From Distance: Looking for Fun

four point play….

1. I’m not going to lie, Cavs fans. This season has been rather difficult for me. It’s not as though I have been sinking into a permanent state of basketball depression as much as it has been a boring march towards apathy. Knowing full well that a tanktacular season could have been in store, I tried to prepare myself for the upcoming doom.

Like many people, I did not enjoy last regular season, or really even the one previous to that. LeBron’s regular-season pragmatism combined with that ridiculously constructed roster didn’t compel me to watch with complete passion.

I knew the Cavs wouldn’t be well-coached. I knew LeBron would only play just hard enough. I knew that that lazy defense wasn’t worth analyzing. I knew that it wouldn’t matter come playoff time. We all knew even if some media pretended they didn’t.

So yes, last year’s regular season wasn’t fun, or particularly interesting (basketball-wise), but there was playoff basketball around the corner.

This season, we had an optimistic chance at seeing the Cavs compete in May, but it was the regular season that was supposed to be the most intriguing.

2. Well, with the 2018 of the 2018-2019 season almost in the books, I can’t say I am fully intrigued. I guess I will have to settle for near-trigued.

Near-triguing:

Larry Nance Jr. as an all-around force. Nance doesn’t need to score much to be a great player. He was an absolute monster against the Griz though there was little in the traditional boxscore to indicate such.

Our old friend, Brevin Knight is the color commentator for Memphis. He isn’t the most exciting listen, but he sees the game at another level. Come to think of it, Brevin calls games exactly like he played: All substance, little style, multi-layered, subtly great. I was a big fan of Brevin as player and am big fan of him in the booth.

My man Brevin couldn’t stop talking about Nance’s activity and heady play. Larry was credited with six offensive boards and two steals, but he seemingly had about a dozen deflections.

That is where Nance holds a HUGE advantage over Tristan Thompson as a defender. I have Larry as the far superior defender overall, but there is an argument that Tristan is closer than I have him rated.

Except for deflections. Ya know, a thing that actively disrupts offenses. With Tristan having been out, he and Larry are now almost equal in total minutes this season. Larry has 849 to Tristan’s 819.

According to the NBA’s site, Larry has 90 deflections this season. Tristan has 22 in only 30 fewer minutes. Tristan’s low number is almost as shocking as the actual disparity.

That is insane. In all, Nance is 6th in the league with 3.8 deflections per 36. So, yes. If it seems that Larry is always getting his hands on the rock, it is because he does. (David Nwaba is second on the team with 2.4 per 36. Eye test passed.)

Brevin saw that and made a point to mention how Larry affects the game in a way that you might not notice without watching the game.

Not surprisingly, Knight is also a fan of Mathew Dellavedova and his heady game. Delly had a really good first half against the Griz. He didn’t make his threes on the night, but without Delly, the Cavs are out of that game by the second quarter. Knight saw how Delly ran the team, created shots, and boxed out on the glass. It was pleasure to hear.

The contrast between Austin Carr and some other guys around the league continues to grow. I love Austin almost as much as I loved Joe Tait, but I have begun to almost exclusively listen to the opposition’s announcing team. Like EG said, Channing, are you ready?

3. Another reason this season is difficult is that both the Lakers and Celtics have fun regular season rosters and are being well coached.

I predicted the Lakers would be in the playoffs and much better than most people anticipated. I am in no way surprised by their success on both sides of the ball.

I’m using the word “success” relatively, of course. They haven’t been running all over the league. But it was clear to me from the beginning that the youth and talent on the roster would be able to balance LeBron’s chill oriented defense.

Coach Luke Walton has a roster with length, athleticism, and a will to compete on the defensive end that allows LeBron to play his preferred deep safety defensive position.

As usual, Basketball Breakdown did a great analysis of the Lakers’ victory over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. Nothing about it is rocket science. The Lakers dogmatically and consistently ignored non-shooters.

It is the same strategy that won the Cavs the 2016 championship and the strategy that has allowed almost all elite defenses in the modern era to compete. If those ignored players make shots it is easy to abandon the cause. You shouldn’t.

Andre Iguodala had his best scoring game of the season and it didn’t matter. The Lakers rightfully gave him those shots. It is the only move against a team featuring three of the best shooters of all time.

People wanted to focus more on their old free agent acquisitions that didn’t make sense. I saw a decent defensive team from last year with young guys who can shoot. As their young bigs get better, the Lakers could get downright scary. Ivica Zubac already looks like peak Timofey Mozgov with his underrated explosion. If Ingram starts to get hot from three…

4. Boston is slowly beginning to find its footing offensively. Basically, Kyrie Irving is heating up. As frustrating of a player that he can sometimes be, I really miss watching Uncle Drew on a regular basis. I miss his shot form. I miss his musk.

I don’t miss his faux intellectual nonsense. Oh well.

In any case, it is obnoxious that the top two players from the best Cavs era are each now playing for one of the two most storied franchises in the NBA. What is worse is that it is enjoyable viewing.

Quickies:

Watch Luka Doncic. Get out your old Cleveland Mavs shirts and just enjoy his basketball brilliance. Consider it a New Year’s resolution. That is frickin’ Jrue Holiday that Luka is torturing!

Watch Nikola Jokic. He is one part peak Peyton Manning, one part Euclid; as in Eucledian Geometry. Jokic must be a great pool player. The three dimensional angles that guy sees are mesmerizing. He passes guys open more than anyone since Manning.

That’s all folks. Guten Rutch! That literally means “good slide” As in Happy Sliding into the Year. What a great idiom.

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Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
25 days 9 hours ago

Nice read. I’m finding excuses to not watch the Cavs at this point. I think I’m on 3 weeks, since watching a game. I enjoy the blog, but this team stinks. I hope we land Zion, but I won’t hold my breath. I also have Indians fatigue, but that’s a whole different dynamic. The Cavs are tanking for the foreseeable future. I’ll look for moments to tune in, and know how damn hard it is to win, especially without the GOAT!

Jason
Guest
Jason
25 days 19 hours ago

Also, $3 mil per year.

Jason
Guest
Jason
25 days 19 hours ago

Oops. Just read McCaw deal is non-guaranteed $$. No issue with that. Plus, should be easy gor EG to find pictures.

EvilGenius
Admin
25 days 18 hours ago

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
25 days 19 hours ago

EVRYONE I HAVE SPOKEN WITH —SOME ARE CLOSE WITH CAVS ORGANIZATION –SAID CAVS HAD ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCE OF TRADING FOR DONCIC —-BUT MAN HAWKS FANS HAVE GOT TO BE IRATE ABOUT THAT TRADE —–THEIR IS NO COMPARISON BETWEEN THE 2 AND NEVER WILL BE FOR THEIR ENTIRE NBA CAREERS ——-” DIRK IS HANDING THE BATON OF TO LUKA “

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
25 days 15 hours ago

Trae Young has shown improvement finishing and is still a pretty great passer. Eventually if he gets some more weapons and teams can’t focus in on him so much in p and r, his jump shot might come around and he could be a good offensive passing pg. His d is always going to be abysmal though.

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
25 days 15 hours ago

I’m pretty sure the Cavs had zero chance, but I would have moved anyone to get him, if it had been possible.

EvilGenius
Admin
25 days 19 hours ago

Nice work Ben. Not as impressed with the Lakers as you are… that Christmas Day game was one of their better defensive efforts of the season, but I think we can all agree the Dubs are not in prime shape right now. Klay and Dray have been abjectly awful for most of December, and their defense has been pretty sub-par… Also, the West hasn’t been nearly as tough yet as it probably will be come spring…

Jason
Guest
Jason
25 days 19 hours ago

For the record, I do not mind taking a flier on a guy. But $6 mil (per year?) on a guy who cannot shoot? And $$ for next year? Just offer Nwaba the same deal and be done.

EvilGenius
Admin
25 days 19 hours ago

I honestly think might be just as much about sticking it to GS… they have to decide between losing more depth or impacting their cap…

JoeyB
Guest
JoeyB
25 days 19 hours ago
As always, great article, Ben. This season really has me depressed, and it’s not because we’re not that good. It’s because watching the rest of the League makes me remember all over again Gilbert’s summer of Hubris that destroyed this team. Could we have had Paul George instead of Isaiah Thomas and Collin Sexton and left Kyrie in Indiana? Yes. Could we have traded Kyrie for Lozo Ball and Nance? Probably. Could we have held out for Kawhi Leonard? Quite possibly. Could we have at least trusted Griffin to build team capable of tempting Lebron to stay? Yes, yes we could have. Instead we’re watching from the bottom of the standings while the freaking Lakers and Celtics excel knowing we raised them up there. We’re going to get to watch Lebron break the all time scoring record in purple and gold. Gilbert is much better at creating a public appearance of competence, but looking strictly at his basketball moves, he’s on the level of Stepien and Sterling. I can’t think of a single smart move he made beyond apologizing to Lebron. Think about it. His best basketball move of all time was apologizing for being an idiot in the first… Read more »
EvilGenius
Admin
25 days 19 hours ago

Nobody… and I mean NOBODY is on the level of Stepien…http://www.cavstheblog.com/?p=36219

NickNevers
Guest
NickNevers
25 days 19 hours ago

LeBron was going to go to LA no matter what happened.

Joeyb
Guest
Joeyb
25 days 12 hours ago

Maybe. Probably. Doesn’t make Gilbert’s moves any less stupid.

James
Guest
James
25 days 20 hours ago

Completely agree about Austin Carr. I exclusively listen to the opposition announcers or the national crews (unless Hubie Brown is on in which case I enjoy a couple of hours silence.

NOMAD
Guest
NOMAD
25 days 20 hours ago

GREAT TO HEAR FROM “ACROSS THE SEAS” ALWAYS A WELCOMED READ——-BELIEVE LAKERS —SANS LEBRON —WILL DO MUCH BETTER THAN THE CAVS–SANS LEBRON –EVER DID / OR DREAMED OF DOING / ATTRIBUTE THAT TO ROSTERS AND MORE IMPORTANTLY COACHING ………………….MCCAW DEFINETELY WORTH THE GAMBLE / CAVS NEED TO ” AUDITION’ ALOT OF PLAYERS —EVALUATE / MAKE A DECISION ON THEM MOVING FORWARD ……….YEAH READ SHUMPS STAT LINE PERIODICALLY—SEEMS TO BE PUTTING TOGETHER A GOOD / CONSISTENT SEASON

Nate Smith
Admin
25 days 20 hours ago

McCaw isn’t a bad gamble. I’m a little lost as to why the Cavs didn’t try this sooner. They probably wanted the roster spot open sooner. Interesting to see if the Dubs match.

EvilGenius
Admin
25 days 19 hours ago

Can’t imagine they will… would cost them over $11M against their cap… They need the money to shore up their defense at the rim…

NickNevers
Guest
NickNevers
25 days 21 hours ago

Surprised no mention of our old buddy Shump, who’s having a pretty decent year with the Kings. Jokic is good, but flops way too much for my tastes. I don’t see this Lakers goodness that you do; they will only go as far as LeBron will take them. Ingram is a bum too.

Nate Smith
Admin
25 days 21 hours ago

Hart, Melo, Zubac, Kuzma have skills. Ingram might in a couple more years. Think he’ll be dealt. Also, peak Rondo is a special player.

NickNevers
Guest
NickNevers
25 days 19 hours ago

Ingram sucks. All those other guys are just ok.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
25 days 15 hours ago

Might not matter if GS can’t get their act together.

EvilGenius
Admin
25 days 19 hours ago

Agree… ol’ sleepy eyes is not that good… basically cost the Lakers that game last night too…

Jason
Guest
Jason
25 days 21 hours ago

Good stuff Ben. Doncic & Jokic are both awesome. The Celts, Lakers, & Dubs all lost last night.

I could deal with Denver vs Toronto/Milwaukee in the Finals.

McCaw shoots 3s at just under 30% for his career. He will fit right in with Clarkson, Burks, Cedi, and Nwaba. Clank brothers.

EvilGenius
Admin
25 days 19 hours ago

At least he’s a little younger at 23…

Nate Smith
Admin
25 days 21 hours ago

To be honest, two year career.

Nate Smith
Admin
25 days 21 hours ago

Ouch

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
25 days 22 hours ago

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
25 days 22 hours ago

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
25 days 22 hours ago

Good signing, IMO. He’ll instantly be in the Cavs rotation.

Nate Smith
Admin
25 days 23 hours ago

Another insanely fun guy..

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
25 days 22 hours ago

That is on the list for dunk ‘o the year.

John B
Guest
John B
25 days 23 hours ago

Yeah I thought Fox might be a decent comparison for Sexton, but Sexton doesn’t have THAT kind of athleticism.

Jason
Guest
Jason
25 days 21 hours ago

Hardly anyone does. Yikes.

Nate Smith
Admin
EvilGenius
Admin
25 days 19 hours ago

Even Tom would agree despite his distaste for Deadspin…

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
25 days 22 hours ago

Yeah, that whole non story is ESPN at its absolute worst.

Nate Smith
Admin
25 days 23 hours ago

Great stuff, Ben. I second the need to move TT to install Nance as the full time center. Happy new year and may the Cavs at least prove interesting.

EvilGenius
Admin
25 days 19 hours ago

But to where? It would take probably a protected first rounder going out or some really really bad contracts coming back…

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