Archive for July, 2011

Drawings from the Notebook of Chris Grant (episode 10):

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Well, the lockout is on and times are slow, so what else to do but take a glimpse at the offseason training regimens of a few of our favorite Cavs…and/or our most transient ones.

This one’s for John.

“I’m not sure if Antawn Jamison could successfully defend a woman’s right to vote.” –John Krolik

Until next week,

DFTNOCG

……………………….

Ps- Picture by the preeminent sports picture blog on the internet (according to my mom) CFAAP.COM, colors by the ever so talented AJS.

Giving out grades: Antawn Jamison

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

So the time has come for this.

I think Antawn Jamison is a very nice man, and a very skilled basketball player. He’s always gracious to the media and fans, and has clearly worked very hard on his offensive game to have been an effective scorer well into his thirties.

That said, I loathe Antawn Jamison very, very much. People often say they have an “irrational hatred” for a player. I believe that I have a very rational hatred towards Antawn Jamison. To borrow a line from Broadcast News, Antawn Jamison, while being a very nice man, is the devil.

Offensively, Jamison’s only notable skill is the ability to create shots. That means that he is able to heave the ball in the direction of the basket at a greater rate than most players who play is position. He is a decent finisher at the immediate rim. That much he has going for him. Everything else is overrated.

Jamison favors an array of unorthodox flip shots and floaters from the paint instead of simply trying to power his way to the basket and draw the foul or finish hard. When they go in, it’s very pretty, and the broadcasters will inevitably comment on how unusual and impressive that part of Jamison’s game is.

However, there is a reason why nobody’s mid-post game looks like Jamison’s — those shots don’t go in very often, and he’s prone to forcing them at inopportune times. Jamison made 46.2% of his shots from the 3-9 foot area, and his free-throw rate was miserably low.

As an outside shooter, Jamison is overrated as well. Jamison made 30% of his shots from 10-15 feet, 37% of his long twos, and 34.6% of his threes. He finally started shooting a lot more threes than long twos this season, which is good, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that he’s a ball-stopper with those outside shots and not nearly as effective of a shooter as he thinks he is. Oh, and he finished 59th among power forwards in assist rate.

Then there’s the defense. Oh lord, the defense. The Cavs were terrible at both offense and defense last season. The offense is understandable — the player the offense was built around left, and the Cavs didn’t have the talent to put up points on a regular basis. The defense, on the other hand, was embarrassing and inexcusable. It was disappointing to watch the Cavs’ offensive futility. It was infuriating to watch the Cavs give up wide-open layups and threes to any team that wanted them on a nightly basis.

When the Cavs had a truly horrible defensive breakdown, which was often, I’d rewind the DVR to see what happened. A shockingly high percentage of the time, Antawn Jamison was at the root of the problem. When he’s involved in a play defensively, the Cavs played 4-on-5 in 2010-11. He’s not a post defender, he can’t stop guys off the dribble, and he’s horrifyingly bad in the pick-and-roll.

The last point was particularly glaring — he’d glide over the screen like he was thinking about showing, allow the ball-handler to go past him without offering resistance, and jog back to his man, creating a four-on-five situation. It happened over and over and over again, and it was excruciating to watch. Words cannot describe just how bad Jamison’s defense was. At mid-season, I wrote that I’m not sure if Jamison could successfully defend a woman’s right to vote. It was easier to get penetration against Antawn Jamison than it was against Jenna Jameson. I joke, but it was truly awful and team-crippling, especially when the guy is supposed to be a locker-room leader. How is a team supposed to play defense when their supposed best player clearly couldn’t care less about it?

I believe successful teams are built around defense and efficiency, especially when they don’t have a superstar. Jamison was not efficient, and his defense was an insult to all that man has achieved since the discovery of fire. And all of this happened after Jamison got abused by Kevin Garnett so badly in the 2010 playoffs that he legally must name his next child Big Ticket Jamison.

That said, Jamison did make nearly three-quarters of his free throws this season after shooting a Shaq-like percentage during his first season with the team. CATCH THE FEVER!

The good news is that Jamison has a big expiring contract. Maybe some team will be foolish enough to take it on. Lord knows it’s happened before. For now, we can only hope.

2010-11 Grade: D Minus

Outlook for the 2011-12 Season: Please, please trade him. I can’t watch him play basketball any more.

Drawings from the Notebook of Chris Grant (episode 9.5):

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

I promise an extravaganza (and/or a normal cartoon) next week to make up for this.

A last minute scheduling conflict nearly derailed this week’s entry…but fear not. My always wanting to help out, super-awesome, 6-year-old cousin Adam has agreed to contribute this guest-submission of his favorite player Antawn Jamison to Drawings from the Notebook of Chris Grant.

Antawn Jamison looks pasty...

I count two major errors.

……………………….

Check out the picture blog at CFAAP.com. (Our membership has grown by 200% in the last week alone…which bolsters our ranks to a hefty seven. So basically, the glass is half-full, but it’s a two-inch glass.)

Also, the artist wishes you to know that the above was done with Crayola brand crayons on standard notebook paper. All rights reserved.

Giving out grades: Daniel Gibson

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

The biggest win in the history of the LeBron era will forever be known as “The Daniel Gibson game.” It’s easy to forget just how desperately the Cavs needed shooters once upon a time, and just how much of a blessing Boobie’s three-point stroke was when he worked his way into the rotation late in the Conference Championship season.

For the first few years of his career, that’s what Boobie was — a good, mobile shooter who was deadly accurate from three-point range, was quick enough to get into his spots when LeBron was improvising in the lane, and was never afraid of the big moment. Every off-season, people expected Boobie to develop his passing skills or his game inside of the three-point arc, but it never really happened — in fact, when Boobie did try and incorporate a floater into his game to become more of a complete scorer, it was an unmitigated disaster.

Of course, while the team fell completely to pieces last year, Boobie quietly had a breakout couple of months to begin the season. After an off year in 2009-10, Boobie looked great at the beginning of the season. Not only was he making his threes, but the lightbulb actually seemed to come on for him as a playmaker and he wasn’t horrible when he put the ball on the floor — unsurprisingly, Boobie crushed his career-highs in both FTAs and assists per game last season. On top of that, Gibson has always been a much better defensive player than Mo Williams, and the gap between him, Williams, and Sessions defensively was fairly easy to notice. Boobie, who was once a pure three-point specialist, was all of a sudden looking like a very poor man’s Chauncey Billups.

Then Boobie got hurt (and, like Anthony Parker, wasn’t rescued by a contender at the trade deadline), and his numbers fell off a cliff. Such is life in the NBA.

Boobie, like Ramon Sessions, puts the Cavs in something of a bind. If he can re-gain his early-season form, he’d be the perfect point guard or backup point for a team that doesn’t really revolve around its point guard. The Cavs’ two best players are point guards, Boobie’s contract is too big to get a good asset in return for him, and Boobie is too good to simply dump for the sake of dumping. It doesn’t look like Boobie will still be with the team when his contract runs out, but I have no real idea how the Cavs are going to manage to move him. If nothing else, Boobie, thanks for the memories. Oh, and feel free to discuss whether or not Boobie should have gotten a lot of Mo Williams’ minutes in the 2008-09 or 2009-10 playoffs.

2010-11 Grade: C Plus

Outlook for next season: Try to trade him, but to who?

Drawings from the Notebook of Chris Grant (episode 9):

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

Or, the NBA: Where Amazing Happened…

This ball is lonely.

A little backstory…

Two weeks ago, I first got the idea to make some sort of a promotional banner for the NBA lockout, and what I came up with was essentially a pictorially transcribed version of the NBA.com page sans players as accordant with NBA lockout policy.

Basically, this is what happened:

What Happened.

It struck me as not my most visually enticing endeavor, and worse, for those looking closely, it also kind of outed me as a closet Eva Amurri picture hoarder.

So, for today’s episode of DFTNOCG (pictured above), here’s a more streamlined (slash less personally revealing) effort.

Happy lockout everyone. May this picture soon be dated.

Signed,

Ryan “NBA TV should be free until this deal is resolved” Braun

…………………………

Ps- Picture by Ryan and Aron at CFAAP.com.

Pps- Next week, as inspired by one of John’s recent comments, we’ll be traveling back to Ancient Egypt to take a peek at the lineage of a few of the Cavalier wings…

Giving out grades: Anthony Parker

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Once upon a time, Anthony Parker was, as I understand, perhaps the best player in the history of Israeli basketball. He was like Kobe Bryant — he could shoot from anywhere, make plays when he needed to, and fill up the scoreboard while demoralizing his opponents.

When Parker returned to North America with the Raptors, he was a prototypical “3-and-D” player — he played great man-to-man defense and knocked down open threes on offense, particularly from the corners, which Toronto fans began referring to as “Parkerville.”

In 2009-10, AP was brought in to be a role player next to LeBron, and he did a decent enough job, although he could never defend or put pressure on defenses the way a 100% Delonte did in 2008-09.

In 2009-10, AP was in a situation he wasn’t supposed to be in, and he knew it. Parker’s defense is still decent, but it’s anything but game-changing, and he wasn’t able to save the Cavs’ abysmal defense. The Cavs didn’t have enough quality playmakers to open him up for threes, which meant he had to try and find his “Michael Jordan of Isreal” form, and the results weren’t pretty. You could see flashes of the player he used to be — the smooth jumpers off of pin-downs, the surprisingly good playmaking, the smooth footwork on offense. However, at 36, AP showed that he isn’t a starting-quality two-guard anymore, and would be a fringe rotation player at best on a contender. By the way, Anthony Parker played the 3rd-most minutes of any Cavalier last season.

Early in the season, Parker made his threes, but was way outmatched whenever he stepped inside the arc. Parker’s best moments of the season came in February, which could be described as a “please, for the love of all that is holy, trade me to a decent team for one more shot at a ring” stretch of basketball. In February, Parker averaged a season-high 11.7 points per game on 50% shooting from the field and 47.4% from beyond the arc, and the Bulls were starting Keith Bogans at shooting guard. Ultimately, though, nobody had any real interest in AP, and that seemed to take a lot of the wind out of his sails.

In March, Parker averaged 7.5 points on 39% shooting overall and 35% from beyond the arc, with the only real bright spot being a 20 point-performance against the Heat that AP recorded while only taking nine shots. I think motivation was an issue for Parker last season.

Parker won’t be back for the 2011-12 season — the Cavs have Casspi wearing chai next season, and the backcourt that finishes games will be Irving/Baron anyways. Hopefully Parker finds a contender that can find a use for him as a 7th-9th option next season, because he can still contribute with his shot and his smarts and he deserves some more NBA success before he calls it a career.

2010-11 Grade: C minus

Outlook for 2011-12: He’s gone.

On the Lockout and Lungfish :: Colin McGowan

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

I know we’re not really feeling the effects of the NBA Lockout yet. Were the Lockout—as it manifests itself in my fever dreams—a be-fanged lungfish the size of skyscraper, which speaks only in the wails of immolating children, most of us would now only be nervously tittering in the front of the evening news, as Lungfish Lockout Monster ravages a metropolitan area some 600 miles away. (Brian Williams, in this scenario, continues to remain unflappable and charming). Free agency and Summer League are fun and all, but as the playoffs remind us each year, we like the NBA primarily because we like to watch ten players at a time play basketball at its pinnacle.

But Lungfish Lockout Monster looms. He’s in the Nevada desert now, popping the roof off of Treasure Island, and consuming its residents as if they were fleshy Pez. In your nightmares, you are awakened by the smell of his breath, and his breath smells like your family being digested. He may be hundreds of miles away, but he will surely drink the blood of your child, and worse, just before slicing your daughter open like a juicebox he will whisper softly in her ear I spoke with that cute boy in your biology class. He thinks your haircut is stupid.

How can you avoid such a tragic end? You must prepare! So here is, like, some stuff you can do when the Lockout runs into the NBA season. (Just for the sake of avoiding anyone taking legal action against me, these things probably will not help if a monster pulled from a particularly terrifying narcotics binge becomes flesh and rampages across the United States. If that happens, my only suggestion is to buy a harpoon gun and go down swinging.)

Suggestion No. 1: Read a Book.

I’m a big advocate of the works of Robert Musil, particularly The Man Without Qualities. And this thing’s probably gonna take awhile, so if you’ve ever wanted to read an incomplete, 1824-page novel that is ostensibly about pre-WWI Austria, but is also about art and beauty and the horrific effects of inaction, now is as good a time as any.

But maybe you’re not one of the eight people on the planet to whom that sounds appealing. No worries: there are a lot of terrific basketball books, and John composed a pretty comprehensive list of them a couple of years ago. I’m not terribly well-read when it comes to sports books, but I’m taking it upon myself to select a few tomes from John’s list over the coming months, if only for educational purposes. I do find, from what I have read, that reading well-written non-fiction on the NBA, especially about bygone eras, has enhanced my appreciation of the league; I would imagine leafing through Breaks of the Game or Pistol has done the same for others.

On top of that, there are always back issues of Sports Illustrated (which had some exceptional NBA-related stuff in the 70s and 80s) if you can find them. And FreeDarko’s still up. The guys over there were so thorough that it might take you two NBA seasons to sift through their archives.

Suggestion No. 2: Youtube

Have you guys realized there is tons of old NBA footage on there? If you missed the Bird and Magic Era or any of the Jordan Years, a lot of it is available on Youtube if you’re willing to dig for it. Plus, there are old dunk contests, awkward press conferences, and Mark Madsen yelling stuff in Spanish. Well done, Internet.

Suggestion No. 3: Buy Lungfish Repellent

Won’t work. It’s like a marinade to them. And that lungfish thing was a metaphor, so I don’t know why we’re still talking about this.

Suggestion No. 4: There’s Always College Ball

Unless Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson are the next coming of Kevin Johnson and Charles Barkley, the Cavaliers will still be pretty lousy this season. Or at least I hope they will be (Harrison Barnes!). Next year’s draft class is supposed to be loaded with talent. Those two factors mean a.) the NCAA might not be completely painful to watch this year and b.) you can rationalize watching a bunch of 18 year-olds spend half the game dribbling the ball 26 feet away from the basket as “scouting.” I might buy a clipboard and occasionally scribble things like “No. 18 for Kentucky’s got a cool haircut” during games while wondering how many households I would have to rob in order to accumulate the $300 million it’s going to take to get the NBA up-and-running again.

Suggestion No. 5: Rob Enough Households to Accumulate the $300 Million It’s Going to Take to Get the NBA Up-and-Running Again

I mean, if we all pooled our collective resources… Actually, we probably shouldn’t talk about this on a public forum. Hit up my Gmail.

Suggestion No. 6: Argue

One luxury the shutdown of the NBA affords us is that we don’t need to sift through free agency rumors or watch the Summer League and wonder how Kyrie Irving’s assist rate against scrubs and rookies will translate against NBA starters. We’re untethered to the minutiae of the offseason which, while sorta fun, isn’t substantive or useful. During free agency, one doesn’t actually need to know their team is pursuing Dwight Howard. The only bit of news that has a shelf life of more than eight hours during the offseason is “Player X traded for Player Y and a first-rounder” or “Player Z signs with Toronto for $28 mil over 4 years,” and even then, we endlessly debate the merits of these transactions while, in a few months, that analysis will be rendered meaningless by actual basketball taking place.

So, not being required to worry about what the Cavs will do with Ramon Sessions is freeing. We can take a step back and assess the big picture or even the minute pictures of past seasons. Now would be the time to have that argument with a friend over the legitimacy of Steve Nash’s MVP trophies, is what I’m saying. Now would be the time to talk capital letter stuff: Race, Sexuality, Fame, Truth. Now would be the time for brainstorming and good ideas, since the AP newswire and Sportscenter aren’t feeding us narratives. I know we all have the tendency not to discuss topics that aren’t immediate, but—take heart, NBA Lover—there’s still so much to talk about.

Sebastian Pruiti Breaks Down Tristan Thompson

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

From NBA Playbook:

Tristan Thompson is a athletically gifted 20 year old (and physical freak – 6’8″ with a 7’2″ wingspan) who didn’t have the most consistant freshman season that we have seen, but he did show tremendous flashes of potential this year. Still, it was a surprise that the Cleveland Cavaliers took Thompson with the fourth overall pick with Jonas Valanciunas still on the board.

It’s difficult to find a decent pull-quote. Just click the link and watch Pruiti break down Thompson’s strengths and weaknesses.

Giving out grades: Ramon Sessions

Monday, July 11th, 2011

It was an up-and-down year for Razor Ramon and me. I was extremely excited about the Sessions trade when it happened, mostly because I believed that Sessions, once freed from the triangle, would go back to being the pure point he was in Milwaukee and be the best Cavalier pure point since Andre Miller.

Things didn’t turn out that way. As Mo Williams had his ups and downs trying to become a playmaker, Razor Ramon was apparently told or believed that his role was to provide instant scoring off the bench. Since Ramon can’t really shoot from the outside, that led to a lot of reckless drives to the rim that ended in hopeless floaters or turnovers.

Still, every now and again, Ramon would have it click, and the Cavs offense never looked better in the first half of the season than it did when Ramon was running the show. He’d penetrate relentlessly, he’d open up passing lanes for his teammates, and he’d actually get a drive-and-kick offense going. Still, those games were few and far between, and when the Cavs were having their historically terrible stretch, Ramon seemed to be content to be the lord of garbage time.

However, when Mo got injured and Ramon took over the starting spot, it REALLY started to click for him. He actually started making his jumper often enough to keep the defense honest, his drives to the rim had purpose, and he even looked like a true point guard and made good decisions when the defense collapsed on him. In February, Ramon averaged 20 points and 8.8 assists per game on 56.3% shooting from the field. That’s one heck of a month from a point guard.

When Baron took the starting spot, Ramon had some growing pains, but he seemed to figure it out near the end of the year, and he averaged 17.6 points on 53.3% shooting over the last month of the season.

The good news is that if Ramon can play like he did in February and April next season, he’s the perfect guy to lead a second unit. Then there’s the bad news, and there’s a lot of it.

First of all, there’s the matter of Ramon’s defense. One of my theories is that a point guard can’t hurt a team that badly defensively in today’s NBA, because nobody can stop point guards off the dribble anyways with the new rules, but Ramon made me question that belief. According to every advanced metric, Ramon was absolutely atrocious on defense. That’s something you can survive from a backup point guard, especially if Byron Scott can get through to him and teach him to guide his man towards the help, but it’s certainly not a good thing.

Also, there’s the matter of Baron Davis and Kyrie Irving. Sessions has a player option for the 2012/13 season, as does Baron. Baron is a better point guard than Sessions — even if Baron doesn’t continue to make threes like he did as a Cav, he’s a noticeably better pure point than Ramon, and everything simply flowed better when Baron was on the floor. And Kyrie isn’t going anywhere for a long, long time.

So here’s the paradox: Ramon is too good to trade him for the sake of trading him, the Cavs have no real need for him, and he’s not good enough to get any significant assets back in a trade. I’d like to see the Cavs play things conservative with Ramon on the block — Baron can’t be trusted to stay healthy for 82 games, and Kyrie is just a rookie. At $4 million a season, Ramon is a bit expensive for a default option, but it’s not like he’s killing the cap or anything.

Sessions is still only 25, and I’d like to see him be the team’s backup for Kyrie in the long-term after Baron’s contract runs out. Still, two years is a long time to keep a player on ice, and I’m realistic — there’s not much chance Ramon stays a Cav for the rest of his contract. For what it’s worth, Razor Ramon, we certainly had some good times together.

2010-11 Grade: B minus

Dump Him/Trade Him/Would Like To Keep/Would Love to Keep/Untouchable: Would like to keep

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

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Last week, I promised a send-off to someone more deserving than Jonas Valanciunas.

And here is it.

Goodbye JJ…

J.J. Hickson leaves the Cavs their doughnuts...

You will be missed.

Signed,

(to steal a Krolikism)

A Hicksomaniac

…………………..

ps-This picture was again colored by the inimitable AJS.

pps- Check out CFAAP.com for more drawings (though you guys have seen a number of them).