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

Posts Tagged ‘NBA Draft Lottery’

NBA Basketball

2012/06/08

We Can’t Possibly Screw This Up. Right, Jim Paxson??

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Hello, viewership. It’s been a while.

That while is due, partly, to that inevitable sinking feeling when a season like this past one ends. We had the third worst record in the NBA. Good for us. We found a new franchise cornerstone (and, Kyrie, you’ll forgive us for the mess as we attempt to keep the structure upright with a couple of jacks pulled from my old ’78 Pinto as we jam you into that very empty spot at the bottom corner of our franchise … forgive the concrete we hastily slather on like so much warm mayonnaise … forgive the way we blow and fan hoping that concrete will dry soon enough so that you don’t go anywhere – that this cornerstone stays put – that I can just go ahead and sell this damn Pinto and its jacks because I’m never going to need them again because you’re here and you love us and you will make every everything just plain okay). Good for us (that was where I left off, just in case you didn’t track it).

Everyone came out a winner. Kyrie validated his number one pick. We showed that we, maybe, can win some games behind him in the not too distant future. We lost just enough to get another high pick in this year’s draft. And we still weren’t good enough – or we suffered enough injuries – to have anyone feeling one way or the other about Byron Scott’s coaching job. Chris Grant hit a home run with Kyrie and Tristan Thompson. He whiffed on Casspi (though, and I’ve written it here before, it was a whiff that he had to at least try. Keeping Hickson would have been, likely, an unmitigated disaster.). He’s been calling a good game, so far.

So, the most that can be said of the Cleveland Cavaliers is that not much can be definitively said about the Cleveland Cavaliers. At least, not yet. Check back again next year.

And so we hit the end of the regular season and are all a twitter to start talking about who we’re going to draft. But then reality sets in and we realize that we have to wait another month until we know where we’re going to draft and then actually zero in on who might be available for us to draft.

So, I determined to let it all ride, viewership. I let it all ride until we found out that Nick Gilbert does not personally choose the draft order. I let it all ride until we found out that we got the number 4 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, a notch lower than our record slotted us and a coin-flip away from the number 1 pick, scooped up by the New Orleans Hornets who had tied us for third-worst.

Number 4… Number 4?! Number f**king 4?! But so many things could go wrong at 4. All of the teams ahead of us could actually draft logically and well and we will lose out on not only Anthony Davis, but also the top wings in the class, Michael Kidd-Gilcrest and Bradley Beal! At 4, Chris Grant might think it’s a good idea to gamble on Andre Drummond! He might try to sell us on Harrison Barnes or Thomas Robinson or even Jeremy Lamb!

We’re picking number 4, viewership … and I can’t think of a more interesting place to be.

This has been discussed by much more able talent evaluators than me, but after the Hornets select Davis, there’s plenty of questions and plenty of talent all the way into the second round. Drafts are often broken down into different tiers of talent, but the number of players in each tier is what fluctuates from year-to-year and what makes this draft particularly interesting. This year, we’ve got a consensus top tier – as last year we had a very shallow top tier of Kyrie and Derrick Williams. The top tier is the franchise cornerstone. Then you can argue that the next tier is from 2-6 and consists of, say, MKG, Beal, Robinson, Barnes and Drummond and could be argued to extend a few picks beyond that.

The second tier should project as potential All-Stars. The third tier players are projected as starters and high-end rotation players. This is the tier that runneth over in this draft. Teams will be looking to add players who can start – and many would start immediately – anywhere from 8 to 24, a pick that I did not, of course, pick out of thin air. And beyond that there is good value to be found well into the second round. There will be busts, sure, but it’s a good bet that there will be players who become much better than we expected.

So, yes, it’s possible that MKG becomes the next Scottie Pippen (who I like as a comparison more than Gerald Wallace which is, in many ways, a backhanded compliment for a guy you’re look at as, possibly, the second best player in the draft) and it’s possible that Beal becomes Ray Allen or, barring that, Eric Gordon. And it’s possible that Drummond becomes Kwame Brown with a poor work ethic (I just gave myself chills with that one) and Barnes could become Adam Morrison (a college scorer who lacks the athleticism to score in the pros) and Thomas Robinson could become Kurt Thomas, a solid, if unexceptional (save for his exceptionally crazy eyes), player.

What seems unlikely is drafting a player on the Diop/Wagner/L.Jackson Scale of Awful – and we have a fighter’s chance of adding two (if not three … or four … or five – sorry, bad reference right now) good pieces to go along with the three good pieces we have (which, if you’re curious, are Kyrie and Andy … Thompson and Gee combine to form one good piece – kinda the Voltron of NBA players). And the best part is how much there is to talk about. There are scenarios out there that net us any player outside of Davis, so it should be fun to see whose stock rises, who slips and how it all ends up playing out.

That’s the joy of 4 this year, viewership. Most years, the joy of one’s draft position comes only when there’s a sure thing waiting there. But this year, there will be talent available at 4 (talent that, I’m sure, Chris Grant will be able to talk me into), even if it’s not Savior #2 (but, maybe it is). So, let’s enjoy what could happen before and after our pick. Do you really expect the Bobcats and/or the Wizards to not do something completely boneheadedly ill-advised? Me either. Heh. This, I like.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be doing some mock-ups of what the team will look like with the various players in play for #4. Until then, viewership, embrace your inner 4.

NBA Basketball

2011/04/13

SOME PARTING SHOTS AT LOSING…

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I’ve been having an unfortunate amount of fun with ESPN’s NBA Lottery Machine.  In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been late to meetings, late to work and just generally less thoughtful and productive as I had been before I started playing god for 4 seconds at a time … assuring myself that the next time I’d do better … then playing god again.  In my haze of absolute power, I have seen the Cleveland Cavaliers built swiftly into an exciting, young team brimming with talent.  I have also seen them grudgingly accept that their best draft options may be a European SF/PF and a Turkish C who was ineligible to play at Kentucky this year making both of them unseen (and, thus, season ticket killing) if not unknown commodities.

But what playing Lottery Machine has taught me is that the Cavs gain little more than losing by … well, losing.  Over the last week, it seems like most of the drumming on about how we need to end up with the worst record in the league (and, therefore, a staggeringly better 25% chance at the top pick, instead of our second-worst and dream killing 20%) has been replaced by the very real fact that the worst team has only won the lottery twice since 1994 (even though, yes, one of those was us in 2003…) but both points seem to miss what might be a large part of the point going forward.

First, let’s talk about my turns on the Lottery Machine.  My first go at the machine was like a magical wonderland of destiny creation.  Of the 10 times I played, the Cavs (then with the worst record in the league) wound up with the #1 pick six of the ten times … and once in those ten times the Clippers pick (2.8% chance of winning) came in at number 3 …  That is, of course, the dream scenario for a Cavaliers fan heading into the draft and something that, should it happen, would absolutely destroy the NBA because no one would believe that the lottery wasn’t fixed to save post-LeBron basketball in Cleveland (the secret being that the NBA doesn’t really care about saving basketball in Cleveland so, if two top-4 picks happen, David Stern is not going to be celebrating.  He’s going to be slamming his hand in his office door over and over and over again).

On my second trip to the Lottery Machine, though, the bottom dropped out.  The Cavs, still with the league’s worst record only got the top pick twice in the ten times I tried and routinely ended up with #4 and #8 (where, at the time, they had us picking Perry Jones with the fourth pick and I started slamming my hand in my office door over and over and over again.  Perry Jones III has since decided to return to Baylor for his sophomore year).

Just today, I returned to the machine – with the Cavs now proudly owning only the second-worst record in the league at 18-63 – and got these results in my ten tries: 2&8, 2&8, 4&8, 3&8, 1&2, 5&8, 3&8, 2&8, 1&9, and 4&8.  I could basically live with all but 3 of these – 2 of them get us the top pick – while 1 of them gives us the first and second picks in the draft (a scenario in which I will likely need a defibrillator and David Stern will have chewed off and swallowed one of his hands).

What does all of this mean?  Very little.  It’s not the real draft lottery. But, as I saw the number of times the Cavs got shut out of their/our beloved #1 pick (i.e. Kyrie Irving) even with the worst record, I started to see some benefit in finally … for once in this season … some benefit in finally not losing.

First, it gave me deep personal satisfaction when we won game number 18.  This is the game that separated us from our league-worst tie with the T-Wolves, but it also meant that the 2010-11 Cavs are not as bad – at least according to their record – as the 2002-03 Cavs. In a previous post, I named the teams Team Ricky (02-03 after Ricky Davis) and Team Hicky (10-11 after The Hickson) and argued that, even though this year’s squad was reeking like the interior of a car where a dead fish is stuck in the glove compartment and the car is left to sit in 90 degree sun and bunch of people vomit in the car and use it for a bathroom and then eat the fish and then vomit in it some more (or something …) – even though all that, Team Ricky was the worse team.  Team Ricky was the epitome of a bad Cavs team in my head and I didn’t want to give that very dear memory away.

Now, I don’t have to.  Thank you, Team Hicky.

Second … and there’s a lot of ways you can go with this … I happen to think it’s only good when you see some guys who might be on our roster next year play better basketball.  Will that better basketball cost us a better player (which you could argue would make next year’s team more better than having a roster of players who finally understand how to play a little defense, go after loose balls and rebounds and attempt, on the offensive end, to put the ball in the basket with greater frequency than failure … and that might be the case) but we’ll never know.  Getting the #1 pick is not something that is actually in any of our control.  Given that, I do believe a little in the possibility that these players – many of whom we’ll see again next year – can only benefit by putting the pieces together in finding out how to win a game in the NBA here and there.

Let’s be done with the losing.  At least for this year.