Stanford big man Dwight Powell via a trade with the Charlotte Hornets – they also acquired center Brendan Haywood for wing Alonzo Gee.
There’s always talk after the draft about value and grades that are handed out. But that doesn’t have an affect on anything going forward, it’s just fun-talk that we like to have. The real question is how these guys fit with the current roster of talent the Cavs have now. Obviously there will be more movement along the lineup as we get into free agency; this involves possible trades (Tristan Thompson/Dion Waiters?), our own free agents (Spencer Hawes, C.J. Miles, and Luol Deng), as well as other teams’ free agents (i.e. Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons). But for right now, we can only focus on what we know.
The next thing we can look at is how these new Cavalier draftees fit with new head coach David Blatt’s philosophy. For that, we have to know somewhat about how Blatt likes to run his offense. Last week, “Coach Nick” (@bballbreakdown) highlighted what Coach Blatt has tended to focus on, on offense:
Since Blatt has coached overseas all of his career, this breakdown was a Godsend to basketball fans and was really well-done. Blatt stated in his press conference “there’s two kinds of coaching: there’s systematic and then there’s learning from what you have.” Blatt said he falls under the latter and just because Pete Carril (his college coach at Princeton) coached him under the Princeton offense doesn’t mean that’s what he’ll be teaching the Cavs. This is refreshing because you’ll see a lot of coaches come in with their own systems, both offensive and defensive, and try to fit the players they have into that specific system. I think in a lot of cases it’s more efficient to mold your system around the players’ strengths, which is what it sounds like Blatt intends to do.
Though it was only a short breakdown, Coach Nick was able to highlight some of the integral parts of Blatt’s offense. Keep in mind; while Blatt says he’ll mold his system to his players, I think it’s likely that he’ll still have ideals he’d like his players to play with. For instance, it looks like the Cavs will be moving away from the Midrange Township (h/t to Ben Cox of WFNY) to taking better shots above the arc and in the paint.
Last year, the Cavs were 2nd in the league in FGA from 10-14 feet away from the rim – 38% FG%, 18th in the league – and 5th in the league in FGA from 15-19 feet – 41% FG%, 11th in the league. While they were okay in the latter category, only teams with guys like Dirk Nowitzki and LaMarcus Aldridge – players who make a living shooting from there – should be focused on scoring from mid-range. Having mid-range poster boy Jarrett Jack heaving 312 long-range two’s for a 39% shooting percentage is not productive in any offense. It seems as if adding Blatt will cut down on mid-range jumpers, especially one’s that are unassisted (Jack’s mid-rangers were 62% unassisted).
Before I get into the fits with Wiggins, Harris, and Powell, I just want to preface by saying I’m not an expert on NBA offenses and I won’t pretend to be one. Does that mean I want to come in and just spew off nonsense? Not at all (or at least I won’t try to). But I look forward to learning more about the types of offenses that are run in the NBA and also what David Blatt has planned for the roster this year.
How Wiggins Fits
At the post-draft presser, GM David Griffin said “if Andrew ever finds greatness in this league, it’s going to be as a very big 2-guard.” I thought this was interesting and may not totally mean anything at the start. This could also spell doom for Dion Waiters, but that’s a whole other discussion for a different week. I’m assuming whether or not Waiters is on the team, Wiggins will split time between the 2 and 3 spots on offense (defensively he’ll most likely be able to guard at least three positions, depending on the opponent’s personnel). I think Wiggins would be able to play the 2 spot in “Two Down” where the 2-guard comes off the screen in the frontcourt to spot up for a 3, if he chooses. As I highlighted in Wiggins’s prospect profile a few weeks ago, one of his strengths was playing off the ball. He’s also a pretty good shooter and I think it would be a smart move if he were integrated into the NBA as spot-up shooter/transition player as his main way of getting points. The more things he can do without the ball in his hands (at least right away), the better.
Something else I touched on in that article was that I’d like to see Wiggins use a ball fake more often. Of course, his shooting ability will only take the effectiveness of this move so far, but it would go a long way in terms of improving his already-solid ability to drive.
Another thing I think Blatt should implement with the Cavs is backdoor passing from the bigs to the wings. Keeping Spencer Hawes, who has a knack for finding open teammates, would make this work. We saw this a little bit with Luol Deng last year, but pairing Hawes with Wiggins could make for some easy buckets.
How Harris Fits
Virginia sharpshooter Joe Harris was taken 33rd overall with what turned out to be the Cavs’ first of two picks in the 2nd round. I wasn’t entirely familiar with his game, but the name I knew from somewhere. When I looked him up, I remembered. He was the dude that kept taking shots from deep against Clemson (who’s basketball and football programs I follow). Harris shot 4-9 from 3 in that game, one of which put the VACavs (I’ll just call them this to avoid confusion) up by four with three minutes and some change left in the game.
After reading more on Harris, it turns out he was Virginia’s go-to sharpshooter for all four years of his collegiate career. He averaged 4.8 3’s per game for his career, making just about 41% of them. There’s no doubt this is what he was drafted to do for the CLECavs.
David Griffin said Harris was a “hell of a pin-down shooter, really good off of screens, a very tough kid, (and) an overachieving personality type.” To me, that fits the 2-guard in Blatt’s ideology above to a tee. I said Wiggins would be a good contender for being the 2-guard coming off screens, well Harris was in all likelihood brought in to do just that. It would be a huge help to the Cavs’ floor spacing if he could keep shooting at a 40% clip from long-range. Of course there are adjustments that he’ll have to make, i.e. the longer NBA 3, but Harris also has a length advantage if he is to play as a 6’6 guard.
As an aside, it sounds like Harris has great intangibles too, which could help his value as a high 2nd round pick. Nbadraft.net’s “Outlook” on Harris sounds somewhat like CLECavs guard Matthew Dellavedova, who, despite huge athletic limitations, made a name for himself on the team because of his intangibles – I mean, this guy was asked to guard Kevin freaking Durant for crying out loud. If Harris can bring the same intensity as “Delly,” on top of having great shooting ability, he has a chance to fit Griffin’s goal to “under-promise and over-deliver,” just like Delly did as an undrafted free agent.
How Powell Fits
(I know this is just a workout, but man, he moves and shoots like a small forward during it.)
Technically, until July 10th, Dwight Powell isn’t quite a Cav. But draft day trades are almost always approved. With that, I’m going to talk about him like he’s on the Cavs for the sake of this article. The Cavs must really like Powell because they traded away Cavaliers legend Alonzo Gee and also acquired the contract of Brendan Haywood (who most are assuming won’t even play in a Cavs uniform).
As I said in my draft recap a few days ago, the only real exposure I’ve had with Powell was when Stanford beat Kansas in the NCAA Tournament this past year (he had a block on Andrew Wiggins). If Powell ends up making the team, he will have earned it with a log jam right now at power forward with Thompson, Anthony Bennett, and Anderson Varejao (depending on who’s on the floor with him). Although, maybe Blatt could operate under these circumstances by playing the 6’11 Powell at center some. I’ve linked this article by A.J. Mitnick before when Blatt was officially hired. In it he says some things about how he ran his offense at Maccabi Tel Aviv that makes me think there was a good reason the Cavs traded to get Powell: “This season’s Maccabi Tel Aviv team has gone through the season without a traditional power forward in its rotation, playing wing oriented players at the four position. While many viewed Maccabi’s lack of a power forward as a disadvantage, Coach Blatt implemented a system that resembles that of the current Miami Heat, and the Brooklyn Nets since New Year’s Eve.” Ironically, nbadraft.net compares Powell to Nets center Miles Plumlee.
Powell’s strengths seem to be his athleticism, face-up game from the post, and feel for the game. Adam Ganeles of nbadraft.net also seems perplexed at the lack of development from Powell over his 4-year collegiate career. Unless he sees a huge spike in his progression, I think Blatt could get Powell to be a pretty good role player. Though he won’t be a prototypical big man who performs back-to-the-basket post moves or protects the rim, it sounds as if he’ll be able to do the things that will fit this offense – which will likely include passing the ball and spreading the floor. Powell has the potential to have deep range, shooting 35% from 3 in his last two years at Stanford. Powell might turn into a nice consolation prize should the Cavs lose out on Spencer Hawes.
With the NBA Summer League starting a week from Independence Day, I cannot be more excited for “meaningless” scrimmages. Coach Blatt decided he will coach the Cavs during that time as well, so we’ll get to see the initial stages of what he’ll be like at the helm. If Wiggins, Harris, and Powell play, that should be more fun than allowed during Summer League.
My last Guinness. After St. Patrick’s Day leaves us in the rear view mirror, I seldom continue to partake in stouty Irish fare. (Unless I’m out at a pub, then it’s shepherd’s pie, corned beef, and every drop of alcohol that even remotely looks like there could be a clover on the bottle)
If it ever stops snowing in Cleveland, I’ll be moving on to lighter spring/summer brews. Not everyone one of the various shandies or lagers I drink during the summer is glamorous or snob-worthy, but I’m drinking them IN THE SUMMER. That’s good enough for me.
NBA Race for the Bottom
This past March weekend is the one time every year when I pretend that NBA basketball doesn’t exist. For four days, college basketball actually trumps professional basketball. It was a great ride, but we’re past the first two rounds of March Madness (I don’t care what all those marketing suits say, there were play-in games and the FIRST ROUND started THURSDAY. Sheesh. Next thing you know people will be calling the Jake something else) and I’ve been catching up on the NBA.
The drama at the top of the league is largely gone. There are probably only three teams that have a shot at drunkenly passing around the Larry O’Brien Trophy like a tobacco only pipe in a nightclub. But there will still be some dicey moments heading into the draft lottery for the very worst teams in the league as Charlotte, Orlando, Cleveland, and Phoenix duke it out for ping-pong balls.
We have plenty of time left for NBA Draft 2013 talk, but I’d like to dispel one common opinion held when talking about terrible NBA teams; that they’re tanking.
I don’t think any of the worst teams in the NBA are tanking, I just think that between inferior rosters and injuries, the bad teams are just really bad. That’s it.
Kemba Walker and Aaron Afflalo are leading the Hornets and Magic in scoring. That’s two guys that you couldn’t pick out of a lineup unless you work as an NBA publicist leading teams full of guys like Josh McRoberts and Tobias Harris. These guys are all good enough at basketball to be in the NBA, and that means A LOT. It doesn’t mean that their coaches need to do anything extra in order for them to lose tons of games.
That brings me to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and their particular brand of maybe manipulating the injury report in order to “keep super-mega-holy-crap-star Kyrie Irving healthy” and somehow maintain Alonzo Gee’s starting status. When Damien and I sat in on North Coast Speakeasy that the Cavs were also engaged in a conspiracy to lose games by keeping a healthy Anderson Varejao out of the lineup. I don’t remember this caller’s name (you can listen to the show by clicking on the link above), but he has no idea what he’s talking about. Andy was put on blood thinners for a blood clot. Blood clots are life threatening things, and the risks of being on medication for them and doing heavy physical activity isn’t something that stops in a couple of days or weeks.
Even if Kyrie comes back before the end of the season – as Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal reports he may – I don’t think Cleveland is going to have to tank to be one of the worst four teams in the NBA. Where that will land the team after the draft lottery will depend on how many weighted ping-pong balls David Stern slips into the machine. And that’s okay. The 2013 NBA Draft is pretty much a crap shoot right now.
What a coincidence, that’s what the 2-9 since March 1st Cavs have been doing; shooting crap.
Archives of sports websites no longer available on the Internet