Searching For the Final 4

August 2nd, 2009 by John Krolik

Just very quickly, a heads-up: I’ve got something up on SLAM today that I worked EXTREMELY hard on and I think will be worth your time. Check it out if you get bored at owrk.

Alright, so here’s what’s happening now: with what remains of the midlevel exception, the Cavs appear to be persuing one more power forward. What you’re looking for in a power forward off the bench is a guy who can stretch the floor and play pick-and-roll defense if they want to play with Shaq and Z, or defend the post if they want to play with Andy. So here are the candidates that the Cavaliers have looked at or are continuing to look at to be that final piece of the puzzle (all relevant information gleaned from Brian Windhorst’s twitter feed):

Hakim Warrick:

Well, Hakim Warrick would’ve been a pretty nice addition. Warrick isn’t a star and will never be one, but he would’ve been a solid addition. He’s similar to Jemario Moon in a lot of ways, with the key difference being that nobody’s tried to play Moon at the 4 yet, while Warrick has been playing the 4 almost exclusively for most of his career. Warrick would’ve been fantastic as a pick-and-roll defender in Brown’s defensive system, which is crucial with Shaq and Z being as completely immobile as they are.

Warrick is also an excellent athlete who loves to dunk the ball when he gets inside, and would’ve been great to have slashing to the basket and running the floor with LeBron. Warrick’s jumper is just decent enough that he mistakenly believes it’s a good idea to shoot it; with an eFG% on jumpers of 37%, defenders may have occasionally followed him out to 17 feet, but his jumper is ultimately a losing proposition.

However, Warrick turned down the Cavaliers’ two-year offer to take a one-year offer from the Bucks, so alas. Play him off, keyboard cat.

Rob Kurz:

Kurz has been around a while, but got his first serious look at playing time as part of Don Nelson’s bizarre carousel of a rotation last season. He wasn’t all that effective, and his defense is a serious question mark, but he knows his role and can make wide-open shots. Excuse me for being unable to muster up any enthusiasm for the poor man’s Brian Cardinal. Play him completely indifferent, the theme from Dar!a.

Steve Novak:

Now Novak, I could imagine getting pretty excited about. Novak’s defense is not a strong point, but to be fair it might be a little underrated, if only because everybody automatically assumes tall white sharpshooters are terrible at defense.

Offensively, Novak could make this team pretty special. He shot 43% from deep and had a 60% TS last year, and that’s with the horrifying lack of ball movement on the Clipper offense forcing him to freestyle and often try to have to create his own shot, which was like asking Jessica Alba to do a biopic of Eleanor Roosevelt.

I’ve watched Steve Novak in warmups and in games: at 6-9, he is one of the best open shooters in basketball. When he gets to set his feet, he rarely so much as hits the rim. It’s beautiful. Imagine Donyell Marshall or Wally, only if they actually made their open threes. However, I doubt Mike Brown will willingly sign off on a move for a player with so little to offer on defense and the boards. Play him unlikely to happen, but still glorious to imagine, Sweedish hip-hop/swing amalgamation Movits!

Joe Smith:

Odd that serious negociations with him haven’t been discussed yet, but he wasn’t in the rotation in the Orlando series, and the Cavs may feel that for as well as Joe fit in his 2 years in Cleveland, it’s time to go with someone with more upside. Play him comfortingly familiar and yet ready to take his next journey, Belle and Sebastian side project.

Leon Powe:

Powe seems likely be become a Cav sometime in the coming weeks; all reports have the Cavs as Powe’s #1 choice, and the Cavs have reportedly offered Powe a contract. Powe is probably the best player on this “list” by a considerable margin, but may be the worst fit for the Cavaliers; he can’t defend the pick-and-roll or stretch the floor, doing his best work scoring in the low post and defending the post.

However, Powe is a phenominal worker around the basket; he can score on post-ups, he can get garbage buckets, and he can score by utilizing offensive rebounds. After having no low-post threat for years, the Cavs would suddenly have 2 of the 10 best low-post scorers in basketball if they added Powe. (Possibly three, if LeBron puts in the hours he needs to this summer.)

Powe is simply too dangerous as a scorer and banger off the bench to overlook, especially when he’s this readily available. The only concern is his defense, but in 07-08 he didn’t kill the Celtics in terms of +/-, so it may be a risk worth taking on that end. Coming out of college, Powe slipped to 49th despite being regarded as a phenom in his high school days because of serious knee problems. The Celtics snapped him up, and used his stellar play to help them win a championship. Then he had serious knee problems, and now he’s available for a song because everyone wants to underestimate again. Powe might not be an ideal fit, but he has too much potential not to take a flyer on at this value. Play him an odd mix and something we’re not used to seeing work but nonetheless extremely intriguing and exciting, French separatist gangster rap.