Archive for May, 2011

Dan Gilbert’s Son Will Attend NBA Lottery

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

From Mary Schmitt Boyer:

“The kid is also quite lucky,” Gilbert said of his 14-year-old son Nick, who will represent the team on stage during the televised proceedings.

Yes, the Cavaliers will be represented by the 14-year-old son of a multimillionaire at the NBA Draft Lottery, and no, I haven’t the slightest idea how this affects our team, but it was covered pretty extensively today. I know being the son of a millionaire is a little different than growing up middle class in upstate New York, but how is this kid even going to be able to form sentences? I once threw up before a date when I was 14. Regardless, best of luck, Nick. I mean that with every ounce of sincerity in my body.

LeBron Apologizes

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

From Brian Windhorst:

“I knew deep down in my heart, as much as I loved my teammates back in Cleveland and as much as I loved home, I knew it couldn’t do it by myself against that team,” James said.

My thoughts are as follows: I believe him. Some of you may have more extensive thoughts (which: discuss away in the comment section). I feel obligated to post this, but I really, really hope this is the last time I feel compelled to pass along LBJ-related news unless the Cavs play the Heat in the playoffs.

Derrick Williams draft profile

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Derrick Williams showcases his athleticism, soaring in for a dunk.

This past season, Blake Griffin treated NBA fans to amazing dunking displays on his way to averaging more than 22 points and 12 rebounds and capturing Rookie of the Year honors in a rare unanimous vote. Teams looking for the next explosive power forward with scoring ability have their sights set on Derrick Williams, the 6-foot-8, 235-pound sophomore from Arizona. Williams is projected to be drafted in the first two picks (along with Kyrie Irving, whom Kevin Hetrick profiled already). So what will the Cavs be getting should they be fortunate enough to draw such a pick and choose to take Williams?

Strengths

Scoring is Williams’ biggest strength. He possesses a diverse, complete offensive game, showing the ability to score from anywhere on the court. After shooting just 25% on 3s in 2009-10, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year clearly worked hard on his outside shooting in the offseason. It showed, as Williams shot an incredible 57% on 3s this year. He has a quick release and good form. College players couldn’t defend him 1-on-1 (1.13 Isolation PPP), and he’s comfortable shooting off the dribble and working in the post (1.07 PPP). Overall, he was one of the most efficient players in the nation, posting an amazing 69% true shooting percentage. Williams draws a ton of fouls (8.7 FTA), where he converts at a solid 75% clip using a smooth, confident stroke.

Another positive facet of Williams’ offensive game is his ball-handling ability, which is advanced for a PF. He’s comfortable attacking his man with a face-up game that includes a variety of crossovers and fakes. He takes long strides and utilizes a smooth jump-step to get close to the basket, where his great athleticism allows him to finish strong (witness his devastating dunks against Duke in the NCAA tourney).

When NFL teams are evaluating line talent, the term “high motor” is often thrown around to describe players who show a constant work rate, have a high level of effort and rarely take plays off. Williams possesses a such a motor. On defense, he fights hard for post position and gets low, extends his arms and shows active hands when showing on pick and rolls or guarding in face-up situations. When Arizona has the ball, Williams is very active, constantly looking for open space in zones and setting screens for teammates both on and away from the ball.

Weaknesses

For all the motor and athleticism Williams shows, he’s not a great rebounder. Though he averages a respectable 8.3 boards per game, game film of Williams highlights his lack of rebounding fundamentals. He isn’t diligent about boxing his man out, often giving up inside position in the process. He doesn’t work hard to get in good rebounding position, allowing smaller players to box him out without a fight. Though he can still post solid rebounding numbers in college, he’ll need to improve his fundamentals in the NBA, where opponents will more easily match his size and athleticism.

Williams draws a ton of double teams with his penetration and work in the post. However, he fails to use this to his team’s advantage, averaging just 1.1 assists per game against 2.6 turnovers (17% TO rate). Passing out of double teams is an essential skill in the NBA, where teams with good help defenses rotate quickly and aggressively. Williams had solid teammates willing and able to convert if he dished to them for open looks, so 1.1 assists per game shows a glaring hole.

As athletic as Williams is, it’s surprising that he only averaged 0.7 blocks per game this year. He can sometimes be a little slow to close out with help defense, which also results in picking up some unnecessary fouls.

How he fits with the Cavs

Cleveland is obviously a team that needs help everywhere. Williams brings a complete all-around game to the NBA, with athleticism, offensive skill, effort and work ethic. Perhaps most alluring to a team like the Cavs, Williams is the most polished, NBA-ready prospect in the draft. He’s ready to contribute now, and the Cavs are a team that needs contributions in a hurry.

Furthermore, his biggest weaknesses – rebounding and lack of play-making – should easily be fixable with some coaching.

Power forward is probably the Cavs’ strongest position, as they have legit NBA rotation players J.J. Hickson and Antawn Jamison. However, Jamison is old (turning 35 in June), and Hickson, though productive, simply can’t match Williams’ potential.

A Baron Davis-Derrick Williams pick and roll/pick and pop combo would be a potent weapon for the Cavs going forward. Though many Cavs fans are salivating over Kyrie Irving, they should be equally excited for the prospect of adding Williams to the team. He is the rare prospect who has an NBA-ready game and plenty of upside (he hasn’t even turned 20 yet). He may not be Blake Griffin, but he would be an outstanding addition to the Cavs and a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year.

Kemba Walker – Draft Profile

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

I wrote a few reports prior to starting posting. This is the last of those, so starting next week Mo and I will settle into posting a report on Monday (me) and on Thursday (Mo). Hopefully we’re giving Cavs fans some additional food for thought on potential lottery picks.

Kemba Walker
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 172 lbs
Position: PG
Age: Turned 21 in May

Summary: Walker led UConn to the 2011 NCAA championship. He is a very fast point guard who had many outstanding performances in the 2010–11 NCAA season. His play in the Big East and NCAA tournaments has raised his draft stock to a potential top 5 pick. His speed and play-making ability will make him a quality PG in the NBA.

Basketball Bio: Walker attended Rice HS in New York City and was a top recruit in the class of 2008. He attended UConn and spent his freshman year as a primary bench player on a Final Four team. It was a solid season for Walker, highlighted by a 23 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist outing in the Elite Eight. Following that season; much of the team graduated or entered the draft, leaving Walker as a sophomore leader on a disappointing 18-16 team. Walker was the most effective player on the team, averaging 14.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals in 35 minutes per game. Following his sophomore season, Walker was viewed as a late first-round draft pick due to his quickness and other skills. He returned to UConn and probably does not regret that choice. Walker was electric in 2010 – 2011 in leading UConn to the NCAA championship in addition to championships at the Maui Invitational and Big East Tournament. For the season, he averaged 23.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in 37.5 minutes per game and was first team All-American and Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA tournament.

Skill Overview: Kemba Walker is very fast. He is a great athlete and ball handler that can change speed and direction at any moment. Defenders have trouble staying in front of him in the half court and on fast breaks, providing many scoring opportunities at the basket and frequent visits to the foul line. Walker is a great leader and made many big plays for UConn last year. He is a very hard worker and an above average rebounder for his position. He plays tough man-to-man defense and fights through screens when chasing his opponent off the ball.

Concerns about Walker include his size; many suggest he is shorter than his listed height. This results in shots getting blocked and is a defensive concern against bigger point guards. Walker has never been a consistent outside shooter. His 33% three point shooting may not bode well for effectiveness from NBA range. Finally, there are concerns about Walker as a “shoot-first” point guard. When driving, he is typically focused on scoring which can result in poor shots when a better option was to pass to an open teammate.

Additional Info / Advanced Stats: Walker significantly improved every year while at UConn. His PER improved from 17.4 in 2008–09 to 20.5 in 2009–10 to 29.6 this year (15th in the country). Walker was tasked with handling much of the Huskies’ offense this year (31% usage rate), and the results were good as the Huskies are national champs. That said, the road to an NBA championship is not built on Kemba Walker using 31% of his team’s possessions. He scored frequently but somewhat inefficiently. He took 18 field goal attempts per game and shot 43/33/82. His 54% true shooting was respectable due to his eight free throw attempts per game. In the Final Four, he scored 34 points on 34 field goal attempts while distributing 7 assists against 6 turnovers. Scoring efficiently will not be any easier in the NBA.

Regarding his prospects for NBA 3-point shooting, Walker is described as having good shooting mechanics. From his freshman to sophomore year, his three point shooting improved from 27% to 34% as he worked hard to improve between seasons. He dropped to 33% his junior year, however he was asked to take shots he shouldn’t take in the NBA. Of his almost 6 threes a game last year, many were contested. Assuming natural progression from a player with a fluid shot and strong work ethic, Walker should convert spot up NBA 3s at a rate higher than his contested college shots.

Where Walker most needs to improve is showing the inclination to pass more often when he drives to the basket. Replacing some low percentage shots for himself with high percentage shots for teammates would greatly improve Walker’s effectiveness. Walker has exhibited good passing skills, as after his sophomore year nbadraft.net said he has “above average vision with the ball, showing the ability to hit the open man, open up the floor, or thread the needle”. At that time, DraftExpress.com said that Walker “has a lot of good tools, excelling in the pick-and-roll game and showing good court vision in general, capable of making tough passes to cutters in the lane.” Walker has improved at taking care of the ball, as this year he committed turnovers on only 11.6% of his possessions (6th best in the Big East). Through reducing turnovers, Walker has improved his pure point rating every year of his college career.

Assuming Walker can balance scoring and distributing more effectively; a best case scenario is as a high quality third scoring option on a contender (like Tony Parker, although Walker’s situation won’t be as good). As a third offensive threat, Walker should not feel the need to force shots and could play to the opportunity/match-up. A lower end of the potential career spectrum for Walker could be similar to Lou Williams or Brandon Jennings; small, fast guards who are more scorers than distributors. Walker will not be a franchise changer, but he will be a quality NBA point guard.

One final note is that Walker is from New York and has mentioned that it would be fun to play for the Knicks. If you are not yet prepared to see another face-of-the-Cavs wearing a NY Yankees hat, Kemba Walker is not the lottery pick for you.

Should the Cavs Retain Anthony Parker?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

WFNY has been running their annual “re-sign or release” feature over the past week or so. Today: Anthony Parker:

Parker provided his fair share of rough shooting nights, but when things could have gone completely toxic after the countless losses, it was his experience that kept a very inexperienced team together.  He has stated on more than one occasion that he hopes to return to see what the second season can provide for his would-be new teammates.

Anthony Parker has been an interesting topic of discussion this season. In checking my Twitter feed during Cavaliers games, I have discovered it’s kind of astounding how opinions on Parker range from “What a solid veteran leader” to “That guy should never play.” Regardless, let the old man walk. He was a useful piece during the LeBron Era, but he has no place on a basement dweller that’s trying to get younger.

In Defense of the Cavaliers

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

WFNY’s Andrew Schnitkey wonders whether or not the Cavs completely botched the LeBron departure:

The Hornets and/or Magic are probably more likely to consider a 50 cent trade on the dollar to give the Lakers either Chris Paul or Dwight Howard because, hey, who wants to be the Cleveland Cavaliers?

I’m abstaining from comment, more from exhaustion than anything.

Jan Vesely – Draft Profile

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Kevin Hetrick contributing again. My second overview of a potential lottery pick is about Jan Vesely from the Czech Republic. Mock drafts have him as early as 4th, but I am not particularly high on him as a lottery pick.

Jan Vesely
Height: 6-11
Weight: 240 lbs
Position: SF / PF
Age: Turned 21 in April

Summary: Jan Vesely is from the Czech Republic and plays for Partizan Belgrade in the Adriatic League and Euroleague. NBA scouts view Vesely as a top ten pick due to his combination of size & athleticism. He is known within the Euroleague for his highlight reel dunks and has exhibited good stretches of perimeter shooting. He is very active on the court however he needs to work on fundamentals on both offense and defense.

Basketball Bio: Vesely has played for Partizan Belgrade for three years. Partizan is the top team in the Adriatic League and participates in the Euroleague. He played limited minutes in 2008 – 2009 before becoming a potential NBA lottery pick the next year. In 2009 – 2010 at age 19, he played 22 minutes per game in 28 Adriatic League games; tallying 8.4 ppg and 3.5 rpg while shooting 57 / 32 / 66. Vesely really impressed in Euroleague games that year. In 22 games against the top teams in Europe, he averaged 8.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in 25 minutes while shooting 40% from three point range as Partizan advanced to the Euroleague semifinals. Vesely was projected as a lottery pick in the 2010 NBA draft however he returned to Partizan for 2010 – 2011. This year Vesely has not made much progression. In Euroleague play, he averaged 10 points and 3.6 rebounds in 28 minutes while averaging 10 points and 4.4 rebounds in 24 minutes during 26 Adriatic league games. Euroleague moved the 3 point line back 20” to 22.1 ft and Vesely’s shooting percentages from deep dropped to 31% across both league’s games.

Skill Overview: Vesely is a great athlete. He is tall, runs the floor extremely well and is an explosive jumper. This combination is rare and gives Vesely the potential to be a special player. Many of his points come from hustling and running the floor when he finishes fast breaks, oftentimes with dynamic dunks. He has shown flashes of being a good long distance shooter. His quick, long first step allows him to beat people off the dribble and get to the basket from the perimeter in a couple of strides. He is active and aggressive which results in offensive rebounds and steals. On defense, dirty work is his specialty; he hustles for loose balls and shows hard on pick and rolls.

He has typically played SF however defensively he struggles staying in front of quick perimeter players. About his defense he told NBA Draft Express, “Of course, they are smaller than me, they are faster so I need to work on my aggressiveness, try to get faster and play better defense.” To be a PF, he needs to add strength to defend and keep rebounding position. Vesely came to the game late and is still fundamentally raw and his basketball instincts are described as average. He will occasionally start dribbling without much of a plan. He is an inconsistent jump shooter and a poor free throw shooter. Two years ago he shot free throws at 63% however in 2010 – 2011 that dropped to 51% over 161 free throw attempts.

Additional / Advanced Stats: Despite the top-tier athleticism, Vesely does not yet have a history of doing productive basketball things. He is young and playing in competitive professional leagues, so to some extent that is understandable. On the other hand, he is now the age of college juniors and is still fairly raw. In 2009 – 2010, his PER was 15.2 in Euroleague games and 17.9 in the Adriatic League. This year his PER improved to 21.0 in Adriatic League games however it was 16.5 in the more competitive Euroleague. He converts efficiently around the basket however he is not asked to create a lot of shots for himself as he peaked this year at 6.5 fg’s attempted per game. Despite flashes of quality range on his shot, he was only 21 of 67 on threes this year and will need to step back another foot and a half in the NBA.

Vesely’s defensive rebounding is anemic due to lack of strength and positioning. In 16 Euroleague games this year, he averaged one defensive rebound every 15 minutes. This continues a trend as he has rarely rebounded much better than 4 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes. His long arms and aggressive defense result in steals however he is not a prolific shot blocker. For an extremely athletic 6’ 11” player, his average of 1.2 blocks per 40 minutes in both Adriatic and Euroleague games would seem to indicate poor timing or positioning. Aggressive defense has also lead to foul trouble; he averaged over six fouls per 40 minutes last year before reducing that to five per 40 this year.

NBA scouts are very intrigued by Vesely’s combination of size and explosiveness and think his talents will translate well in the NBA. He is however 21 years old and the only consistent skills he has exhibited are being tall, playing hard, running fast, and jumping high. These are good things, but he has never consistently shot well or rebounded. There are concerns about his strength, basketball instincts, and ability to defend in the NBA. A reasonable good-case scenario for Vesely is as a solid role player who plays hard, shoots well, and finishes with authority; perhaps Omri Casspi with great leaping ability. As a worst case scenario, let’s say he projects as a skinny JJ Hickson that can’t shoot free throws and doesn’t rebound. That’s mean, but he is only 1.5 years younger than Hickson. A best case scenario for Vesely is improving his strength, shooting, & rebounding while refining the remainder of his game. If he can maximize his skills and build on his performance of 2009 – 2010, he can be a very special player. I don’t think a top 8 pick should rely on so many improvements at 21 years old.

Joe Tait Documentary Now Available Online

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Via Fox Sports Ohio:

On April 13th, FOX Sports Ohio premiered “Have A Good Night, Everybody”, our documentary about the legendary voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Joe Tait. After the premiere, we received a large number of requests to have the documentary made available on our website, and we are pleased to be able to bring that to you now.

Click on over to FS Ohio if you missed the documentary or want to see it again. I haven’t seen the doc, but according to the Ohio sportswriters I follow on Twitter, it’s terrific.

Jimmer Fredette draft profile

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Fredette uses a creative array of scoop shots to finish in the paint.

“You got Jimmered!”

That’s the line BYU supporters delivered to opposing fans time and again over the past year. Fans held up signs counting Fredette’s points. And plenty of points there were, as the 6-foot-2, 195-pound combo guard averaged 28.9 points per game. But what kind of pro will Fredette make?

Strengths

First and foremost, Fredette is a shooter. He’s adept at shooting the ball from literally anywhere in the halfcourt offense. He’s comfortable shooting on the move, spinning into fadeaways and off the dribble. Considering how reliant the BYU offense was on Fredette’s ability to create a shot (33.4% usage) and the difficult nature of many of his resultant shots, its remarkable he was able to average an impressive 1.23 points per possession. His great range and solid 3-point shooting (39.6%, 44% as a junior) helped him greatly in that department.

Fredette has solid ball-handling and passing skills, giving him the ability to run the point, though his mentality is that of a two-guard. He shows good awareness in passing out of double teams. He has a solid first step, enabling him to easily get by defenders who often crowd him looking to contest jumpers.

Fredette’s scoring ability isn’t limited to his outstanding jumper. He possesses an array of creative finishing maneuvers in the paint, using scoops and floaters to finish. He also gets to the line at a very good clip (7.6 FTA), where he’s almost automatic (89.4%).

Finally, the team that drafts Fredette will have no need to worry about his character. He’s operated for the last four years under BYU’s now-infamous honor code and by all accounts is a respectable, confident young man.

Weaknesses

Defense, defense, defense. Like so many great college scorers, Fredette is severely lacking on the defensive side of the ball. He appears uninterested or unwilling to chase players through screens. His quick first step with the ball doesn’t translate to the defensive side, as he’s unable to prevent quick ball-handlers from getting by him. NBA guards will likely have their way with him in isolation situations, and he will have to show a much stronger desire on that side of the floor if he’s going to play serious minutes in the league.

BYU often tried minimizing his deficiencies by running zone defense, but even there, Fredette’s limitations are evident. He appears to be simply waiting for the opponent to shoot so BYU can get the ball back one way or the other.

Another ramification of Fredette’s disinterest in defense is he gives up too many offensive rebounds. He often loses track of his man and gets caught ball-watching, enabling players to sneak underneath him for boards.

Also of concern is Fredette’s tendency to turn the ball over. His mediocre assist to turnover ratio (1.13) isn’t indicative of strong play-making ability. However, his team’s extreme reliance on his ability to create offense probably played a big part in this.

I already mentioned Fredette’s array of finishing maneuvers at the basket. As impressive as they are, the fact that Fredette relies on them when he gets into the paint shows another weakness: finishing at the rim. Fredette has unremarkable leaping ability, and though he can usually get into good position by beating perimeter defenders, he relies on these fancy scoop shots to try to beat interior defenders. At the NBA level, athletic and long 4s and 5s are likely going to punish these shots, as Derrick Williams did when BYU played Arizona. Also, though Fredette is capable of attacking the rim from either side, he’s far more comfortable finishing on the right.

Expecting Fredette to significantly improve any of these weaknesses is probably asking too much. He’s a 4-year college player, so the player we’ve seen is likely the player we’re going to get in the pros.

How he fits with the Cavs

Cleveland had one of the worst offenses in the league this year, ranking 29th in the league in FG% at 43.4% (only Toronto was worse). Additionally, they were 23rd in 3-point shooting at 34.2%. Fredette would certainly help elevate both of those numbers.

The question is, what position will Fredette play?

Most have projected Fredette at PG. It will likely take some time for him to adjust to the position in the NBA, and the Cavs already have two serviceable veteran points in Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions.

What about SG? Overall, he would probably be an upgrade over Anthony Parker, who started most of the season at SG. Parker shot just 40% from the field and is about to turn 36. However, if paired with Baron Davis (112 DRtng) in the backcourt, the Cavs would have one of the leakiest defensive guard pairs in the league.

Fredette projects as a source of bench offense in the NBA. Drafting him will improve the Cavs’ offense. However, it’s unlikely to be a significant step forward in the long run, and Cleveland should probably look elsewhere for a mid-to-late lottery pick.

WFNY Analyzes Cavs’ Meager Roster

Friday, May 6th, 2011

From WFNY’s Andrew Schnitkey:

The hardest position to fix is going to SG. The Cavaliers haven’t had a true reliable, consistent, quality SG since, oh, I don’t know…..what, Wesley Person? So I think it’s worth keeping an eye out on SGs who become available this offseason, whether it be via draft, free agency, or trade. I really would like to see the Cavs figure out a way to really upgrade that position.

Consider this recommended reading. It’s a pretty comprehensive breakdown of the Cavs needs, returning players, and possible offseason moves.