Archive for June, 2013

Cavs: The Podcast 0033 – The Finals

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Whoa now!  We’re closing in on the big day!  The draft is officially less than two weeks away.

So Nate, Tom, Colin and I hopped on the podcast line and discussed…what else…the finals!  And the offseason, of course.  We touched on topics such as Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, the Heat’s supporting cast, potential offseason trades, the Celtics, Clippers, the Cavs (clearly), the draft, and the coaching carousel.

As always, we can be found on SoundCloud at: https://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0033-the-finals

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

[Ed: Oh, and here's that article I mention in the podcast about home-field advantage.]

Links to the Present: June 14, 2013

Friday, June 14th, 2013

It’s Friday!  What better way to kick off the weekend than links?

ESPN recently released their NBA Future Power Ranking and has the Cavaliers at number 8 – a nice jump from number 12 last August.

FSOhio’s Sam Amico sent out a teaser of a tweet last night, saying that the Cavs have been, “working on ‘something major.'”  He added that, “[they] have talked to one team in particular a couple times about No. 1 pick, but it’s exploratory only at this stage. Wonder what that means…

Although he hasn’t been linked with the Cavaliers much thus far, UNLV’s Anthony Bennett will visit with the Cavaliers this Monday.  As the Plain Dealer’s Mary Schmitt Boyer points out, his recent rotator cuff surgery makes it impossible for him to work out for the team.  Perhaps they want to get an idea of how the shoulder is healing?

Finally, Kyrie has been named the cover athlete for NBA Live 2014.  Check out this cool video of video game Kyrie on the PD’s website.  Does this mean I should give up my loyalty to the NBA 2k series?

Enjoy the weekend!

http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2013/06/unlv_power_forward_anthony_ben.html

Only Happy When It Rains… (Three-Pointers)

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Former Cavaliers’ draft pick Danny Green is having himself quite the fine little Finals. Now the starting two guard for the San Antonio Spurs, Green is averaging close to 19 points, while shooting nearly 70% from three – all of which has led Cavs fans to suggest the obvious: shouldn’t someone capable of numbers like those, even if only for stretches, still be doing it for the team that drafted him?

Watching who the Spurs pick up off the NBA thrift rack and wind up turning into highly functioning NBA role/rotation players has become a rite of every NBA season. Equally regular, are the complaints from Fan Base X about how Team Y could have been so stupid as to let Player Z go.

For Cavs fans, the easiest thing to say is “Danny Green never would have developed into the player he is now if he had stayed with the Cavs.” It’s easiest to say this because it is mostly 100% true.

But it’s the why that eats at you. When you see players who, once upon a time, you considered investing time and interest in become, instead, the darlings of some other fan base it’s no easy pill. Why would Danny Green never have developed the same way in Cleveland? And whose fault is it? Did Green need to fail in Cleveland in order to succeed as a pro elsewhere? Or are the Cavs to blame? Specifically, is GM Chris Grant who chose undrafted Manny Harris over the Danny Ferry selected Green to blame? Or was it the one-two developmentally deadening punch of Mike Brown and Bryon Scott?

The answer, of course, is “Yeah… kinda… all that.”

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Anthony Bennett: Comparisons to the Potential #1 Picks

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

While not my most lazily researched, this probably qualifies as my most lazily written.  Various media reports link the Cavs to half the NCAA with the first pick, but rarely does Anthony Bennett come up.  During my comparison series on players last month, several commenters inquired about the UNLV freshman though.  Due to surgery, he was unable to participate in athleticism drills at the combine, but here is his statistical profile:

Anthony Bennett – 6’ 7” in shoes, 239 lbs, 7’ 1” wingspan.  114 orating on 26 usage.  Shooting percentanges = 53 / 38 / 70.  Scoring Location Distribution = 59 / 19 / 22.  Oreb% = 10.2.  Dreb% = 21.8.  ast% = 8.7.  stl% = 1.4.  blk% = 4.5.  A:TO Ratio = 0.5.  Age 20.4 at draft.  NCAA’s 74th most difficult schedule.

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2013 Draft Class Outliers

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

A rare sighting of Stephen F. Austin's Taylor Smith.

Victor Oladipo and Nerlens Noel may be unicorns.  I’ve been playing around with the season finder on sports-reference.com, after a long comments section discussion over their merits.  They both had seasons last year that have never been equaled, at least not since the start of modern stat-keeping 1997.

First, Victor is the only player of significant minutes to average 59% from the field (actually .599), 44% from three, and 2 steals and 2 assists per game.  This doesn’t even take into account the .6 blocks and the 6+ rebounds per game.  At 28 minutes a game, that’s pretty impressive, and unbelievably unique.  He’s a two way player like no other, at least in post-1997 college basketball history. Lest you think I’m completely in the tank for Oladipo (I am), let’s look at Nerlens Noel.

Noel is the only player since 1997 to average over 50% from the field (actually .590), 4 blocks per game, 2 steals per game, and 9 rebounds.  Actually the steals and blocks by themselves are singularities.  The only people to come close to this were all seniors from middling programs.  UMass’s Tony Gaffney (2009), came close with 3.8 blocks.  Anthony Davis is the only player with over 4 blocks per game who gets close to the steals number, and that is at 1.3 per game, well below Noel’s 2.1.

Otto Porter had some pretty unique numbers, right?  Well, there are a handful of people who have duplicated them.  There have been nine players since 1997 to shoot over 48% from the field, over 42% from 3, and get seven boards and 1.8 steals.  The most significant?  Ryan Bowen of Iowa in 1998, and Danny Granger in New Mexico in 2005.  Granger tops the everyone in the group with his off the charts ’05 season.  Per game: 18.8 points, 8.9 boards, 2.4 assists, 2.1 steals, 2.0 blocks, and shooting splits of .424/.433/.755.  Though I fear Granger’s knee condition may irrevocably hobble him, I hope that he comes back as strong as ever.  Supposedly, Wade had the same condition in 2007, and led the league in scoring after successful surgery.

Kelly Olynyk is one of 17 players with a TS% above .674, seven boards, one block, and one assist per game.  Near the top of the curve, but not an outlier…

Mike Muscala is only one of four players to get 11+ rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and shoot 50% from the field in the last 15 years.  In fact, he’s the only player to do it while while shooting over 75% at the line (.789).  Out of this group, Jason Thompson is still in the league, and Marqus Blakely played briefly for Houston in 2011.  All these players came from low-level conferences, which should tell you something about what those numbers mean.

There are a few more outliers in the draft.  Stephen F. Austin’s Taylor Smith is the only player in 15 years to shoot a field goal percentage above 69% (.694), with nine-plus rebounds, and two-plus blocks per game.  This doesn’t even mention his steal and 1.8 assists per game, or the fact that he shot 71% last year.  Of course with a career .426 free throw percentage, there may be a reason he hasn’t gotten a lot of pre-draft buzz.

You want to talk outliers though,  how about Memphis’s D.J. Stephens?  Who as far as raw athletics, might be one of the biggest outliers in NBA history.  Stephens has the highest vertical in the DraftExpress pre-draft database (which goes back to about 2000) at an astounding 46 inches.  He’s also got the highest no step vertical at 40 inches.  He has the fifth fastest 3/4 court sprint time at 2.98 seconds.  The only guy who comes close to all three of these numbers is Nate Robinson who posted 43.5″/35.5″/2.96 seconds, but Robinson couldn’t come close to Stephens’ best feat: topping Shaq’s 12’5″ max vertical reach by a half an inch.  Stephens really is a mythical beast: a 6’5″ power forward with shooting splits of .629/.361/.662.  He only scores 7.6 points per game with 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 23.6 minutes.  He also has a 7′ wingspan.  Fortunately, he has a fairly pedestrian hand width of 8.25″.  What a weirdo.

What do these numbers mean?  Probably nothing, but who knows.  I’m sure in at least one of these cases, we’ll be looking back and wondering how we didn’t see these things coming.  Some of these guys are one of a kind: mutants, gods, or aliens who’ve crept into mortal coils to become rare basketball creatures.

Links to the Present: June 10, 2013

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

A few links to kick off a new week…

Kyrie Irving appears on the cover of Slam.  A lengthy article, briefly touching on Kyrie’s response to the Scott firing; his relationship with his dad; and some goals for next season.

From Mary Schmitt Boyer: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller received invites to the USA Men’s National Team mini-camp in Las Vegas this July.  This summer’s camp won’t include many established stars, but instead focuses on identifying future players.  The event should serve as a great mid-summer milestone for this trio of players as they hone their games during the off-season.

Tristan Thompson recently sat down for an interview with Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.  It’s a good read: Tristan talks about his work in the community; working on his game in Cleveland this summer; and learning Coach Brown’s system.  They also spend a lot of time talking about Canadian basketball players.

According to Slam Online, Dion Waiters says the Cavs, “don’t want to settle for no 7- or 8-seed.  We could probably be a 6-seed or something like that.”  Though unsaid, this projection seems interwoven with a strong inclination towards analytics.  Clearly he learns much from Chris Grant.  Make it happen, young padawan.

Here’s a little article about Dion from Jeff McDevitt at cityofbasketballlove.  Really the article is about Waiters’ cousin, Traci Carter, who is following Dion’s footsteps and leaving Philly to attend a New Jersey boarding school.  Dion discusses his similar move aiding personal development and also a “no friends” mantra on the court, explaining his on-court demeanor.

Chad Ford’s latest mock draft shows the Cavs taking Nerlens Noel and Sergey Karasev, thereby completing their starting lineup of 22-and-unders: Irving, Waiters, Karasev, Thompson, and Noel.  I can dig it, but a bit more experience will be needed to hit Dion’s sixth-seed projection.

Dr. James Andrews told ESPN that Noel is doing well with his recovery.

Mary Schmitt Boyer answers a lot of readers questions yesterday.

–Update–

Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio offers a news dump about the Cavs: the interest in Ben McLemore, an Andy update, a list of available big men, Danny Granger’ status, and this offer, which is a little hard to believe.

The Mavs offering the 13th pick and veteran forward Shawn Marion to the Cavs for the Cavs’ two second-round selections (Nos. 31 and 33) and a 2014 pick. The Cavs passed on the offer.

5 on 5: Cavs’ Draft

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

There are just less than three weeks remaining till the 2013 draft. Are we really going to have enough time to talk about all these picks? That’s only 14 more posts! We’re running out of time to plot wins shares per high top fade hairstyles versus low fades with respect to #1 overall draft picks, adjusting for position and age! What about projected NBA PER for players whose surnames start with J who were born in monsoon season during the year of the rat?  These are questions that need answering!

Screw it. Let’s just pick now. Here are the CtB staffers with their votes for the #1, #19, #31, and #33 picks, and a draft day trade they’d like to see.

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A Look Down the Bench at… Igor Kokoskov

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

The Cavaliers organization took a lot of flack for the speed at which they hired Mike Brown. After firing Byron Scott, the team wasted no time (okay, they wasted 10 days) in bringing Brown back into the fold. At the time, many criticized the unsexiness of the move, even suggesting that it reeked of panic.

If Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant are fools for rushing in, however, the same cannot be said for Brown who has been methodically assembling his staff of assistant coaches since re-boarding the Cavalier boat.

The names we all expected to see – mainly former Pistons head coach, John Kuester, an assistant under Mike Brown in both Cleveland and Los Angeles – despite being heavily rumored, never surfaced. Instead, Brown trended “developmental” by retaining Tristan Thompson god-maker, Jamahl Mosely, from Byron Scott’s staff, adding former Lakers player development coach, Phil Handy, and, most recently, adding former-Cavs Vitaly Potapenko in a player development role.

Lost among all this development, might be the most significant one: Brown’s hiring of long-time Phoenix Suns assistant coach, Igor Kokoskov. Kokoskov has been an NBA assistant for 13 years, working for Alvin Gentry (Clippers and Suns), Larry Brown (Pistons – including their 2004 championship season), and briefly both Terry Porter and Lindsey Hunter (Suns). For Hunter’s brief stint with the Suns last season, Kokoskov was considered the team’s offensive coordinator, while Hunter ran the defense, a situation that is likely to repeat itself with the Cavs.

Most of the information we’ve been given about Kokoskov is exceedingly positive. Gentry has called him “one of the brightest minds as there is in the game” and former player, Earl Boykins gushed about Kokoskov’s point guard-focused offense.

But none of that has given Cavs fans any real sense of what a Kokoskov-run offense will look like. So, I talked to someone who has actually watched a little Kokoskov-run offense: Ryan Weisert* from Valley of the Suns.

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Alex Len: Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 Picks

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

This post is the most tedious of the series…but you’ll survive.  Chad Ford’s Mock Draft 3.0 (ESPN Insider) noted that Alex Len was still being considered by the Cavs at #1.  The Maryland sophomore was also brought up by a few commenters last week, so by popular demand, I’m back with another player comparison*.  The young Terrapin is nimble, yet 250 pounds; a 7-footer, with rim protecting and scoring potential.  Of course, he is currently rehabbing from surgery to stabilize an ankle stress fracture, leaving him unable to participate in the combine or workouts.

Len’s numerical profile is (without measurements**):

Alex Len – Age 20 at draft.  112.7 orating on 22.6 usage.  Shooting percentages = 53 / 13 / 69.  Scoring location distribution = 76 / 1 / 23.  oreb% = 13.1.  dreb% = 19.3.  ast% = 7.7.  stl% = 0.4.  to% = 15.6.  Blk% = 7.9.  A:TO Ratio = 0.6.  Postseason = NIT Final Four behind averages of 11 points, 7 boards, and 4 blocks in four games.  Played NCAA’s 96th toughest schedule***.

Solid…not spectacular.  I’m going to take a different tact for today’s article and make you work a little bit.  I’ve included six other centers, all drafted in the early to mid-first round.  If they were drafted older than Len, I included their age 20 season and their final collegiate campaign.  Look at the provided information, and “tier” the players into similar levels of prospect.  Include Len.  After ten minutes, put your pencils down…eyes on your own paper.

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Links to the Present: Ukraine Train Edition — Now Updated with Dion Waiters Rap Video Links

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

In case you’ve just emerged from a self imposed period of ludditry, the Heat are returning to the the NBA finals for the third year in a row.  And no, I’M NOT BITTER.  Now that that’s out of the way, some Cavs news.

DraftExpress.com has completed it’s latest mock draft and has Cleveland selecting Nerlens Noel #1, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #19, Erick Green #31, and Ricky Ledo #33.

Cavs will be holding workouts this week with Caldwell-Pope, and, I’m sure, many others.

Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report checks in with a list of draft picks that would be “a perfect fit” for the Cavs.

Machine Gun Kelly apparently won a regional Emmy for his work on the Cavs intro video.

Oy.  It’s a slow news day in Cavalier land.

Well, the Dion Waiters twitter feed is always prolific and fascinating.  From what I’ve gleaned, he was working out at Cleveland Clinic courts late last night, has a charity bowling tournament coming up, and is running a basketball camp in NJ later this summer.  I’m really excited about that first bit of news.

Finally, and most significantly, Vitaly Potapenko is returning to Cleveland.  The pride of Wright State, and the Cavs’ 12th pick in the 1996 NBA draft, the “Ukraine Train” has been hired as a player development coach for the Cavs after a stint as an assistant in the D-League, most recently for the Santa Cruz Warriors.  Potapenko played for the Cavs for a little over two years before he was traded to Boston for Andrew DeClerq and a first round pick.

Vitaly’s handle was always one of my favorite Cavs nicknames.  Is it a top 5?  Commentariat, give us your favorite Cavalier monikers.

— Update —

Thanks to Colin McGowan who found these Dion Waiters laptop rapping videos, and who noted, “I knew they existed.  Not from any sort of source.  I just sensed it.  Somewhere in the universe, clips of Dion Waiters rapping in front of a webcam existed.”