Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

The Point Four-ward: Coaching Search A-Go-Go

Friday, June 13th, 2014

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Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) If, as reported, the Cavs have interest in Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach, David Blatt, then this past Wednesday was an important day. June 11th marked the end of Maccabi Electra’s season where they lost to Maccabi Haifa 84-82, but still won the club’s 51st Israeli League championship on account of winning the first of two Finals games with Haifa by four points.

I’ll repeat: they lost the game, but still won the championship.

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Joel Embiid: From Cameroon to Number One Pick

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

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Joel Embiid is a freak physically who had decent stats in college.  His freshman year matches up pretty well with Tim Duncan’s freshman year.  Those are just numbers though.  There have been plenty of busts that had wonderful college box scores and amazing bodies.  What is important is what actual skills Embiid has that can be seen, not just measured.  So, I deal with the numbers and what is being witnessed separately.  Luckily for Joel, he appears legitimate when you read his box scores and witness him play.

In the Raw

Joel Embiid is a 7’0,” 240 pounds and sports a 7’5” wing span.  Embiid grew up in Cameroon playing soccer and volleyball. He’s only twenty years old and has been playing basketball since 2011.  His path to America through basketball is unique, but his path to actually playing basketball was the same as most people his height.  He was pulled to a basketball camp just because of the chance he may become good.

The camp was led by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and the NBA player immediately saw that Embiid had amazing moves for someone who had never played organized basketball.  Mbah a Moute eventually talked Embiid’s father into sending him to the Montverde Academy in Flordia to play basketball.  However, Embiid didn’t see playing time during his junior year, so he transferred to the Rock School, also in Florida.  Mbah a Moute called the Rock school on Embiid’s behalf to get him a spot on the team.

Kansas assistant coach and former Florida native, Norm Roberts, brought the big kid to the attention of Kansas head coach, Bill Self.  Self watched Embiid practice and concluded he could be a dominant force and a future number one pick.

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Thoughts on the Cavs Coaching Search

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

I was all set to write a scathing criticism of the Cavs coaching search, tonight. So far the search has been filled with mediocre candidates, a failed run at John Calipari, and the conspicuous snub of the 2013 coach of the year. Sensing this, Dan Gilbert and David Griffin decided to preempt my scathe-a-thon by making the one move that would totally redeem them…

They’re interviewing Mark Price on Tuesday.

I’m as excited as Anderson Varejao in a salon full of hair care products.

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International Men of Mystery; Part Deux

Monday, June 9th, 2014

As evidenced by the seven International players on the Spurs, it is clearly a good idea to look outside of the good ole’ USA to find basketball talent. In part 2 of the “International Men of Mystery” we will check out a couple teenagers whose birth certificates require verification, and a player whom the Cavs clearly like in Damjan Rudez (who is reportedly meeting with the Cavs, today).

Related news: The Cavs are looking at David Blatt for the head coaching job. The American born coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv would bring an understanding of the International game to Cleveland. He coached the Russian National Team to a Bronze medal in 2012. It would be an intriguing hire.

As always, I have a set of scouting questions that help to discern whether a player’s skill-set will translate well to the NBA’s basketball culture.

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The Point Four-Ward: NBA Finals Edition

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

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Four things I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Over the years, the NBA Finals have produced only a handful of memorable player v. player rivalries. The playoffs have had their share, but try to name the real iconic head-to-head match-ups in the Finals. Can’t think of many, can you? Magic and Bird, obviously. Wilt and Bill Russell. What else? Michael Jordan and Bryon Russell? No, maybe not.

Generally, the feuding and chippiness that makes us love the playoffs is more often reserved for the Conference rounds, where teams (like Miami and Indiana recently) can meet repeatedly over several years fielding similar rosters and let Player X draw a big red circle around Player Y and go after him with each player’s legacy firmly at stake.

But there is just such a match-up in this year’s Finals, as Tim Duncan and LeBron James will be facing each other in the Finals for the third time in their careers.

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Choose Your Own Adventure: You Are David Griffin!

Friday, May 30th, 2014

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In elementary school, my favorite books were the “choose your own adventure” ones.  I enjoyed being able to exercise limited creativity by picking the end of my Goosebumps book.  Just going through the door on the right could land you in a locked room with some creepy dolls moving slowly towards you to hold your hand.  Ringing the doorbell to the door on your left could lead you to tea with an older woman that needs friendship.  I’m not sure what’s worse.

Getting the top pick has set up the Cavs with a wonderful “choose your own adventure” situation.  The team has the opportunity to take the Jabari Parker path, the Joel Embiid path, or the Andrew Wiggins path.  Each one leads to a new room: some rooms are dark and dreary filled with first round playoff exits, others are bright from the shining gold of Larry O’Brien trophies.

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The Point Four-ward: Four Things I’m Thinking About the Cleveland Cavaliers

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

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1.) An interesting name popped up amidst the New York Knicks current coaching search: Luke Walton. Walton, the former Laker and Cavalier, has never been more than tangentially connected to the top spot on the Knicks’ bench and his name was floated mostly in the same way that anyone who has a previous working relationship with Phil Jackson has been linked to the job at some point post-Steve Kerr pursuit (and, yes, it is too bad that Shaquille O’Neal is part owner of the Kings now taking that tasty morsel off the rumor rotisserie). But Luke Walton as a head coach is not as crazy as it might sound.

Anyone who watched Walton and Shaun Livingston run a fluid, efficient second unit offense for the Cavaliers in 2012-13 could tell just how much the game is in his bones. Walton has had the benefit of growing up around the pro game and then learning under two of the better coaches around: Lute Olson at the University of Arizona and Phil Jackson in Los Angeles (sorry, Byron Scott… we’re leaving you off this particular list). During the NBA lockout of 2011-12, Walton spent his extra dose of free time by joining former AU assistant coach Josh Pastner’s staff at the University of Memphis. Then following the conclusion of his playing career, Walton was named player development coach for the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

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One Sport, Two Continents, and the International Men of Mystery

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Editors Note: Please welcome new Staff Writer, and CtB European correspondent, Ben Werth.

I yell out “Check up top.” General dillydallying continues, and I yell again.  “BALL UP TOP.”  Okay, maybe something is lost in translation.  I try a different tactic.  “Der Ball ganz oben, bitte?”  That combined with the well known International Sign of “putting my hands out to receive a pass” have the desired effect.  I’m pretty sure my whack literal translation was not what yielded the ball.

“What do you guys usually play?  12 win by two, or 21 straight?  All ones?”  I generally detest playing with ones and twos in pickup ball.  The NBA short corner three is ridiculously inefficient compared to that two for one advantage.  Good thing most normal people can’t shoot.

“Okay!” says one lithe baller.

“Okay, what?  Bis zwölf, oder was?”  Have I been talking to myself?

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#WellActually You’re Wrong to be Outraged about the Lottery

Friday, May 23rd, 2014
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I promise to pen only one rant-post a season.

Let me start by saying I currently have two enormous pet peeves frequently generated by journalists/pundits.  The first is the use of the word “nuance” or “nuanced” which is code for “I am enlightened and/or reasonable enough to understand that the world isn’t black and white, there are “shades of gray” and therefore my “nuanced” discussion or analysis is superior to your opinions, which are essentially Neanderthal grunting”.

This thinly-veiled hubris is insufferable, and the phrase du jour has permeated every sector and level of journalism.  It’s one thing when the almond-milk drinkers at The Atlantic are using it; it’s another when sportswriters writing about…well sports, revert to it over and over and over.  Can we go back to talking like characters from “da Bears” sketches already?  It’s just as intelligent, only without the overwhelming smugness.

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Congratulations! You Won the Lottery. Now Don’t Screw it Up.

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Urban mythology is filled with the tales: people who won the lottery, and woke up three years later at the bottom of an empty swimming pool clutching a bottle of Jack next to a passed out former XFL cheerleader and a Tibetan Mastiff named Chodak, while the sounds of the flatbed truck cranking up the winch to repossess the Bentley echoed in the distance. “That guy had everything, and pissed it all away,” the documentary always says…

The Cavs don’t want to be the NBA version of that story. After winning their pick of the NBA prospects in the greatest draft since 2003, we Cavs fans, and I’m sure the front office, are euphoric. With this pick, two picks next year, and $40 million to spend, the Cavs have sooo many options. I don’t know about yours, but my head has been spinning for the last 24 hours — dazzled by the overwhelming number of possibilities. David Griffin has acknowledged all these possibilities, too.  And to his credit, he’s been setting off smoke screens since the minute the pick was announced.  I’ve heard that Parker, Embiid, and Wiggins are all at “the top of the Cavs list.” I’ve heard that the Cavs will look at more than just those players. I’ve heard that Griffin’s phone has been ringing with trade offers since the moment they got the pick, and that the Cavs “will be open minded.” But like someone who just won the Powerball, Cleveland needs to disconnect the phone for a day or two and figure out what’s really important.

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