Dan Gilbert was on hand to watch a match-up that featured two of the top rookies from the 2013 draft class (Delly and Antetokounmpo) and the top two rookies (so far) from the 2014 draft class. Cleveland started the fourth quarter on a 15-4 run in the first eight minutes and survived a Nate Wolters three point attempt as time expired to win an ugly game which featured 37 turnovers and sub 40-percent shooting. It was a reported 80+ degree on the floor and both teams had been going through two-a-day practices for the last several days. Fatigue showed for each squad, but still, there was a buzz in the sold out Cox Pavillion.
Posts Tagged ‘Jabari Parker’
Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) Last week, I wrote about the Cavs moves in free agency and failed to mention LeBron James. However hard to believe, it’s true. At the time, all of five days ago, I was still trusting what people who cover the league closely had been telling me since the Heat came crashing down in the Finals: sometimes where there’s smoke, there’s just a smoke machine. Basically, while The Return continued to be the year-long rumor that refused to die, very few people saw much in the story besides the story. Of course, the Cavs were going to court LeBron, as any team with the cap room and a drunk gunslinger’s chance of catching the eye of the best basketball player on the planet should have. And, for a league interested in becoming a year-long news cycle similar to the NFL, Cleveland presented The Angle: the plucky, oft-spurned suitor who croons and coos through 7-10 days of lead stories before James, eventually, though inevitably, returns to the pillowy-soft wedding bed of the Miami Heat.
As recently as last Thursday afternoon, the Cavaliers draft strategy seemed set. They were poised to draft Joel Embiid, the 7-1 center from the University of Kansas, who many draft analysts considered to be the tip of the consensus top-three, that also included fellow Jayhawk, Andrew Wiggins, and Duke forward Jabari Parker.
The discovery of a stress fracture in Embiid’s right foot — and his subsequent surgery that inserted two screws to stabilize it — sent the Cavs and the entire NBA draft into a weeklong whirl-a-baloo of trade rumors and a dizzying back-and-forth between the remaining two, Wiggins and Parker.
In the end, the Cavs stayed put and went with Wiggins, a 6-8 200 pound SG/SF whose length and elite athleticism immediately helps out the Cavs’ soggy perimeter defense and finally extinguish the tire fire that has been their small forward position since the summer of 2010. Wiggins possesses jaw-dropping athleticism and, until Embiid’s emergence, was considered a lock to be the first player taken in this talent-laden draft. While he is by no means a finished product, he excels in the open court, which should have Cavs fans readying their salivary glands in anticipation of all the above-the-rim finishes off passes from Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. His shooting is inconsistent, but the form on his shot is good enough to expect his long range accuracy to only get better.
Sights and sounds from the NBA Draft media session at the Westin Hotel in Times Square:
Each year, the day before the draft, the NBA does its best Jaws impression, taking its top prospects — as if by the bucketful — and dumping them into the blogger-bloodied water to be picked clean of everything from how they felt they were utilized in their college offense to their favorite video game to play (spoiler: it’s almost always “Call of Duty”). This is the one time of year where these elite athletes will watch us perform. They are ushered into a hotel conference room 8-10 at a time, shown to a small round table bearing their name — time for a deep breath, maybe a count to ten — and then it’s all arms, microphones, shouts for their attention and just a general jostling for position as every media member tries to get his/her question in and still have time to hit all the other tables. Good journalism, it seems, makes for bad manners.
Welcome to the NBA, gentlemen. We will continue to behave like this.
Can you believe it – we’re a mere FOUR days from the 2014 NBA draft! Embiid is injured, Blatt is the head coach, and no one (including the front office) has a clue WHAT to do with the number one overall pick. Nate, Ben, and I do, though. So we hopped on the line to discuss the new head coach hire, who the Cavs should draft (and whether or not they should trade the pick), what will happen to Embiid, and what other surprises the draft holds.
The podcast can be found on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0050-new-coach-new-draft-same-podcast
Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) If, as reported, the Cavs have interest in Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach, David Blatt, then this past Wednesday was an important day. June 11th marked the end of Maccabi Electra’s season where they lost to Maccabi Haifa 84-82, but still won the club’s 51st Israeli League championship on account of winning the first of two Finals games with Haifa by four points.
I’ll repeat: they lost the game, but still won the championship.
In elementary school, my favorite books were the “choose your own adventure” ones. I enjoyed being able to exercise limited creativity by picking the end of my Goosebumps book. Just going through the door on the right could land you in a locked room with some creepy dolls moving slowly towards you to hold your hand. Ringing the doorbell to the door on your left could lead you to tea with an older woman that needs friendship. I’m not sure what’s worse.
Getting the top pick has set up the Cavs with a wonderful “choose your own adventure” situation. The team has the opportunity to take the Jabari Parker path, the Joel Embiid path, or the Andrew Wiggins path. Each one leads to a new room: some rooms are dark and dreary filled with first round playoff exits, others are bright from the shining gold of Larry O’Brien trophies.
1.) An interesting name popped up amidst the New York Knicks current coaching search: Luke Walton. Walton, the former Laker and Cavalier, has never been more than tangentially connected to the top spot on the Knicks’ bench and his name was floated mostly in the same way that anyone who has a previous working relationship with Phil Jackson has been linked to the job at some point post-Steve Kerr pursuit (and, yes, it is too bad that Shaquille O’Neal is part owner of the Kings now taking that tasty morsel off the rumor rotisserie). But Luke Walton as a head coach is not as crazy as it might sound.
Anyone who watched Walton and Shaun Livingston run a fluid, efficient second unit offense for the Cavaliers in 2012-13 could tell just how much the game is in his bones. Walton has had the benefit of growing up around the pro game and then learning under two of the better coaches around: Lute Olson at the University of Arizona and Phil Jackson in Los Angeles (sorry, Byron Scott… we’re leaving you off this particular list). During the NBA lockout of 2011-12, Walton spent his extra dose of free time by joining former AU assistant coach Josh Pastner’s staff at the University of Memphis. Then following the conclusion of his playing career, Walton was named player development coach for the Los Angeles D-Fenders.