Archive for May, 2013

Let’s finish this…Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 Picks

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Note: The disjointed nature of this post pretty ably reflects my ability to make sense of the first pick.

Having looked closely at Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter and Nerlens Noel, my draft board for the Cavs says:

  1. Noel
  2. Porter
  3. Oladipo

I am not excited about it though.  Noel’s size, athleticism and production are worthy of the first pick, but I can’t get over the two knee surgeries.   And honestly, whether the Cavs do or don’t pick him, I’m not sure there will be a lot of room for future “I told you so’s”.  What fan will legitimately be able to say, “I knew what would happen with his left knee”?

But enough of that…I need to find an answer.  I populated my “parallel universe simulator” with the thousands of requisite variables, then let it churn on hundreds of networked computers throughout the course of the week.  The hoped-for output: the answer to the question of “which selection will help win the Cavs win the most games over the next ten years?”

(more…)

Nerlens Noel: Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 Picks

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Finally, the time has arrived: Nerlens Noel, the majority selection for Number One.  The type of long, super-athletic prospect that front offices drool over, the Kentucky freshman followed up on his place at the top of the high school class of 2012 with an impressive twenty-four games at Kentucky, parlaying that dossier into top-pick status.  Of course nothing is easy though; on February 12th, he tore his left ACL, sidelining him until 2014.  If not for that, this series never exists.  Nerlens numerical profile is:

6’ 10” barefoot, 7’ 3.75” wingspan, 206 lbs (apparently he played at 220 pounds.  Also no athleticism tests, but I will give Noel the benefit of the doubt of a 3.15 – 3.20 sprint time).  Age 19.2 at draft time.  109 orating on 19 usage.  59 / 0 / 53.  78 / 0 / 22.  dreb% = 21.7.  ast% = 9.3.  stl% = 3.9.  blk% = 12.9.  A:TO ratio = 0.8.

Pretty impressive stuff.  Solid rebounding; astounding steal and block rates; and decent offensive play for an 18-year old center.  Tough to find comparisons for those traits, and I’ve split this into a few categories.

(more…)

Otto Porter: Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 Picks

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Finally, we arrive at a guy playing a position of need for the Cavs.  Well-rounded on the court and hard-working off it, this Georgetown sophomore fills several needs for Cleveland.  A small forward that scores efficiently, moves the ball intelligently, hustles, knocks down threes, and buckles down on defense…sounds pretty good.  But does that sound like a #1 pick?  Most people can not fathom a “yes” for that question.  Let’s look at similar players from season’s past, to see if “no” becomes a “meh”. 

Porter’s athletic and production profile is:

6’ 7.5” barefoot, 7’ 1.5” wingspan, 198 lbs, 27” no-step vert, 11.25 second agility drill, 3.40  second sprint time.  Age 20 at the draft.  119 orating on 23 usage.  Shooting percentages = 48 / 42 / 78.  Scoring locations = 50 / 26 / 24.  dreb% = 18.9.  stl% = 3.3.  blk% = 3.  ast% = 18.5.  A:TO ratio = 1.8.

Really good stuff.  Solid length, young, efficient shooting, stellar block and steal rates, sweet passing.  He is a unique prospect.  How much so though?  Similarities include:

(more…)

Victor Oladipo: Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 picks

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Finding similar age / production / size / athleticism profiles for Victor Oladipo proved a tad tougher than for Ben McLemore.  High leaping youngsters that finish top-ten in the NCAA for True Shooting and top-fifty for Steal Percentage, don’t grow on trees.  So I had to stretch a bit more than with the McLemore comparisons.  The Hoosier junior’s line is:

6’ 3.25” barefoot, 6’ 9.25” wingspan, 213 lbs, 33” no-step, 10.69 agility, 3.25 sprint.  Age is 21.1 at draft time.  122 orating on 23 usage.  Shooting Percentages are 60 / 44 / 75.  Location distribution of points scored is 62 / 18 / 20.  dreb% = 13.9.  stl% = 4.5.  blk% = 2.8.  ast% = 15.1.  A:TO ratio = 0.9.

For the comparisons today, I came up with:

(more…)

Ben McLemore: Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 Picks

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Last Friday, Cavs:the Blog proposed wild trade scenarios for the number one pick.  This week, I will look at the collegiate players in the running for that pick: Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore, and Trey Burke.  The method employed is to scour the draftexpress.com measurement database and the numbers available at statsheet.com.  For each player, a list was culled of the most athletically and statistically similar players.  Stats and traits selected are intended to closely mimic each guy’s size, athleticism, playing style, and performance.  They include:

  • Barefoot Height
  • Wingspan
  • Weight
  • No-Step Vertical Leap
  • Agility Drill Time
  • Three-Quarter Court Sprint Speed

For performance, I gathered the following traits from each prospective #1 and a comparably aged season from the parallel youngster; i.e. if Player 2013 is 20 at draft time, while a comparison player was 21 at draft time, I used the stats from the comparison player’s previous season.  Those are:

  • Offensive Rating
  • Usage
  • Shooting percentage splits, in the form FG% / 3P% / FT%
  • A split of where they scored from.  If a player scored 50% of his points from inside the arc, 25% from three, and 25% at the foul line, his tally is 50 / 25 / 25.
  • Defensive Rebounding Percentage
  • Steal Percentage
  • Block Percentage
  • Assist Percentage
  • Assist to Turnover Ratio

Using those as markers, the two most comparable players were determined in order to frame a reference for what the future may hold for the youngster.  I started with the draftexpress.com measurements database, looking at players plus or minus 1” from each indivdiual’s barefoot height.

Each day this week, I will present the list for one of those players, before on Friday, announcing my preference for the Cavs on draft day.  While certainly not perfect, it is instructive to see how similar performers progressed through their NBA careers.  Let’s start with Ben McLemore, the 20-year old freshman Kansas shooting guard.  His line is:

(more…)

The Cavs are open to a trade? Sure, we’ll oblige…

Friday, May 24th, 2013

With the extreme good fortune of a lottery victory, the Cavaliers find themselves in a luxurious position.  The League’s youngest All-Star, another #1 pick, two other recent top-fives, cap space, the league’s most draft picks over the next five years.

There are interesting factors at play regarding the Nerlens Noel winning-ticket though.  First, the entirety of Cavalier-dom – management, coaches, players, writing hacks, avid blog readers, and casual fans – all expect a step forward next year.  Brian Windhorst reports that the Cavs are more than open to shopping the pick, and Nick Gilbert is adamant that he doesn’t want to be back on a podium in 2014.  And who is the man for helping in that task?  A nineteen year old that will miss the first two months of the season — unless the Cavs decide to throw everyone a curveball and draft Otto Porter #1.  We’ll pretend that possibility doesn’t exist for now.

Trending in the opposite direction, rebuilding teams that are not ready for a playoff push next year, and aging teams looking to rebuild, could see drafting Noel as a perfect opportunity.  Get an uber-athletic seven-foot tall player that won’t help much next year?  Position themselves for the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes of 2014?  For a handful of teams, tankapalooza 2014 could be every bit as pitiful as the woeful displays of 2012.  And trading for Noel would be a perfect place to start.

Obviously with an asset as coveted as the draft’s first pick, fans can dare to dream big.  What fantastical ideas are the C:tB writers thinking about?

(more…)

Cavs: The Podcast 0032 – Nick Gilbert Is A Lucky Man

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

WOOOOOO!  Have you all stopped celebrating yet?  Because I haven’t!  Amazingly enough, as you all know, the Cleveland Cavaliers have again landed the #1 pick (2/3 years!) in the NBA draft.

No one really expected the Cavaliers to end up picking first, so with the announcement came a slew of new questions.  Essentially…What next?!

Robert, Colin, Nate and I hopped on the line to discuss what having the #1 pick means for this Cavs team.  Is Noel going first?  Is a major trade coming?  Who should be taken with the 19th pick?   Who do the Cavs sign this off-season?  Are they in win-now mode?

These questions, and many more (most awkward moment of the lottery?) are answered.

As always, we can be found on SoundCloud at: https://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0032-nick-gilbert-is-a-lucky

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

A Friendly Post-Lottery Chat

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Colin: The Draft Lottery itself is a spectacle to behold. Or not behold, exactly, but mock? I feel like it should be mockable—unintentionally doofy, at least—but it’s mostly just drab television, what with its suspense being driven by its inherent drama and absolutely nothing else. It’s mostly a bummer, and really, if your team isn’t involved, you’re the saddest sort of NBA obsessive.

Heather Cox awkwardly explains that the Draft Lottery, you see, is a game of probability, thus explaining to the American public what a lottery is while pretending that literally every American over the age of 12 doesn’t know exactly what a lottery is and how it works. This is not Heather Cox’s fault at all, just the nature of the beast. She has to smile and talk needlessly through a half-hour of television, of which anyone watching only cares about, give or take, 45 seconds.

But anyway, a room full of uncomfortable, uncharismatic old men sit alongside wholly unenthused young players do a soft-shoe if Cox tries to engage them. “Boy howdy, Holly, I hope we win!” is maybe the only acceptable answer one can give in this scenario, and so all we get are variations thereof, save for the part where Damian Lillard talks about being really good at basketball in a strange, humble way, like the kind-of-terrible Blazers were doing him a favor playing him 39 minutes a game, as if he was stealing minutes from a 25-year-old Isaiah Thomas. Maybe these interviews would be less weird if the interviewer and subject weren’t separated by a podium? They would probably still be weird.

Also, the Gilbert family bowtie thing is stupid, despite its apparent mystical powers. But none of the above stuff is actually important. Nate, Nerlens Noel or NERLENS NOEL!!! or Nerlens Noel? Or perhaps you’re a Ben McLemore fan? (I know you’re not.) Give us some sense of your enthusiasm level.

Nate: It was definitely a strange dynamic, as it always is.  The Lottery is a collection of old executives, players whose teams want to appease or showcase them, coaches who’d rather be somewhere else, and Adam Silver who looks like he just stepped out of a flying saucer.  What a strange-looking man.  And then there’s Nick Gilbert: the human horseshoe.  There’s something very refreshing about him.  Yeah, he’s a rich guy’s kid, but by all accounts he’s had a pretty rough go of it. Yet he always seems to exude positivity and smiles.  I’m probably grafting an emotional response onto a positive memory, but I just can’t help but like Nick Gilbert.

Watching the reactions is always bizarre too, as everyone tries to stay poker faced and not give away too much disappointment—well, except for the Jazz’s Randy Rigby who mouthed a minor obscenity as his envelope was revealed at 14.  I guess he overestimated that 1.5% chance of getting in the top three.  And Charlotte’s Fred Whitfield looked like he was going to burn down the studio with his look of disdain.  But it was all eclipsed by the Gilberts (who had a large contingent).  Dan’s wine colored Cavaliers monogrammed sport jacket was special, in its own way.  The pink shirt and bowtie really completed the ensemble.  He looked like a really bad magician. [Ed: so, any magician, really.]

But yeah, Nerlens Noel!  I am much more excited than I thought I’d be.  Most of you guys don’t live in the Cleveland area.  I’m pleased we Clevelanders are going to be talking about it around the water cooler for the next few weeks.  The Cavs have some juice, the Indians are winning, the weather is lovely.  All seems right with the world.  And Nerlens Noel is an intriguing prospect.  Calipari seems to coach big men to block shots to teammates rather than into the third row like Dwight or Serge.  I’m eager to see Noel in a Cavs uniform in 9 months.  What about you, Colin?  Did you think this was possible?  No one I know seems to have been able to fathom the Cavs had a chance at landing this pick.  I think it’s because there’s only like 10,000 people in the world that understand probability.

Colin: I think a lot of us harbored less-than-discrete hopes that Anthony Davis would become a Cavalier. Like, if you asked us straight up if we thought the Cavs would win the lottery two years in a row, we would’ve denied it, but a Kyrie-Brow core was too tantalizing to not hope for. Plus, in the Davis draft, the Cavs ended up with the fourth pick, which was a decidedly “Well, [crap]!” sort of moment, especially since so many of us were attached, in the wake of a lottery non-miracle, to the idea of the Cavs drafting Brad Beal or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. (Ay, Dion: keep turning our disappointment into fireworks, buddy.)

In this lottery, I don’t think we dared to dream. In part because the dream itself wasn’t an Anthony Davis-level prospect: it was Anthony Davis Lite with a knee injury that’ll keep him out until at least late December. Because of Noel’s bust potential or otherwise, we—and jeez, I’m generalizing here in a way that makes me uncomfortable, but I think I’m echoing the Cavs fan consensus here—resigned ourselves to Otto Porter-dom. Were we all thrilled about Otto Porter? I don’t think so, but it was at least a near-certainty the Cavs could and would get him. Now we’re all woozy and disoriented, I think. We didn’t much ponder the Nerlens Noel Era, either because of the Cavs’ not-great odds or Porter love (which I can’t quite understand) or… fatalism? We’re looking at the Cavs having—draft strength be damned—four top four picks in three years, two of which were first overall. It’s hard to complain, y’know? You can talk about luck and how the Cavs have had high picks in purportedly weak drafts, but the lottery balls have been kind to them, on the whole. I beg of you not to fret, Cavs fans: if every other force in the world is raining down crap on the jewel of the rust belt, math certainly isn’t.

Nate: It amazes me the way teams and communities of fans talk themselves into players because they fit a need.  Porter was more likely to be available than Noel, but he wasn’t necessarily even the fifth best player in the draft.  At least now you don’t have to have an internal Alex Len debate. [Ed: This debate would not have been pleasant.] With that in mind, is Noel the guy?  Is there any part of you that wants …McLemore?  …Oladipo?  …Porter?  I was super wary before the draft.  Truth be told, I thought Oladipo was the most can’t-miss player, and he didn’t fit on the team, at least in any sort of conventional way.  Does Noel’s weight bother you at all?  If there’s a player he reminds me of, it’s Alonzo Mourning: similar bodies, similar explosiveness, similar defensive instincts.  Mourning was always lighter than the players he played against but made up for it with mettle and tenacity.  If Noel can perform similarly, it should make for good times.

One thing that bodes well for him is that successful ACL surgery is more likely the younger a player is, and by all accounts Noel is progressing well.  Additionally, players often come back as better shooters after ACL surgery because as they rehab, there is little other basketball-related activity they can do.  So, let’s hope ol’ Nerlens pumps up that free throw percentage and gets a shot out to 15 feet.  Just don’t let Tristan teach him push shot jumpers, because I don’t think that kind of kismet can be replicated.

In parting, I’m excited for the summer: pictures of Kyrie play-acting with TT and Noel, Summer League, free agency, etc. I’m pretty sure this is the start of a new subsection in the Wikipedia history of the Cavs.  As Nick Gilbert said, the goal is to not be back in the lottery next year.  I think that’s an admirable goal, even if it’s going to be harder to achieve than many people think it will be.  The post-LeBron dark ages are over.  I can feel it.

Colin: To answer your most urgent questions: yeah, Noel’s the guy because the Cavs need a rim protector—plus, you can’t pass on a guy who might be a transformative defensive player—and yes, Noel’s going to have to add some weight because, wow, he’s a twig. He’s at 204 right now, though when he was walking around on two sturdy limbs, he weighed something like 215 pounds. I think he’ll be able to pack on some muscle over the next few years. He’ll need to if he wants to play center. And hell, I’m flying high: in my mind, he’s a more athletic Tyson Chandler. Don’t you dare tell me otherwise, and also, if you could send me some photoshopped images of Noel with the sort of Castro-ish beard Chandler favors, that’d be great.

To answer your other questions: I like Oladipo, but he’s a guard. I like McLemore even more, but he’s a guard. (It’s a post-Saint Weirdo world, if you’re contemplating draft scenarios in which either one of them ends up a Cavalier.) I like Porter just fine, but if the Cavs draft him with the first overall pick, I’ll have a meltdown. I mostly—and I know we can and will ponder flipping the number one pick for established talent—just want to settle into and accept a reality in which the Cavs have a Noel-Irving-Thompson-Waiters core. I like the idea of that. I think it’s the makings of a team that will, yeah, perhaps stumble a bit but eventually become interesting and fun to watch and—we can only hope—able to win a fair share of basketball games. This is a good night, no matter your angle.

Lottery Open Thread

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Ohjeezohjeezohjeezohjeezohjeezohjeez. I’ll update this thing when we know what the pick is. In the meantime, freak out in the comments section.

UPDATE: Enjoy the Nerlens Noel Era, everybody. (Starting sometime in 2014.)

The Ugly Side of Luck

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Every year at roughly this time, representatives from 14 NBA teams gather in one of the most uncomfortable collections of current and former players, old, rich white men and Nick Gilbert the world has ever seen to battle and win favor with the gods, David Stern and Adam Silver, using the most devastating and soul-crushing weapon the world has ever known: probability. The winner will have the chance to draft a 6-11 center with a bum knee, a 6-4 athletic marvel with a picture-pretty shot who has been criticized by, among others, his college coach for not being “assertive” enough, or taking a pass and, for the first year, utilizing the option of forgoing this year’s selection for the same slotted spot next year.

Yeah, just kidding about that last option. Sorry.

Outside of actual in-game action, the single best on-screen moment in the NBA season is (shockingly) the draft lottery. More specifically, it is the lead up to the lottery results, when each team’s representative is introduced and captured on camera, if briefly, in amazing comic squirm. It’s the NBA’s version of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Consider the following:

1.) This is, essentially, the NBA’s roll call of its losers for this (and, in most cases, several) season(s). For all the build up of dangling this year’s best college players in front of these win-starved teams, the only way they can broadcast this beautiful train wreck is to attach it to a playoff game. So, all of these team reps, knowing their shortcomings are being paraded out by the league in advance of a Conference playoff game, seem to call out to the audience from behind watery eyes, “Please, this is the part of the season where we get to disappear! Let us go away! Why are you making us do this?!”

(more…)