Archive for June, 2011

#54 pick – Draft Profile

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

The draft is this Thursday. It’s been fun providing these Draft Profiles and hopefully they’ve spurred some good discussion of what the Cavs can do in the draft. The remainder of my top 30 are:

14. Nikola Vucevic – Very big, versatile scorer. Anchored PAC-10’s best defense.
15. Tobias Harris – Quality offense and rebounding and turns 19 next month.
16. Jan Vesely – I view Vesely as an athletic finisher and energy player
17. Jordan Hamilton – Good offense will help offset disinterested defense.
18. Chris Singleton – Impressive defensive player that would benefit by developing three point range.
19. Jimmy Butler – I like what he brings to the table
20. Klay Thompson – Good shooter but limited as a play maker and defender
21. Reggie Jackson – PER, offensive rating, on-court splits really like Jackson.
22. Marshon Brooks – For some reason I think of Jamal Crawford, a scorer on average teams.
23. Josh Selby – Explosive athlete. A year ago, was considered one of the best in class of 2010.
24. Jon Leuer – Quality Stretch 4
25. Donatas Motiejunas – Disappointing Eurocup season. Lacks defensive intensity.
26. Darius Morris – Big point guard, could play similar to Andre Miller.
27. JaJuan Johnson – Good athlete and mid range shooter, could contribute on offense and defense.
28. Nikola Mirotic – Talented 20 year old European. Would be higher except for contract extension with Real Madrid.
29. Charles Jenkins – Had a great senior season in a surprisingly strong conference (3 tournament teams)
30. Norris Cole – Great pick and roll point guard who has been impressing in workouts.

Regarding my prior rankings, I wouldn’t draft Fredette at #13. He is apparently looking very good in workouts, but the later parts of the draft will include Charles Jenkins, Norris Cole, Ben Hansborough and Andrew Goudelock. If a team wants to draft a scoring point guard that is a potential defensive liability; there should be better value than picking Fredette in the top 13.

The following players won’t be drafted, however they deserve an “honorable mention” as players to try out in summer leagues or pre-season: Gilbert Brown and Brad Wannamaker from Pittsburg, Josh Harrellson from Kentucky, Damian Saunders from Duquense, Willie Reed from St. Louis, and Jacob Pullen from Kansas State.

Obviously with the #54 pick expectations are low, but without further ado; the players the Cavs should consider:

Adam Hanga – Hanga is a 22 year old, 6’7” tall shooting guard from Hungary. He is a good athlete, who last week scored 16 points in the Adidas Eurocamp all-star game. He is a quality shooter and scorer; averaging 17.6 points in the Hungarian League this year with 58% true shooting and 37% three point shooting. He is also disruptive on defense, averaging 2.8 steals per game. He recently signed a two year contract to move up to the Spanish ACB, generally regarded as the best national league in Europe. There are reasons for the Cavs to draft a player that will be in Europe for a few years. The Cavs have 13 players under contract next year. If they sign 3 or 4 players from this draft class, they will need to buy out some existing players. Also in the event of a lockout; it will be beneficial to have a young player developing in a high quality European league, rather than not playing competitive basketball.

Jereme Richmond – Richmond just finished his freshman year at Illinois. He was a McDonald’s All-American and the 27th rated player in the class of 2010. He is a 6’7” small forward who is highly athletic, reflected in the fastest ¾ court sprint at the NBA combine. He had a relatively productive season with 7.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in 22 mpg and showed flashes of great defensive potential. He needs to get stronger and is an un-developed offensive player, but he is only 19 and if the Cavs wanted to buy-out Joey Graham and sign Richmond; that seems fine.

Michael Dunigan – Dunigan is a big body (6’10”, 240 lbs, 7’3” wingspan) that could find a place in the NBA. He was the 24th rated senior in the class of 2008 and attended Oregon. Following a sophomore season marked by poor conditioning, when he averaged 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 20 minutes per game, Dunigan left Oregon and went to play in Europe. In Europe, Dunigan has improved his conditioning and had a solid season playing for an Estonian team. In the elite division of the Baltic League (the12 best professional Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian teams), Dunigan played 22.7 minutes per game and averaged a solid 12.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and 1.2 steals. He was foul and turnover prone, but was named 3rd team all-Baltic league as a 21 year old rookie. He turns 22 next month.

Jon Diebler – Diebler is a 6’6” shooting guard from Ohio State. He does only one thing well, but fortunately for him he does it better than everyone else. Diebler is an outstanding shooter, leading the NCAA this year in 3-pt shooting percentage, true shooting percentage, and offensive rating. He shot 50% on threes this year, and over the last three years has made 326 of 734 from long range (44%). He has one definite NBA level skill and that could make him worth the 54 pick.

Jamine Peterson – Peterson is a 6’5” small forward with a big 6’10.5” wingspan. He turns 23 in July after having played two years at Providence and one year in the NBA D-League. His time at Providence ended due to him being dismissed for breaking team rules, but he was very solid when there. In 2009 – 2010 in 30 minutes a game, he averaged 19.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.3 steals; good for a PER of 28. Last year in 24 minutes a game in the D-League, he averaged 13.4 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 36% from long distance. Peterson could earn a place in the NBA as a 9th or 10th man, and that’s about all that can be hoped for at #54.

On the Valanciunas buyout

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Well, things have just gotten more complicated. According to Chad Ford, there are some buyout issues with Jonas Valanciunas, who most mock drafts had going to the Cavs with the #4 pick and whom I’d kind of fallen in love with. Obviously, things are now more complicated than they were. As I see it, the Cavs now have the following options:

1. Draft Irving at the #1, Draft Valanciunas at the #4, and wait a year for Jonas to come to these United States of America. This would be what I would want, but it appears unlikely the Cavs will pursue this option.

Here’s my justification: Do I think that Valanciunas will be a better player in the 2012-13 season than Kanter or any other non-point guard player who will be available at the #4 spot? I do. Do I believe the Cavs are ready to make a serious playoff run in 2011-12? I do not. Given those two conclusions, I think it makes sense to take the best player, wait the year, and not settle on a lesser player because of impatience.

Top-5 picks do not come often. And if the Cavs end up being horrible again and getting another high-lottery pick next season instead of flirting with the 7th or 8th slot, I think that would ultimately be for the best. The variable here is that we never know exactly how buyouts will go — the Cavs certainly wouldn’t want to risk a Rubio, or, dare I say it, Fran Vasquez situation.

2. Take Irving at the #1 spot and take Kanter with the #4 if the Jazz go with Knight. If the Jazz go with Kanter, you take a risk on either Vesely, Leonard, or Biyombo with the #4. I like Kanter a LOT less than I like Valanciunas, because I worship at the altar of Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler and think Al Jefferson is the most overrated player in basketball. This DX tidbit is pretty much a deal-breaker for me on Kanter:

This lack of experience shows up first and foremost on the defensive end, where Kanter was incredibly ineffective in the film we watched. His fundamentals, instincts and positioning leave a lot to be desired. He can often be found standing straight up in the paint with his arms down, putting in little to no effort. He rarely boxes out his opponent and generally looks disinterested in anything that has to do with defense. He rarely bends his knees and often fails to get back in transition–doing very little to protect the paint when he does.

From DraftExpress.com

Yikes. Thanks, but no thanks.

Vesely is a huge question mark. I don’t know much about Leonard, but he seems to scream “need pick.” I could actually sell myself on Bismack. He would be considered a MASSIVE reach, but it looks like he’s the best defensive player in several drafts, and the team DESPERATELY needs a defensive identity.

Varejao’s high-post skills actually do exist, he’s a natural 4 on defense, and both Varejao and Biyombo are great post defenders as well as great help-side/rotation defenders. There are worse default options than being able to roll out one of the best defensive frontcourts in the league. And a Biyombo/Hickson froncourt could actually work defensively, even though I think Hickson’s high-post skills aren’t good enough to make that frontcourt really click offensively.

3. Take Williams with the #1 and pick either Knight or Walker with the #4. I don’t love this. I’m 95-100% sold on Irving, 75-80% sold on Williams, and maybe 50% sold on Walker and Knight. Maybe they’ll become the next Durant and Westbrook, but I’m of the Moneyball theory of scouting to some extent — pro basketball isn’t a great place for guys to remake themselves. Knight and Walker weren’t efficient in college. Irving was hyper-efficient. Williams was hyper-efficient, but he doesn’t have a defensive position and the Cavs desperately need a defensive identity.

This draft is about building from the ground up. I think that starts with a guy who can definitely run an offense (Irving), and a guy who can help give the Cavs a defensive identity at the 4. I don’t know if an offense can be built around Williams, and in this scenario, the Cavs don’t address any defensive concerns. I don’t like that.

4. Try and pull off a trade with the #4 and land Irving and Williams. I actually have mixed feelings about this (DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE), but Williams is certainly a hell of an offensive player, and an Irving/Williams tandem would give the Cavs something to build around offensively.

The question here is whether it can actually happen. I have no idea what it would take to get that #2 pick. If it’s Hickson, Baron Davis, and the #4, done, although I would honestly have some reservations about giving up on Jonas. For the love of Pete, he’s a true 7-footer who loves defense and rebounding and shot 70% from the field and 90% from the FT line. Defense and efficiency incarnate. I LOVE defense and efficiency, which is why I hate Antawn Jamison.

Those are the options as I see them. We’ll see which one the Cavs go with on Thursday. For now, I’m sad that Cavs: The Blog’s official man-crush on Jonas Valanciunas seems like it will end before it ever really got a chance to begin. I shall weep for thee, Jonas. By the way, a pox on the house of Harrison Barnes, unless the Cavs are really bad again next season. (I actually might have taken Jonas over Barnes. I’m telling you, I am/was a man obsessed.)

Also, any time Sasha Kaun wants to come over, that would be very nice.

Craig Lyndall on Chris Grant’s Autonomy

Monday, June 20th, 2011

From WFNY:

Dan Gilbert says all the right things about building the team and doing things the right way.  As a rich guy, you know he must have seen the story play out at least a hundred times in the financial world since the recession began.  Making plays for short-term profitability to boost stock price quite frequently sees CEOs out of a job and stockholders holding a very heavy bag.  Same thing in sports.  Without the autonomy to do his job and pick who he thinks are the best players as opposed to those that might be the most popular or productive right away, Chris Grant could find himself out of a job and labeled a failure.

Grant’s right to make unpopular decisions is even more crucial in wake of recent news that Jonas Valanciunas will most likely not play in the NBA until the 2012-13 season. I feel I’m parroting every other sportswriter who doesn’t watch college or European basketball, but I am not a talent evaluator. Chris Grant is, or at least he has a team of talent evaluators at his disposal. If he believes Valanciunas is the guy to anchor the Cavaliers’ painted area for the next 10-12 years, then he should select Big V with the number four pick. Perhaps Chris Grant is an Enes Kanter guy. That’s terrific, and I’ll trust his judgment over my own, but the important thing here is that he selects the player he believes in regardless of short-term circumstances. Netting the seven seed and the right to be swept by Boston next May should not be a priority. Being legitimately good in three to five years is the goal.

With the fourth pick, the Cavs select Jonas Valanciunas

Monday, June 20th, 2011

I think this is another really easy pick if Jonas is on the board. I see Irving as a solid NBA point guard with a high ceiling and a low floor, and I see Valanciunas as a prototype center in today’s NBA. He doesn’t score much in the post or stretch the floor much, but he loves playing defense, is a true 7-footer with athleticism and reach, doesn’t take bad shots, ever, crashes the boards like a wild man, and loves to score garbage buckets and score on pick-and-rolls. That’s Tyson Chandler, that’s Joakim Noah. I LOVE those guys. And the 85% free throw shooting is a huge bonus.

There’s been a lot of talk about the Cavs trying to trade up for Williams, but I think Jonas and Kyrie can give the Cavs a young, effective point guard/center combination with no questions about their “true position” or bad habits they’ll need to get rid of if they want to be effective in the NBA. I’ll take that all day, every day. Maybe I’m just talking myself into things, but I think this is another no-brainer pick.

With the first pick, the Cavs select Kyrie Irving

Monday, June 20th, 2011

And they run to the podium to do it. I love Derrick Williams’ athleticism and production, but he’s a three on defense and a four offensively. Irving’s athleticism and production (in limited games, to be fair) are equally impressive, and he has a definite position. That makes him an easy pick here.

Irving has prototypical size for a point guard, he’s an above-average athlete for the position, and he’s a scoring guard with good point guard instincts. I mean 25.3 points per 40 minutes on 57%/46%/90% shooting? In college, he was a freaking 193 SHOOTER. You don’t pass up a guy with a definite position, real athleticism, and that kind of scoring efficiency, especially considering that the Cavs need someone to build an offensive system around.

Irving can be mentored by Baron Davis for a year to ease his transition (while hopefully picking up none of Davis’ shot selection habits), then step in and be an above-average point guard for the next 5-10 years. Safe pick, easy pick. And remember that fast point guards who can score have been underestimated as draft prospects ever since the hand-check rules came into effect — remember when Marvin Williams went ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul because Williams had “superstar potential?”

Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker are nice enough, but neither were nearly as efficient as Irving in college. Kyrie is on another level, and he’s the guy the Cavs should look to build their offense around going forward. He may not have a LeBron-like impact right away, but drafting him will give the Cavs a guy who can run the offense capably and have some big scoring nights. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is an easy pick, even if Williams goes off his rookie year and has some huge scoring nights en route to a rookie of the year award. I don’t know if Irving is the better player than Williams overall, but when there’s a relative tie between a point guard and a tweener forward, you take the point guard.

Drawings from the Notebook of Chris Grant (episode five):

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

What really happened to the Heat in the Finals...

Well, we’ve veered a bit off the draft this week…but I still thought this applicable.

Also, I’m pretty sure it’s entirely accurate.

Happy Sunday everyone! By the time I post another cartoon (next Sunday), may the Cavs have their foundation in place.



(Drawing from, colors by Nico Colaleo.)

Cavs Thinking Kanter or Valanciunas with Fourth Pick

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

From Rick Noland:

Fran Fraschilla, another ESPN draft expert, agreed when asked to choose between Valanciunas and Kanter, but he’s not particularly high on either at the moment because both are relatively unproven 19-year-olds.

“Throw darts against the board,” Fraschilla said. “None of us know how this is going to turn out (a few years from now). I would say take Kanter because of his size.”

The Cavs might be leaning that way. They’ve already had the Turkey native – Kanter was ruled ineligible by the NCAA last year prior to his freshman season at Kentucky – in for one workout and are scheduled to meet with him again Monday, with owner Dan Gilbert expected to sit in on that session.

Vote No for Vesely at 4

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

This is Kevin Hetrick contributing again. I want to add one last take on Jan Vesely. Vesely just finished his Serbian League season, averaging 14 points and 5 rebounds in the championship series. ESPN has moved him to 4th on their list of top prospects and 5th in their most recent mock draft. I’ve researched what Vesely has done through the years, watched what video is available to me, and I don’t understand the infatuation with him. A top 5 pick should become a top contributor on a playoff team, and I don’t see that. I view Vesely as a great fast break finisher and high energy player; not a player that will be a star.

I will start by comparing the Serbian League to the NCAA and build a very rough case that the professional Serbian League is not higher quality basketball than the top NCAA conferences. The league hierarchy of Serbian basketball is as follows:

 Euroleague: The best 24 teams from Europe’s national leagues participate, including Vesely’s team (Partizan).

 Eurocup: The second tier continental league. One Serbian League team (Hemofarm) played and lost in the round of 16.

 Adriatic League: Features the best professional teams from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Israel, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. In addition to Partizan and Hemofarm, two other Serbian teams qualified. Partizan was champion, Hemofarm finished 6th, and the other two teams finished 10th and 13th of 14 teams.

 Serbian League: Four additional teams compete with the four teams above for the Serbian SuperLeague championship. These other four teams are lesser than the teams that participated in the Adriatic League; as they finished 4, 6, 7 & 8 in the SuperLeague.

In summary, the Serbian League is not a high level European league. Other than Partizan, there are no Euroleague teams. They only send one other team to a continental league, and the team was not very competitive there. Partizan has won 10 straight Serbian championships and was 18 -2 this year, outscoring opponents by 14 points per game. One of their losses was against a team where the 3rd best player in minutes, points, and rebounds was Brandon Bowman. Brandon played at Georgetown until 2005 – 2006, peaking at 16 points and 8 rebounds per game his sophomore year when Georgetown went 13 – 15. Georgetown got more talented, and Bowman became their third leading scorer and rebounder his senior year. In summary, the 3rd best player on the 4th best team in the Serbian League was the 3rd best player on a 23-10 Georgetown team as a 22 year old. The other team that Partizan lost to this year was led by Michael Lee, who led his Serbian team in minutes, points, and rebounds. Lee was also the Serbian League’s defensive player of the year. He previously led the 2007 – 2008 St. Bonaventure Bonnies in the same categories when they went 8 – 22. So three years later, the best player from the last place team in the Atlantic Ten is now the best player for the 3rd best Serbian League team. I think this begins to build a case that the professional Serbian League is not better than the NCAA.

The Serbian League ended June 8th, and is the source of the stats I use below for Vesely. There is nothing particularly more impressive about his production in the 2011 Euroleague or Adriatic League. As a league’s talent level increases, Vesely’s production decreases. Also across all games in 2010 – 2011, Vesely shot 120 – 256 on free throws (47%). Something is broken with his foul shooting and fixing it will go a long way for his future production.

Now I will make a comparison to sum up where I rate Jan Vesely. Jan Vesely will be played by John Wesley. Tristan Thompson will be played by Tristan Tomovic. Thompson’s stats are from his freshman year at Texas.

John Wesley is 21 years old and just finished his junior year as a combo-forward at Kansas. He has declared for the NBA draft, and has always been tantalizing as an NBA prospect due to his highlight reel dunks and energy level. He really started to put it all together this year. Per 40 minutes, he averaged 21.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.0 turnovers, 1.2 blocks, 1.0 steal, and 5.1 fouls with 58% true shooting. He is relatively raw offensively; scoring on fast breaks and put backs, while still working on his post game and lacking a consistent shot. Scouts were blown away by his length, speed, and leaping at the combine; but are concerned about his agility and strength. His size and energy are good on defense, but questionable lateral quickness and a skinny frame could pose defensive issues in the NBA.

Tristan Tomovic is a 20 year old power forward from Montenegro, who just finished a second season with his Euroleague team. European basketball has rarely seen a player like Tristan. He is 6’9” with long arms, and is strong and athletic. His per 40 minute averages in the Serbian League were 17.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.3 turnovers, 3.1 blocks, 1.2 steals and 3.6 fouls with 54% true shooting. He is raw on offense – scoring on offensive rebounds, cuts, and in transition; but his agility and strength make him a force on defense. He had strong defensive showings against some of the better players in the Euroleague this year.

Who gets picked first in the draft? Wesley scored slightly better and is a more freakish athlete, but Tomovic is also a good athlete and is stronger. Tomovic is younger and not too far behind on offense, while also being more of a defensive force.  Wesley’s team plays five possessions per 40 minutes faster (7% faster), so Tomovic’s stats are even more comparable if viewed per team possession.  If Tristan Thompson was from Montenegro, he’d probably be a top 5 pick. Would John Wesley be viewed similarly to Marshon Brooks; a talented upperclassmen with added appeal due to his athleticism? It would be even more skewed toward Tomovic if John Wesley’s numbers came playing for Xavier in the Atlantic 10. I made the comparison of Vesely to Thompson because both players are developing power forwards who were their teams second leading scorers; however another comparison could have been the Morris twins, who were actually Kansas’ junior power forwards. The statistical comparison of the hypothetical Wesley to the Morris twins is much less favorable for Vesely, especially when accounting for questions about the position Vesely defends in the NBA.

I am not a professional talent evaluator, but it seems to me there is a place for evaluating a player’s “tools” and a place for evaluating skills and production. Vesely has tools. He is fast, long & jumps high, but there aren’t a lot of well-defined basketball skills (besides energy) or a history of great production. With “older” prospects, it seems more credit needs given for skill level and production, and less for “tools”. I have trouble making sense of Vesely as the 4th best player in the draft while the Morris twins are in the mid-third of the first round.

Possible 32nd pick quick draft profiles

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Could former prep superstar Jeremy Tyler, coming off stints in Israel and Japan, be the answer for Cleveland with the 32nd pick?

Now that we’ve covered basically all of the projected lottery picks, it’s time to go into the realm of uneducated guesswork and wild speculation. The first pick Cleveland has in the second round is the second pick, 32nd overall. The reason this is fairly wild (some might say pointless) speculation should be obvious: it’s much harder to guess what players will be available after 31 picks than four picks.

Still, we’re here to drop knowledge about the draft, and decent players have been picked near this spot in recent years. Some examples: Landry Fields in 2010 (39th), DeJuan Blair in 2009 (37th), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in 2008 (37th) and Carl Landry in 2007 (31st).

I’m going to throw out a few possibilities I think the Cavs should consider with this pick. I’ll primarily be looking at players who I think would be good fits with the roster here. I’m assuming the Cavs will draft Irving first overall here, so I didn’t include point guards.

Justin Harper

Harper’s a player who can help the Cavs right away with his shooting ability. A 6’9, 228-pound power forward, the senior from Richmond shot an outstanding 44.8% from college 3 this season. He bench pressed 185 pounds 19 times, tops at the combine, though his agility and vertical numbers were below average. His defense needs work, and he will probably struggle to guard NBA big men. He’s also only an average rebounder. On the bright side, he averaged just 1.5 turnovers and 2.2 personal fouls in nearly 32 minutes per game, so he won’t hurt his team with stupid mistakes. If the Cavs part ways with Hickson, as some have predicted, Harper could make a good replacement, as they’ll need an offensively skilled big to pair with Varejao.

Malcolm Lee

The Cavs are sorely lacking good athletes on the wing, and Malcolm Lee could fill that void quite well. He’s played some point in his career at UCLA, but didn’t have many more assists than turnovers and projects as more of a shooting guard. At 6’5, 200 pounds, with a wingspan of 6’10 and very strong athleticism numbers across the board, Lee can contribute right away on the defensive end. His shooting stroke needs work, but he made major jumps in both 3-point (25% to 30%) and free-throw (71 % to 78%) accuracy between his sophomore and junior years, which bode well for his development in this area. He and Irving could form a strong defensive backcourt.

Jeremy Tyler

One-time prep phenom Jeremy Tyler is coming back home to play basketball, and he returns with considerably less buzz than he generated when he left after his junior year of high school. Tyler, a 6’10, 260-pound big man, projects as either a center or power forward in the NBA. The guess here is that he’s a center, a position at which the Cavs sorely lack talent. He has a monstrous 7’5 wingspan and outperformed lottery pick Enes Kanter in every athleticism test besides ¾ court sprint (3.29s to 3.26s) and bench press (11 reps to 14). On the other hand, his 260-pound frame is carrying 13.4 percent body fat. His skills still have a ways to go, as he failed to garner significant playing time in his stint in Israel. Still, he remains an intriguing talent, and if he ever fulfills his massive potential, he’ll be an NBA starter. Whether that happens is anyone’s guess, but in a relatively weak draft in which they have four picks, the Cavs can afford to take a flier on a high-risk, high-reward talent like Tyler.

Cavs Draft News via Brian Windhorst

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Contrary to Marc J. Spears’s report that the Cavaliers are undecided as to how to employ their first pick, Brian Windhorst says Irving is at the top of their board:

Cavs going to draft Kyrie Irving with 1st pick. They’re scheming to figure out how to get D. Williams but Irving is top of their board.

And the Cavs are willing to move Ramon Sessions and/or J.J. Hickson in order to acquire draft picks:

2 players you can talk to Cavs about now: Ramon Sessions & JJ Hickson. Andy Varejao not available for just a draft pick.