The heck with it, let’s talk about the NCAA tournament.
Why was I not informed that Derrick Williams shot freaking 60%/58%/74% this season? Does anyone realize how completely insane that is? And he’s athletic? And in the 99th percentile in isolation situations? And reportedly cares about defense? What possible reason on Earth did people have for talking about Perry Jones more than this guy? Yes, it is embarrassing that I know nothing about college basketball. Still, holy lord. I’m totally fine with plugging that dude in at the four next season, even if he projects as something of a tweener.
Irving should still definitely be the first overall pick, though. He has all the production and the physical tools, and adding a real point guard makes everything better in a hurry. 28 points on 15 shots is pretty impressive, especially considering he missed nearly the entire regular season.
Of course, I decided to watch the Jimmer game in its entirety and toggle to Kemba and get dinner during Arizona/Duke. Naturally, Jimmer couldn’t buy a shot. I am a 100% reliable college basketball jinx. I actually wasn’t too discouraged by what I saw. Jimmer is not going to be firing 34-footers off the dribble with 16 seconds left on the shot clock in the NBA. We have known this for many moons. But he can knock down open threes, he can handle the ball, he can pass a bit, and he’s surprisingly strong around the basket. In the right system, he’ll be just fine. And I have to think his defense will get better when he actually has to play it.
Jeremy Lamb had the quietest insane scoring performance in the history of man. 24 points on 26 true attempts? Are you kidding me? Still, Kemba Kemba Kemba.
“The Cavaliers have lost a lot of games this season in a lot of ways, but they let one slip away against the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday night in The Q. Literally.” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]
TD of WFNY has a guide to potential Cavs lottery picks who are still participating in the NCAA tourney. If you’re interested in having a dilettantish opinion on who the Cavaliers should select, I recommend tuning in to both Duke-Arizona and UConn-San Diego St. tonight. Then, when Kemba Walker hits a game-winning shot or Derrick Williams pull down 18 boards, you can declare with a foolish certainty, “Cleveland should definitely take [player’s name]!” I do this every year while watching the tournament, and I am wrong about 88% of the time. In five years, I will still be arguing that Jordan Crawford can be a solid starting two-guard in this league based solely on the one time I watched him hit a bunch of clutch 3s against Kansas State.
When the NBA and its players discuss a new collective bargaining agreement this summer, each team will have one player representing them at the meetings. The Cavs’ player rep is Anthony Parker, which is strange since Parker is an unrestricted free agent after the season concludes. Regardless, Parker is saying all the right things and keeping an eye on the NFL’s labor situation, which from my underinformed perspective seems pretty brutal.
Byron Scott thinks the Nets’ acquisition of Deron Williams was a “great trade.” I know Scott may not have put a ton of thought into his response and that he was probably just being complimentary of Williams and that he is not the Cavaliers GM, but this response irks me a bit. Because the Nets may have given Utah a potentially-terrific young big man (emphasis on “potentially”), a pretty good point guard, and two lottery picks for a year and a half of Deron Williams. Because the Williams deal did not include a contract extension, and if you have been reading the quotes coming out of New Jersey, he has been incredibly non-committal about whether he plans to stay in New Jersey/Brooklyn. My point is that the Williams trade can’t be deemed “great” until he’s still wearing a Nets jersey in autumn of 2012, and I pray the Cavs’ front office knows enough not to trade for a guy without extending his contract, then simply hope that he sticks around once his deal expires.
On The Twitters
“Ryan Hollins giveth, Ryan Hollins taketh away.” [Jason Lloyd]
“What goes “Yes, No, Yes, No, Yes”? Cavs fans watching Ryan Hollins play.” [realcavsfans]
“I can’t possibly believe Byron Scott drew that play up for Anthony Parker. I just refuse to believe that. #Cavs” [Michael A. Young]
“Its was good while it lasted… Back too the drawing board.” [Samardo Samuels]
(Note: I’ve never brought this up, but the Twitter section just carries a gigantic implied [sic] since it’s a universe that encourages typos, spelling mistakes, and horrendous grammar.)
Overview: The New Jersey nets were able to pull of an overtime win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. All five Nets starters scored in double-digits, and J.J. Hickson had 17 and 17 for the Cavaliers.
Why yes, we did just lose a home game to a team that shot 34% bullets:
Well, the defense was decent enough. That will happen when your opponent’s offense is being initiated by Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, and Travis Outlaw, but I’ll take it.
The offense was terrible. Too much Ramon Sessions driving with no intention of dishing. Too much Samardo Samuels forcing shots from the low post. Too much J.J. Hickson floating around the perimeter. No quality sets, no quality movement, no quality looks.
The late-game execution was non-existent. Ryan Hollins fouled every carbon-based life form in sight over the final stretch of the game, including some completely unnecessary loose-ball fouls when the Nets were in the bonus. And he couldn’t stop Brook Lopez from tipping in his own miss to tie the game with four seconds left. Ryan Hollins has the basketball IQ of a feather-tail possum. It is a little-known fact that feather-tail possums have the lowest basketball IQs of the entire possum family.
There were no offensive bright spots in this game. There was no one player who showed that he could consistently create good opportunities for himself or his teammates. Another miserable loss. 12 games left to go.
“After a few days of hinting towards potential linuep changes, Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott has decided to start oft-reserve center Ryan Hollins tonight as the Wine and Gold host the New Jersey Nets.” [Scott Sargent]
“One day soon — if not Wednesday night against New Jersey, then almost certainly Friday against Detroit — Baron Davis is going to make his debut as the Cavaliers starting point guard.” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]
“My game is starting to come back to me. My main focus and goal is to come back next year with no injuries, nothing to worry about but performing at a high level and getting back to where I know I can be.” [Baron Davis via Jason Lloyd]
The Cavaliers’ immediate future is uncertain, to say the least. The one thing we do know is that Anderson Varejao will almost certainly be a part of it. Given the upcoming CBA battle, it seems unlikely that any teams are going to be making the type of trade that would lead to Varejao’s departure this season. Varejao has also shown that he is almost as effective defending the center position as he is defending the four spot, and that his high-movement, high-energy style of offense can work even without LeBron running the pick-and-roll with him. Those are both good things.
However, there is somewhat of a paradox: Anderson Varejao is a true center on offense and a true power forward on defense. Varejao is a slightly better outside shooter and high-post player than he gets credit for, but he’s infinitely more comfortable when he can make cuts without the ball, roll to the basket, and crash the offensive glass. And while he can guard the post pretty darn well for such a skinny guy, he’s at his best when he can show hard on pick-and-rolls, recover back, and disrupt offenses 25 feet away from the hoop.
So the ideal frontcourt partner for Anderson Varejao is a center who can guard the post, defend the rim, and keep the floor spaced by stepping out and hitting jumpers. That player does not actually exist, which is something of an issue. The 08-09 version of Zydrunas Ilgauskas was a perfect fit with Varejao, but he was overmatched by Dwight Howard, has aged, and plays in Miami. Marcus Camby comes close, but he’s much better at taking 20-footers than he is at making them. Chad Ford’s version of Darko Milicic would be perfect, and reports are that he plans to put in serious work on his game this off-season with Sidd Finch. We’ll keep you updated on that as it develops.
With that in mind, let’s look at the pros and cons of some potential froncourts for the Cavs next season:
The most likely starting unit. If this is going to work, Hickson will have to consistently knock down mid-range jumpers and make good defensive rotations on the perimeter. I have doubts about the former and grave doubts about the latter. I think the chances are that Hickson’s rightful place in this league will be as a first big off the bench, but a Varejao/Hickson backcourt could potentially be serviceable.
I can’t shake the feeling that if the Cavs don’t get Irving, they’re going with Sullinger. Barnes is the only other guy that can really be sold as a huge potential piece, and Sullinger is more consistent and playing for the good basketball team in Ohio. (Note: if the Cavs pass on Irving willingly and the subsequent five blog entries are pictures of puppies attempting to solve mysteries, it is because I have lost my mind.)
Sullinger can score and rebound, but perimeter defense and outside shooting are his two biggest weaknesses, which means he’d be an iffy fit with Varejao on offense and questionable on defense. I’m going to say this one more time: I’m all about building a defensive frontcourt first. That’s why I’m not really sold on Sullinger.
I know nothing about Valanciunas other than what I’ve read in scouting reports. Apparently he’s tall, has an insane wingspan, doesn’t shoot mid-range jump shots, loves to roll to the basket and finish, is a good shot-blocker, but isn’t the most cerebral defensive player. I like him on paper, but he’s European and was born in 1992. That makes him a huge question mark. Still, he sounds like a legit NBA center if all goes as planned, and I’m willing to sacrifice some offensive hiccups for a real live defensive backcourt. The caveat here is that I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he turns out to be a poor man’s Mosgov. It’s really hard to predict these Euro big mens, especially really young ones.
Seems like Mike Beasley without the college production. He will tantalize you with jump shots, he will miss defensive rotations, he will get your hopes up, and he will break your heart. Or he could be a cross between Lamar Odom, Kevin Durant, and Kevin Garnett. A pretty good “fit” on paper, but these versatile forwards will make you tear your hair out.
Those are a few of my thoughts — there’s always the chance that the Cavs could try and develop a center on their own (does anyone know what’s up with Sasha Kaun right now? He was doing well in international play, right?), or try to find another option through free agency or trades. Let me know your ideas.
“Dwight Howard channelled his inner Hakeem as he absolutely destroyed the Cavaliers’ front court on his way to 28 points on 9 of 11 shooting and 18 rebounds. He also tacked on 4 assists, 4 blocks, and 4 steals, coming quite close to achieving the elusive ‘5×5′ stat-line.” [Conrad Kaczmarek]
“Earlier in the epic streak, Scott toyed (or ‘tinkered’) with the rotation, providing heavy minutes to players like Manny Harris and even giving a few starts to Christian Eyenga. As the season has worn on, both players have seemingly fallen to the bottom of the depth chart once again, but it was these two players who excelled when called upon in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s loss.” [Scott Sargent]
“Davis, who is averaging 14.3 points on .455 shooting and 4.3 assists in four games with the Cavs, had similar problems on occasion while playing for New Orleans and the Clippers, but doesn’t think [his back spasms are] anything serious. He does, however, want to get things right before he takes the court again.” [Rick Noland]
The Cavs may be an abhorrent basketball team, but, at the very least, The Q’s security staff can assure you there’s a low probability of your exit from the arena involving an ambulance.
On The Twitters
“Deron Williams for Nets; Baron Davis for #Cavs, probably out for Wednesday’s game at The Q” [Bob Finnan]
“Go us. RT @Magic_Radio: Magic were the 1st team in NBA history to sweep a 4-game series with the Cavs by winning each game by double digits!” [Eric Knappenberger]
“Not sure whose more insane. The Cavs coming out each and every game with the same game plan or me for thinking it might change.” [realcavsfans]
Overview: In a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates, the Cavaliers were manhandled by the Orlando Magic en route to a 86-97 loss. Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass had 50 points on 18-21 shooting from the field.
This team is small up front and bad at basketball bullets:
Well, Samardo and J.J. weren’t going to be able to guard Dwight Howard unless they got a pre-game treatment from Rita Repulsa, so I guess it’s hard to get too mad about 28/18/4/4/4. The Cavs couldn’t handle him when they had the best record in basketball. Now they have the worst. Would have been nice to see the Cavs take anything away from Bass, though.
Yes, J.J. followed up a promising shooting performance by going 6-14, but at least he took it to the paint consistently. You may think that it’s a bad sign that J.J. tried to take it to the paint against Howard rather than trying to work at his mid-range jumper, but I am of the opinion that it is always better to see J.J. trying to go to the rim. Also, J.J. belongs in the paint with Dwight Howard like Boobie belongs in the octagon with Jon Jones.
Speaking of Boobie, he shot the team back into the game! With the injury and the team being awful, this is kind of a lost year for him, and I don’t see him being moved this off-season. All we can do is hope that he has some performances like this next season. And that there is a next season.
Eyenga shot well, but everything is a jumper. I do not like that he has taken 69 threes and 19 free throws in the NBA.
The starting backcourt, not wanting to be left out, was also terrible.
It’s a problem when the Magic can blow you out without making a third of their threes. Then again, it’s also a problem when you lose 56 of your first 69 games. This team is not good.
The Cavaliers have won as many double-digit games in the NBA this season as the cast of the Spider-Man musical. They have lost 35 more double-digit NBA games this season than the cast of the Spider-Man musical. They have put on the same number of official Broadway shows as the cast of the Spider-Man musical.
“J.J. Hickson and Samardo Samuels had their work cut out for them in the paint on the just-completed three-game West Coast trip, and it won’t get any easier when All-Star center Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic visit The Q on Monday night.” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]
“Following Monday morning’s shootaround, Davis could be found in the middle of Cleveland Clinic courts working with the team’s current starting shooting guard Alonzo Gee as the two men went through Gee’s responsibilities if and when the Wine and Gold opt to double-team Dwight Howard.” [Scott Sargent]
“Not everything about the NBA is Fantastic. It is truly amazing that the NBA has led us down this path where “superstar” calls are not only common knowledge, but are an accepted part of the game for fans. From Larry Bird and Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James, it is just one of those things that NBA fans have come to accept. Only in periods like the Cavs have had before and after James does it seem particularly unfair.” [Craig Lyndall]
“Despite their 44-26 overall record – which has the Magic practically locked in as the Eastern Conference’s No. 4 seed – Orlando is just 4-8 this season on Mondays, making it the only day of the week where the Magic have a sub-.500 mark.” [Sam Gardner]
Overview: Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon combined for 59 points in a 100-92 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. J.J. Hickson led the Cavaliers with 28 points and 9 rebounds.
Well, we’ve seen this before. The Cavs hung tough for the first three quarters, then watched the offense completely fall apart in the fourth. When the game gets tense and the game revolves around one-on-one play more, the Cavs simply don’t have that guy who can go ISO or pick-and-roll and either get a basket or make a play. Baron would be that guy, but he missed the game with back spasms. Four points for Hickson in the fourth, four points for Sessions in the fourth, and 14 points for a team that needed a strong finish.
The good news is that all of Cleveland’s young starters had strong performances from the field. Sessions had a bounce-back game, which hopefully means he’ll be coming out of his funk soon. Samuels had 17 points on 9 shots, and was extremely active. (I don’t even mind the six fouls.) Even Alonzo Gee had a efficient little performance.
Hickson was the high man for the Cavs, but I’m taking the performance with a grain of salt because he went 6-9 on shots outside of the paint. I’d love to think that games like this are a sign that his jumper is going to become a reliable weapon for him, but I don’t think that’s going to happen this season. That said, Sessions and Samuels’ solid performances did help to show the ancillary benefits of having a starting big that can make shots.
http://www.heychristianeyengaicantfullybelieveinyouuntilyougettotherimmoreoften.com is still available.
Nobody on the bench really had a good game, now that we’re on the subject. Boobie’s play continues to be worrisome.
Defensively, things could have been worse — 59% of the Clippers’ points came from Gordon and Griffin, and while the Cavs could have done a better job on both of them, they are going to score points if they’re on their games.
That’s all I really have for now — I’m sure the glad this road trip is over.
“In a spectacularly poor showing, even for them, the Cavs made just two of 14 shots (14.3 percent) in the first quarter, allowed Portland to shoot 69.6 percent (16-of-23) and dominate the boards, 15-3. Is it any wonder the Cavs trailed, 37-12, at the end of the opening 12 minutes?” [Mary Schmitt Boyer]
“There is nothing to learn from losses like these, no area in which the Cavs did even OK. They were hammered in every way imaginable, and the bottom line on this season is it cannot end soon enough.” [Sam Amico]
“Jamison is back now for the rest of the season. He took a week off after surgery and returned to Charlotte, N.C., since he was helpless with one good hand. He spent some time with his kids before returning to the Cavs’ kids and his role as a different type of fatherly mentor.” [Jason Lloyd]
“I’ve known Baron pretty much since I got in the league. I always wanted to play with him and know what he brings to the table. For me it’s even more frustrating to know he’s here and I have to wait until next year to play with him. Hopefully, we both are here and we can do some great things together here as well.” [Antawn Jamison via Mary Schmitt Boyer]
On The Twitters
“S/O to my big Bruh @aldridge_12 for consistently being a Beast all year long! Much luv & #Respect.” [Boobie Gibson]
“‘Our team is so soft mentally its unbelievable’ – Coach Scott” [realcavsfans]
“Only #Cavs starter with an assist is Samardo Samuels.” [Jason Lloyd]
Nate Smith is an Associate Editor. He grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and moved to NE Ohio in 2000. He adopted the Cavs in 2003 and graduated from Kent State in 2009 with a BA in English. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or @oldseaminer on Twitter.
Tom Pestak is an Associate Editor. He's from the west side of Cleveland and lives and (mostly) dies by the success and (mostly) failures of his beloved teams. You can watch his fanaticism during Cavs games @tompestak.
Robert Attenweiler is a Staff Writer. Originally from OH, he's long made his home in NYC where he writes plays and screenplays (www.disgracedproductions.com) some of which end up being about Ohio, basketball or both. He has also written for The Classical and the blog Raising the Cadavalier. You can contact him at email@example.com or @cadavalier.
Benjamin Werth is a Staff Writer. He was born in Cleveland and raised in Mentor, OH. He now lives in Germany where he is an opera singer and actor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cory Hughey is a Staff Writer. He grew up in Youngstown, the Gary, Indiana of Ohio. He graduated from Youngstown State in 2008 with a worthless telecommunications degree. He can be contacted at email@example.com or @coryhughey on Twitter.
David Wood is our Links Editor. He is a 2012 Graduate of Syracuse University with an English degree who loves bikes, beer, basketball, writing, and Rimbaud. He can be reached on Twitter: @nothingwood.
Mallory Factor is the voice of Cavs: The Podcast. By day Mallory works in fundraising and by night he runs a music business company. To see his music endeavors check out www.fivetracks.com. Hit him up at Malloryfactorii@gmail.com or @Malfii.
John Krolik is the Editor Emeritus of Cavs: The Blog. At present, he is pursuing a law degree at Tulane University. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @johnkrolik.
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