Archive for June, 2012

Cavs Extend Alonzo Gee Qualifying Offer

Friday, June 29th, 2012

In less earth-shattering news, the Cavs have given Alonzo Gee a qualifying offer, which makes him a restricted free agent this summer and the Cavaliers will have the option to match any offer Gee gets from other teams. It has been rumored the Phoenix Suns might offer him something in the 4 yr/$16 mil range, but at this stage it’s just a rumor. At any rate, the free agency market opens up on July 1st, and we’ll soon find out if another team is dumb enough to overpay a sixth or seventh man. If not, I’m highly in favor of bringing Gee back, especially considering he may be the best option available to start at small forward.

A Post-Draft Fireside Chat

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

In the wake of this draft we’re trying to make sense of things. Kevin and Colin are hanging out in an Edenic garden/irradiated wasteland sitting on giant, colorful toadstools/the carcasses of loved ones discussing the implications of whatever the hell happened tonight.

Kevin: Obviously this was not a “best-case” scenario, but I’m going to start with a glass-mostly-full take.  How did the Cavs respond to missing out on their two favorites: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Brad Beal?  They answer the question: what would a Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving backcourt look like?

In May 2008, the UCLA sophomore was projected as a non-lottery pick.  As an uber-athletic combo-guard, playing next to stud freshman Kevin Love, and upperclass stalwarts Darren Collison and Luc Richard Mbah a’ Moute, his college playing days passed by as a high quality role player.  In his second NCAA season, he averaged 13 points, 4, rebounds and 4 assists on 47 / 34 / 71 shooting.  Draftexpress listed his “best case” as Leandro Barbosa.  Mainly lauded for his athleticism and defensive intensity, questions existed about his position and offensive polish.  But then, a funny thing happened.  He started creeping up draft boards, by late June reaching the mid-lottery on most mock drafts.   On draft day, something CRAZY happened; GM Sam Presti did a solid job to resist the temptation to add (a more highly regarded player) and take a player with considerably more upside at the fourth pick in Russell Westbrook”.  The local media was surprised, as everyone thought the team may trade up or down.  Most were left scratching their heads.

Well, you see where this is going.  Four years later, it’s deja vu, except Cleveland shocks their fans by selecting an athletic combo-guard at #4.

And really, the two players have some similarities.  Admittedly, Westbrook was young for a sophomore, nearly one year younger than Waiters on draft day.  But both measured 6’ – 2” with a 6’ – 7” wingspan, except Waiters packs on thirty extra pounds.  Westbrook is more athletic.  Per 40 minutes pace adjusted, the 16, 5 & 5 of Westbrook and the 21, 4 and 4 of Waiters match-up favorably for Waiters.  Waiters’s 26 PER and 116 offensive rating with 26 usage thrashes Westbrook’s collegiate numbers of 19, 110, and 23.  Both players gained praise for their defense, while carrying offensive question marks.

What are your thoughts?  Is this a disaster?  What do you think of my best case scenario: Kyrie and Russ Westbrook?  Is it feasible from Waiters?  How does that work on the basketball court?

Colin: I’m from the Syracuse area, so I’m somewhat familiar with Waiters. It’s true: he’s Westbrook-y. That’s the comparison people make, at least. (You should know that the Syracuse basketball team is pretty much the main draw sports-wise in central New York; they tend to overrate their own out of love and boredom.) I hesitate to compare anyone to Westbrook because he’s a.) one of the very best players in the NBA, and b.) probably a singular talent. But Waiters is strong, fast, good with the ball in his hands, and a streaky shooter. He can defend when he wants to because he has great lateral quickness and active hands. I understand the pick, I think. He might have the highest ceiling of any player not picked in front of him. He’s a bit of a jerk, and has some work ethic issues; if he can get his head right, we’ll see what he can do.

How does he fit in next to Irving? That’s the tough question. Obviously, when Westbrook (and we’re really using “Westbrook” here under erasure) was brought into the OKC organization, the idea was to make him into a point guard. What would have happened if he remained at his more natural position? That’s a rabbit hole I can’t see far enough down, really. The pick isn’t a disaster. I really don’t think that. It’s just that Chris Grant has put his zeppelin-sized testicles on the table, and proclaimed “Come at me, bro! I stake my reputation on Dion Waiters being a very good player.” We will see, CG. I respect your sense of daring.

Kevin: Fair enough. To a large extent, the point I was trying to make is: Westbrook was a surprise.  One month before the draft, people weren’t saying “Russ Westbrook will be a top-ten NBA player”. A large majority weren’t saying it on draft day.  Also, there is a decent amount of similarity in them as players, as far as their skills, draft trajectory, etc.

You call him a “bit of a jerk.” I’ve read he thinks of himself as the best player on the court. That could be an issue next to Kyrie, who we all plan on being the best player on the court. But really, isn’t that an interesting dynamic of the Westbrook/Durant teaming?

Obviously Waiters will end up going the shooting guard route of a “combo guard”. I think an aggressive, scoring guard can work well next to Kyrie, and is kind of what was hoped for in Beal. You could even stagger Waiters off the bench, like a Harden, to keep a strong scoring threat on the court at all times. He’s a pretty well-rounded offensive player; in addition to his aggressive, attacking nature, his three-point shooting percentage finished better than fellow sophomore Harrison Barnes and the next-Ray Allen. The Cavs definitely got faster and more skilled today than they were yesterday.  Even defensively, Avery Bradley only stands 6′ – 2″ and wasn’t he a lock-down two-guard revelation this year?  I’m not sure Waiters’s size is completely prohibitive, and think Irving and Waiters form an intriguing next-decade backcourt.

Definitely props to Chris Grant. He went all-in. Speaking of, what do you think of the Tyler Zeller trade?

Colin: I should clarify: I don’t consider Waiters’s confidence to be a problem. I’m glad he thinks he’s better than he is. I think his jerk-ness is wrapped up in the fact that he sometimes doesn’t work hard. SU coach Jim Boheim called him the most talented guard he has ever recruited (high praise, though not quite as lofty as it sounds; it’s not like SU is a guard factory), but he sat the bench his freshman year, then threatened to transfer. Boheim essentially called his bluff, saying, “Fine, transfer. Maybe a change of scenery will be good for you.” After this incident, Waiters settled down and started to work harder in practice, care about defense more, etc. The work ethic thing is what bothers me. I like his arrogance. I like players with a little bit of “eff you” in them; the Cavs are lacking in that department.

Tyler Zeller’s a nice player. I have family that teaches at UNC (the Cavs really picked players in my wheelhouse tonight), so I’ve watched Zeller somewhat regularly for the four years he’s been at Chapel Hill. To sum him up in terms of tangible skills: he can post up a little bit; he runs well; he’s got pretty good hands and a soft touch around the basket. More crucially, I think he’s a good fit next to Tristan Thompson because he can knock down an open 14-footer. He’ll help the Cavs space the floor a little on offense; the paint won’t be so clogged for Irving and Waiters. He’s a little light, muscle-wise. He’ll get pushed around by some of the bigger centers in the league. But he’s a solid “5″. I think the Cavs overpaid for him in terms of value–there were  guys like Moultrie, PJ3, Barton, etc. available at the end of the first round and they lost the opportunity to take fliers on guys early in the second round–but Zeller will compliment TT pretty well moving forward. And overpaying to get the guys they like seems to be Chris Grant’s philosophy when it comes to the draft. Which is fine; he just better damn well be right about who he’s acquiring.

Kevin: It sounds like Waiters turned a corner during his freshman season. This year, he was the best player on one of the five best teams in college basketball, and seems to have willingly accepted a back-up role. Certainly, he could have acted out much worse.  I can’t speak specifically to his work ethic, but his defense was strong this year and to me, that’s a solid indicator of motor, intangibles, etc.

On to Zeller; my final “favorite” scenario this morning was Waiters and Zeller at 6 and 11. Obviously the day played out as 4 and 17 instead, but the Tar Heel seven-footer is a solid addition to the team. He did not shoot much from the perimeter at UNC, but did make 81% of his free throws, and in limited attempts, he was actually the 4th best outside shooter of 26 big men that Draft Express looked at. Pairing him with Andy and TT, could look really good. Maybe shades of Zydrunas.

Zeller has always been praised for how quickly he runs the court, and his “measurables” came in strong. Of 44 centers, he was 3rd in the agility drill, 8th in speed and 9th in vertical leap. I don’t love combine measurements, but when they match up with solid production that’s always an additional level of assuredness that a player can survive in the NBA. So in summary, today was ballpark of one of the ideal draft day scenarios I laid out this morning. Pretty hard for me to complain.

I agree there were a lot of likable players left at 24, 33 and 34. Will passing up Perry Jones III, Doron Lamb and Jae Crowder look regrettable in a few years when compared to Zeller? The NBA is definitely a game of quality over quantity. Cavs management accumulated all these draft picks to make moves like this.

Colin: We should probably address the “value” aspect of the draft. I’m actually one of the people who thinks value is overrated in the draft: get the guys you like, and if you pick them a few slots too high, so be it. But this seems like an extreme example of that. Was Waiters going before seven? I can only assume Chris Grant worked the phones to trade down and couldn’t. And was Zeller worth sacrificing the opportunity to take late first-round/early second-round fliers? Your answer can totally be “yes,” but I wonder what your thoughts are on that.

Kevin: I really liked the depth of this draft and was excited about the potential of the 24, 33 and 34 picks.  I had Zeller ranked top-ten though; so personally, at 17, the value of those later picks is pretty appropriate for him.

It’s hard to answer the question on draft day. Does PJ3 make Kevin Durant expendable?  That’s a joke, but you know what I’m saying.  Some really intriguing talents existed at the later picks, but are they just exciting draft day thoughts, or real NBA players?  When the rumor was #4 and #24 for #2, I took the tenet that Chris Grant needs to get his guys.  It appears that’s what the organization did, and it matches up well with “my guys”, so I’m ready to see what 2012 – 2013 brings.

With Waiters, yeah, I assume no other team wanted to trade up, or maybe Cleveland thought Portland really liked him at #6.  If there were other options to get DW; surely those routes were explored. I enjoyed the back-and-forth, but it’s about my bed time. Remember, I’m an old man.

Next year, Cleveland can suit up Irving – Waiters – Gee – Varejao – Zeller with Gibson, Casspi and Thompson off the bench.  Add a back-up point guard, and that’s a fun, young team.  Not too small, with decent floor spacing, ball-handling and defense.  They still have a lot of cap flexibility and plenty of draft picks moving forward.

This draft night did not work out like anyone hoped for, but ultimately, I think it’s all right.

Colin: As old man Kevin dozes—I begrudge him nothing; he has children and a wife to attend to; I’m just a responsibility-less dude sitting on my couch with a fuzzy black cat asleep on my foot—I relent: I’m okay with this? That’s the proper inflection, I think. On a day when dreams were stepped on like an Edokko beneath Godzilla’s reptilian sole, I think the Cavs made the best of it. I assume there were no reasonable options in terms of moving down, and that they decided they liked Waiters a lot and so drafted him where they knew he was theirs.

For the sake of pointing out something that feels obvious to me: Zeller is an admission that the front office botched Valanciunas pick, no? We flubbed on the last talented center that came our way, so we’re going to make sure we land a decent one in this draft. That’s a great strategy, if not the ideal one. It is better to acknowledge your mistakes while you can still remedy them. Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller might develop into an above-average frontcourt. Zeller’s set of skills will allow Thompson to focus on rebounding, shot-blocking (still very much a work in progress), and finding baskets by cutting into the paint. Now, Tyler, if you could hit the weight room a little bit, just so you don’t embarrass yourself against Roy Hibbert, that’d be great.

Final point: the Cavs didn’t move Varejao for a draft pick/picks. He was involved in a lot of trade rumors both before and during the draft; I’m pretty positive, from what I’ve heard, that he was dangled to various teams. He’s a great guy, and one of my favorite Cavaliers, but he’s more valuable now than he’ll ever be. He will be 30 when the season starts. What are the Cavs doing with him, exactly? Will he be around after next season’s trade deadline? I thought he was going to be gone six to eight months ago, which shows what I know. Perhaps they conceive of him as the perfect mentor the young big men they’ve acquired. Or perhaps he could leave tomorrow. Just some food for thought.

NBA Draft Open Thread

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

So, this is it. I’d rally you all with a Braveheart speech or some such, but I’m kind of a fatalist. It’d be a downer, probably. (“I know we are all deeply flawed human beings, alienated from one another, incapable of true empathy, but arbitrarily bound together by this basketball team. I’m not even from Cleveland, by the way…“) But tonight’s the night where the future of our Cleveland Cavaliers is determined to either a large or small extent. Probably large. Big night, in all likelihood. Might not be, though. We could totally look back on this night, and go, “Remember when we were all convinced of how momentous an occasion the 2012 draft was going to be, and then nothing particularly consequential happened?” That would be weird, though. Seems like we’d be saying that sort of thing in a nuclear wasteland wrought from war with a brutally violent alien race. Y’know, after some perspective was gained. It’s hard to care about sports when your entire family has immolated, and you’re drinking irradiated water out of a cup you carved from your dear pet dog Hobbes’s pelvis.

I’m geting off track. This is an important night, probably. So let’s get out there, and KILL SOME ALIENS! draft boldly and intelligently. Not us, of course. Chris Grant is the actor here. We will not participate in the decision-making process at all. We’ll be sitting at home, because none of us are qualified to work in an NBA front office, with our hope and sweaty palms. Maybe a beer. Definitely a beer. (If you’re wondering, had the linked article been mine and not Mallory’s, all the players would have been PBR, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would have been the cheapest bottle of champagne imaginable.)

Anyway, updates: we’ll have them for you here as picks and/or trades are made. Feel free to cheer, argue, yell, pontificate, etc. in the comment section. Enjoy the spectacle, everyone.

UPDATE I: Chris Broussard is reporting the Cavs are offering the Bobcats the fourth, 24th, and 33rd pick in exchange for the second and 31st picks. Most everyone assumes they’re going after Beal.

UPDATE II: The Cavs take Dion Waiters. The world disintegrates like a cookie beneath the rump of a corpulent eight year-old.

UPDATE III: The Cavs traded the 24th and the two second-rounders to Dallas for Tyler Zeller.

My Draft Day Favorite Scenarios (plus a sixth tier)

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Of all the rumors out there, I like two the best: picking MKG at #4 or trading the two first-round-picks for Brad Beal.  That said, if the Cavs proceed a different direction, no complaining from me…not worth the wasted breath.

Earlier this season; I posted a series called “Building a Winner”.  In the first post, a discussion of the “OKC Plan” entailed.  I pointed out that the Thunder really posed an exception to the rule.  Most runs of high lottery picks result in continued mediocrity.  Over the last two drafts and next few, Cleveland owns an outstanding opportunity to insert themselves on the OKC side of the ledger.  If they do – another exciting era begins for Cleveland basketball.  If not…no need talking about that; the Cavs surely draft three future hall-of-famers tomorrow.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist reacts to Cavs:the Blog selecting him in the True Hoop mock draft. He was like, "yeah, those guys are cool."

So with those as the stakes, here are four favorite draft day scenarios.

#4 – Michael Kidd Gilchrist

#24 – Evan Fournier

#33 – Doron Lamb

#34 – Festus Ezeli

Three years from now, a Kyrie, Fournier, MKG back-court would be amazing – provided one of the two teenaged wings learns to shoot.  Great size, scoring, defense, and if MKG or Fournier never learn to shoot, they only need to play a quarter together.  Doron Lamb spells the Frenchman at shooting guard, as Fournier switches to small forward while MKG rests.  Ezeli serves as an upgrade over Erden, Samuels, etc.

#4 – Michael Kidd Gilchrist

#24 – Will Barton

#33 – John Jenkins

#34 – Mike Scott

Same story as before, except four NCAA players are drafted, tempered by the aged influence of 24-year-old Mike Scott.  The Virginia Senior does not add great size, but his floor spacing at the four might look really nice next to Andy.

#2 – Bradley Beal

#33 – Quincy Miller

#34 – Jae Crowder

In this scenario, Miller slips a little, as ESPN shows him at #30 and draftexpress at #31, but I can dream.  Best case scenario, Miller turns into the 6‘ – 10” wing scoring machine envisioned of him in high school.  Relied upon as a back-up; perhaps Crowder can defend both back-court positions.  Maybe not, but as a quality defender with an amazing physique and a great combine agility test, back-up shooting guards might struggle with his strength and length.  And obviously, the scenario is rounded out with Brad Beal, eight-time-all-star and one-time Finals MVP (The voters didn’t want to give Kyrie four in a row).

#6 – Dion Waiters

#11 – Tyler Zeller

#33 & 34 – repeats of above

Ahh, the fabled Portland trade.  I have halfway convinced myself that Dion Waiters becomes the next Russell Westbrook and Zeller provides a needed seven-footer with shooting range.

Finally, a sixth tier of players that I’ll define as “in the right situation, with good coaching, you might here these names again”.  I didn’t  invest much time sorting these players, but this takes me from 38 through about 70.  No one not included in this list will play in the NBA.  It’s impossible.

  1. Kevin Murphy – I have a certain affinity for the Tennessee Tech senior.
  2. Khris Middleton – The Texas A&M Junior struggled this season, but played solidly his soph year.  This year was a mess, with his coach leaving before the season and new coach diagnosed with Parkison’s.
  3. Jared Cunningham – I think there are better slashing & defense wings in this draft.
  4. Miles Plumlee – I liked him before the combine, because of his offensive rebounding and how hard he played.
  5. Drew Gordon – Started at UCLA before transferring to New Mexico.  NCAA’s fifth best defensive rebounder is a relatively young senior, turning 22 next month.
  6. Furkan Aldemir – A young Euro energy big man, but he just signed a four-year extension with his Turkish club.
  7. Tyshawn Taylor – I could have been talked into ranking Taylor higher in Tier 6.
  8. Darius Miller – 6′ – 7″ tall, reasonably athletic and a quality jump shooter and, he may stick as a fourth wing somewhere.
  9. Casper Ware – The little dynamo from Long Beach State will not approach the season Isaiah Thomas finished, but his speed, shooting and intensity make him a decent bet as a back-up point guard.
  10. Hollis Thompson – 6′ – 8″ and hit 43% of his threes his junior season.  Marginal athleticism and associated defensive consequences possibly serve as his undoing.
  11. Kim English – He turns 24 before the next NBA season, but his sweet-shooting as an NBA sized two guard throws him in the mix as a nice spot-up shooter to have around.
  12. Jamychal Green – An athletic power forward that tries to dunk everything; he made 55% of his catch & shoot jumpers his junior year, but only 39% this season.  Which percentage he approaches consistently will determine his NBA ability.
  13. Kevin Jones – Lead the Big East in scoring and rebounding.
  14. Kyle O’Quinn – I think he has gotten by based on overwhelming his competition with his size.  That is not going to work anymore.
  15. Jordan Taylor
  16. Orlando Johnson
  17. Ricardo Ratliffe
  18. Bernard James
  19. Henry Sims
  20. Garrett Stutz
  21. Kostas Sloukas – Greek point guard made over 50% of his threes in Europe this year.
  22. Terrell Stoglin
  23. Darius Odom-Johnson
  24. Zack Rosen
  25. J’Covan Brown
  26. Robert Sacre
  27. Herb Pope
  28. Alex Young
  29. Robbie Hummel
  30. Tony Mitchell
  31. Quincy Acy

Cavs Taking a Close Look at Dion Waiters

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

From Adrian Wojnarowski:

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ intrigue with selecting Syracuse guard Dion Waiters with the fourth overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft has gathered significant momentum, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Cavaliers haven’t been able to get Waiters to visit Cleveland for a workout and meeting with officials, but it hasn’t extinguished management’s ever-evolving fascination with choosing Waiters at No. 4 – especially if the Cavaliers are unable to secure Florida guard Bradley Beal.

I have no idea what to believe anymore. Christ Grant and co. have done a great job of completely confounding everyone as to who the Cavs like most after Davis and Beal. (I’m 90% sure Beal is second on their big board.) The problem with that is it renders our pre-draft speculation especially useless. We’ll keep you guys posted on any rumors and soft news, but I have a feeling we won’t know what the Cavaliers are doing in this draft (or the hours preceding it) until the moment they actually do it.

UPDATE from our colleague Scott Sargent over at WFNY:

Chad Ford’s most recently updated mock has the #Cavs selecting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No.4, desiring 2nd lotto pick to nab Waiters/Ross.

This makes me feel better. And it’s smart. If (and for the sake of not being presumptuous, at this juncture, it’s still a very big “if” as to whether or not MKG will even be available at four) the Cavs draft MKG, they could really use a shooting guard who can score. Let’s hope Chris Grant is craft enough to pull off this kind of move.

Cavs: The Podcast 0009 – The Draft, Pt 2

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

If you haven’t, go ahead and read my Brews and Bruises column below.

Now that you’ve read the column, go ahead and download our newest podcast!

You can find it on itunes at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cavs-the-podcast/id528149843

And at soundcloud at: http://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0009-the-draft-pt-2

In this podcast Kevin and I talk his best and worst case scenarios, potential trades, and some other fun draft topics.  Enjoy!

Brews and Bruises: Using drafts to get over The Draft

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

In the series Brews and Bruises: Life as a Drinking Cavs Fan, I’ll playfully explore the mixture of pain associated with Cavalier fandom and the glory associated with drinking.  As always, drink responsibly (and legally, ya kids!)

I have an impending sense of doom in my stomach.  Trust me, I already tried to use the toilet; it didn’t help.  This ache has been growing for weeks and weeks and soon it will finally come to a head.  At 7PM tomorrow the entire future of our beloved franchise will rest in the hands of former University of San Diego psychology major Chris Grant.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy like a brother and trust his every move, but remember that at some point people honestly believed that Isiah Thomas had a remote idea of what he was doing.  The point is you never know, and this is the moment where push will ultimately come to shove.  Unless we suck again next year, then we’ll give it another heave.

With so much riding on a mere number of minutes, there seems to me that there is only one answer with how to successfully survive the tumoltuous night: drink.

“But Mallory,” you ask with the most earnest inflection imaginable. “What alcoholic beverages must I consume to correctly reflect the gravity and brevity of the moment?”

The answer, my friends, is simple.  Beer.

Now, what you drink should, as always, be dependent on the situation.  So, without further ado, I present to you my handy guide to drinking the NBA draft:

First Round:

At 7PM EST The Prudential Center (hahahahahahahahaha) will come alive once more (seriously, HAHAHAHAHA) as Anthony Davis raises his one eyebrow, with the rest of his body, and approaches the podium as the number one pick by the Cleveland Cava…The New Orleans Hornets.

This comes as a surprise to no one, so we’re not letting Davis dictate squat (He’d be Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA, by the way).  Instead, lets let our first pick dictate our first round.  Below you will find a libation for each potential selection

Bradley Beal, Sessions Lager – Full Sail Brewing Company, HoodRiver, OR: I know, I know you’re all expecting me to play off the fact that he was raised in Missouri (Budweiser anyone?) but come now, my friends.  Our palates are FAR too sophisticated for liquid urine, so instead I chose something with a little more oomph.  Full Sail’s session lager is mild, clean, sweet, and predictable—a perfect companion to the steady Beal.  Although, in the right moment, it’ll show flashes of excellence, it’s generally a beer that is best judged over a long period of time.  Its track record will show that, on the whole, it’s generally very fulfilling and easy to consume.  While it has many excellent features and no obvious flaws to its character, many consider the packaging of this Sessions Lager to be its pitfall: who wants to be seen carrying such a short bottle?

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, HopDevil IPA, Victory Brewing Company, Downington, PA:  Man does this beer work hard.  Complex without being overbearing, drinkable but with just enough hoppy bitterness to make it earn your respect.  By all accounts, this is an outstanding beer.  So why the heck don’t I keep this thing stocked in my fridge?  Because it never seems to satisfy my craving.  When I have an itch for a delicious beer that’ll hit the mark just right, I never think of the HopDevil.  Compared to the others on this list, Victory’s brew is less refined, less prime-time ready.  Still, every time I take a sip I remember that this beer holds all the potential in the world, so long as I’m willing to let my palate find it.

(Let me take this moment to say that, as far as I know, not one of the guys being drafted has a big head.  They might have good retention, though.)

Thomas Robinson, Edmund Fitzgerald – Great Lakes Brewing Company, Cleveland, OH:  Like Robinson, the Edmund Fitzgerald a big,strong, bruiser of a beer.  For a porter, its middle is surprisingly strong and complex, sweet notes of chocolate and coffee bitterness permeate its flavor.  It’s predictable, yes, but always delicious and will never leave you feeling unsatisfied.  It may not be for everyone, but to many this beer is one of the best out there.  If you look close enough, you know it has the ability to leave a lasting impression.

Harrison Barnes, Sweet Action – Sixpoint brewery, Brooklyn, NY:  A good, steady brew.  Its arsenal is balanced and varied; it’s a spicy beer with quite a bit of hops AND malt.  Still, it’s a beer that can be consumed by anyone and everyone – it’s inoffensive to even the most resistant beer drinkers, and a safe choice when you’re not sure what to go with.  If only this beer had a stronger finish, it would probably be perfect.  Every time I sip this baby I think to myself Dang!, in the right situation this would really work. Just make sure you follow it up with something a little more exciting, or you’ll likely get bored.

Andre Drummond - Forget the beer, I need a whiskey.

Any of the above beers should more than do the trick for our first pick.  As you finish up beer number 1 chances are a certain someone with a Masters in Educational Leadership (note: Chris Grant, our GM)  will be approaching his second shot in the dark.  Yep, ladies and gents (mostly gents), it’s time for pick number 24.

Round Two

Chances are with the first pick we’ve taken someone small and fiery.  That’s why I, your esteemed guide on this journey of brewing perfection, have chosen for you two beers of equal gusto, either of which would make an excellent true center on our Cavs team, particularly with the right coaching and training:

Tripel Horse – River horse Brewing Co, Lambertville, NJ: This beerpacks a serious whollup.  Weighing in at 10% ABV, it can knock you on your ass faster than you can say Shaq.  And it’s more refined than you’d imagine – it’s heavy on the malt, yes, but it’s spicy and complicated.  If you want something strong, this is the beer for you.

Moo Thunder Stout – Butternuts Beer & Ales,Garrattsville, NY: Don’t let the name fool you, this beer rocks.  For its cheap sticker price, It’s sweet and drinkable, but with some amazing depth and quality.  I regularly have this stocked in my fridge – it’s reliable and satisfying.  What more can you ask for in a beer?  (On that note, I miss Z.)

Round Three

By now, you’re hopefully a little buzzed, particularly if you decided to choose that River Horse, so it’s time to slow things down a bit.  Luckily, it’s time for a beer/player that may not carry as much impact (read: have such a high alcohol content).

The second round of the NBA draft is the perfect time to either take a complete shot in the dark or to pick a guy who has some established, known qualities of value.  I’m a big fan of the latter.  As such, I’ve chosen to honor every Cav’s fan’s favorite second round pick (and favorite Luke).

That’s right, loyal readers.  In honor of Luke “Whitest Man Alive” Harangody, I give you:

Allagash White – Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME:  What comes to mind when you think of Luke Harangody?  The answer is obvious: Banana and Clove.  Allagash White is the gold standard for American made wheat beers.  It’s sweet, delicious, and it’ll never leave you feeling blue.

The end is nigh, my friends.  We will soon know all the answers. Who are we drafting?  Will we make a trade?  What hair product does Chris Grant use to keep his hair so thick and luscious? So sit back, relax, and enjoy.  If worst comes to worst (or best comes to best) we always have our booze.

Kevin’s Tiers 4 and 5 (or, this draft stuff is exhausting)

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Tomorrow, I look forward to declaring my ideal Cavs draft.  Today though, I’ll continue to trek through my Draft Board into Tiers 4 and 5.  Let’s say that Tier 4 means players with 80th percentile career equal to “top-50 NBA player” and 25th percentile of “fine rotation player”.  Tier 5 equates to “this guy looks like a really solid bench player”.

Kevin’s Draft Board

  1. Anthony Davis (tier 1)
  2. MKG (tier 2)
  3. Robinson (tier 2)
  4. Beal (tier 2)
  5. Drummond (tier 2)
  6. Barnes (tier 3)
  7. Waiters (tier 3)
  8. Zeller (tier 3)
  9. Henson (tier 3)
  10. Marshall (tier 3)
  11. Fournier (tier 3)
  12. T. Jones (tier 3)
  13. Sullinger (tier 3)
  14. M. Leonard (tier 3)
  15. J. Lamb (tier 3)
  16. PJ3 (tier 3)

Tier 4 (players 17 – 26)

  1. Marquis Teague – One year ago, Kentucky’s PG ranked as the seventh best high-school player from a loaded group.  Since then, leading the NCAA champions in minutes and assists ensued.  A great athlete whose numbers improved as the season progressed; a solid NBA career waits for Teague.
  2. Terrence Ross -  Great size for an NBA wing and a talented perimeter game finds Ross in the top-twenty.
  3. Will Barton – The ninth-ranked high school player from the class of 2010, who in his sophomore year posted a PER higher than every other first-round-projected wing, can not drop below twenty.
  4. Quincy Miller – Before his ACL injury, Quincy Miller ranked as the fifth best prospect in the stacked high school class of 2011 behind Davis, Rivers, Kidd-Gilchrist and Beal.  Standing 6’ – 10” with a potentially diverse offensive game, a team drafting for upside will take a chance on the freshman small forward.  Maybe Clevleand.
  5. Damian Lillard – Probably nit-picking; but his pure-point rating falls below Teague, Waiters and obviously Marshall, despite being the oldest of the group.  His foot-speed clocked in the bottom-third of draftable point guards. Given his scoring came as a fourth-year-player against the NCAA’s 296th most difficult schedule, I want to be blown away by everything else.  I ask myself; how would Marquis Teague look playing for Weber State in three years?  Pretty awesome, probably, and I rank Lillard behind him.
  6. Moe Harkless – Many compare his NBA impact to Trevor Ariza.  That works for me.
  7. Austin Rivers – Finding reasons for excitement about Rivers is difficult for me.

    Jae Crowder salutes Cavs: the Blog on making him a top-25 pick (I can't stop talking myself into high-energy small forwards)

  8. Jae Crowder – This may be obvious, but I am a sucker for this type of player.  Originally, he fell below Jeff Taylor on my list.  Eventually though, the fact that Crowder measures longer, stronger and more agile than Taylor dawned on me.  The truth about him scoring, rebounding, and passing better than Taylor at 14 months younger hit me like a bombshell.  The percentage of possessions he ended with a steal ranked 21st in the NCAA.  Sometimes you need to rank the younger player who is better at everything further up on your draft board.
  9. Arnett Moultrie – Hopefully I don’t upset the boss, but Moultrie’s rebounding and shooting are respectable enough to be deceptive, and he needs a serious defensive mind-set adjustment.
  10. Tony Wroten- Another player with a huge range from “floor” to “ceiling”; I like closing my tiers with that type of talent.

Tier 5 (players 27 – 37)

  1. Draymond Green – Ranking as the NCAA’s seventh-best defensive rebounder against the second-toughest schedule, draining 39% of his threes, and playing a high IQ-style of ball; he overcomes his “tweener” status.
  2. Doron Lamb – Lamb plays quick and made 47% from long-distance.
  3. Andrew Nicholson – His jump shooting is not enough to rank higher than this.  He plays slow and needs to increase his toughness.  I don’t think he poses a low post threat in the NBA or blocks shots at the rate shown at St. Bonaventure.
  4. Jeff Taylor – Taylor fully-displayed his athleticism at the combine; his career as a three-and-D guy goes as far as his ability to drain jumpers.
  5. John Jenkins -  Defense presents an issue, but this man can shoot.  Extremely fast and accurate – while chucking nine threes per game, he converted 44%.  As a bench scorer on a good team, he has value.
  6. Festus Ezeli – Watching Ezeli in March, I came away impressed with his physicality.  His numbers slumped this year after starting with a knee injury and a suspension, but massive, aggessive, and athletic big men need snapped up at #34 in the draft.
  7. Mike Scott – Rumor says his skill level and motor have shown well in workouts.  Three weeks ago, I espoused a scenario where Cleveland trades into the later part of the second round and drafts him.  Now he is climbing draft boards, but his “veteran” presence as a 24-year-old rookie may be a strong influence on an otherwise young Cavs team.

    Ranked 34th by Cavs: the Blog...the most disappointing day of Royce White's life

  8. Royce White – Definitely in the minority here; White does not rate highly for me – and little of the reason relies on his anxiety.   A horrid shooter, combined with an isolation game marred by four turnovers per game, and marginal defense, makes him an ummmm…rebounder?  Statsheet.com logs on-court, off-court information for college games; according to their data, Iowa State outscored opponents by 133 points when White played and 77 while sitting.  White played over thirty minutes per game…I have not taken a math class in a few years, but didn’t that make the Cyclones better with him on the bench?
  9. Fab Melo – To me, Melo rates as a one-trick pony, and his flaming-hoop-jump fails.  While taking notes on two games, a pair of goal-tends and one scold-inducing bonehead play ensued.  No thanks.
  10. Marcus Denmon – The Missouri Senior’s 127 offensive rating on 22 usage against a quality schedule looks really strong.  In athletic testing, he ranked top-ten percent in both the speed and agility drills.  Last season, draftexpress described his defense as demonstrating “very good lateral quickness, which combined with his toughness and aggressiveness, allows him to guard all backcourt positions at the collegiate level.”  As a ceiling, how about 2008 – 2009 Delonte West?
  11. Scott Machado – Machado notches the second highest Pure Point Rating in ten years of the draftexpress database.  Possessing NBA shooting range, he knocked down 40% from deep this year.  Despite defensive struggles as a surety, capably managing a second-string offense seems probable.

Whew – this is wearing me out!  Two days until the draft and I’m ready to learn the future of the Cavs franchise!

Cavs Moving Down? Or Up? (This Is Getting Exhausting, You Guys)

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Via Chad Ford:

The Cavs are bringing in Washington wing Terrence Ross for a private workout on Wednesday. That’s odd for a couple of reasons. One, it’s highly doubtful that Ross is seriously in the mix at No. 4. Second, there’s no way he’s on the board when the Cavs pick again at No. 24.

What’s going on? I think the Cavs are still exploring moving up in the draft. But now it sounds like they’re also seriously looking at moving down a few spots if they can pick up additional assets. I’ve been told that’s most likely in the 7-10 range, but it’s unclear what they could be getting back that would be better than just taking Kidd-Gilchrist, the small forward that currently sits at No. 2 on the Big Board behind Davis. As for Ross, the Cavs better get a pick in the Top 11 if they want him. If Tyler Zeller is off the board, I believe the Bucks are leaning toward Ross at No. 12.

(The link’s Insider only, by the way.) I don’t know how to feel about this. It completely depends on what “additional assets” means. Future first-rounders? More picks in this draft? Is it the 6/11 and 2/24 swap with the Blazers? (Probably not if they’re working out Terrence Ross.) The Cavs are active; that’s about all we know. I’ll keep you guys posted as things unfold over the next 36 hours or so.

Update: Or up? Again, Chad Ford:

With Charlotte’s no. 2 pick, I’m taking Michael Kidd-Gilchrist even though the Bobcats are probably trading this pick to Cleveland for no. 4 and no. 24. If they keep it, I think they’re taking Thomas Robinson. If the Cavs get the pick, they’re taking Bradley Beal.

I mean, this deal has been talked about for a while. And obviously, if the Cavs move up, they’re taking Beal. I’m okay with this as long as the Cavalier front office really loves Beal. If they believe in him, they should do it. (Though, y’know, tease Charlotte a bit: offer them the two second-rounders and see if you can get them to make a desperation move. I don’t know how many teams have the desire and the assets to move into the number 2 slot and offer a better deal than that.)

Personally, I would rather the Cavs stay at 4 and draft MKG. But I don’t work in a front office and don’t have a team of scouts at my disposal. Do you, Chris Grant.

Truehoop Mock Draft: Pick No 24, Arnett Moultrie

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Across the Truehoop Network we are, as we do every year, staging a mock draft. With the fourth pick of this mock, the Cavs selected Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Having filled one of their greatest needs by landing an athletic wing, the Cleveland Cavaliers select…

Arnett Moultrie, Power Forward/Center, Mississippi State

If you examine what the Cavs have done over the last few years, including a period of time when Chris Grant was the Assistant GM under Danny Ferry, they have an affinity for spectacular athletes: J.J. Hickson, Christian Eyenga, Tristan Thompson, et al. Whether those names fill you with dread or not, that’s been the trend. It’s why, for example, I don’t think the Cavs will take Thomas Robinson with the fourth pick even if he’s still on the board. They tend to go for players with higher ceilings.

Moultrie is nearly 6’11″ in shoes and weighs 235 pounds. He’s one of the very best big men in the draft in terms of leaping ability. He’s a great rebounder when he wants to be, a clever finisher around the rim, has a nascent shooting stroke from fifteen feet and out, and a decent face-up game thanks to his above-average handle. That “when he wants to be” hangs over Moultrie’s game like a succubus, though. He is an intermittently unreactive player on the defensive end, failing to defend the basket from the weak side or show properly on the pick-and-roll. When things don’t go his way—when he works hard in the post, but doesn’t get the ball, for example—he has a tendency to pout, which means he fails to grab rebounds he should, or he doesn’t run back on defense.

If you’re getting J.J. Hickson PTSD flashbacks, let me try to sell you on Moultrie. Or at least my vision for him. At almost 6’11″ with the ability to tell gravity to cram it with walnuts, he has the tools to become a center if he commits himself to putting on some additional muscle. On the Cavaliers’ roster, he makes the most sense as a “5,” considering Andy Varejao will be 30 by the time the season starts, Tristan Thompson is 6’9″, and Semih Erden is only marginally better at basketball than a papier-mâché model of himself. Moultrie, despite his struggles in terms of team defense, is a pretty good one-on-one defender who could conceivably check most centers in the league without embarrassing himself. On offense, his developing jumper is the reason he could fit well next to Thompson. Unlike TT, whose shot is broken to the point that I worry he’ll never be able to score from outside of eight feet, Moultrie has a high, fluid release that reminds me a little bit of LaMarcus Aldridge.

And that’s the idea, really. That Arnett Moultrie could grow into the role of a poor man’s Aldridge: a PF/C tweener who can rebound the ball, is competent defensively, can post-up a little, and knock down a few jumpers to open up the paint for slashing guards and wings. Lofty expectations, certainly, but Moultrie a.) improved measurably each of the three years he was in college and b.) seems to think he’s a little better than he actually is. If the coaches could sell him on his role, I think he would relish the challenge of becoming a starting center for this Cavs team. Plus, he’ll love running up and down the floor with Kyrie Irving and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Kidd-Gilchrist is an important component of this pick, by the way. If we suppose the Cavs land MKG, they will have a core of him, Andy Varejao, Irving, Thompson, and Boobie Gibson (give or take Alonzo Gee and some free agents). I think there will be enough dedicated professionals on this team that they can absorb a more temperamental player like Moultrie. That’s one of the main reasons you build a team full of model citizens, really, is so you can take a chance on a mercurial talent. Why not gamble on a possible solution at center?

It you’re displeased with the notion of drafting Moultrie, you probably needn’t worry too much. He fell in our Truehoop mock—and I think Chris Grant would jump on him if he dropped to the Cavs—but it’s unlikely that he’ll be around at 24. He’s slotted in most mocks to go somewhere between the end of the lottery and the early 20s. Alternatives to Moultrie include wings like Memphis’s Will Barton and Washington’s Tony Wroten, and big men like Syracuse’s Fab Melo and St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson. And whatever the hell you wanna call Baylor’s Quincy Miller. Obviously, predicting who goes at 24 is a difficult task. There’s a lot of fluidity in terms of how teams value prospects once the draft moves out of the top 10 or so. (What I mean is there’s almost zero chance Damian Lillard falls out of the top 12, but Moe Harkless could go anywhere within a 10-to-12 slot range.) The Cavs have also been very active in the trade market, and I wouldn’t surprised if, one way or another, they end up picking higher than 24. And of course, there’s always the possibility that the spirit of Russian novelist Andrey Platonov possesses Christ Grant’s body on draft night, in which case the Cavs will probably select Inevitable Death, a lanky shooting guard out of Wichita State who might just be the steal of this draft.