Archive for October, 2012

Uncle Drew Part 2 and a Blast from the Past

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Uncle Drew got in touch with an old friend and mentor before bringing an old teammate back for more buckets.

Later he gave Stephen A. Smith an inside look at why he chooses to run with the young bloods.

**************************************************************************************

Tonight was Halloween and it felt like half of the characters in the Lakers/Blazers game were dressed up as Cavs throwbacks. Consider:

-It’s another slow start to a season for Mike Brown. (0-2)
-Antawn Jamison posted a game low -20 +/-
-JJ Hickson battled Dwight Howard throughout the game

But then the best costume emerged around 12:29est.

https://twitter.com/johnhollinger/status/263860331313516544

https://twitter.com/johnhollinger/status/263860611702747136

Here’s what happened:

Happy Halloween from 2012 Sasha Pavlovic - dressed as 2007 Sasha Pavlovic

There are two possible explanations.  1.) Uncle Drew met with him at halftime and told him that age was just a state of mind and Sasha convinced himself it was 2007.  2.) His father Dusan was at the game.

Thanks to the missed FT which was completely intentional, Sasha leads the NBA once again in the most young bloodish of all stats: [3PFG% minus FT%].  The 3 point line’s a gimmick, Sasha!  Rebound and get back on D.

Andy’s a Star, and Dan’s Sorry

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Courtesy of Cavs the Blog commenter Tsunami, we have some context for Andy’s stat line last night. It appears he is the first player to put up 9 points, 23 rebounds and 9 assists in a game since Charles Barkley. And anyone who watched the game last night knows Wild Thing could’ve got  another 7 or 8 rebounds last night easily. Here’s the link.

Also, if anyone cares, Dan Gilbert admitted that he feels like an idiot about the title-before-Lebron guarantee. I’m one of the few staunch defenders of Gilbert that remains; I’ve always found his raw sentimentality and braggadocio very refreshing in a mostly emotionless modern sports world. Here’s the link.

Bonus Coverage: CtB Conversation on the Season Tipoff Game

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

It’s been a stormy few days here at CtB.  Sandy has thrown a lot of our schedule into chaos, so last night’s tip-off game was definitely a port in a storm.  As you may or may not know, Mallory Factor is our resident New Yorker, and in exceptional times like these, it seems a little trivial to be caring about something as dumb as sports.  But sport, ingrained into American life as it is, can seem to bring a sense of normalcy to the sneak peaks at the Mayan Apocalypse, complete with Grease themed Sandy music videos.  We here at CtB have a “next man up” philosophy and have been trying to pick up Mallory’s slack.  We all had a lot to say about the game.  Though Kevin beat us all to the punch last night, we figured we’d throw some extra 2012 Cavs Tip Off Extravaganza coverage your way.

The best part of being on the staff here has definitely been trading thoughts, ideas, one liners, beer tips, video games strategies, and music playlists with some fellow intelligent, passionate Cavs fans.  And before you ask, the answer is no.  We’re not all bachelors.    And of course when the barley flows, so does the conversation.  After the game, the emails were flying fast and furious.

Nate:

I’d been waiting for this game for six months, so breaking the seal on Dundee Seasonal Variety half rack was certainly in order.  (At $12 it’s currently the best beer value in America).  Early on Hollinger tweeted a particularly caustic comment: “Nothing says ‘tanking in October’ like a Donald Sloan-Luke Walton pick-and-roll.”  But, as Dani replied after an unprintable rebuttal, “the P&R didn’t look half bad.”  Though the lineup was effective in the first half, I think the Wizards bench took offense to the it, and absolutely destroyed Sloan, Gibson, Gee, Walton, & Zeller to make a game of it in the late third and early fourth quarter.  With one rebound to his credit, I hope it’s safe to assume we’ve seen the last of the Luke Walton, power forward, which led to a ridiculous 14-0 run to start the 4th quarter.  Alonzo Gee had a lot to do with this run.  He looked like he was pressing a lot, and tired of being relegated to corner jumpers and offensive rebound plays.

Dion Waiters completely outplayed Bradley Beal.   My favorite things about Dion?  He never smiles, and he already looks 25.

So Dani, since you commented in the preseason podcast that the rumor was that Varejao had lost a step, what did you think of his overall brilliance tonight?  Is there another player in the league who could post a 9/22/9 box score?  I think not.

Dani:

Well, first of all, I have literally no recollection of saying Varejao had lost a step. But I’m willing to work with that. If tonight is any indication, Varejao has lost no steps at all. I think he’ll be great all year, but I also don’t think we should get accustomed to seeing Bill Walton-esque stat lines nightly. Still working with the unconfirmed rumor that I actually said Varejao had lost a step, I believe my point would have been more along the lines of: the man is 30 years old. Andy is going to slow down at some point, and his trade value has never been higher. If the Cavs aren’t in playoff contention at the deadline (and I hope to high heavens we are), I hope Chris Grant has the testicular fortitude to flip him for a few draft picks.

Regardless, back to the game. Dion Waiters is a baller. He hit that huge three near the end to slow down the Wizards’ surge, and played effective man-on-man defense the whole game, which is probably a bigger storyline. Three steals is nothing to laugh at, and I can’t wait to see Dion uncork that signature fast-break dunk a few times a game. Beal actually performed exactly to his draft-day profile. He’s clearly a good shooter, but we didn’t really see him create any shots for himself, and he seemed a little listless to me.

Also, KYRIE FREAKING IRVING. 29 points in 35 minutes. 11-20 shooting from the field. A lot of NBA writers had Kyrie as their breakout star of the year, and it was easy to see why tonight. He might be one of the most effortless scorers in the NBA when he’s on, and he was on tonight. Uncle Drew was draining threes and crossing over A.J. Price like it was a Pepsi commercial.

What’d you think of Tristan Thomspon? Not bad, eh?

Malory:

No power still!  Stupid Sandy!!!!  But I watched the game at a bar and loved every minute of it. Neon Dion looks great driving and his jump shot was falling fine. Andy is back, TT went to the rim with AUTHORITY! And Kyrie is amazing.  PRAY FOR POWER!

Nate:

I just remembered it was Mallory that said that about Varajao, but since he is, to use the words of Bruce Springsteen, “lost in the flood,” you can sub, Dani.  Dion is definitely a baller, and he got to the rack effortlessly.  He missed a lot of point blank shots that I attribute to nerves.  He could’ve easily had a 25 point outing — considering he was absolutely hatchetted and got no calls on a couple drives.  But as you said, his defense was good, and he looked absolutely fearless.  And yes, Kyrie Freaking Irving…  But.  He should be destroying A.J. Price.  The real story in this game was the Washington Generals bench destroying ours. Janerro Pargo and Earl Baron?  This is arguably the most depleted team in the league.  We should’ve won by 30.  Also, why didn’t Casspi play?  According to wages of wins, Casspi played better than anyone not named Luke Harangody in preseason, and he lost minutes to Walton?

Also, TT was very solid.  He played good to great  defense and was generally active.  Would like to see him get more run with the second unit to work on his post-up game.  Zeller had a couple nice moments, especially in the first half, where he was throwing his body into Okafor.  He’ll be just fine.  The Wizards are so bad, it’s hard to take away a lot from this game other than St. Weirdo was not a wasted draft pick, Irving is an effortless scorer, and Varejao is one of my all time favorite basketball players.

Mallory:

I definitely never said he’d lost a step – just that I’d read that there were concerns about him potentially losing it due to injury.  But that’s obviously not the case!!!

I unfortunately didn’t get to watch the game closely since I was at a bar (side note: literally every bar in my neighborhood is packed post-Sandy.  Huhhhh????) but I can tell you that Kyrie is a baller and so is Neon Dion.  BOOM (goes the dynamite)

Dani:

Well, Nathaniel (can i call you that?), I think a lot of the blame for Washington’s comeback has to fall on the shoulders of Byron Scott. He waited far too long to put the starters back in the game, and let Luke Walton initiate offense (if you can call it that) for what seemed like hours. I understand resting your starters in a game when you’re up by 10 or 15, but once the Wizards came within five, and Donald Sloan was back to losing the game for us in his usual floppy, discombobulated, anti-efficiency mode of offense, Kyrie should have come back. The Wizards are a truly bad basketball team without John Wall and Nene, and obviously the Cavs’ effort was enough tonight. But if Scott hesitates to let his starters play the fourth quarter too often, he’ll find himself losing games.

I have literally no clue why Omri Casspi didn’t play. Doesn’t seem fair at all to me, and it’s not like C.J. Miles was lighting it up out there. On a side note: C.J. Miles should shave his head and ditch the headband. Immediately.

I loved Tristan tonight. He was active on both ends of the floor, which is something we’ve come to expect. But he was also going up with the ball quickly and strongly, something he didn’t do nearly enough last year, and playing legitimate post defense, albeit against  the likes of the Czech Dunking Ninja (Jan Vesely, in case you aren’t familiar with this) and Trevor “I’m Not Very Good At All” Booker.

Varajao: all time favorite basketball player? A little effusive there, no? My all-time favorite player is Kyrie Irving. Already. To each their own, I suppose.

Nate:

Dani, no, you may not call me Nathaniel.  It’s not even my given name. The only person that was ever allowed to call me Nathaniel broke my heart, stole my Basement Tapes CD, ingested my goldfish with a shot of Barenjager, and married my best friend.  (Ok, only two of these things are true).  Anyway, I said AV was ONE of my all time favorite players, the others being Kevin McHale, Zydrunas Ilgauskus, Larry Bird, and Reggie Lewis (I may have a thing for tall, gangly, awkward post men).  I thought your Bill Walton comparison was a good one for him.  But, there may have never been another player like Andy.  He and Pau are currently the best passing big men in the league, and no one plays defense quite like Andy.  How many offensive fouls did he draw that game?  Three?  Four?  I know he took two off of Booker two plays in a row.  Because charges get the ball back 100% of the time, they’re definitely worth more than blocks.  Some advanced statistical analysis of charges drawn versus fouls given that lead to free throws might cast some doubt on that rubric, but I doubt it.  As for trading him, who are you going to trade him for?  He has one of the most underpaid contracts in the league, he’s ridiculously efficient, and he’s a joy to watch.  The only way I trade him is a top 3 (ok, maybe top 5) pick or as a package for a superstar.  But the thing about him is, he only makes sense on a playoff team, and a playoff team isn’t going to give you a superstar or a good draft pick back…  Teams that he makes sense for are limited too.  Portland?  Atlanta?  Phoenix?  Denver?  Would you do it for a Josh Smith package?  Marcin Gortat?  Javale McGee?  Wilson Chandler?  Andre Iguodala?  None of those guys really fits…

As for Scott’s coaching, I don’t blame him at all.  He was doing the Phil Jackson thing where he tries to let the guys play through the problems and learn from it.  Kyrie had the “I got this” look on his face from the moment he came back in.  I don’t think he, AV, and Waiters ever had a doubt.  When Waiters figures out how to finish just a little more consistently, he’s going to be deadly.  Kevin was right that he had some really good passes that led to big men getting sent to the line.  Though I don’t agree with the assertion that he’s a better passer than Kyrie (I think someone had that in the comment board).  But should he be the backup point guard?  I don’t know.  I certainly think that bringing in Miles and Casspi as the first group off the bench and letting Waiters and Gee play a lot of the second unit minutes isn’t a bad idea.  Hey…  Shaun Livingston is available.  And I KNOW he’s a better player than Sloan.

Recap: Cavs 94, Wizards 84 (or, Kyrie Irving is a sicko)

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

That was awesome.  Sure, without John Wall and Nene, at home, the Cavs should beat the Wizards nine out of ten times, but I am glad NBA basketball is back…and that was awesome.

Cleveland lead most of the way and was up 13 with one minute remaining in the third quarter.  A Sloan, Gibson, Miles, Walton, Zeller line-up allowed that to quickly erode, until Cleveland actually trailed by two midway through the final quarter.  The starters checked back in, and the good-guys embarked on a 20 to 8 run to cruise to victory.

Mallory was supposed to cover this game, but a hurricane sabotaged his civilized existence, so I will cover this with some quick bullets.

Kyrie Irving!!!  That was fun!!  His 29 points paced the Cavs on the way to a +23 for himself.  He canned threes, reached the lane at will, found open cutters for six assists…Kyrie Irving!!!  I’m glad he’s around.

Anderson Varejao!!!  Almost completing a triple-double, posting 9 points, 23 rebounds and 9 assists.  And no typo; that is 23 rebounds.  Twelve of those were on the offensive glass, as Andy repeatedly solved complex in-air ball-flight geometry equations to outwit and out-hustle the outclassed Wizard bigs.  He repeatedly found cutters with a flair only found in soccer-bred players.  The idea of trading Andy should be reserved for people that don’t like watching basketball.

Tristan notches a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.  The last two minutes featured a dunk parade, as Kyrie and Andy set TT up with three gimme slams.  Tristan also tallied 5 assists.  I won’t even check; that has to be a career high.

Dion Waiters scored 17 on 14 shots.  He picked Bradley Beal’s pocket twice and headed the other direction for dunks.  Those were obviously nice highlights, considering their respective draft positions.  Also, check out his shot chart.  Basically every shot at the rim or from three.  He penetrated with relative ease, and despite the zero assists, several Cavalier free throws are attributable to Dion drive-and-dishes.  Nice game from the rookie.

Gibson hit two of four from deep; exactly what is asked of him.

CJ Miles and Gee were disasters, as they combined for 6 points and 6 turnovers.  Neither was able to create a decent look at the basket and both ventured into ill-advised drives.  Gee missed a couple of open threes, and occasionally looked out of place on defense.  Ultimately, inconsistent is the type of player these guys are.  Especially Miles.  Next game will probably be better.

Then the game after that will be worse.

A few thoughts on the rotation; Donald Sloan looked fine in the first half, getting into the lane and hitting a floater, and also having an and-one negated due to a phantom offensive foul.  The second half was worse than that.  He finished with 4 points on 5 shots with 1 assist and 2 turnovers in 13 minutes.  I am going to repeat this until it happens.  Dion Waiters needs to play “point guard” with the second string, next to Boobie.  Sloan should function primarily as the twelfth man, break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option.  Next, no Omri Casspi tonight.  Not sure what the story is there, but in my mind, the thirteen minutes that went to Sloan, belong to Omri.  I would even like to see an opportunity for Omri to play with Kyrie, with a Dion, Gibson, Gee back-court facing off against the opposition second-unit.  Finally, no Leuer or Samardo, but instead a healthy dose of Luke Walton.  Walton was not wearing his huge knee braces and actually looked solid in the first half, knocking down a deep J and threading a backdoor-bullet, but everything looked sloppy in the second frame.  His minus-11, along with Sloan’s minus-13, rounded out the on-court bottom for the evening.  Combinations of Zeller, Leuer, Walton, Samardo need minimized, with whichever of those two is in the rotation, always paired with Varejao or Thompson.

Well, that’s it for tonight.  Nice start to the season, but not every game will feature a lottery team missing their two best players.

Talking Into My Pad Thai About Love (A Season Preview)

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

You only see this operation from one side, but the inner WordPress machinery of Cavs: The Blog is clogged with abandoned drafts of things I meant to say about this team before the season started. Most of it is manufactured joke fiction and comparisons of Alonzo Gee’s game to various Young Jeezy records (short version: it’s something like Trap or Die II). You’re not missing much, but if I were less fearful of scorn, I would publish my aborted work in this space as a sort of written performance piece—half-finished with multiple drafts of paragraphs jammed against one another—because it would illustrate more accurately than I am capable in coherent form the absurdity of trying to write interesting stuff about a Cavalier team that hasn’t yet played a meaningful game.

Not that the team itself is absurd. It radiates the heat of a storebought bread loaf left for a few hours in a sunny windowsill. Kevin’s prediction of 33 wins sounds right to my ears, though I haven’t given it much thought. “33″ seems like a good enough number. I think former New York Giants running back Ron Dayne wore number 33 when he was at Wisconsin. Surfer Rosa is 33 minutes long. You can treat one of those like an omen if you want. The Cavaliers’ win total will gain relevance as it becomes apparent whether the team is jockeying for a playoff spot or (more likely) additional ping pong balls. Numbers at this juncture run through me like the final scene of Audition with all the titillation sucked out. Just long, slow violence.

What I really want to talk about is that I have a friend who’s an MP in El Paso, and he’s getting shipped off to Afghanistan soon. We’re meeting up in our hometown in a few days, and I don’t know what I’m going to say to him. He already knows that I love him, though that will be said aloud a few times, probably slurred and tearful as the sun rises. I honestly don’t think he’s going to die—I’m prepared, but not anticipant—so there will be no premature mourning. I think we’re just going to let our fear rattle around and ping pong off each other for a few days, then bear hug and go back to our corners of the world. We’ll probably talk about Future, girls he’s trying to sleep with, and whatever TV I’ve been watching. In this way, we will talk about ourselves and the emotional sinew between us.

I got really drunk last night; most of what you’re reading was written in the thrall of enough Schlitz that I found my keys in an empty pad thai tray this morning. I’m sifting through the flotsam trying to make an article out of it because it felt important when I wrote it. There are a lot of tangents in this mess, but they’re not really tangents. I know I put them here, in this WordPress doc, because I find them relevant to basketball, or I find basketball relevant to them. Fragments of what I wrote last night will be incorporated into various things I write this season.

I don’t know if this is a writerly impulse or if lots of people do this, but I constantly strain to connect people, things, and moments to other things, people, and moments. It’s a byzantine ant colony that I’m trying to construct in my head and occasionally carve sections of into the internet’s cold back. I want it to mean something, though I’m not finicky about the way other people interpret it.

I think I’m conflating the Cavs’ upcoming season and my friend’s imminent departure for a wartorn country because they’re both encircled by a lot of impenetrable, wordless space. I don’t have an elaborate conceptual framework that links the two; they just happen to be haunting me at the same time. One talks to the other like a lightbulb talks to a hunk of pyrite. They let me know each other are there, swimming through the part of my mind that doesn’t let me sleep, occasionally bumping into one another, latching themselves to nothing.

The Cavs will become easier to put words to. (The specter of my friend’s peril, probably less so.) I’ll have games and stats and Youtube clips to glom onto, though I think I’ll still feel like I’m describing a sculpture by talking about what type of rock it’s made out of. Something is being built or something is decaying, and we probably won’t know which until it’s too late. Bone growth and accumulating water damage happen where eyes can’t see.

With that in mind, this space where I do bong rip-y takes on Kyrie Irving’s facial hair will in some way be about a friend who’s in danger. It will also be about movies I like and social anxiety. It’ll be about lots of stuff and how that stuff intersects with basketball. I’ll do my best to make this kitchen sink approach to covering the Cavs a sort of thought-gumbo, but the thing about slow-cooked seafood stews is that they’ll sometimes turn your body into a torture chamber.

I hope the Q isn’t like a torture chamber. Just long, slow violence. I hope it’s like a ball pit or a greenhouse. We could all use some fun.

Starting Five Decided

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Byron Scott decided the starting five today. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters in the backcourt, Alonzo Gee at small forward, and Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao in the frontcourt. Not really a big surprise- Byron clearly decided to play it safe. I think if Gee struggles in  a starting role, we could see C.J. Miles or Omri Casspi grabbing a game here and there as the starting small forward. Here’s the link.

Kevin’s Fearless 2012 – 2013 Predictions and Projections

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

The NBA regular season kicks off in less than forty-eight hours!  Cleveland plays the very first game this year’s slate!!  Basketball!!!

Unfortunately, I did not post this yesterday when I first authored it.  My James Harden-for-Kevin Martin prediction would have blown minds.  Anyways, I am a glutton for punishment as it relates to proffering prognostications from my crystal ball.  With that:

Here's a bonus prediction, free of charge. The Cavs will not win the 2013 Larry O'Brien Trophy.

  1. There will be one prediction for each projected Cleveland win this season.  So, this is the first of 33 knowledge gems.
  2. The Cavs will defeat a top-5 NBA team, on the road, by double-digits.
  3. They will lose to a bottom-5 NBA team, at home, by twenty.
  4. CJ Miles finishes second on the team at 13.8 points per game
  5. His PER also registers at 13.
  6. Actually, all of Cleveland’s wings produce player-efficiency-ratings between 13 and 14: a return to Sactown levels for Omri, an improvement for A-Gee, and a reasonably promising rookie campaign for Dion
  7. What about Boobie?  Oh, his PER will be 11.2, but for a fifth time in his career, he surpasses forty-percent from long range
  8. Until a trade deadline deal sends him packing to a pseudo-contender
  9. Kyrie Irving receives four points in MVP voting
  10. Thanks to yearly averages of twenty point and seven assists, combined with 57% true shooting
  11. Some combination of injuries and Samardo / Leuer doghouse-inhabitance results in Luke Harangody drilling 17 three-pointers, besting his career high
  12. Tristan nears a double-double, posting an 11 & 9
  13. Shooting percentages though, still reach only a marginal 47% from the field and 57% from the charity stripe
  14. If the combination of Pargo, Sloan, or any other random PG plays 800 minutes; Kevin Hetrick will be disappointed, as this indicates that either Kyrie suffered an injury or the D-Wait / Gibson back-court was not given the reins to the second-string offense
  15. Dion averages 9.5 points & 2.6 assists in 23 minutes per game.  Although debates about him still rage; I talk myself into this as a definite positive.
  16. There will be three games when he plays less than ten minutes due to upsetting Byron Scott.
  17. Still though, Coach Scott retains the faith in Dion’s ability that placed him fourth on the team’s Draft-day Big Board.
  18. For the fourth consecutive year, Omri Casspi starts at least 25 games
  19. His three point shooting returns to 36 – 37% range, providing valuable floor spacing with the first unit
  20. Jon Leuer mixes nights of surprising athleticism and deadly shooting with other games featuring a distinct inability to effectively bang down low.
  21. Cleveland brings him back for 2013 – 2014
  22. This season is Samardo Samuels last in Cleveland
  23. Anderson Varejao stays with the team all year, playing 73 games
  24. He pays $15000 in flopping fines due to three penalties.  To Cavs fans, at least one purported transgression seems based on Andy’s reputation more than any intended trickery.
  25. Cavs fans finally quit talking about trading him, as Playoffs-2014 becomes a universally reasonable goal.
  26. Tyler Zeller averages 10 & 6 with 54% true shooting.
  27. He makes second-team all-rookie
  28. ESPN’s daily top-ten includes Alonzo Gee seven times
  29. And Kyrie Irving, 27 times
  30. Cleveland comes up repeatedly at the trade deadline as a third team in big deals.  Luke Walton’s expiring deal and draft picks are the draw.  No transaction is made though.
  31. Their draft picks end up falling at 9, 26, 35 and 39
  32. For a second consecutive year, a draft-day deal inherits fewer, but better selections.
  33. The minimum salary floor for a team in 2013 – 2014 will be 90% of the salary cap, or approximately $55 million.  With two new first-round contracts in 2013, Cleveland employs 9 players for $33 million in 2013 – 2014.  They include Varejao, Irving, Tristan, Dion, A-Gee, Miles and Zeller.  There is $22 million that must be spent.  Even if they bring some combination of Gibson, Casspi, Leuer and Samuels back; the number likely sits above $15 million. So this is really a CBA-mandate as opposed to a prediction, but a significant trade or free agent acquisition will occur in the next ten months.  As a side note, if Cleveland trades Varejao, up to $30 million of new salary would inhabit the 2013 – 2014 roster compared to the opening-night-2012 crew.

Certainly an interesting season.  Let’s get it started.

Varejao: Center?

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

The Cavs have an interesting situation at hand with the addition of Tyler Zeller. Anderson Varejao has been playing center in recent years, but Zeller’s legitimacy and history at the 5 should move Andy back to the 4. Will he produce at the same level? Will he be better? A nice piece from Hoopsworld attempts to answer the questions surrounding this move. Here’s the link.

Cavs trim roster to 15

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

It appears final roster decisions have been made.  Donald Sloan and Jeremy Pargo make the cut.   Micheal Eric and Kevin Jones get the proverbial guillotine. This makes sense, considering Pargo has a guaranteed contract and Sloan performed most adequately of the four players during the pre-season.  I hope Sloan starts the season as the twelfth man, with Pargo in Canton.  Byron Scott may disagree.  I cannot be sure though; he has not called me to discuss yet.

It is possible that I have not posted a picture of Donald Sloan before. Well #15, it's your big day

A Friendly Chat About Dion Waiters, As If We Haven’t Had Enough of Those

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

In case you haven’t noticed by now, Cavs: The Blog is a million-word homage to Luis Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie in which we sit around a metaphorical blog-table and blog-talk about whatever’s troubling us—which is always inconsequential since sports are an inherently silly thing—like Buñuel’s plutocrats chatting about wine and exotic flora, only to be interpolated as bad actors or fascists or inhabitants of a godless ant farm of a universe. We’re just idly filling the blog-room with words we’re not sure we mean until the next guillotine drops and we wake from one dream into another.

(And my interpretation of the initial, Krolik-run incarnation of C:TB was that it was a blog version of Beckett’s Happy Days, where John exuberantly papered verbose false optimism over the toxic reality of Cavalier fandom day after day after day after day until he finally embraced exhaustion and death. [Or nascent lawyer-dom at prestigious school in New Orleans, which is basically the same thing.] I’m sure John would completely agree with my reading of his work.)

Anyway, we all emailed each other about Saint Weirdo today and thought you might want to peruse our discussion:

Kevin: I can’t wait for the regular season to start.  Pre-season is excessively assessed.  With that said, I am going to over-analyze it. Today, I read David Thorpe say that Dion has not shown anything to date in the pre-season to even make it look like he should have been drafted (let alone top 5).  As a Cavs fans and a Dion draft-day supporter, I’m pretty invested in Dion.  This email primarily serves to talk myself off the ledge.  Please remind me that seven pre-season games are not only meaningless games, but also a meaningless sample size.

A few notes on the Cavs pre-season schedule:
  • Philly and Chicago ranked 3rd and 1st in the NBA for defensive rating last year.  Indiana ranked tenth.  Sure, Philly lost Iguodala and Brand, but those are solid teams with a strong commitment to defense.
  • Cleveland played a back-to-back and also a four-games-in-four-cities-in-six-days spread.  Given that it was pre-season at Camp Scott, I am sure the rest days were not very restful.
So not only is preseason a small sample size, but this was an unfriendly schedule for an inexperienced player / team to flash strong offensive showings.
A few notes on Dion:
  • In his first three games, he posted: 7 assists, 10 turnovers, 0 steals and 8 fouls.
  • In his next four games, he posted: 8 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 steals and 4 fouls
Again, small sample sizes, but nice trend.  Looks like he was figuring the NBA game out after a rough start.
He made 35% of his attempts from deep and 75% on free throws.  He made 34% of his two-pointers.  That has to be something that will regress to the mean, right?

Colin: Preseason isn’t really “the NBA game.” It has a sort of crawfish/lobster relationship with the way the game looks during the regular season. Considering that Waiters hasn’t looked baldly incompetent or like the next coming of Jordan, I think we can probably just throw out what we’ve seen.

I don’t know. He may well suck—that’s sort of the scary thing about him; his ceiling and basement don’t exist in the same solar system—but we can’t know that until a good 40 games into the season, and then even after that, to determine the precise degree to which he’s going to suck or amaze, we’ll have to watch for another couple of years. It’s early and nothing really means anything. I think you’re just anxious, Kev. Try to let the first half of his rookie season wash over you, then we’ll have some reason to panic or celebrate.

Mallory: Kevin, I’ve thankfully written an article with suggestions as to how you can temper your nerves.  Might I suggest a stout?

Dani: I think that Kyrie’s presence will level him out tremendously, that preseason doesn’t mean much at all, and that Byron Scott is not going to let him take games off. I like what you said about regression to the mean. Kyrie Irving had an extremely [mediocre] preseason, but no one is ringing the alarm bell about him. I think the big scare (which definitely had an effect on me also) is due to the combination a few random factors. Waiters already had the label (fair or unfair) of a boom-or-bust pick. Obviously, he didn’t perform well in the preseason. That led to an instant labeling of bust. If he had played well, or had a few more highlights, I think people would be screaming boom. Either way, it doesn’t matter.

Kevin: Mallory, I had a Sammy Smith’s Nut Brown Ale tonight, and I feel better   already.  I normally go to the liquor store on Friday, because they do beer tastings.  I’ll have to scope the place out for some of your recommendations.  I did have the Brooklyn Pumpkin last weekend; both my wife and I were very pleased.

Colin, you are correct, but honestly, I will give Waiters a bit of a pass for a full season.  After reading the Thorpe article, I just felt like firing off an email.  I don’t think anything especially positive or negative should be said about a young player based on the pre-season.

One final ramble on Dion: in the Indiana game, a top-ten defense that played their full lineup, Mr. Waiters shot 14 times, 6 in the paint, and drew 4 free throws.  He notched 2 assists.  He only had 1 shot blocked with 0 turnovers.  The fact he was able to get his shots and take care of the ball, actually seems pretty promising to me.  The shots should fall eventually; he’s a 20 year old in his sixth kind-of NBA game.

Dani, I agree with you, too.  People became way too polarized about Dion way too fast.

Nate: I’ve been thinking a lot like this too, and contrasting this with the rookies who have been playing well in preseason: Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, and Meyers Leonard… Not that every player was even a practical fit for us.  If we got killed for taking Waiters at the #4, Lillard or Leonard would’ve been seen as major failures. I like Andre Drummond, but he literally can’t shoot 30% from the line, which means you can’t play the guy once you’re in the penalty.

I even have been going back and seeing who we could’ve drafted instead of TT. Obviously, Valanciunas comes to mind, but there was also a lot of talk last year at #4 of drafting Kawhi Leonard, who is being talked about right now as the future face of the Spurs. Hindsight is a bitch.

Here’s D-Wait’s preseason stats

Preseason Team G GS MPG FG% 3p% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
12-13 CLE 7 4 22.3 0.344 0.350 0.750 0.3 1.7 2.0 2.1 0.6 0.0 1.7 1.7 8.6
Here are some comparable player preseason stats from their rookie year…
Dwayne Wade
Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
03-04 MIA 5 5 23.6 0.434 0.500 0.696 0.8 2.4 3.2 2.4 2.0 1.0 2.00 1.60 12.8

Jamal Crawford

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
03-04 CHI 8 8 33.4 0.380 0.317 0.878 0.6 2.9 3.5 6.6 1.1 0.6 3.38 2.50 17.6

James Harden

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
09-10 OKC 6 3 27.3 0.393 0.259 0.600 0.3 2.8 3.2 2.0 1.8 0.2 2.00 3.33 12.2

Russell Westbrook

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
08-09 OKC 7 1 23.4 0.378 0.273 0.759 0.9 3.0 3.9 2.4 0.7 0.0 4.29 2.71 14.3

Marcus Thornton

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
09-10 NOH 6 2 20.5 0.412 0.400 0.538 1.3 1.5 2.8 0.3 0.5 0.2 1.50 1.67 12.2

Eric Gordon

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
08-09 LAC 7 1 23.4 0.392 0.353 0.875 0.4 1.4 1.9 0.9 1.4 0.0 1.00 1.57 14.6

Tyreke Evans

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
09-10 SAC 7 7 31.6 0.441 0.231 0.750 1.1 3.7 4.9 4.7 1.1 1.0 4.00 2.29 15.1

Jimmer Fridette

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
11-12 SAC 2 1 33.5 0.550 0.667 0.625 0.0 3.5 3.5 4.0 0.5 0.0 1.50 1.00 16.5

Manu Ginobili

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
02-03 SAS 5 0 14.2 0.308 0.111 0.600 1.0 2.0 3.0 2.0 1.2 0.4 1.80 1.60 4.0

Kyrie Irving

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
11-12 CLE 2 0 26.0 0.346 0.000 0.875 0.5 3.5 4.0 3.0 2.0 0.0 2.50 2.00 16.0

Deron Williams

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
05-06 UTA 7 2 18.7 0.532 0.545 0.722 0.1 1.0 1.1 4.0 0.6 0.0 1.86 2.00 9.9

Shannon Brown

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
06-07 CLE 7 0 16.6 0.426 0.182 0.778 0.3 1.1 1.4 1.3 0.6 0.0 1.29 1.43 7.0

Arron Afflalo

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
07-08 DET 8 0 21.4 0.469 0.429 0.870 0.8 2.4 3.1 0.9 0.4 0.1 1.88 2.38 9.0

Brandon Roy

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
06-07 POR 8 7 34.8 0.458 0.200 0.804 0.8 2.6 3.4 3.6 0.5 0.5 3.12 3.88 14.8

O.J. Mayo

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
08-09 MEM 8 8 29.8 0.458 0.385 0.625 0.4 2.9 3.3 2.4 1.8 0.2 2.25 2.12 15.4

Louis Williams

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
05-06 PHI 7 0 14.3 0.297 0.222 0.571 0.4 1.3 1.7 1.1 0.7 0.0 0.57 1.43 4.6

Rodney Stuckey

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
07-08 DET 8 2 25.8 0.375 0.143 0.792 1.3 2.3 3.5 3.1 1.2 0.5 2.75 3.00 12.1

Alec Burks

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
11-12 UTA 2 0 18.0 0.167 0.000 0.750 0.5 0.0 0.5 1.5 1.0 0.0 0.50 0.00 4.5

Andre Iguodala

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
04-05 PHI 8 4 23.6 0.487 0.364 0.652 0.4 3.1 3.5 2.6 1.5 0.0 2.25 2.75 7.1

Demar DeRozan

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
09-10 TOR 8 8 25.9 0.410 0.273 0.769 0.6 1.8 2.4 0.8 0.5 0.1 1.13 2.00 10.4

Jason Terry

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
99-00 ATL 7 1 19.3 0.341 0.111 0.647 0.0 1.4 1.4 2.3 1.3 0.0 2.71 2.14 5.7

Joe Johnson

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
01-02 BOS 8 0 23.5 0.362 0.235 1.000 1.1 1.9 3.0 1.4 0.4 0.2 1.50 1.50 6.5

Ray Allen

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
97-98 MIL 7 7 25.9 0.556 0.583 0.813 0.6 3.4 4.0 4.6 1.6 0.0 2.00 3.00 16.1

Monta Ellis

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
05-06 GSW 6 0 14.3 0.333 0.273 0.800 0.2 1.8 2.0 1.0 0.8 0.2 1.33 1.17 5.2

Wesley Matthews

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
09-10 UTA 6 3 20.5 0.333 0.250 0.947 0.3 0.8 1.2 0.8 1.3 0.0 1.50 2.17 6.2

Kobe Bryant

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
97-98 LAL 8 0 21.4 0.500 0.412 0.724 0.5 2.3 2.8 1.9 1.2 0.5 2.75 2.88 12.5

As the list shows, more of these guys shot well when they were rookies than didn’t, but there are good players, and even some all stars who didn’t (Ginobili,Terry, Joe Johnson, Eric Gordon, oh, and Kyrie Irving).

I think there are a few things going on here:

1: at 6’4″ 215-220, Waiters body type is not one you find a lot in the nba as a successful 2 guard.  He may need to get leaner to get quicker.  Like I said before, the comparisons are Dwayne Wade and Shannon Brown.  Wade was thinner when he came in the league, and he’s getting leaner again.  It’s a lot of weight to carry at the 2 guard spot.  I think Waiters still has to get in better shape.

2: His other numbers are fine.  Not great, but fine.  His shooting will probably come around.  I’ve seen nothing that says: “this guy is terrible” watching him, and I liked how far he’d come on defense in the last game I watched.  And he has had some nice passes.  Not as nice as Kyrie did in preseason last year, but decent, and he has seemed to keep the dumb plays to a minimum.

3. The defenses have been tough, as you say, and I’m betting Camp Scott has been tougher.  The players look tired in the preseason games I’ve seen.  Hopefully we see a refreshed St. Weirdo in the regular season.

4. His role has been changing a lot.  He’s basically learning two positions at once.  I don’t know if any other guys on that list have had to do that in preseason of their rookie year.

5. It’s preseason.  This discussion will be either moot or prescient in a month.