Archive for January, 2013

Young Player Profile: Dion Waiters

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Dion's shot selection and finishing have improved in the last month.

Time to progress this series with a look at rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters.  The fourth pick in 2012 turned twenty-one in December, and provides much promise, but with plenty of room for improvement.  Let’s get into it.

Offense

Instantly thrust into a prominent role in the Cavalier offense, Dion uses over one-quarter of the team’s possessions, the highest of all rookies.  Prominently featured as a pick & roll ball-handler and allowed fairly free rein in isolations, Waiters controls the ball a lot.  Sometimes this is good, other times, less so; he flashes a brilliant first-step, but also a propensity for hoisting 20-footers early in the shot clock.

Posting the second-most points (14.5 per game) and fourth-most assists of all rookies, Dion doesn’t waste his sixth-highest number of minutes.  Undoubtedly a volume scorer early in his career, 38% conversion on field goals and 47% true shooting leave much to be desired.  A relatively skilled passer, his assist rate ranks 29th of 64 qualified shooting guards, with maintaining the 24th lowest turnover rate.

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Lebron to Come Back?

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Will he come back to Cleveland?

Adrian Wojnaroski wrote an article about the end of the super-team, the new salary cap rules, and Lebron’s possible return to the Cavs. Here’s the link. Make of it what you will; the bit about Lebron possibly flip-flopping on the Decision, but choosing to stick with Miami due to the Comic-Sans letter, is hard to believe. For the record, I absolutely dread the return of the King, and I think that Dan Gilbert’s angry letter was a proud moment for Cleveland sports.

Thoughts on Rudy Gay

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

In case you missed it last night, Rudy Gay was traded to Toronto.  In a three way deal, Ed Davis will head to Memphis, along with Austin Daye and Tayshuan Prince.  Detroit will receive Jose Calderon.  Additionally, the U.S. loses its only Iranian born NBA player, as Hamad Haddadi, obviously the centerpiece of this deal, moves north of the border.  This deal has several implications for the Cavs. (more…)

Cavs: The Podcast 0022 – No, not THAT Joe Johnson

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Joe isn’t tall.  He isn’t fast.  And I doubt he can hit an open three.  No, this Joe Johnson doesn’t play for the Brooklyn (New Jersey) Nets – he’s located all the way out in Indonesia.

Given the recent (somewhat) success of this Cavs team and the fact that we all know the NBA game inside and out, I thought it’d be fun to have a change of pace.  I enlisted a close friend, Mr. Joe Johnson, to come on and talk about the Asean Basketball League.

In this episode of the podcast Joe and I talk about how the Asean Basketball League is run, the types of people who attend the games, differences between the ASL and the NBA, differences between the ASL game and the NBA game, how the teams are put together, and Joe’s general thoughts on the NBA season thus far.

We can be found on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0022-no-not-that-joe-johnson

And on iTunes at – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cavs-the-podcast/id528149843?mt=2

GS 108, CLE 95

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

This trio combined for 78 points tonight.

The Cleveland Cavaliers played an intensely ugly game of basketball tonight against the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors shot 53.6% from the field, the Cavaliers 42.9%. The Warriors shot 68.8% from three, the Cavaliers 22.2%. Those are the only numbers you really need to know. Golden State actually turned the ball over two more times than the Cavs, and had less points in the paint. But this is one of the best shooting teams in the NBA, and when you don’t play anything resembling team defense, as the Cavs are wont to do, games can get out of control. This wasn’t a fun game of basketball to watch. The Cavs seemed to be perpetually losing by twenty (no matter the actual deficit), and the whole event was rather low-energy; it basically consisted of Illness-Ridden Kyrie Irving and Co. clanking jumpers while Klay Thompson turned into Reggie Miller circa 1990. Still gotta pay the rent, though, so let’s go ahead and take a look at this game.

First Half:

The Warriors ran out to an early 13-4 lead. The Cavs did not look sharp early. But the Warriors were missing Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson hadn’t yet discovered that he’s the world’s greatest three-point shooter, and Tristan Thompson is decent at basketball, so the Cavs managed clawed their way back to a 23-23 tie by the end of the first. The second quarter, however was when Golden State Klay and the Warriors started making every shot they took. The Cavs continued their mediocre play, but it stopped being enough to keep the game tight. This one could have gotten out of hand if Dion Waiters didn’t play the role of Kyrie Irving tonight; at the end of the second, he started driving and scoring and dishing and scoring and dishing again. At the end of the half, the Cavs were down 11, 55-44.

Second Half:

In a surprising but not altogether unwelcome turn of events, Tyler Zeller started out the second half matching the Warriors jumper for jumper. But the third quarter was not pretty. Now, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters deserve a lot of grief for not sticking on Klay Thompson. He was left standing alone far too often. But it wasn’t just Klay Thompson. In the third the Warriors just started dropping buckets. Draymond Green, Jarrett Jack, hell, even Kent Bazemore got into it at the end of the quarter. Kyrie remained as off-kilter as he did the rest of the game, and the quarter ended with the Cavs down 16, 84-68. In the fourth quarter, it seemed like the Cavs might threaten a comeback, as they seem to have made a habit of recently. The Warriors cooled down, and the Cavs were only one Kyrie Irving explosion away from making this one a legitimate game. Sadly, that explosion never came. Jarrett Jack and Klay Thompson scored a few more times apiece to end it, and the Cavs lost 108-95.

Notes:

– Kyrie was really awful tonight. The Warriors played a zone defense that he just couldn’t drive through and around. This, combined with the fact that his jumper was off (wayyyy off) made tonight an ugly one scoring-wise. But he didn’t really adjust to the way the game was going, ending up with only four assists and getting torn apart by everyone he tried to defend. Let’s write this one off as flu-related.

– Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller were pretty much the only Cleveland players capable of scoring tonight (18 for Dion and 16 for Zeller), and yet both of them got ravaged by whoever they were guarding, on any given play. Dion floated off his man all game, which is always bad but especially egregious when your man is Klay Thompson and he can’t miss. Zeller was just abused in the post all game by David Lee and pretty much every other big man on the Golden State roster.

– Tristan Thompson was a dominant force on offense, and a disappointment on defense. He finished powerfully all game, and ended up with 18 and 11 on 8-14 shooting. But he could not do a single thing to stop the Warriors front line. Sure, David Lee? David Lee’s an All-star. But Festus Ezeli is not, and even he got a few easy points.

Could the Cavs Sign Greg Oden?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Is Greg Oden a lost cause?

Greg Oden is attempting to make an NBA comeback, and the Cavaliers and the Heat are the front-runners to land him. The HEAT can offer playoff contention, while the Cavs can offer a whole lot more money. I’m all for this signing, assuming that his interviews go well and that this theoretical contract is mostly non-guaranteed. Oden is an immensely talented two-way force, and has shown that he can be impactful on the NBA level when healthy.

There should be no concern about his skills: check these highlights. As for those that claim he is a massive risk, well, you’re probably right. Mark Titus wrote a fantastic article last year about Oden’s career and his struggles adjusting to the NBA lifestyle. And there is the fact that if he is signed, he will be the first sports player ever to come back from three micro-fracture surgeries. What do you guys think?

Mailing it In

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

No major content to post this morning, so like LeBron James in the 2010 playoffs, we’re mailing this one in.  In lieu of prose, Cavs the Blog has opted for Art Bell style “open lines” today.  Suggested topics?  The trade deadline is two weeks away.  Give us plausible trade scenarios.  If you’d like to use the ESPN Trade machine, here it is.

Cavs: The Podcast 0021 – WE’RE GOING STREAKING

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Things are looking up for the ol’ ball club!  A three game win streak, the emergence of a bench, Kyrie playing out of his mind…there’s a lot to smile about these days.  So Tom, Dani, and I decided to hop on the line.

In today’s podcast we discuss the win streak, Byron Scott’s contribution to the win streak, Speights, Ellington, and what the future holds for this Cavs team.

We can be found on SoundCloud at – https://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0021-were-going-streaking

And on iTunes at – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cavs-the-podcast/id528149843?mt=2

Recap: Cleveland 99, Toronto 98 (or, winning basketball games is easy)

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

This was Cleveland’s fourteenth back-to-back for the season.   Heading into the evening, they won one on the back-end.   Of course, they were playing their lottery-mate kryptonite, the Toronto Raptors.  After sweeping last season’s series, the Raptors destroyed the Cavs in Cleveland earlier this season, by double-digits, despite missing two starters.   So this should be fun, right?

I could get used to seeing pictures like this in May

The first quarter started well, with the starters forging an 11 to 10 lead.  Highlights included awesome Kyrie to Gee and Kyrie to Tristan pick & rolls, a delightful Gee drive & dunk, a Dion drive for a lay-in, and a Dion assist for a Kyrie three in transition.  The Kyrie to Alonzo play resulted in a massive slam; why does it feel like one of very few examples of this combo running this play?  Unlike last night, some unraveling began with the subs, obviously due to Luke Walton sitting with an injured foot.  Toronto mounted a 13 to 2 run, highlighted by a slew of DeMar Derozan jumpers, and repeated bloopers from Zeller: missed bunnies, a travel, a fumbled pass, a weak foul that allowed an and-one…Derozan’s twelve points guided the 19 to 25 margin in favor of the Raptors.

The second quarter started miserably, with Toronto stretching their lead to eleven.  The Cavs whittled away, fronted by Marreese Speights’ 11 first-half points, but seemingly everytime the tally drew near, the team failed to get a critical stop; the Raptors would grab an offensive rebound or hustle down a fifty-fifty ball.  Toronto took advantage of Cleveland misses, sprinting out against poorly defensed fast breaks; the Cavs allowed 61% from the field through the first twenty minutes.  The defense tightened up over the final few minutes, and Kyrie played his unique brand of hero-ball, bringing the game to the half with Cleveland trailing 46 to 50.  Kyrie shot fourteen times to tally thirteen points, taking impossibly difficult shots, but of course also making some (including a one-on-three fast break).  Zeller finished with nine boards, but shot 0 for 4 and botched two turnovers.  Cleveland registered seven assists for the half.

The third stanza featured various mini-runs, with Toronto never pulling away, and Cleveland not attaining a lead.  The entirety of the second and third quarters bounced around between a margin of two and eleven points.  Thompson scored six, while Alan Anderson scored an equal amount in the final two minutes of the quarter.  Anderson piled up seventeen for the game, and isn’t having a bad season as a bench-sparkplug.  The Raptors carried a 66 to 75 lead into the fourth.

After Toronto scored the first bucket of the fourth, the new bench-guys spurred a twelve-to-nothing Cavalier run.  Speights hit two buckets and Ellington drained a pair of long threes to snatch an 80 to 79 lead.  The two teams kept trading buckets; a Kyrie and-one, a Speights post-move, an Ellington three…but Toronto matched each time.  At 88 to 87, a four-point Kyrie mini-run provided separation, before the team started exhibiting reminiscent closing woes.  Against a set defense, Kyrie iso-ed off his foot for a turnover, then missed a tough layup; Dion jacked a 22-footer; Kyrie threw away a pass; a series of defensive break-downs allowed Toronto to re-attain a 94 to 96 lead.  Alas, we have seen this story before.

Except tonight featured a surprise ending.  First, after a Thompson block, Kyrie received the ball in transition…well, it wasn’t really a fast break; more like another 1 on 3.  Of course, he needled through every defender and converted the circus lay-in…tie ballgame.

But, OH @$#!  Stupid Defense!!  Jose Calderon drives and scores to give Toronto the advantage with ten seconds remaining.

I’m thinking “Allright…we have Kyrie Irving…this is OK.”  He’s dribbling…probably another tough iso drive against a set defense; I hope it works out…except he rises, he shoots, HE DRILLS THE THREE FROM THE TOP OF THE KEY!!  UNDER A SECOND TO GO!!!  CAVS LEAD!!!

Toronto couldn’t score in the final half-ticks, and Cleveland strikes their first three game win streak of the season; a stretch that gives them 8 wins and 9 losses in the last five weeks.  This was a very nice win, on the road, on the second night of a back-to-back, against a team the Cavs struggle with.  Ideally, they develop more creative offense (12 assists on 37 baskets?) and airtight defense, and make these finalies a little less heart-attack inducing in the future…but a win’s a win, right?

Onto a few bullets (all “in January” numbers are prior to tonight’s game):

  • As a young core, Toronto carries several nice pieces.  Kyle Lowry is a fantastic point guard.  I think that Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and Jonas Valanciunas provide a strong big man rotation for several years.  Now they need to determine which of their under-25 wing contingent of Landry Fields Terrence Ross, and Demar Derozan stay healthy, and produce effectively and consistently.
  • The trade makes Cleveland’s depth look brighter.  Marreese Speights drained some jumpers, scored some bruising back-to-the-basket buckets, and even finished a swooping reverse layup.  Ellington stroked a trio of silky threes.  Without their 29 points on 69% true shooting, the game probably slips away early in the fourth.
  • Through December, Luke Walton’s per-36 minutes averages were 5.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists on 34% true shooting.  It was absolutely as ugly as everyone remembers.  In January, those increased to 11, 7.3, 4.6 and 48%.  Combining excellent ball movement with passable shooting and rebounding turns him into a reasonably playable back-up.  Come back soon, Luke?
  • I don’t know which statistical leap is more impressive though.  Tristan’s November featured per-36 of 10.3 & 9.8 on 47% TS.  In January, those rise to 15.2 & 12 on 53.5%.  He finished tonight with 14 points, 8 boards, and 3 blocks, but also lost 4 turnovers.  The refs were critical of his footwork in the post and on screens.
  • How about Dion’s improvement in shot distribution?  In December, he took 30 of his 114 field goals from inside of three feet, approximately 26% of his attempts, and only lined up for one freebie of every seven shots from the field.  In January, those numbers increase to 54 of 156 shots attempted at the rim (35% of tries), and a free throw per three field goal attempts.  This helped turn around his appalling 39% true shooting in December, into 52% in January, a completely respectable mark for a high-usage guard that turned 21 last month.  Tonight was not a good night for Dion though; he is alternating good & bad games.  He picked-up four fouls in his first eight minutes of play, turned the ball over three times in the third quarter, missed a completely-all-alone layup, and shot 3 of 10 with a couple of ill-advised jumpers.  Maybe he stayed out too late last night.  Reasonably aggressive though, he did take six of his shots inside 8 feet, but never received the benefit of a foul call.  In a plus/minus anomaly, he finished a team best +15.
  • Even Kyrie raised his game to another level in January.  26.3 points per game on 49 / 42 / 93 shooting, including more steals in the last eleven games (30), than in the prior twenty-two (28 thefts).  49 / 42/ 93!!!  Of course, this night adds to a growing legacy: 32 points, 5 assists, and another buzzer-beating gamewinner.
  • Might as well give Tyler some mention.  Through January 22, according to hoopdata.com, T-Zell lead the league in charges.  For total defensive plays (steals + blocks + charges), his total of 81 ranks 51st of all players.  He certainly has work to do, but he makes some things happen.  Tonight was not pretty, his vaunted offensive touch still lacks most games, but he snagged twelve boards…at least there’s that

The Cavs won 8 of their last 17.  Player development is equalling wins, and nightly viewing provides much more excitement lately.  With eight of the next nine at home, and the one road game in Detroit, everyone gets to sleep at home until late February.  Enjoy the respite, guys.

Recap: Cleveland 113, Bucks 108 (or Introducing the Herculoids)

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Wow.  So many thoughts.  So many story lines.  This might have been the most entertaining game of the season, and it was easily the most compelling 4th quarter. I had forgotten what the Q sounded like when it’s rocking… Where to start? (more…)