More Links to the Present: Big Love Edition

June 12th, 2014 by Nate Smith

Love

Kevin Love in USA Today’s thebiglead. “I don’t think the Cleveland [trade rumors] are outlandish at all. They have a great young foundation.” Let the world of Cavs fandom turn on its axis. Let the Cleveland media hysteria commence. Let Mallory read this article and have a five minute conversation with the life sized Kevin Love Fathead on his wall and, then, pen a sonnet… Jason McIntyre (interviewer) has rocked our worlds. If you don’t think KLove enjoys teasing everyone à la LeBron James circa 2009, then I have a social media IPO I’d like you to invest in.

Draft

More Embiid news from Chad Ford who’s moved Embiid to the top of his draft board (Insider required).

Big men always take a little longer to develop, and while Embiid is both athletic and skilled, his basketball IQ remains low, he can get frustrated when things are not going his way and many GMs are predicting he’s going to be a foul magnet as a rookie. “He’s going to foul out in about 15 minutes every night,” one GM said. “He’s overeager right now, and the vets will take advantage of that. In three years he has the chance to be the best center in the game, but Embiid is a long-term play. It’s going to take him several years to be an impact player on a playoff team.

This one is almost a couple weeks old, but it is one of the more interesting new draft analytics pieces I’ve seen.  Jacob Frankel at Hickory High gave us a draft model for projecting NBA success.

The general format of the draft model is a massive multiple regression looking at the correlation between players’ NBA success and their college statistics (and some other info)…

The model sees this draft as reallllly deep. The first guy below a minus-one ASPM projection (which is still solid role player levels) is past the 20th spot on the board. And there are eight players with positive projections.

The takeaways? The model loves Jordan Adams (right?) and Marcus Smart, and thinks highly of Embiid and Parker (Wiggins stats aren’t awful, just not stratospheric — which we knew). And Frankel says this of Doug McDermott. “Nobody with combined block and steal rates as low as McDermott’s has been a valuable NBA player.”

And, of course, Joel Embiid visted with the Cavs, yesterday. Jason Lloyd provides the details.  No word on whether he’s working out and meeting with doctors, Today.

Coaching

Also in that Lloyd article, there’s this tidbit.

One source with knowledge of the Cavs’ search, speaking on condition of anonymity because they aren’t making the search public, estimated the team has contacted about 11 coaching candidates. Three are expected to return for second interviews. Gentry is the first, and [then] fellow Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue.

Bob Finnan of The Morning Journal has this on Mark Jackson and Nate McMillan. Basically? McMillan: maybe; Jackson: probably not.

Looks like Blatt is going to be a Warriors assistant, as he’s expected to announce he’s leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv, shortly.

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard emerged from his genuflecting chrysalis in the first two games of the NBA finals to go on a Heat destroying rampage in the NBA finals, Tuesday. At this point, it looks like he might be the best player from the 2011 draft. His future is as bright as anyone’s from that class.

Tom Ziller of SBNation tells us we’re wrong to give all the credit for Leonard’s development to the Spurs and Leonard’s huge hands. Yes, the Spurs are a great organization, but Kawhi Leonard, the person, deserves a lion’s share of the credit.

How about giving Kawhi himself the credit for being a determined defender, a fearless attacker, a whipsmart theft artist? It’s almost as if some believe Kawhi’s hands are sentient, that they run him and not vice versa…

When NBA players get praised, their willingness to heed authority gets way too much credit at the expense of the player himself.

Kawhi didn’t have a stunning Game 3 just because Pop told him to. Kawhi had a stunning Game 3 because he’s put in the work his entire career to prepare himself for these moments, and because he played his tail off.

If it weren’t for Anthony Bennett (and yes, the jury is still out on AB15), passing on Kawhi Leonard could be considered the greatest failure of the Chris Grant era. Let’s get in the time machine back and go back to 2011, and read what we were all saying about Leonard leading up to the draft. The talk that Leonard wasn’t in the conversation is bunk. Kawhi was certainly in the conversation before the lottery, according to WFNY’s . And he was certainly in that conversation early after the lottery, when Slam projected Leonard to go 4th to the Cavs.

Our own Kevin Hetrick wrote of Leonard, “Leonard will be a valuable NBA player, but likely won’t be a top echelon offensive or defensive player.” Chris Grant must have read Hetrick’s piece and changed the pick. Kawhi Leonard obviously stares angrily at Kevin’s picture at each workout, but Kevin’s reasoning was sound. Kawhi did not shoot well in college, did not test extremely well for agility and leaping at the combine, and he wasn’t the most engaged defender in college. (The Aztecs were better with him off the floor than on). The lesson? The draft is an inexact science, but identifying the person your team wants to draft is just as important as that players’ measurable attributes. Draft a player with fantastic physical tools, a clearly defined role, and the work ethic and intelligence to improve. It’s for these reasons that, despite his struggles, I still haven’t given up Tristan Thompson, the person. (And, yes.  I know this is a contradictory position.)

Miscellaneous

Summer Plans? The Cavs have released their Summer League schedule: July 11th-21st in Las Vegas.

Finally, The video from TheWaitIsOver party put on by Dion Waiters and friends this last weekend in Philly… It’s phenomenal. I can’t post the video here, because it’s R-Rated for language, but it’s a fantastic glimpse into Dion’s world when he decides to live the high life. Never change, Dion. (Should I be concerned that he looks a little doughy?)

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