Archive for the ‘Silly Posts To Help Us Cope’ Category

Dear Dwight Howard – a response to Marc Stein’s Weekend Dime from Ryan Braun:

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Hi Dwight:

Let me begin with a preface — if you choose to stay in Orlando, I get it. In fact, as a basketball fan with what I’d like to consider at least a semi-operative conscience, I would have to consider that preferable. I mean, how could anyone in Cleveland ever root for a superstar to leave a small market, right?

Dear Shaquille O'Neal's lawyers: please direct all complaints/legal inquiries to

Okay, now that that’s out of the way…let’s go ahead and acknowledge your leaving as an inevitability. For the sake of both this article and the potentially delusional presumptions therein. Also, because you kind of reaffirmed the anti-Orlando sentiment with your “nothing has changed” quote relayed via the Sentinel last Sunday.

You still want to be traded, you say, and Dallas, LA, and the Nets are still your preferred destinations.

That’s fine. No judgment here. You’re a 26-year-old man/the heart wants what the heart wants.

But please, allow me the opportunity to pass on a message that my mom gave to me (in writing) when I suggested to her I might major in acting:

“Are you sure you’ve thought this through?”

Now, if you’re reading this (and I soooo hope it gets to you…), you’re probably reading it on a Cavs blog and thus have subsequently assumed where it’s headed.

Don’t stop reading.

I know you’ve already said (with just about zero ambiguity) that you’d rather not be traded to Cleveland.

That’s perfect! I don’t want you traded to Cleveland either.

I want you to sign there.

Trust me, I have definitely thought this through.

Reason # 1 — The Trade Thing is so 2008…

Allow me to open, Dwight, by directing your attention to exhibit A (and/or “Reason #1”)…the trade thing.

It’s en vogue right now, I know, and I’m even a little hypocritical for shunning it as definitively as I’m about to since a year and a half ago I was staying up nights at a time monitoring the Cavs’ progress in luring Amar’e Stoudemire away from Phoenix.

As I often am, I was misguided. (The acting major’s yet to pan out.)

I was misguided, as are many still, because lost in the league-encompassing excitement of a landscape shifting trade is a patently obvious nugget Knick of information regarding these cataclysms…

Take a look at all of the teams for which these deals have gone down in recent seasons.

None of them are winning.

None of them.

In fact, they’re not even close.

New York, New Jersey, the Clippers… not exactly the elite of the league, right? Perhaps even more damning is this… Are these teams even in a position to improve?

The Boston Celtics (the reason this whole “movement” started) are the only team of the modern era that was built via trade, and the only reason it worked (temporarily) was that each (aging) star was sold for pennies on the dollar, thereby allowing the Celtics to retain two players — Rondo and Perkins — who turned out to be better than anyone they’d shipped out. It was enormously lucky in the first place, and any chance of that particular history repeating with these “forced” trades is effectively wiped because A) the motivation behind the F-trades is often a player seeking a specific market/not a team sniffing out a palatable return, and B) everyone involved is a lot less willing to work out an amenable deal when they feel like they’re being jerked around.

So, let the record show us having the following two epiphanies:

1. In today’s NBA, you can still get yourself traded…but you can’t get yourself traded without gutting the team that you’re headed to, thereby nullifying the chance you’re headed to a better situation basketball-wise.

2. Because of this (epiphany 1), if you’re going to go…free agency is the way to go.

I don’t like that last epiphany as a Cavs fan (I wish the new CBA had come equipped with a franchise tag…), but it’s true.  If you’re signing a 5-year extension with a team that’s just traded its best young prospect + multiple first-rounders, rarely will that team still have the means to surround you with talent.

Of the “cataclysm teams,” the Heat are the only group I’d list with even a chance to win a title within the next few years, and it’s because they came together through free agency.

I'm the hater lion.

However awful that was.

Regardless, the point of exhibit A (and/or “Reason # 1”), Dwight?

If you don’t want to get stuck on a bare cupboard of a team subsequently plastered with unreasonable post-trade expectations…you might want to reconsider your route.

Sign with somebody in the offseason.

If only someone had concocted an elaborate yet grounded presentation to give your options via that route some clarity…

Reason # 2 — The Cavs from a Basketball Perspective:

This was the most enjoyable segment for me to write, and I’m 99% sure the reason for that is a legitimate belief in the following… (I’m so good an actor now, I can never be 100% sure I’m not fooling myself…)

The Cavs are on the verge of being really, really good.

Not this year, mind you…but soon. (And very soon if you heed my letter, DH.)

If Oklahoma City is the model for small-market rebuilding (Durant, Westbrook, Harden — add water), we’re one elite draft pick away from following suit. Through a stroke of remarkable good fortune (and by “good fortune,” I mean $30 million from Dan Gilbert), the Cavs were able to restock this year with both Tristan Thompson (who I pray to the basketball gods will be a smart Josh Smith) and Kyrie Irving (who I pray to the basketball gods will be a healthy Chris Paul). They’re 20 and 19, respectively. Provided they don’t propel us too far forward before their bodies fill out (and it might be close), we’ll probably end up landing one additional high lottery pick this year. Which again, provided these guys pan out, is the Thunder model. A potentially elite foundation.

And the rest of the roster?

That’s where things get really interesting.

In fact, to show just how interesting… I’d like to welcome the Dallas Mavericks to the article. Being the only team on your trade list with considerable cap space forthcoming, they seem to have become the assumed favorites to land your services via the free market.

Found this picture on Mark Cuban's nightstand...

Let’s say Dallas hits the jackpot this summer (that would be you and Deron Williams), thereby amassing what would probably be considered the second true “super-team” in the league. My grandma would be happy (she went to high school with Jason Kidd), but that’s not what this article’s about.

What is best for you, Dwight?

The following is the absolute best case scenario 2012-13 Dallas lineup, in which I assume the Mavs’ ability to dump Shawn Marion by the trade deadline (which is the only way they’d have  enough cap space to sign both you and Deron):

PG – Deron Williams (28), Jason Kidd (39!), Roddy Beaubois (24)

SG – Vince Carter (35), Jason Terry (35), Delonte West (29), Dominque Jones (24)

SF – Shawn Marion (34) ( presumptive salary dump)

PF – Dirk Nowitzki (34), Lamar Odom (32), Brian Cardinal (35), Yi Jianlian (25), Sean Williams (26), Brandan Wright (25)

C – Dwight Howard (26), Brendan Haywood (32), Ian Mahinmi (25)

Dallas has $41.4 million on the books for 2012-13, again, predicated solely on their ability to let everyone crossed out leave and/or pass away from age-related illness. With the salary cap projected at around $60-61 million next year, it’ll take a suitor for Shawn Marion’s $8.6 million guaranteed, plus ALL of their resulting free-agent money to sign you and Deron Williams.

Thus, this would be your team for the foreseeable future — exactly as listed above, minus Shawn Marion/plus league minimum filler. (And Dirk is 34, Deron Williams can’t stay healthy, yada, yada, yada…)

Now, contrast that with Cleveland’s potential 2012-13 lineup:

PG – Kyrie Irving (20), Ramon Sessions (26)

SG – Anthony Parker (306), Boobie Gibson (26), Mychel Thompson (24)

SF – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (19), Alonzo Gee (25), Omri Casspi (24), Christian Eyenga (23)

PF – Tristan Thompson (21), Antawn Jamison (35), Samardo Samuels (23), Luke Harangody (24)

C – Dwight Howard (26), Anderson Varejao (30), Semih Erden (26), Ryan Hollins (28)

There’s just under $41 million on the books here (only $9 million in 2013-14!) with all the notable pillars locked up. That means Kyrie, Tristan and Andy (seriously, you’ll love this guy…), plus “unnamed 2012 lottery pick,” plus Dan Gilbert’s willingness to lock-up our keepers for the long-term (Sessions and Boobie, perhaps?) or swing them as the rarest of expiring contracts (those belonging to good players) for dollars on the dollar.

The point of all this being, in Cleveland, you’re looking at a team with potentially four All-NBA caliber players, a team with insane roster flexibility, and a team with an owner more willing to dole out cash than Pacman Jones at 2am.

Also, a team that has no true center.

From a basketball perspective, only Chicago makes more sense (why they’re not on your trade list, I have no idea…), and even then, only in the immediate.

From a basketball perspective, it’s the perfect situation.

And, while I realize much of the preceding’s accuracy depends on your evaluations of the players involved — i.e. How good are the young Cavs, really? — I’d like you to know this: Because of my briefly aforementioned conscience/an overwhelming fear of failure stemming perhaps from graduating college with an acting degree, publishing on an ESPN subsidiary at least forces me to temper my enthusiasm for all things Cleveland somewhat in the hope that I can write reasonably informative articles/maintain my current state of employment. For periods of time, I can be a semi-responsible faux-journalist.

Along those lines…

Kyrie Irving, while just 19, might be the best pick-and-roll prospect to enter the league since you, Dwight Howard (pandering just a touch there…). I don’t believe I’m overstating that. KI comes off the screen at such a funky pace that he can almost walk a guy right to the rim, and he’s already exceedingly comfortable with his midrange jumper. This was a major strength at Duke, and he’s been re-getting the hang of it pretty early at the NBA level. And Dwight, what Kyrie’s doing now, he’s doing while working with Andy Varejao (who, again, you’re going to love and is actually a remarkably effective P&R partner…but also operates about 3-4 feet lower than you do). Remember when everyone thought it would be awesome to team you up with Chris Paul? Well, I’m thinking of something similar but with healthier knees. Kyrie is good, and by this time next year, Kyrie’s going to be better.

And Kidd-Gilchrist (listed above on my projected roster) is a conservative addition. He could be Brad Beal, he could be Harrison Barnes. I like MKG because he was Kyrie’s teammate in high school and is tenacious enough to have a relatively high floor…but he’s also probably the 7th pick in the upcoming draft. Imagine if that’s Anthony Davis. Imagine if it’s Drummond.

Regardless Dwight, you’re getting the Cavs’ foundation as is, plus either a top-tier wing prospect or the best big in the draft. And the oodles of cap space.

Imagine you’d had an opportunity to head to OKC right after they landed James Harden.

Would you have done it?

Really, the only possible reason this isn’t a no-brainer is that you’d have to live in Cleveland, which, don’t worry…I’ve figured out too.

Reason # 2B — Cleveland is a burgeoning entertainment mecca/end of hardcore analysis:

I know you have media ambitions, Dwight.

You know who else had media ambitions?

Steven Spielberg. (Ever heard of him?)


Yes D-12, Steven Spielberg was born in Ohio, and you won’t find someone who’s made good on “media ambitions” more successfully than him.

Need more?

Paul Newman’s from the area as well, Ohio is the country’s leading producer of greenhouse and nursery plants, and if you’re concerned about unwanted pregnancy — we’re the rubber capital of the world.

(Ed. Note: This is harder than the basketball section. I’ve been digging around for like an hour and that was the best I could do.)

Let’s close the “Cleveland as entertainment mecca” section with the following…

Consider A: Cleveland was a bustling metropolis in the 50s and 60s (even the Rockefellers lived there!).


Consider B: There are two schools of thought re: the nature of the world’s social history. Ancient cultures believed in cyclical nature (that Dark and Golden Ages would forever alternate), while more recent sentiment assumes the world is on a linear path.

So, if we deduce the actuality as a perfectly reasonable combination of theories — after all, history is linear in that technology is advancing more rapidly than human nature, but cyclical in that I’m wearing my grandfather’s polyester pants right now and feeling particularly stylish — the conclusion would have to be that by the end of your 5-year max contract, Cleveland will again be an Eden on Earth…only with robots.

Okay, done.

Ps- You can’t spell “The Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg” without OHIO.

Now done.

Reason 3a — The Cavalier bump:

The theory goes that being in Cleveland helps promote athlete likeability (ATTN: Adidas: AL is very important for market share capitalization), and I constructed the following chart to demonstrate it visually.

I'm not very good at charts.

So. Definitively established. Cleveland = likeability.

ATTN: Adidas.

Reason 3b — How better to one-up LeBron?

Okay, it’s 1AM now and I want to close with some semblance of legitimacy.

Here goes…

You don’t have to admit to this, Dwight…but I know.  Truth be told, I think a lot of people do…

We here in Cleveland have always felt the lack of a Dwight puppet egregious.

The LeBron James show, which debuted a year before you entered the league and has subsequently amassed the gravitational pull of an imploding galaxy, has kind of relegated you to the backburner in terms of the national consciousness.

I’m writing to you on behalf of Cleveland (as a city, I think we can sympathize).

I began by laying out all the basketball reasons that the Cavaliers make sense…and now here is the vindictive one.

You want to pull ahead of LeBron James, and we want that for you…but to do it, you have to start heading in the opposite direction.

If you go to Dallas, to LA, and maybe even in Chicago (although again, if you want to be traded, reconsider the Bulls…), you will forever be lumped in with LeBron. And as much as it probably sucks to hear, and as much as you may consider it unjustified…you’ll never be at the forefront of things when you’re standing right next to him. You’ll always be a supporting character in the LeBron James drama.

So take an alternate path.

Be the small-market superstar.

Make a small-market super-team.

I realize it’s self-serving (hugely) that I want the small-market super-team in Cleveland…but honestly, I’d support the idea anywhere.

You’re not going to outscore LeBron James.

So outsmart him. Call Adidas and tell them we have a banner open.

Also, I’ll draw you pictures.

Again, letters to CFAAP.

The World is Yours.


Ryan Braun (CFAAP, Cavs: the Blog, Studio Yogurt)

Ps- Dwight, the Browns are going to be awesome next year.


AWARD WATCH (16.5% of the way through the season):

NBA MVP – Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder (25.8 ppg, 6.8 reb, 3.4 ast). Kobe is scoring like he hasn’t in 6 years, but I can’t say it’s helping the Lakers. LeBron is playing better than anyone in the league, but the Heat have lost 3 in a row. Meanwhile, the Thunder are 11-2 and Durant is just plugging along, shooting less and scoring more efficiently than he ever has.

CAVALIER MVP – Andy Varejao, PF/C (9.5 ppg, 11.2 reb, 1.5 ast). Kyrie’s not far off from having a chance at this spot, but to date, still, there’s not a player on the Cavs more important than Anderson Varejao. He’s consistent, the perfect role-model for a lot of the younger guys on the team, and almost as much of a pillar offensively as he is on the other side of the ball. I’d put Andy’s pick & roll competency up there with many of the elite bigs in the league.

NBA COY– Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose’s team is 12-2 (tied for the best record in the league), and Thibodeau has, in my estimation, done very well to proactively extend support to a struggling Noah and Boozer (and/or protect their trade value). I thought they overachieved last year, but the Bulls seem to be locking themselves in as a perennial top seed.

CAVALIER COY – Byron Scott. Really, a competitor’s yet to emerge.

NBA ROY – Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers (17.0 ppg, 3.1 reb, 5 ast). Ricky’s coming on strong too (and each side seems to have its fervent advocates), but after watching Kyrie improve the past couple of weeks…I’m f’ing giddy. The kid can get to the rim at will, IS getting progressively more comfortable with NBA length, and looks more and more confident in his ability to dictate the flow of a game every time out. Rubio is at 10.4, 4.1, and 8.0 while playing a completely different floor game for a completely different team…which is what I’ve used to decide this argument for the week. The team. At current, I think Rubio struggles more on the Cavs than Kyrie does in Minnesota.

CAVALIER ROY – Kyrie Irving, PG. But let’s talk about the other guy… As a 21-year-old sophomore NBAer (essentially Tristan Thompson’s age, but with a year more experience), Josh Smith averaged 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in about 32 minutes a game. Tristan can’t handle the ball like Josh (not a good thing), nor can he shoot like him (maybe a good thing?), but the point I’m trying to make is that he’s not far off and I have to believe he’s being steeped in the type of discipline that Josh Smith never was. In four years, TT’s an energy guy or an All-Star, and his development might well determine the ceiling of this team.

Disappointed by Casspi trade?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Omri Casspi’s start to the season surely has some questioning the trade that brought him here. I came across a handy website that could make you feel better (in addition to a future first round pick and J.J. Hickson only shooting 39.7% from the field this year).

According to one statistical method (regularized adjusted +/-), Hickson was:

The NBA\’s worst player in 2011

4th worst in 2010

3rd worst in 2009

And just for fun; of 11,504 two-man combinations that were employed by NBA teams from 2008 - 2011, the worst defensive pairing was (drumroll, please)…..Mo Williams and J.J. Hickson

Destination: 2013, Scenario 1

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Obviously no one is talking about the Cleveland Cavaliers as contenders this year. Just as obvious though, Cavs fans want this to end soon. Once a month in this “Destination: 2013” series, a strategy to turn the Cavs into a young, 50 win team by 2013 – 2014 will be explored. These posts will be an optimistic diversion over the course of another rebuilding season.

In this first installment, an idea for building with existing draft picks and cap space will be addressed. Since the season has just started, this scenario assumes that the Cavs aren’t horrible this year; the draft picks should be viewed as 8th in 2012 and 10th in 2013. (Editor’s note: I wrote this before last night’s game. Losing to Toronto at home doesn’t make it look like an 8th pick is coming. If the season goes south fast; in scenario 2, the Cavs will win the draft lottery again. Also, trades will surely be a part of future columns.)

In this first scenario, items of note regarding existing Cavs include:

• Irving, Thompson, Varejao, Gibson and Casspi are the only current players on the 2013 – 2014 team.

• Antawn Jamison – his contract is allowed to expire. The Cavs choose not to take on another team’s “bad” contract to obtain draft picks. There are two high-lottery rookies on the roster and seven first-round picks in the next four years; there are enough draft picks.

2012 – 2013 Cavs
Estimated salary cap for this season is $60 million. The Cavs have eight players under contract for $30.8 million. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky is selected with the Cavs’ first round pick (previously covered here) and William Buford of Ohio State in the second round. Two free agent acquisitions are made:

• Omer Asik – 4 years, $24 million. Did you know the Bulls were 9.9 points per 100 possessions better defensively when Asik played? Asik will be 26 years old and is a legitimate 7 footer who is a quality team defender and a good shot blocker / rebounder. Of 57 centers that played 40 games last year, he ranked 12th in rebounding rate and 12th in defensive plays per minute (blocks + steals + charges drawn). Offensive contributions will be sparse, but the Cavs need another big body in the frontcourt and I’m willing to splurge on a quality defensive center. Asik is a restricted free agent, but the Bulls probably won’t match. The contract would be frontloaded; $9 million in 2012 – 2013 with $5 million for the other three seasons. Generally speaking, Cleveland will be overpaying in these posts.

• Ryan Anderson – 4 years, $29 million. The team needs a big man with some shooting range; Anderson is a career 38% three point shooter and puts the ball in the basket at a decent rate (18 points per 36 minutes). Also a restricted free agent, he’ll be only 24 years old and while just an average defender, he is big (6’10”, 240 lbs) and rebounds well. During his two years in Orlando, advanced evaluation stats like him; he’s a winning player according to PER, Win Shares, Adjusted +/-, and Wins Produced. He will also be signed to a front loaded contract; $11 million in year one with $6 million per year after that.

Regardless of the players that are pursued, this seems like a decent re-building concept: draft well in the lottery, sign two good role players to front loaded contracts in 2012, then sign a max player in 2013. If the Cavs are a high lottery team and draft Anthony Davis or Andre Drummond, the free agent targets would be adjusted. The 2012 – 2013 roster outlined above is filled out with one year contracts and the total payroll is $59 – 60 million.

2013 – 2014 Cavs
With the Cavs’ first round pick, P.J. Hairston of North Carolina is selected and with their second rounder, Aaron Craft of Ohio State. With the Heat and Magic picks, the Cavs choose another wing and a 5th big man. Casspi is re-signed for 4 years, $16 million and Daniel Gibson is re-signed for 3 years, $7.5 million.

The big, final free agent piece is James Harden. Harden is a restricted free agent and the Cavs can offer him a max contract of 4 years and approximately $66 million. As some background, OKC’s payroll for 6 players in 2013 – 2014 is $38.3 million. This doesn’t sound bad, except none of those players is Russell Westbrook, James Harden, or Serge Ibaka. Given that the Cavs have offered Harden $15+ million per year and Westbrook and Ibaka could cost $30 million a year; that leaves OKC looking at $84 million for 9 players. The luxury tax limit will be approximately $74 million. Are they willing to go $15 – $20 million into the luxury tax given the new CBA’s strict provisions? OKC can do a lot to juggle their roster between now and then; but for the purposes of this extremely hypothetical scenario, an assumption will be made that they won’t spend 70% of the luxury tax threshold on three backcourt players. So the Cavs convince Harden that a max contract and his ability to be a focal point of the offense make Cleveland his best destination.

The final 2013 – 2014 roster (with November 2013 ages in parentheses) is:

• PG – Kyrie Irving (21), Daniel Gibson (27), Aaron Craft (22). Irving is a big part of the future of the franchise and will need to be a key member of any near-future 50 win team. This will be his third season and the hope is that he is establishing himself as a top flight point guard.

• SG / SF – James Harden (24), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (20), Omri Casspi (25), P. J Hairston (20), William Buford (23), 2013 Miami 1st rounder. This is a young group, but it has a lot of good pieces. Other than Harden; this group isn’t “ready” in 2013 – 2014. But within a couple of seasons, this group will be experienced and well rounded. Harden, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Hairston should be capable scorers. All players give good effort and Kidd-Gilchrist is a beast of a defender. Harden and Casspi provide quality shooting and Hairston (or whoever is the 2013 first round pick) is drafted based on his long-range marksmanship.

• PF / C – Anderson Varejao (31), Tristan Thompson (22), Ryan Anderson (25), Omer Asik (27), 2013 Orlando 2nd round pick. That’s a very good defensive front line and Ryan Anderson adds some offensive firepower.

The combined 2013 – 2014 salary of these 14 players is $60 – 61 million, which should be under the salary cap. Nine of these players are signed through 2015 – 2016: Irving, Harden, Kidd-Gilchrist, Hairston, Casspi, Thompson, Asik, Ryan Anderson, and the Miami first rounder. The Cavs have 2 first round picks each in 2014 & 2015 (assuming Kings pick); so there will be opportunities to add “cheap” talent to supplement the bench. Varejao and Gibson can be re-signed to short-term contracts, and voila! The fifteen players on the 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers! The team would be similar to the 2004 Pistons championship team; no star, lots of quality players and great defense. Can this team score 100 points per game, while allowing 90? Because if so; that’s a championship level team. I’m going to answer yes; the defense will be great and 20 points per game can come from Harden, 18 from Irving, 15 from Kidd-Gilchrist, 12 from Anderson, 8 from Hairston, 6 from Casspi, 18 from the rest of the front-court (Varejao, Thompson, Asik) and 3 from Gibson. Who knew that building a champion was so easy?

Imaginary Game Recap: Cavs 112, Existential Dread :(

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Ed note: A world without NBA basketball is a world in which Colin does not want to exist. Fortunately, he has at his disposal a strong ability to self-delude and a word processing program. Until the NBA lockout concludes and professional basketball starts happening in the corporeal realm, he will be recapping the Cavaliers games that happen in his head.

It’s difficult to determine whether the Cavs won or lost out there tonight. You would think a team of world-class athletes playing against an abstract concept would be a bloodbath, but then you would be forgetting that Existential Dread renders all outcomes—of basketball games, of wars, of love affairs, of relationships with your father that just seem unfixable at this point in your life—meaningless. Let’s break it down.

The Cavaliers started strong, burying uncontested layup after uncontested layup with gleeful ease. Anderson Varejao racked up 14 points in the early going; his cuts to the bucket went largely unchecked for much of the first quarter. Baron Davis’s outside shot was also working the in the opening period. He went 4-5 from beyond the arc. “It’s like there wasn’t anyone on the court with us early in the game,” Davis said of his first quarter sharpshooting.

“And then suddenly,” he added, his smile dissolving into a nervous wince. “There was.”

After a stellar opening run of play, the wheels came off for the Cavaliers. As Kyrie Irving dribbled the ball some 30 feet away from the basket and began to call out a play with 8:25 remaining in the second quarter, he curiously picked up his dribble, shuddered the shudder of a man who has seen his entire family perish in a terrible naval accident, set the ball down, and hollered out “Am I alive?!” before splaying out on the floor of the Q and sobbing for what seemed like hours.

“Classic rookie mistake,” said 13-year NBA veteran Antawn Jamison of the incident. “Soon enough, he’ll learn not to make simple mental errors like that. It’s all part of learning to be a professional.”

Irving wasn’t the only one who made mistakes tonight. In the second half, Existential Dread effectively took over. The Cavaliers began to unravel, performing alley-oops on their own basket and loudly reciting excerpts from Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness.” Christian Eyenga, who started dribbling with his elbows late in the third quarter, couldn’t provide a coherent reason for his bizarre behavior. “I just thought,” the lanky Congolese forward stammered “that it would just, y’know, change things.” When asked to clarify his statement, he began speaking in tongues.

In an attempt to calm his panicked squad early in the fourth quarter, Byron Scott called timeouts on five consecutive possessions, forgetting, as he gestured toward the referee for the fifth time in two minutes, that he was out of TOs. This violation, as per NBA regulations, resulted in a technical foul against the Cavaliers. The referees conferenced at the scorer’s table for a moment before head official Joey Crawford walked toward Existential Dread’s end of the floor placed the ball adjacent the empty free throw line. The crowd and players stood frozen. Their breath puddled at their feet and they felt its cold oil between their toes. They saw a flash, then a billowing miasma of olive-green gas. The Q stunk of sulfur and sounded of nothing. From somewhere within this timeless ether, a buzzer sounded. Fans and players streamed out of the arena onto the streets, some high-fiving each other and murmuring about the Cavs ostensible victory, others walking more stoically, murmuring beneath their breath about the end of days.

“That was an incredible ‘basketball game,’” said starting guard Boobie Gibson, using scare quotes in a way best characterized as “disturbing.” “We really got a ‘great’ ‘win’ and everyone ‘contributed’ out there tonight.” Asked if he was happy about the “win,” Gibson took a drag from a cigarette and replied “I feel like a Drake song right now. One of the particularly melancholy ones.”

Reached for comment after the “game” by C:TB, Byron Scott, who remains committed to speaking only in dadaist riddles, proclaimed, ”You can’t just put a lightbulb in the cat food, and call it a champion!”

I don’t know who or where the Cavs will be playing next week. I haven’t made that part up yet.

Imaginary Game Recap: Cavs 83, Magic 98

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Ed note: A world without NBA basketball is a world in which Colin does not want to exist. Fortunately, he has at his disposal a strong ability to self-delude and a word processing program. Until the NBA lockout concludes and professional basketball starts happening in the corporeal realm, he will be recapping the Cavaliers games that happen in his head.

Woof. That home win against the Bucks was apparently a misnomer. But to be fair, it’s very easy to defeat a team that consists of only one player. For those of you who haven’t been following the story, the rest of the Milwaukee Bucks have given up on playing with Corey Maggette, who got into a physical altercation with Brandon Jennings during a training camp scrimmage because Jennings, quote: “Shot the ball. You don’t trade for Corey Maggette for Corey Maggette to not take all of the shots.” The Milwaukee Maggettes were subsequently crushed by the new-look Cavs on Tuesday night 211-12. After the game, Coach Scott Skiles was quoted as saying, “Why am I still coaching the team? Well, Corey’s just a horrible, selfish player, and the only way I know how to express myself is through really dickish rage. I’m never happier than when I’m chewing out a player for putting himself above the team, not hustling, etc. This is gonna be the most gratifying season of my career.” This explains why Maggette–despite being the only player on the active roster–spent a majority of the third quarter on the bench next to a livid Skiles while the Cavaliers sat Indian-style in a circle around midcourt and, passing The Speaking Koosh between them, discussed how each player’s personal brand was doing.

Thursday night was an entirely different story, as the Cavs lost to the Magic by 15. The story of this game was the Cavaliers’ inability to guard the perimeter, as Ryan Anderson went off for 35 points on 10-12 shooting from beyond the arc. Most of this was due to Antawn Jamsion’s patently lethargic closeouts. At one point during the third quarter, after Anderson received a skip pass from Gilbert Arenas and rapped the first eight bars of Rick Ross’s verse on “2Pac Back” before converting his eighth three-pointer of the night, Austin Carr took a moment to break down Jamison’s defense: “Look how he doesn’t really even jog toward Anderson as he catches the ball; he just sort of shuffles in Anderson’s general direction, as if he’s been drunk for three days because a vindictive spouse or girlfriend assassinated his sexual identity, and then he half-heartedly raises his right hand in a manner that makes you think ‘I bet after he retires, he’s going to attend the opening of a lot of public parks in innercity neighborhoods and deliver speeches about how kids need a safe place to play, and some local journalist will write sort of condescendingly about how ‘articulate’ and ‘gracious’ he and ‘his beautiful wife Rucker’ were at the dedication ceremony.’ Antawn Jamison is both a class act and a terrible defender.”

But news of the Cavs’ struggles defending the perimeter are nothing new. I think Byron Scott summed up this blowout rather eloquently in his post-game press conference when, in response to a reporter’s inquiry about how the Cavs could have better defended the three-point line, he replied “Turnips are a fruit!” Scott is, of course, incorrect, as turnips are a root and therefore a vegetable, but starting Center Anderson Varejao explained to the media that this is all part of the three-time NBA Champion’s plan to motivate the team by speaking only in dadaist riddles throughout the season. “He’s taking a wait-and-see approach with this experimental coaching technique,” claims Varejao “We’re all pretty excited about it.” When reached for comment by Cavs: The Blog regarding his new, unconventional approach, Scott explained, “There are clams in the orange juice, but you can’t take the jungle out of a Harvard man.” Profound.

I don’t know who or where the Cavs will be playing next week. I haven’t made that part up yet.

Diamond in the Rough? – a series by Kevin Hetrick

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Diamond may not be the appropriate words for these players, but I offer the following…

Last year, the Cavs had five rookies that were selected after the 52nd pick in the draft or were undrafted. Samardo Samuels, Luke Harangody, Semih Erden, Manny Harris, and Alonzo Gee (I’m counting Gee because he was undrafted and only played 180 minutes in 2009 – 2010) were draft day afterthoughts that played at least 600 NBA minutes last year. In this short series, these players will be compared to similar players from the 2002 – 2003 to 2009 – 2010 seasons to determine what precedent there is for each to become a productive NBA player.

The comparisons will be statistical and based on eight numbers: true shooting percentage (ts), assist rate (ast), turnover rate (to), usage rate (usg), offensive rebounding rate (orr), defensive rebounding rate (drr), player efficiency rating (PER) and age. Both the statistics and the timeframe were selected because they are easily sort able on’s “Hollinger’s Player Statistics” page.

Over the 8 seasons, the following table reflects the power forwards that were statistically most similar to Samardo Samuels last year. Samuels scored with below average efficiency, rarely passed, and rebounded offensively nearly as well as he did defensively. In some cases, the definition of “similar” gets slightly stretched.

What conclusions can be drawn from this data? First, no player “similar” to Samuels has become more than a borderline NBA starter. Kris Humphries is the most intriguing, but he’s not a great comparison; Humphries was younger, more athletic, and slightly better across the board. Glen Davis is a relatively inefficient player whose reputation has benefitted due to playing on a champion.

The most similar seasons to Samuels were 2007 – 2008 Jason Smith, 2007 – 2008 Glen Davis, 2002 – 2003 Slava Medvedenko, and 2002 – 2003 Lonny Baxter. The most similar player is Davis, due to his physique and also shot distribution; Samuels attempted 79% of his field goals from inside 10 ft compared to Davis’ 77% attempted from short range in 2007 – 2008. Each of the aforementioned four players was a rookie except for Medvedenko, who did not attend college and was in his third season. The most encouraging take away is that the two more recent players are still playing and played at least 1100 minutes for a playoff team last year. During the comparable seasons, one of the four players played 900 minutes on an NBA champion (Davis) and another played 700 minutes for an NBA champion the year prior (Medvedenko). In conclusion, although there is not a precedent for Samuels to become much more than he is now, there are precedents for sustainable contributing to a successful NBA team. Hopefully like Glen Davis, someday Cavs fans are able to discuss Samuels as an inefficient back-up that benefitted from being on a champion.

(Also if anyone cares, I will be making several posts at, the True Hoop Network blog for the Indiana Pacers. The first one should be up tomorrow.)

Shirt of the Day

Friday, May 27th, 2011

We don’t normally have a Shirt of the Day here at Cavs: The Blog. In fact, we have never had a Shirt of the Day. But if we did have a running Shirt of the Day feature, this shirt would surely be featured.

[Via Darren Rovell]

Most things about life are less terrible than the Cavaliers

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

The Cavs are one game away from the official midway point of the season. Normally, this is the point where I would try and compare all the good things about the Cavaliers to all the bad things about the Cavaliers and see how they do or don’t even out. However, seeing as to how the 2010-11 Cavaliers are playing historically terrible basketball and are a miserable wasteland where all that is good and happy comes to perish, I’ve decided to try and measure all the bad things about the Cavaliers with all the good things about the rest of the world and see who wins. Without further ado:

Bad thing about the Cavaliers:

I’m looking at the Synergy data on the Cavs’ defense, and dear lord it is horrifying. The Cavs are giving up an average of .95 points per possession, which is dead last in the league. They are giving up .97 points per possession in isolation situations, which is dead last in the league. They are giving up .94 points per possession to the ballhandler in pick-and-roll situations, which is dead last in the league. Essentially, if you have the ball, a live dribble, and the intention to score, the Cavaliers have no idea how to stop you.

Good thing about the Earth:


Bad thing about the Cavaliers:

Seriously, though, the Cavalier defense is unbelievably terrible. They are giving up 1.09 points per possession in spot-up situations, which is dead last in the league. Spot-up shooters make 42% of their spot-up threes against the Cavaliers, which is actually better than the Cavs defend the three in all other situations. Given the choice to stop penetration or protect the three-point line, the Cavs have decided to do neither. The only thing keeping you from getting the shot you want against the Cavalier defense is your imagination.

Good thing about the Earth:

Alison Brie on Community.

That clip is everything good and bad about the internet: after watching that episode for the first time (I’m catching up on the show right now), I YouTubed “Alison Brie gravy train” and that video was the first thing to come up. That’s amazing. On the other hand, the video was uploaded by a one “Sexwithturtles,” and the comments are fairly a fairly saddening exploration of what human discourse becomes when anonymity is granted. Goddamnit, people on the internet. At least use capital letters or something.

Bad thing about the Cavaliers:

The only thing the Cavs do well defensively is guard the post — they give up .81 points per post-up possession, which is the sixth-best mark in the league. They’re also the 13th-best team in the league at defending the roll man on pick-and-rolls. Both of those things are almost entirely because of Anderson Varejao, who is out for the year.

Good thing about life:

I don’t know, sunsets or something. This is going to be harder than I thought.

Bad thing about the Cavaliers:

The Cavaliers are also terrible at offense. They score .88 points per possession, which ranks them 28th out of 30 teams. They are the worst team in basketball in isolation, but when they do manage to get out and run, they average less points per transition possession than any other team. Wait, both of things are terrible.

Good thing about life:

Every time I see Mike Brown on ESPN, I think about the end of Frost/Nixon and imagine Mike Brown telling Byron Scott “Perhaps I should have been the hard-hitting journalist and you should have been the coach of a LeBron James team. Also, I don’t regret not playing J.J. Hickson more against Boston. He sucks. He SUCKS. I want you to put that ON MY TOMBSTONE,” while Scott smiles and awkwardly shuffles away with the other girl from Vicky Christina Barcelona.

I know that Byron Scott can coach, but it is outstanding how Scott has been completely impervious to criticism while stoically watching the worst team in basketball than Mike Brown was for grimacing at the team with the best regular-season record in the league. Armchair coaching has gone from “On a team populated with LeBron James and guys who can’t create their own shots, why does the offense go through LeBron on nearly every play! There is nothing about that strategy that makes fundamental sense on a very basic level!” to “Well, if NBA players are going to make the wide-open threes this defense allows on a nightly basis, it’s pretty clear that a loss was an inevitable act of God.”

Bad thing about the Cavaliers:

Mo Williams scores .66 points per possession in isolation and as the ball-handler in pick-and-roll situations, and gives up .87 and .95 points per possession on those same situations on defense. Good lord, he is a victim of the Peter Principle.

Good thing about life:

The Strokes.

Bad thing about the Cavaliers:

Ramon Sessions gives up 1.15 points per possession in isolation situations. I didn’t even know that was possible. Also, Antawn Jamison gives up 1.06 points per possession in isolation, 1.14 points when defending the roll man, and 1.11 points when his man spots up for a jumper. I’m not sure if Antawn Jamison could successfully defend a woman’s right to vote.

Good thing about life:

I can’t put this clip in here since it involves a man who was eaten by a bear dropping repeated F-bombs on the park service for not doing enough to defend the bears, but everything about this Timothy Treadwell rant narrated by Werner Herzog is amazing. I demand Werner Herzog narration on professional coach rants immediately. “It is here that Van Gundy crosses a line with Rashard Lewis that I will not cross. He attacks the power forward who took him to the NBA finals. It is clear to me that Lewis’ lazy rotations and passive offense are not Van Gundy’s real enemy here. There is a larger adversary out there — the rest of the NBA’s belief in strict positional definitions and mid-range shots. It is here that his rage becomes incandescent. (I know Lewis doesn’t play for the Magic anymore, but I couldn’t imagine who else that rant could have been about.)

Also, sometimes I imagine Mike Brown wrapping up the season politely in his video diary before getting fired, then totally losing it and going on a Treadwell-like rant. “I did it. I won home-court advantage. I protected the paint. Defensive rotations rule. Mike Brown conquered. F**k Inside the NBA.” I think about cathartic Mike Brown rants more than most people do.

Bad thing about the Cavaliers:

Of course the Cavaliers are all but guaranteed to have the worst record in the league in a year with a weak projected draft that top prospects might not even come out for because of the lockout.

Good thing about life:

There’s always Jimmer Fredette. That’s all I have for now. This is a picture of a kitten. Soon the Cavs will play again.

Random pre-season captioning Monday

Monday, October 18th, 2010

I had an English paper to write tonight, so I thought I was going to be too busy to do a post of any substance. However, I was able to get some stuff done while I was procrastinating, mainly because I didn’t think I was actually working on anything.

So without further ado, here are a bunch of random NBA pictures with even randomer captions.

(Two disclaimers: I am sorry this isn’t Cavs-related in any actual way, and Doc Funk is the absolute king of this medium. Everything below is nothing more than a poor imitation of him.)

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How it all went wrong: Luke Jackson

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010


Welcome to “how it all went wrong,” a breezy romp through the ways the Cavaliers managed not to build a solid “core” around LeBron James during his time in Cleveland. This is an idea I came up with during the free agency process, but never really got around to it. Since I did, LeBron signed with Miami, who built their team this off-season in an audacious, unprecedented, and possibly pre-planned turn of events. Because of that, I realize that some people might say the Cavs’ failure to build a core around LeBron ultimately turned out to be a moot point, but I still think there’s value in taking a look how the Cavs were more or less forced to build with LeBron and duct tape during Cleveland’s competitive years.

One other thing: this is not a “this was all the front office’s fault” thing. Because LeBron made the Cavaliers so good so fast, they only had a few chances to make the move or draft pick that would have given him a true running mate or set of running mates. Due to a series of circumstances both within and beyond management’s control, the moves they made didn’t work out. Without further ado, the tale of Luke Jackson, the Cavs’ only lottery pick in the LeBron era.

The Theory:

Things were looking good for the Cavs after the 03-04 season. LeBron won rookie of the year and was well on his way to becoming a superstar, the Cavs finished the year strong after dropping Ricky Davis and Darius Miles, Carlos Boozer had shown promise as a potential running mate before his contract situation got more and more dire, and basketball was cool in Cleveland. All good things, and the Cavs had their sights set on building on the momentum they’d gained and making a playoff run.

With the #10 overall pick, Luke Jackson was the fairly obvious choice. Thanks to LeBron, high school/young player mania was in full effect, and the draft was full of risky picks: 8 of the first 20 picks were either in high school or too young to have attended a year of American college.
Furthermore, the Cavs knew who their star was, and didn’t see the need to take a risky player: they knew they were going to compete for a playoff spot next season and run the offense through James, so they wanted a player who would be able to contribute right away and would be a good fit next to LeBron. Again, Luke Jackson was the only thing approaching a “safe” pick at the #10 spot. Here were the players taken after Jackson:

#11: Andris Biedrins, a horrifyingly raw center (the Cavs still had Z) who was actually younger than any of the high schoolers in the draft

12: Robert Swift, a high school center and that year’s recipient of the Sonics’ scholarship fund for raw centers who didn’t know how to play basketball

13: Sebastian Telfair, who was considered a huge reach at 13 and most people were sure would be a bust (and who the Cavs would later GIVE AWAY. RIGHT AS THEY WERE BUILDING A RUNNING TEAM. A RUNNING TEAM FOR BASSY. I can’t talk about Bassy without ranting about my love for a short point guard who can’t shoot or finish inside. I apologize.)

14: Kris Humphries, who is Kris Humphries

15: Al Jefferson, high school big man

16: Kirk Snyder, who went to college and is now serving a three-year prison sentence. Currently working with Maurice Clarett on a book about how age limits keep players from making bad life decisions.

17. Josh Smith, high school player then considered a shooting guard, albeit one who couldn’t shoot or dribble with his right hand. Bilas predicted that he would be the bust of the draft.

18. J.R. Smith, high schooler, three-point gunner, neck-tattoo enthusiast

19. Dorell Wright, high-schooler

20. Jameer Nelson. I’m telling you, this was an ass-backwards draft. How ass-backwards?

21. Pavel Podkolzine “Pavel Podkolzine went one pick behind Jameer Nelson” ass-backwards.

Then Russian Teammates Viktor Khryapa and Sergei Monia were taken before Delonte West, Tony Allen, Kevin Martin, Sasha Vujacic, Beno Udrih, David Harrison, and Anderson Varejao were taken with consecutive selections. Making a bad pick in the 2005 draft was like making poor health choices in Mad Men times. I mean, look at the players taken before Jackson:

#1: Dwight Howard: Okay, he would’ve been nice.

#2: Emeka Okafor: I mean, kinda meh. Good player, but not a franchise savior. How much better would he have been at his contract number than Varejao at his, considering Varejao and LeBron’s chemistry?

#3: Ben Gordon: Would’ve been a nice pickup/player. No Scottie Pippen, to say the least.

#4: Shaun Livingston: (Shakes fist at absent God)

#5: Devin Harris: Would’ve been nice, but he was raw and seemed like a reach. Jury’s still out on whether he’s a star — very little talk about the power of a LeBron/Harris pair this summer.

#6: Josh Childress: Played LeBron’s position. Went to Greece.

#7: Luol Deng: Played LeBron’s position. LeBron was unexcited by the possibility of Deng being the fourth-best player on LeBron’s new team.

#8: Rafael Araujo: Probably a very nice man.

#9: Andre Iguodala: More on that later.

Furthermore, Luke Jackson really should have worked on paper. The dude averaged 21.2/7.2/4.5 in his last year at Oregon, on 48.8%/44%/86.2% shooting, had good size for his position, and wasn’t supposed to need athleticism because the Cavs had LeBron to create most of the plays anyways.

My basic “the team really screwed this pick up” rules are as follows: the correct choice has to be within five picks of the team’s actual choice, and not have been considered a huge risk or bad fit at the time — it has to be plausible that the team actually would have made the pick. No “Oh, the Grizzlies and Cavs passed on Amar’e for Drew Gooden and Dajuan Wagner.” Other than Jameer, there’s no player who wasn’t a huge unknown behind the Jackson pick, and Jameer went at 20. Here’s the scary part: if the Cavs had the #9 pick and a choice between a raw-as-hell, similar to LeBron, averaged 13 points in college Andre Iguodala, which player would have seemed like the more logical choice? That one would have looked terrible in hindsight, but even then the Jackson pick would be justifiable.

The Reality:

Unfortunately, Luke Jackson struggled with not being injured and not sucking throughout his NBA career. He played a total of 46 games for Cleveland, never averaging more than 8.9 minutes per game. After Cleveland got rid of him, he bounced from the Clippers to the Raptors to D-League and international ball. I saw him in Summer League this season, and he didn’t look like he belonged there. I don’t know if it was the injuries, but Luke Jackson never resembled an NBA role player.

The Cost:

Thanks to the Jiri Welsch debacle and the Cavs’ subsequent success, Jackson was the Cavs’ only lottery pick. No Durant/Westbrook/Harden for the Cavs, thank you. Just LeBron and Luke Jackson for Cleveland. Good hindsight is always fun, but for to fix this one you might have needed a DeLorian and a case of St. Joe’s DVDs. Sigh. Just because something was nobody’s fault doesn’t make it suck less in the end.

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