FORESIGHT IS ALWAYS 20/200 … or, it’s never too early to start thinking about how bad we might still get
Just when you thought you were done seeing those “worst loss in franchise history” things…
Well, let’s hope that was the “aberration” Byron Scott said it was and look at the bigger picture.
At 6-8, the Cavs have wins against the Pistons, Bobcats (twice), T-Wolves and Suns – and competitive showings against the Pacers and Lakers (though not, unfortunately, in two against the Raptors). So, they’re beating the teams they are (at least, mostly) better than and showing the resiliency to not roll over against the league’s elite (remember, Bulls game = aberration).
Kyrie Irving is playing better earlier than many people thought. Anderson Varejao is being a particularly good version of Anderson Varejao. Antawn Jamison is finding ways to be effective/inefficient. This team is a professional basketball team again. In fact, the only people more excited by the way the Cavs are playing might be D.J. Augustin and D.J. Augustin’s agent.
Of course, going forward, there are still plenty of things waiting to upset the apple cart of good feeling (and piss on all of the apples and then set the cart on fire) and get us right back to NBA bottom-feeder (instead of hovering-just-above-the-bottom-feeder). And I’m not even talking about the schedule. I’m talking about the trading deadline and/or the off-season and what we’d look like without Varejao, Jamison and Ramon Sessions.
1.) Varejao: What’s that? You’ve heard that the 2012 NBA Draft is deep with delicious, delicious talent? You’ve heard that teams have been inquiring about Andy and that a deal could net the Cavs an additional pick which would be better than nothing considering Varejao will be past his prime if/when the Cavs are ready to contend again?
But you also like that the Cavs look more active defensively this year (outside of certain aberrations) and think there are things the younger bigs (Tristan Thompson, in particular) can learn from Varejao? Well, spit out that cake. You cannot have and eat, y’know? Here’s the thing (and it’s been written about, I’m just agreeing): there is no sense in trading Varejao if the only thing you’re doing is getting a younger (and quite possibly worse) player. If you’re trading Andy mid-season, he’ll be going, no doubt, to a contender – so your precious added draft pick will likely be in the mid to late 20s. And, while this isn’t written in stone, I’m betting that Anderson Varejao is going to be better even 3 years from now (when, hopefully, he’s able to come off the bench again at power forward and slow down his career odometer a little) than the players available with that pick. Again, not stone writing here – but I’d be willing to lay valid currency on it. And I’m not sure that half of a shortened season is enough time for him to impart on Thompson the types of “how to succeed as an NBA hustler” lessons. Give him, at least, a full season.
Might there be a trade proposed in the off-season that makes sense? Sure. Off-season deals are the ones when you’re more likely to see a decent or up-coming player get moved for the piece that is Anderson Varejao – or a team making the move thinking it will contend but then actually sucking – the deals that, with some luck, end up looking a little better than you first thought. But Anderson Varejao for late first round pick (even a 2012 first round pick) ain’t getting us any better and sooner than Anderson Varejao. And, you know, we’ve already got him.
2.) Jamison: Well, things couldn’t all be hopeful-outlooky… Antawn Jamison is (understandably) the focus of the vast majority of fan frustration this year. We’re not frustrated with Irving or Thompson. They’re rookies. We’re not frustrated with Varejao. He’s busting his ass out there and being productive. Maybe we’re frustrated with Casspi, but he’s still too new (and we were already so used to being frustrated with the guy we traded for him).
Jamison is a former All-Star who – for better or worse – is going to wind up taking most of the shots not falling into the box score under “Irving, Kyrie.” And, you know what? He should be. He’s the only person on this team with a proven track record as a scorer on the pro level. And, you know what else? He hasn’t been terrible this year. He’s averaging 16.1PPG and 5.8REB and, yes, while you don’t want your starting power forward shooting 41% from the floor, Jamison’s always going to shoot way too many 3s and long 2s, bringing his field goal percentage well south of what you’d like from his position. He’s put up some stinkers (and has been destroyed by big, physical frontcourts since he got here) but, as has been pointed out, when the Cavs are successful, they’re usually getting good games from Irving and Jamison – and that’s the problem.
As a Cavs fan looking forward, I (and I believe everyone else, Jamison included) would love to see him traded to a playoff team for a first rounder. Using exactly the same logic as with Varejao, Antawn Jamison is (most, most likely) going to be less serviceable three years from now (to the Cavs, anyway) than Player X drafted in the 20-30 range. But, there are also 25 games this year after the trade deadline. So, no one should complain about the number of wins we’re getting early. If Jamison gets moved at the deadline (which, again, is the right move … or a right move) this team will likely go from “not good” to “baaaaaad” real quick as teams play “5-on-Kyrie” until the end of April. Now, what team needs Jamison? Does any team need Jamison? That remains to be seen.
3.) Sessions: Ramon’s lost a little of the luster he had early in the season when he was hitting(ish) his 3s, seeming to care just a smidge about his defense, and teaming with Irving to form one heck of one point guard. He’s still shooting a career high from 3 (31%), but you’d love a little more distance between that number and his overall field goal percentage (32.5%). I don’t think I’m going out on too long of a limb in saying this: Ramon Sessions is a top-10 back-up point guard.
And that’s great. The Cavs need top-10 players everywhere, so if their back-up point is one of the better back-up points in the league (and it’s fair to say that Sessions is), then we don’t have to worry about that and we can get back to the business of replacing our bottom-10 starting 2, 3, 4 … well, I don’t have to tell you. Sessions is still a pretty young player (25), so there’s still the chance he can improve and still be playing at his peak back-up years when the Cavs next start considering the playoffs. And he’s an upgrade over who many teams have coming off the bench, so there’s going to be rumors about Sessions out there. I could go either way with this one. Again, having Sessions keeps us strong at a very important position. But, you can find guys who can replace enough of what he brings so that (for a team that’s not very good, remember), you won’t be losing a ton of games on account of this one move. And if you trade him and wind up getting a player you think could start in this league … well, that’s a whole lot of hypothesizing that’s probably not useful at this point.