It is possible that Saturday night’s effort by the Cavaliers makes this whole article a waste of my effort, basically only serving as a means to process my own fears & anxieties about the Cavs. If the performance against the Spurs didn’t reinforce this enough though, make no mistake, the early parts of this season are horrible for the Cleveland Cavaliers mission to build a contender. This early stretch of games has seen a regression during key developmental years for all of the Cavs’ core youngsters. Obviously that doesn’t help the on-court product, but it also hinders the franchise’s ability to find a way out, destroying trade values and disintegrating hope of a reasonable 2014 free agent haul. A vast deterioration of player development and player compatibility, on and off the court, is at hand. Things need to get better. Fast.
Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category
Matthew Dellavedova has stolen our hearts. Maybe he should have been the No. 1 pick.
Could the Cavs just save themselves a lot of money and heartache by using the DraftExpress top 100 prospects list to run their draft every year?
Kyrie Irving has to be embarrassed that Matthew Dellavedova has played better defense in two games than Irving has in any game in two seasons, right?
Matty D should get a start tonight. Though, I’m not sure our perception of his defense against Washington wasn’t amplified by the fact that he was the only one playing it. Also, Randy Whitman helped more than a little.
Watching a Brown/Whitman coaching duel is like watching kindergarteners play Stratego.
Subway’s sponsorship of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire makes me more than a little queasy. <Insert Sriracha joke here>
The Cleveland Cavaliers are 9/82nds through the season and signs thus far are at best “mixed” and at worst “why did this team pass on a lot of talented guys who fit a series of team needs for a dude who has more combined fouls and turnovers than points?” There is the undefeated home record, but also the 0-and-6 mark on the road. Mike Brown’s initiatives to shore up the defense have produced impressive results, as the currently average defense represents a massive turnaround, but the offense feels like it has all the sophistication of a symphony played on kazoos. There are good spots and bad spots, as there will be with any team in any year, but the frustration stings a bit more. Basically, things were supposed to make more sense by now.
Before Monday’s benching against the Bulls — a “DNP: Coaches Decision” – Anthony Bennett had played 7 games in just under two weeks. Bennett has made only one of his 21 field goal attempts in those 7 games for a .048 field goal percentage. He has shot four free throws and made two of them for a total of five points in 76 NBA minutes. He’s been the butt of jokes and criticism around the NBA for his troubles. It’s worth exploring: has any NBA No. 1 pick ever started this poorly?
Seven days are now in the books. Seven days of actual, real life, regular season NBA basketball. That’s seven days — seven little squares of paper torn from your “word a day” desk calendar, time enough to complete the entire life cycle of your standard male mosquito — seven days worth of evidence that Former Star A is washed up, Draft Pick B is a bust or that Crappy Team C just might be C for Cinderella this year. Seven days.
Seven days, of course, are not everything. But they are also not nothing— and the arc of this season will be built on four game sample size upon four game sample size. Already, the Cavaliers have shown some promising signs looking ahead to the remaining 78 games of the regular season, as well as many causes for concern. The team has won two nail-biters at home and lost two less competitive contests on the road showing, in both the wins and losses, some measure of growth from the skunky quagmire that was last season. How much that growth continues for the team and for its individual players is a question that fills me with many feelings that, given the early state of the season, are like skepticism. Some are actual skepticism (so, like, incredibly like it). Others? Well, others are less so…
Three things I’m skeptical about:
1.) Is this the same Kyrie Irving? There’s no doubt that Irving is having a rough start to the season. Through four, he’s averaging just 15.3 points on 36.9% shooting and 18.2% from three. He’s already had one injury scare when his arm went numb after a fall in Charlotte and, against the Wolves, was at a loss about how to keep J.J. Berea out of his head as Minnesota was making Cavs fans see visions of Byron Scott’s Cavs and their multiple losses after holding leads of 20 points or more dancing in their own. So far, we’ve seen him overdribbling when the game was on the line against the Nets and coughing the ball up nine times to the Wolves. He has been an average NBA starting point guard in this season’s first week.
Mike Brown and Dan Gilbert kicked off the pre-game press conferences Wednesday night at The Q. First, the recently re-ordained head coach sat down to what everyone knew would be a 90% “Is Andrew Bynum going to play?” presser. The owner followed, eschewed a seat, and then spent most of his time on the Cavs-themed riser wondering why it was so darned hot under those lights and looking for something to dab dry his brow. After both men had spoken, my friend, Scott, turned to me and said, “If you had to guess which of those two was the multi-billionaire, what would you say?”
“I am fully convinced,” I said, in place of a direct answer, “that Mike Brown could fix everything that’s wrong with me as a human being.”
A story about Anthony Bennett maybe/maybe not struggling with his conditioning is making the rounds this week. The Plain-Dealer’s Jodie Valade revealed in a story on October 10th that Bennett is slightly above his playing weight of 240 pounds and his conditioning is far from a finished product. This is standard fare for this time of the year, especially for players who used the summer break to heal injuries before the start of the regular season. When an athlete can’t play basketball for a solid quarter of a year, its reasonable to expect a refractory period and Bennett has been out since the workout phase of the annual pre-draft buildup.
As Cavs: The Blog’s chief Bay Area Stuff correspondent, I have a decent amount of experience watching Jarrett Jack: New Cavalier. The zippy bic-domed point guard was somewhat talismanic of the Golden State Warrior’s dream 2013 playoffs. Whereas Stephen Curry was incinerating defenses and inventing new colors, Jack was firmly earthbound, yet still effective. His drives and passes tended to stretch the limits of sanity, but he was solid as a third guard, especially in a small lineup with Curry and Klay Thompson. He is nominally the only other point guard on the roster besides Kyrie Irving and Matthew Dellavedova, so he is firmly entrenched there, but with such a liquid roster, the question of fit is a fairly open one.
Less than 4 months ago, on the heels of a heartbreaking loss to the modern incarnation of pure evil, the Cavaliers flew their squad, battered in body and mind, to Hustletown. And hustle they did not. The Rockets outrebounded the Cavs by more than 21 and outscored them by more than 37. This was not a herculean effort from The Beard, and there was no Linsanity. No, it was just a quiet 23/37 shooting with 33 rebounds from the Rocket bench.
Gone was the luster of the great Chris Grant heist of 2013. Gone was the faint whiff of an 8-seed. Harsh realities were closing in on the franchise. Any hopes of a 2014 playoff berth were being dashed. Even with good health, no one could (would?) defend. The best defensive centers in the upcoming draft came packaged with huge question marks, and plenty of bust potential. The biggest risk/reward, Nerlens Noel, would not even suit up until after Christmas, it was reported. The never-ending saga of sucktitude would continue, unabated, and some Cavalier fans (I stress some) had already begun to beg for a Return of the (former) “KNG OF OH”. Where was this franchise going? Would this rebuild fizzle out before it ever really took shape?
During the season highlights introduction to last night’s ALCS Wildcard Game between the Indians and the Rays, the voice-over narration caught my ear. It said something to the effect of: despite the great seasons of these teams, despite every every hit, every pitching masterpiece, every defensive gem, every walk-off home run, every injury comeback, every win streak, and every walk-off win, for these two teams, unless they win tonight, this past season was “all for naught.” This zero sum gain mantra is a summation of everything wrong with attitudes towards sport in this post-modern world.