RAISING THE CADAVALIER - many, many thoughts on the Cleveland Cavaliers by ROBERT ATTENWEILER

Posts Tagged ‘Danny Ferry’

NBA Basketball

2012/08/07

Doing Danny Ferry’s Porch…

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Scott Henkle and I attended the NBA Draft (and wrote about it here). Henkle, then, trumped me one better by goin’ out west and watching himself some NBA Las Vegas Summer League action – specifically, the Cavs team where he anticipated seeing Kyrie Irving and the other 2/5 of our likely opening night starting lineup. He wrote about the experience of summer league for The Classical. We played dueling laptops to talk about his Cavs-centric observations:

Robert: You saw the third and fourth games in person, right?

Scott: Fourth and fifth. And I watched one and two on TV. I never saw three.

Robert: Okay … so you never saw the one where Waiters remotely resembled a professional basketball player.

Scott: No. I don’t believe that happened. I saw Waiters dribble to the three point line a bunch of times, take three steps in, pass, and then stand there waiving for the ball at the three point line.

Robert: You’re describing a solid NBA skill!

Scott: Then I saw him smile his charming-devil smile at everyone while sitting the bench

Robert: And how about his awkward-as-hell jump shot?

Scott: I barely saw it!

Robert: Really? He shot, like, 700 times a game. He was, like, 3-700 every game.

Scott: Like Kobe. But without the good parts. And Kobe wasn’t taken as high.

Robert: So, you’re saying Waiters should end up better than Kobe.

Scott: There’s no doubt. But my summer league experience was not about him, because I missed that one game that you said he was good in [and they rested him the last two games].

Robert: Fine. But I have a sneaking suspicion that even if Waiters turns out to not be as good as we’d like, talking about Dion Waiters is going to be really fun. I’m already crossing off the next three years of my life. I won’t be able to get anything else of substance done. But… sorry, what can we take away from this summer league for the Cavs?

Scott: I think, there’s really only two real basketball things that you can see in summer league. First, you can see someone who is faster, stronger, etc. in ways that don’t depend on defense. Case in point: Damion Lillard. He could have done what he did with no one on the court and I would have said fucking hell that guy’s good!

Robert: Please tell me the other thing you can tell is motor.

Scott: The other thing is comparison– looking at players taken earlier, later or not at all. In this regard our boy [Waiters] did not come out well against the other guys we might have picked.

Robert: And you can compare fat Samardo to slim Samardo.

Scott: Who I would like to marry, by the way. He is 94% head at this point. He still has a fat man’s head.

Robert: And still a fat man’s ass, if you can believe it.

Scott: Oh yeah.

Robert: He now has legitimate “hot woman curves”

Scott: Hot woman curves, lady shoulders… What is it with you?

[Editor’s note: “lady shoulders” comes from many previous conversations we’ve had about players lacking broad shoulders – in my defense, the official term is “Chris Bosh shoulders. This, as it turns out, is one of my biggest worries about Tyler Zeller. Total Chris Bosh shoulders.]

Robert: But, to your point about comparison … I read this [link to article] which takes some quotes from David Thorpe to say the only real red flag – especially for rookies – in the summer league is lack of hustle. Or, I believe he said “motor.”

Scott: Basically people—our friend Adam is a big one–love to do [the comparing]. That’s just fun for fans. And why twitter was invented. But I feel like I watch a lot of basketball and can, at this point, judge talent okay for a regular person and still I wouldn’t base anything on what I saw there. [pause] Except for Lillard.

Robert: Right. Because none of these players will have the same role come the regular season – not even Lillard (who Terry Pluto has been crushing on since February).

Scott: Right. Role playing is not highly valued there. Which brings me to… are we going to give a contract to Michel Eric?

Robert: You saw him in person. You tell me? What’s your scouting report?

Scott: I’m going to do your woman curves thing and say, “That man’s got some fine arms.” He’s like Ben Wallace. No offense, but an NBA body, for sure. There’s a place for a guy like that.

Robert: Yeah, just looking at the pictures of him in all the “who the hell is this guy” articles … well, you said it: those are some fine arms.

Scott: But he may not be a fit for a team that’s likely to average16 more points than Kyrie scores per game. Is that a stat? “Points over Kyrie”?

Robert: Yes, but it’s one of the advanced stats that I don’t understand.

Scott: Of the guys not [guaranteed to be] on our team he was the only one I liked. Turns out being tall is a real advantage in the NBA.

Robert: How about the guys who should be on our team next year: Tristan, Samardo and Zeller?

Scott: Zeller was the one I paid the most attention to. I like him. He’s solid. He’s in the right place. He moves smoothly and he runs well. I’m not making any super-predictions, but he’s solid.

Robert: I agree. I didn’t trust all of that “he’s great in transition” talk as … well … he’s a 7ft white guy.

Scott: He still is a 7ft white guy. But for a 7ft white guy… he’ll be trailing along nicely when Kyrie gets to the rim.

Robert: Zeller will probably struggle defensively against some bigger guys, but I can see him working into a Kurt Thomas-y guy. Save, of course, Zeller’s Chris Bosh shoulders… and lack of obvious crazy.

Scott: Who do you think he’ll struggle against?

Robert: Tyson Chandler will kill Zeller.

Scott: Yes.

Robert: Cousins will kill Zeller.

Scott: But what about, say, the Lopezs?

Robert: Brook Lopez might be Tyler Zeller’s dream match-up, right now. The additional upper body weight of Robin Lopez’s hair, though, might be tough for Zeller’s shoulders to handle.

Scott: Now you’ve crossed the line, sir.

Robert: But, I think Zeller looks like he could absolutely be a top-8 rotation player on a very good team, agree?

Scott: Oh, yeah. Wait. Do you mean a contending team? You mean the Heat?

Robert: He would absolutely be in the Heat’s rotation.

Scott: The 7ft white guy thing is pretty old fashioned.

Robert: 7 footer who can run with them in transition, rebound and hit an outside shot to open up the lane.

Scott: Sounds very 2000. Windhorst says the heat are going smaller. Mugsy Bogues is gonna be at the four for most of the year.

Robert: But he could play in that system, is all I’m saying. The Heat are going smaller because their best big might be Eddy Curry.

Scott: I agree.

Robert: You talk a lot about the experience of summer league in the Classical piece. Anything Cavs-centric that you want to tell that you had to cut from that?

Scott: Well, I got rejected by Ilgauskus. He was the first cavs-ish person I saw, and I more or less blanched and was all star-struck, and Adam pushed me to go up to him and I did and I was up there with my arm half around him (well, his thigh) and then he said ‘no no pictures’ and I walked away with my head down.  Like a child.  I thought it was me, but then I saw him reject a ten year old kid.

(pause)

Also, I think he weighs 17 pounds.

Robert: Gotta be kind to those feet of his. The docs say they can’t structurally support anything even closely resembling a healthy grown man’s weight. How was meeting Danny Ferry?

Scott: That was funnier. Adam shouted to him – and Adam has this whole thing about trying to force me to take pictures with people, which you probably already sense – but I’d just been rejected by Z earlier in the day, so there was this incredibly awkward moment with Ferry where I was like, “Is it okay? Is it okay?”  and he just wanted us to take the damn picture, and certainly did want to talk about whether it was okay. He had the smile on already and everything. And then Adam paused to look over the camera and  explain to Ferry:  “My brother-in-law did your porch.”

(pause)

Adam’s brother-in-law is a contractor in Cleveland.  But still.

(pause)

I do not know if Danny Ferry knew exactly what to think about that.

Robert: Is it still Ferry’s porch? Does he still live in Cleveland?

Scott: I would guess no? And that was the part I thought was the most confusing. Danny Ferry had no reason to think we were from Cleveland. Maybe Adam said it but, you know, Ferry was trying to make the experience as quick and painless for himself as possible.

Robert: Danny Ferry does not care where you are from.

Scott: Absolutely not.  I would guess Danny Ferry does not think about me much at all.

You can follow Scott Henkle on Twitter (@scotthenkle) or by just keeping a reasonable distance behind him. He also met Byron Scott.

NBA Basketball

2011/03/22

When Bad At the Draft Is Not Bad At the Draft…

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Okay, here’s something you already knew: the Cleveland Cavaliers do not have the strongest history when it comes to the NBA draft.  That’s why so many people, myself included, are nervous when it comes to the prospect of the team’s desire to rebuild through the draft.  We can accumulate all the potential (and actual) lottery picks we want, we can buy a first round pick late in the round (like Dan Gilbert has promised us he would do every year – including last year’s draft when being aggressive in adding young talent could have theoretically held some sway over LeBron’s decision to stay or go – and yet we have not seen him do it once) and we can accumulate second round picks like I pile up back issues of TV Guide in my mother’s basement, but if those picks get used on players like Dajuan Wagner, Chris Mihm and/or Desgana Diop then we’re in the same place we found ourselves in this year, only our droves of uninspired role players will be more highly paid.

But you knew that already.  That’s why you, like me, have to take any optimism with a grain of salt.

But here’s something you don’t know:  the Cleveland Cavaliers are actually really good at drafting NBA players.

At least, that is, if you listen the fine folks over at 82games.com.  Not only has their statistical inquiry into every team’s draft history over the last 20 years shown them that the Cavs are not bad at the draft, it’s shown the Cavs to be the fifth best team in the league over that period.  20 years.  Cavs.  5th best draft record.

But how is this possible?  How can the team we clearly know as being bad at the draft actually be among the best?  Keep in mind, 20 years does not cover the drafts that got us Daugherty, Price, Hot Rod or Kevin Johnson.

Well … a number of things make it possible, actually.  First, let’s look at how the article’s author, Roland Beech, assigned value to the players/teams:

Rating = points/game + rebounds/game + assists/game

Why use this definition? It’s the data I have easily on hand, which while not a good player rating system is a decent wag for these purposes. Then I group players as follows:

  • Star — 20+ rating
  • Solid — 15 to 19.9
  • Role Player — 10 to14.9
  • Deep Bench — 5 to 9.9
  • Complete Bust — less than 5
  • DNP — (never played in the NBA)

And, given that, he had this to say about Cleveland’s high standing:

Cleveland is a much more mixed record. A huge lift up for LeBron (no brainer), but they did also tab Boozer at #34, Andre Miller at #8, Ilgauskas at #20, Brandon at #11 for their other stars. Some top ten misses though in Mihm (#7), Wagner #6), Ferry (#2), and Diop (#8).

So, yeah, even excluding the fact that the selection of LeBron James was an unmitigated drafting success (until it wasn’t), it’s not so much that the Cavs have been bad at drafting, it’s that they were bad at drafting at the worst possible time.

Which is also a weird thing to consider, since we (or, at least, I, but I’ll assume there are a couple others out there, as well) think of the Cleveland Cavaliers as an entity that does different things at different times, but one with which I have had a relationship that hasn’t changed much over the course of my 22 years of following the team.  I follow that team and so I think of that team as “that team” and not as a series of different people working for an organization that, itself, has also been run by a number of different people.

I can talk about The Stepien Years or The Fratello Years or The Ricky Davis Years – or plug in anyone else in there who has ever worked for this organization – but, in my head, it’s still “The Cavs are not good at drafting talent” rather than what it should be which is “Jim Paxson was not good at drafting talent” or “Embry and Paxson have long devalued draft picks” or something more concrete than “The Cavs are not good at the draft, but the Cavs are good at the draft.”

I’ll admit that Paxson, guiding the team from 1999-2005 represents the biggest train-wreck-ish stint that makes me gun shy about the teams prospects on draft day.  And, to be fair, Ferry only had first round picks twice between 2005-2010 (and only one of those lost picks was on a decision he made … the Antawn Jamison trade which was basically Ferry’s all-in move).  But Ferry drafted well enough (Shannon Brown, Hickson and Eyenga in the first round – Boobie, Darnell Jackson, Danny Green and the rights to Sasha Kaun in the second (with only Gibson being a pick we went into the draft owning … sure, Danny Green is in the D-League and Darnell is with the Kings now and who knows if we’ll ever see Sasha Take 2 – no Pavlovic, he – but, for deep in the second round, there’s some value there.  There are also a couple of players still in Europe whose rights Ferry bought on draft day … again, we’ll see).

Looking back over Paxson’s bad drafts, the big thing that sticks out is that he was put in the position of continually having to draft from a position of need.  It’s easy to forget that Zydrunas played many healthy seasons after, but he was hurt during the years where the Cavs traded Jamal Crawford for Chris Mihm (2000) and then drafted Diop in 2001 (though, the real puzzler with the 2001 draft is that we later picked Brendan Haywood and traded his rights for Michael Doleac.  Yes, that is head-case-but-still-more-than-servicable Brendan Haywood for we’ll-keep-him-for-one-season Michael Doleac … hmmm).  I tend to not criticize teams for passing on players when many teams do as well, but you have to think that Joe Johnson, Richard Jefferson or Zach Randolph PLUS Brendan Haywood would still have given the Cavs a bad enough team to be in the ballpark for Dajuan and Boozer the next year and still probably in the running for James in 2003 – but with a much better nucleus in place, factoring in a healthy Z.

And I guess that should be our lesson going forward now:  Keep them bad enough to accumulate talent, but make the collection of bad as good as possible.

So, what can I say about the Cavs with certainty going forward.  Should I expect them to be good at the draft or bad?  With a rookie GM in Chris Grant, I really can’t say.  But I can say that the Cleveland Cavaliers are a professional basketball team that at one time or another has employed people that have been varying degrees of good at their jobs and that history is fairly irrelevant when it comes to predicting the decisions of a group that, year to year, may be made up of different people than have made those decisions in the past.

Ahhhhhh…. Now that’s good optimism.