Draftastic: The Intermission

June 24th, 2009 by John Krolik

“I try to dress like a rapper in a Michel Gondry movie.”

Leading off: I got an electronic mail yesterday from a nice young lad named Vince Pellegrini who works over at myvalleysports.com. He made a breakdown of the Cavs’ draft history, including big draft misses (ouch) and the all-time “drafted by the Cavaliers” team. It’s a quick, fun, informative read, so I recommend checking it out here.

Two reasons why we’re not doing the “safety” picks today:

1. The draft is Thursday, and I’m not sure what draft-related stuff I’d write tomorrow night. One would think that I’d have been able to foresee this issue earlier, but alas.

2. Some trades went down today, and it’s probably best to talk about them before any more happen.

We’ll do the Wizards first-they’re in the Eastern Conference, and they’re our only permanent rival.

To explain: There are rivalries of convenience, where two teams are on a seemingly perpetual collision course with each other as the seasons go on. Eventually, fans of both teams become conditioned to thinking that their road to a championship goes through the other team’s city, and regular-season games between the teams become more important. This describes why the Celtics and Lakers felt like “rivals” of the Cavs this this year, even though there wasn’t genuine animosity between the teams or fanbases. (Don’t try to sell me that non-story where the Celtics made a stink after the Cavs were celebrating during a blowout.)

Then there are true and honest rivalries, where one team’s fanbase truly and honestly hates another team with all of their heart, and desperately wants to see them fail regardless of context. Well, the Wizards hate us. They really, really, really do, and a lot of Cavs fans return the favor. There’s always going to be a little bit extra on the line when the Cavs play the Wizards in the LeBron era. A playoff series against the Wizards would become a war in one fashion or another, even if one team comes in with 25 more wins than the other.

So: did the Wizards make the right move?

I think the Wizards made the same mistake their management has made time and time again over the last few years. They’re overestimating their strength with the Arenas/Caron/Jamison core in place, and making short-term moves and signings to try and make a deep playoff run before time runs out. However, I don’t believe a deep playoff run is a realistic expectation for this team with how thin they are 4-12 on the roster, although with three players as good as Gilbert, Caron, and Jamison anything is possible in a 7-game series.

But I think the play here for the Wizards was to have patience and shake up the status quo. This draft has a number of point guards with a spectacular amount of upside, and I think in the Wizards’ current position the play to make was to gamble on a home run rookie rather than settle for Foye.

Also, the move seems to suggest that the front office is allowing Gilbert Arenas to play the role of 400-pound gorilla, getting a shooting guard rather than risk Arenas’ ire by drafting a point guard. I think that the Wizards’ offense would flow much better with Arenas playing alongside a true point guard, but Arenas wants to play point and the team seems to be okay with letting him.

The same situation might be going on in Golden State with Monta Ellis, and in both cases, if true, it’s a bummer, because both of those offenses are loaded with offensive talent but could use a true point to quarterback all those shooters. Also, both players are making demands after being injured for huge portions of the season and failing to make a real impact. So the takeaway here might be that if you’re dissatisfied with how the higher-ups are treating you, maybe you should start smashing your knee into things.

Foye’s a nice player, but I think is upside is more limited than his athleticism would suggest. He’s quick, can make a few plays, and is an underrated shooter, but he isn’t an impact slasher at all. The ability to finish inside is massively important for guards, and it’s a skill few people figure out after they get into the NBA. His eFG% on “inside” shots was an abysmal 46.1%, which was barely above his jump shot eFG% of 45.3%. He doesn’t get to the line much, 75% of his shots are jumpers, and he’s not a big-time playmaker.

This wasn’t a terrible move by the Wizards; Foye is solid and does have upside left, and there’s a chance getting away from Al Jefferson and playing a more open-court game will be what allows him to thrive. And in a lot of ways, the Arenas-Foye combination of two combo guards, one a scorer and the other a bulldog, mirrors our own backcourt. But I ultimately feel like this deal lowered the Wizards’ celing, and that patience would’ve served them well.

PS: I have no idea what to make of Mike Miller. He’s as good of a pure shooter as you’ll find, is actually a phenominal finisher around the basket, and is a decent playmaker, but he ran around last year thinking he was a point guard and basically refusing to shoot threes, rendering his talents basically ineffective. Also, he shot free throws at 73%. Mike Miller is a confusing player.

PPS: I would also like to see the Wizards be patient and give a bit more of a chance to JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche, two deeply flawed but shockingly talented young big men-the two of them can do as many things as any big in the league, even though they still have no idea how to play. My desire to see them more may be a product of me liking to see talented players try to find their way than an actual suggestion on how to make the Wizards a better team.

As for the Spurs, another extremely solid move. Like the Cavs, the franchise that was built in their image, a large part of the Spurs’ downfall was their lack of playmakers-it was Duncan and TP going to work, and everyone else’s job was basically to spread the floor. If Ginobili comes back, their crunch-time lineup has twice as many playmakers next season as it did in these playoffs. And any time there’s a team who can can put 4 guys on the floor who are all capable of scoring 20 a game and making plays,  it’s a team to be reckoned with.

That’s all for now, campers-safety picks tomorrow and then the DRAFT!