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

Posts Tagged ‘Ramon Sessions’

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2012/01/21

FORESIGHT IS ALWAYS 20/200 … or, it’s never too early to start thinking about how bad we might still get

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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 Jamisonand 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.

NBA Basketball

2011/04/05

Some Observations From the Live Action…

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I got to be in-person for the Cavs/Knicks game on Sunday.  Here’s the results of my first eye-test of the season:

-Wow, these guys can’t hold onto a basketball to save their lives, can they? I spent most of my time since the Wizards game talking about how Blatche wasn’t even so much beating the Cavs bigs in getting all of his rebounds; the ball just kept bouncing off the Cavs hot-potato-style until, eventually, Blatche (or McGee) just grabbed it to put an end to all the foolishness.  In trying to keep hold of the ball, the Cavs looked like, as a team, they had drank half a bottle of tequila, blind-folded each other and then replaced the official NBA issue ball with a small greased-up piglet. And that looked the same on Sunday.  Hickson, especially, just flat-out struggled keeping hold of the ball.  I liked a lot of Hickson’s game on Sunday (except when he was taken out of productivity by one Ramon Sessions), but if I were to make a to-do list for him this summer it would be: 1.) improve ball handling (he’d be a monster driving to the basket if it didn’t result so much in him dribbling off his or his opponent’s foot) 2.) do whatever it takes (if such a thing exists) to soften up your hands.  Baron Davis is giving you gold, J.J.  You gotta catch those balls! 3.) Don’t talk about your jumper.  It’s improving.  I believe you.  And the couple of jumpers you hit against the Knicks were important to what success the Cavs were able to have early.  Just do 1 and 2 before getting to 3.

-I found myself defending Alonzo Gee’s worth during the game. There are things about Gee Whiz that I really like, but he doesn’t seem to have a sense of how to make his positive attributes translate on the court right now.  I like his strength, his athleticism, his ability to finish … but he doesn’t (and this could be the coaches too) even have that early-Hickson sense of “I’m going to do this one thing – drive to the basket when my guy leaves me to double LeBron.”  It will be interesting to see if Baron can get anything out of Alonzo in the last few games, but he’s an end-of-the-bench player right now (but, congratulations: even an end-of-the-bench player is an NBA player!).

-Okay, maybe Ramon Sessions isn’t a point guard after all…  The team completely fell apart when Ramon came in for Baron Davis when Beardly picked up his second foul early.  This wasn’t all Ramon’s fault.  The Knicks decided to use that moment to start hitting a bevy of three-pointers and sink every free throw they took for the rest of the half.  But I’m worried about Ramon.  He seems to excel at exactly one thing: getting shots for Ramon around the rim.  His moves down there – assuming the defense isn’t interested enough to collapse on him and block him to high heaven – are really, really pretty, but that’s the sparkle to his game.  The spackle to his game is the fact that J.J. floats exclusively on the perimeter when Ramon is in, freeing up Ramon’s driving lanes, the entire team looks nervous when he’s in – not because they don’t trust Ramon, but because he’s moving so fast on the floor just dribbling, dribbling, dribbling that you don’t want to move very much or else Sessions is liable to plow into you at some point during his possession.  Yes, his possession.  Right now, I think Ramon’s skills line up like this: 1.) Can score 2.) Can allow his opponent to score 3.) toughness 4.) sometimes when he passes it ends up as an assist.

-I can proudly say that Sunday night at Madison Square Garden was the first time I’d ever appeared in a crowd shot on the scoreboard of a professional sporting event.

It was actually kind of funny; the man sent to amp up our section by leading them in chants and handing out those loud contraptions once (and maybe still … somewhere) called thunder sticks (now called, at least at MSG, “cheer sticks” (possibly due to focus group research showing that people equate thunder with scared cats … or with subsequent lightning and then with people struck by lightning … or, better yet, by lightning that strikes a tree while you’re in the middle of a furious back-country-road car chase, felling the tree and either allowing the lead car to escape – if you’re the pursuer – or crashing on top of your hood – if you are the pursuant – allowing you to be recaptured and taken back to that creepy cell in the food cellar of that old house you thought had been abandoned and that you’d been trying to escape from every day since being locked in there 18 months ago … at least, you think it’s been 18 months)) …

What was I talking about?  Oh, right, the cheer sticks.

So, the MSG employee who is passing out the cheer sticks does not give them to the two gentlemen in the Cavs shirts … which I suppose I can understand and tells everyone that we’ll be on camera during the next time out.  Now, not to belabor this cheer sticks point too much but, if we’d come to the arena as fans of the opposing team on, say, Toney Douglas t-shirt day, we still would have gotten that t-shirt (that we didn’t want in the first place), right?  Anyway, when the next time out comes, the cameraman hops in front of our section and starts panning around the now-losing-their-mind section until he gets to the front row aisle – my friend, Scott, and me, looking sheepish deep in the Cavs’ 4th quarter deficit – and then the cameraman nervously moves away from us, only to mistakenly include us in the fringes of the next pass too.

I understand that the arena has an obligation to promote pro-home-team hysteria, but … geez … I was excited to be watching a professional basketball game at a great arena as well. Just for that, I should have gotten my cheer sticks.

All of this is to say that it was great to see an NBA game live.  Great arena (have I said that before?  It really is.), great atmosphere, two teams playing basketball ranging from so-so to no-no … it can’t get better than this, can it?

Oh, yeah … that whole winning thing.

Besides that.  You knew I meant besides that…

NBA Basketball

2011/03/14

THE NEW KING OF CLEVELAND: Pronouncements Edition…

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If you haven’t yet, please go check out my appearance on the most recent installment of PodCavs – and thanks again to Jack and Alex for the invite and the hoops-related hospitality (which I thankfully decided against calling “hoopspitality” but then thought enough of to use the word anyway … was it that obvious?).

Spinning off the PodCavs appearance – in which I brazenly proclaim myself “The New King of Cleveland” less as a joke about the fact that, as my friend Scott pointed out, “you lived in Cleveland for exactly four years in the mid-90s” but more as an attempt to make the mental enemies list LeBron is keeping for those who, apparently misled, no longer think the title is rightfully his (and maybe to get in line for any lists Boobie might start now that I’ve taken the title away from him) – The New King wants to touch on a few things that the King talked about off-air on PodCavs and still thinks is worth mentioning.

1.) First off: Talking about yourself in the third person is actually pretty fun.  It gets confusing, because it feels nothing like talking about yourself using “I” but the appeal is pretty obvious.  It’s like you’re not talking about yourself but, instead, narrating the events of some fictional character whose narrative you have primary – though not sole – control over.  So, yes, it completely makes sense that it’s how larger-than-life athletes choose to talk about themselves.  Give it a try.

2.) Was I the first one to start writing about how J.J. Hickson may, in fact, not suck? I think I might have been.

3.)  This pro-Anthony Parker stand I’ve taken is a tough nut to crack. I’m really not convinced that the reasons why he’s good make a ton of sense.  But I’m working on it…

4.) The reasons for being anti-Ramon Sessions, however, are becoming much more clear. Most of us are happy it’s not February anymore.  Not Ramon.

5.) One point I was thinking of making on the podcast (but it turns out that we had plenty of stuff to go on and on about) was this:  Hypothetically, let’s say the Cavs and Pistons resume the Rip Hamilton and a 2012 first round pick for the Cavs $14 million trade exception talk or there is some other deal on the table and the Cavs can come away (I’m going to stop putting hypothetical before everything that, in this scenario, is hypothetical … just make a mental note that every third word of the rest of this post should be “hypothetical”) with two top-10 picks this year and potentially two top-15 picks next year.  Chris Grant still would need to make the right picks, but what a ridiculous (and possible) rebuilding scenario that would be.

Think about it: when the Cavs made the playoffs in LeBron’s third season (2005-06), the last time they had made it was after the 1997-98 season (where, you’ll remember, they shocked a lot of the league by winning 47 games with fat Shawn Kemp and four rookies).  After that, it was 4 very mediocre seasons (22, 32, 30 and 29 wins), 1 horribly bad season (17 wins) and then two seasons building around James (35 and 42 wins) before they appeared in the playoffs again.  That’s 7 seasons in all.  If Grant makes 70% of the correct moves (or if the right moves become available to him) and considering how weak the East is at the bottom of the playoff race, I can see the Cavs back in the playoffs after only missing two seasons and having built a solid, deep and developing team.  The point will not be that we will have gotten back to the playoffs as fast as we can, but that we did so as well as having 3-4 lottery (or maybe we’ll just call them “4 lottery-ish picks”) picks and a slew of second rounders (with more first round picks coming from the Heat) to show for it.  As a point of comparison, the much balleyhooed rebuilding of the Then-Sonics-Now-Thunder saw the franchise out of the playoffs for four seasons before making it back last year (though, all that was aided by back-t0-back absolute grand slams by Sam Presti in getting Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in consecutive years).

Contention is another thing entirely – and I don’t think it’s very wise to talk about contending before you know who you’d be contending with and contending against.  But, for as difficult as this season has been to watch, it feels pretty good to know that we have the chance to add some talent to this roster – and it may take less than 7 years to get here.

NBA Basketball

2011/02/19

AND WE ONLY WANT WHAT WE HAVEN’T GOT…

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It’s All-Star Weekend now which, as everyone knows, is partly a chance for the league’s biggest talents to compete on geographically demarcated teams in which all of the participants are, as the name suggests, stars and partly a chance for the league to talk up the next big date on its calendar: the Feb. 24 Trade Deadline.

What this has meant for All-Star Weekend so far is that we’ve gotten to hear from all sides of the Carmelo Anthony situation – which is to say, Carmelo Anthony and everyone else who is sick of talking about the Carmelo Anthony situation.  But there are other players afoot for 2/24, as well, and a few of them happen to be current Cavs.

The Cavs recent hot streak (come on, guys, we’ve won 2 of our past 3) has gotten the attention of some apparently cog deficient teams who think that our guys may be the parts that make their machine giddeyup (and, thankfully, it seems like teams are only given any player’s last 3 games worth of tape when deciding whether to trade for them).  About a week ago, I was terrified (but rather certain) that the Cavs would not end up making any trades, since there didn’t seem to be a market for our players (who, in the midst of playing a historically bad stretch of basketball, just didn’t seem that good).  Now, I’m confident that they’ll make some trades.  However, they are probably not going to make the trades we want them to make.

We want them to trade Mo Williams.  That’s not going to happen, mainly because Mo’s on-again-off-again health has killed whatever interest his offensive talents would have been able to generate.  Besides, as I said before, the best fit for Mo is not going to be a team who is in contention right now.  Mo will be a trade made in the off-season, because it’s then that bad teams make some moves and think they will become good.  Mo becomes more appealing to those teams (be they Sacramento, Minnesota, Memphis or … well, someone will think he’s a good piece) when he is a piece to what they are trying to build rather than the piece that puts them over the top or makes them more competitive against, say, the Celtics in the playoffs because we all know that Mo, say, doesn’t do that.

Jamison might go.  And it looks like his most likely destinations are still the ones mapped out by this blog some time ago:  New York and New Orleans.

But we do have some honest to goodness rumors as well – actual evidence that some other team wants to part with its assets in exchange for some of ours.

Our first rumor is taken from a Chris Broussard tweet – and the other is from a credible journalist.  The tweet in question (expounded upon with good insight here by Kurt Helin) says that Sessions, fresh off his shellacking of the Lakers and generally good basketball play, has drawn the interest of Atlanta, Portland and the New York Knicks.

Portland doesn’t make too much sense to me even if, as Helin supposes, that they are planning to part ways with Andre Miller.  Do you really trade Miller and then make another trade to get Sessions?  I think Sessions as anything more than your back-up point guard is a risky trade because … well, look at how long it took him to heat up here – and he was playing with Mo and Boobie on the shelf for a good chunk of time.  Maybe he’s better with better talent around him, but I don’t see that move making sense for Portland.

Atlanta?  Sure.  For two reasons: 1.) they need to make some sort of trade to show people that they are serious about making moves and improving to become an actual threat in the East and 2.) they cannot part with anyone on their roster of any real value. (quick aside: I actually still dream of the trade I suggested last month, where Atlanta would be able to get Steve Nash because I think we deserve to see him hit a cutting Josh Smith more than we need to see him feed a posted Marcin Gortat, but it does look like that ship has sailed…)  And call me crazy, but ever since we gave up a first round pick to get Jiri Welsch, I’m convinced that anyone set to pick between 20-30 should be willing to give up that pick to get someone they want at the deadline.

I will say this again: the Cavs don’t really care about expiring contracts.  They don’t want to take on stupid long contracts, but they don’t need to cut payroll too much since free agency is not going to be their primary method of building.

Would the Cavs do Sessions to the Hawks for their 2012 first round pick?  Yes, they would (especially with the Hawks being one of those teams who could easily have a horrific season out of nowhere).

It’s tough, because Sessions has started to play well for us.  But he is probably not more than a really good back-up and if we can get good value for him (i.e. something that could turn into someone better than a really good back-up), we take it.

But then there’s the Knicks.  Say, Carmelo doesn’t come through for them (or, maybe, even say that he does and they want to make some moves to better stock the team around him and Amar’e).  Do we send Sessions and Jamison to New York for Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry and his expiring contract (not because it’s valuable, just because it may be one of their only assets at that point) an a pair of second round picks?

That’s a little tougher.  I say, go Hawks and get a first rounder in the mid-20s and be happy.  We’ll see…

The other rumor, as reported by Marc Stein at ESPN.com, has the Celtics and Bulls interested in Anthony Parker.

I’m calling the Celtics bluff here.  They may be making inquiries because Delonte West has been out, but when he comes back he makes taking on Parker a moot point for the playoffs.  But, thank you, Celtics, for making Parker seem in higher demand and possibly upping what the Cavs can get for him.

Parker has played well enough this year (and has had a couple of nice games lately) that it completely makes sense that a contender would bite on him.  And the Bulls have long been rumored as a possible landing place (though, if you look at the Bulls roster, you’ll see they have, like, 5 shooting guards … and, really, none of them is better than Anthony Parker??).  Stein lists the Cavs demands as a “quality draft pick” or a “young big man with promise” which the Bulls have in either Omer Asik or their … well … quality draft picks. Even if the Bulls don’t want to give up on Asik – who, as a young 7-footer, the Cavs would be doing cartwheels to get – they’ll have a first round pick in the mid-late 20s which, to me, is quality enough for Anthony Parker.  If the Bulls offer Asik do the Cavs make the deal?  Yes.  If they offer their 2011 first rounder for Parker, do the Cavs make the deal?  Yes.

So, all is not lost for Cleveland on the trade front. If just the Sessions/Atlanta trade and the Parker/Chicago’s pick trade I offered come through, the Cavs would then have 2 first rounders this year, 2 second rounders this year and 2 first rounders and 2 second rounders next year.  Not bad.  Or, if the Parker/Asik trade occurred, we’d have a front line next year that could feasibly have a rotation of Sasha Kaun/Asik/Anderson Varejao/J.J. Hickson – which could be worse, considering you’d also be bringing in a high-drafted rookie.

All speculation for now.  But possibly the best (only?) thing the Cavs did well this season was to get “hot” at just the right time.

NBA Basketball

2011/02/17

LAKERS, ASSUMING CAVS REMOVED FROM LEAGUE FOLLOWING JANUARY DEBACLE IN LA, SURPRISED WHEN TEAM ARRIVES, PLAYS … AND WINS!

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Mark it.  Twice, now, in one week the Cleveland Cavaliers have given us cause to give into that rare feeling called elation (even if it is elation tinged with a touch of disgrace that these two wins were such a big deal in the first place).

Oh, yeah, and in between they re-embraced the disgrace … but we’ll look past that for now and say that the past week has given Cavs fans a lot.  In six days, we ended a certain losing streak at 26 (see, I almost had to remind you of that, didn’t I?  You were starting to remember the Clippers game as just a win – which is the point) and we got win number 10 meaning, at least as far as a final tally of wins and losses, we are not the worst team in NBA history.  We’re one game better than that.  Yes, record books, you may suck it.

Oh, and did I mention that win number 10 came against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers?

That’s right, your 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers noticed there was a game on the schedule tonight and decided to come out and play some professional basketball on the way to a 104-99 win over the ’09-’10 champs who … er … did none of those things.

This was definitely one of those games that means more to the bad team than it did to the good (and, really, you beat a team by 55 a month earlier and tell me how easy it is to take them seriously on the last night of a road trip before the All Star Break … Really.  Try it.) but none of that kept Ramon Sessions from exploiting the Lakers’ porous (or maybe just napping) interior to 32PTs and 8ASSTs or from J.J. Hickson continuing his solid play in the paint with 15REBs or from Christian Eyenga exploding for a “my time in Europe, while not really teaching me very much about basketball, did teach me that I can jump higher than ever a really tall Spaniard” pretty, pretty slam over Pau Gasol in the 3rd that helped keep the Cavs momentum from flipping over its front wheel and landing face-first in a mud puddle they are so familiar with landing in by now that they affectionately refer to it as “Puddy.”

The point is: the Cavs played this game the way they were supposed to against the older team who had every reason to overlook them.  They attacked.  They played with confidence.  And players didn’t let set-backs in one area (like, Hickson’s 6-18 shooting) distract them from doing good things on the floor (the aforementioned many rebounds).  That’s how an underdog wins, guys.  Remember this.  You’ll have plenty more chances to give us these little joys for the rest of the season.

My first thought was that this game really did show that the Cavs could compete if only they played with the requisite effort.  I still think there’s a level on which that’s true, but it’s a level tucked pretty far down into the sub-basement of what’s true about this team.  Not that they didn’t play hard.  They did.  And their playing hard has, we’ve learned, generally led to less embarrassing final game scores.  But this was just one of those games.

What we, as people watching the team, get to take away from this game is the sense that the 2010-11 Cavs have turned a corner (albeit a very, very small corner … more that they’ve followed a bend in the road, really).  They are now capable of winning one of those games – and that’s as significant a step forward as this franchise has made all year.

NBA Basketball

2011/02/08

HISTORY TO CAVS: “I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned this to you, but you sure have lost a lot of games in a row…”

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If it is true that the history books are, in fact, written by the victors, then anyone out there who is really broken up about the Cavaliers now-record-holding losing streak – 25 games in a row after last night’s 99-96 loss to the Mavericks in Dallas – can take solace in the fact that, when the books are finally written, no one from this team will be asked to write a chapter and everyone else will have better things to talk about.  Better things like winning.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter how bad you are.  If you’re the worst team in the NBA, then you’re the worst team in the NBA.  Historically bad?  By the numbers, yes, but being bad is really the only thing we should be paying attention to.  You don’t fix historically bad, but you can fix “worst team of the 2010-11 NBA season bad.”  You can fix that because, every year, it’s somebody.  It might be us again next year, but it might not.

We now know that much (if not all) of this losing would have happened this season anyway.  Does it really matter that it’s all come at once? And if you look at the roster and the injuries and the psychological exhaustion of The Summer of LeBron and the fact that we entered a tougher part of our schedule and the fact that our key guys aren’t really good at defense and the fact that we’re breaking in some young guys, many of whom aren’t just young but young and undrafted, while another one is young and only knows only slightly more about basketball than he does about English, and … I guess the point is: who could we reasonably expect them to beat?

But we are seeing improvement and greater consistency – from Sessions and Hickson, especially. And Eyenga could very reasonably finish the season averaging 10PTs and 4REBs with a steal and a half and a block and a half.  Knowing how far he had to go when we drafted him, who wouldn’t be happy with those stats for his rookie season?

We’re not seeing good defense, but … well, it actually wasn’t terrible against Dallas down the stretch.  This was probably because the Cavs smelled a possible upset and were playing their collective junk off, but it’s good to know that we can get a stop once every couple of games or so.

The point is that the laughingstock team – the one that this losing streak is most pinned to – was this team in January.  Now, we’re back to just being a team that’s going to have a really slim chance of being competitive in any game – just regular bad, not historically bad.  And that’s who we known we were for a while anyway, so there needn’t be any hand wringing.  When you’re good, it matters how good.  When you’re bad, I’ve realized this year, it doesn’t really matter how much.

Brief Notes:

-That being said, Wow, how long do you think it took Antawn Jamison to look Jamario Moon without vomiting after the game last night.  That last possession was unconscionable, especially when you realize that Jamison – while he just made a big three (though, also had just missed one) – doesn’t hit those shots as much as he might tell you he does.  C’mon, Jamario.  Know how much time is left and have the balls to take the shot.  Even if you miss it, we feel better about you than we do with what ended up happening.

-I’m having a more and more difficult time figuring out if Ryan Hollins does anything good on the basketball court besides take up vertical space.  The adage is: you can’t teach height.  But that assumes that everything else can be taught.  Ryan, you’re tall. Make me understand what’s happening, please.  Don’t make me throw out that adage.  It’s one of my favorite adages!!

NBA Basketball

2010/11/22

Raising the Cadavalier: a Cleveland Cavaliers blog

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Cavaliers: 93 Nets: 91

This team is going to be very frustrating to think about over the course of this season. It’s been written elsewhere that, because of this team’s lack of a go-to scorer to bail them out of droughts, there will probably be a lot of lop-sided losses. I completely agree. I was looking at the schedule tonight thinking, “I like us against every team that sucks. Can’t see us beating any team that’s good.” I mean, above-average good. You can see that they’re really not built to absorb runs of any sort. Every team they’ve played has made a sustained run that has gained control of the game. But, except for in Toronto, the Cavs have made runs right back. They’re perfectly built to go 40-42 with an average win margin of 3 points.

But, what makes them frustrating is not just that we’re looking down the deep, dark tunnel of rebuilding. It’s that, for all that brings us way down to earth with this group of guys, they’re also amazing to watch play. When they win (and I’ve gone on record as saying I think they will win … just not that much) they will do so in a way unlike any other team in the NBA right now. This is what I mean:

I tried to pick a couple of key players to talk about in this post. Here’s the “couple” that I came up with: J.J. Hickson, Boobie Gibson, Anthony Parker, Ramon Sessions, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao, Mo Williams and … um … yeah, that’s it (though, to be fair, I will also be mentioning Ryan Hollins later). You can’t really talk about this win without mentioning these seven players (yes, you could leave Mo out, as he shot 1-12, but 7 assists is still 7 assists). It seemed like every couple of minutes it was a different player’s time to knock in shots, grab a rebound or knock the ball away from the Nets. That is fun basketball. It’s frustrating, because you never know where (or if) the help will come from – but, when it works, as it did tonight, I’m all in.

Now, the Nets are not one of the aforementioned above-average teams. In fact, they actually make a lot less sense to me watching them this year than they did last year. They look like a collection of role players (role players that they over-spent on in free agency … leading me to become very skeptical of cap space for teams who either play in a small market or who are playing in Newark this season), Devin Harris is good for, like, a total of one quarter and Brook Lopez (who I like, especially with the shiner tonight) used to kill Ilgauskus, but looks like he took a step back this year … BUT, it’s Cleveland and we’re back to “at least we’re not as bad as them” land. It’s familiar land. And there are plenty of teams that we are not as bad as. Well, at least, several – and the Nets are one of them. Nice job by the Cavs to, again, seal this win late. We’re 4-3 and get these same Nets at home tomorrow.

Quick notes:
-Absolutely monster game by the Cleveland bench, scoring 52 points tonight. Sessions and Boobie were great, scoring 15 and 14 points respectively. I’m still wait-and-see on Sessions, but I think Boobie might be taking a step toward top-4 player on a decent play-off team. He’s just doing so many things that we haven’t seen from him (or haven’t seen done well) as a pro. It’s also great to have a guard rotation of Mo-AP-Ramon-Boobie because, so far, one’s always been off. But, usually, at least two have been playing great basketball in the same game. Tonight, it was Mo’s turn to take the night off and Ramon and Boobie hit big shots in the fourth quarter to retake control of the game and AP’s rainbow three near the end of the fourth was the clear play of the game.

-The reports of Antawn Jamison’s demise were, it turns out, if not greatly exaggerated then, at least, a game premature. Antawn came in and immediately hit a straightaway three, then followed that up with a gorgeous pass to Varejao for the score. His comfort with the offense shows and it’s nice to see this team enjoy moving the ball around. He finished the game with 15 points and was one of five Cavaliers in double figures. Keep icing that knee, ‘Tawn, we’re going to need you because…

-God, this team can’t rebound to save their lives. You can’t tell me that there wasn’t a player cut from some other team who can come in and help with that. I mean, I love Manny Harris’ roster spot, but we will get beat on the boards every single game (and we did tonight 45-44). Actually, it was nice to see Hickson rebounding better than I can ever remember seeing him. He was in good position and he pursued the ball. And he ended up with 10 rebounds, a mark that I’m still skeptical he’ll achieve with much regularity.

-Good, balanced game from J.J. I started freaking out on him when his jumper wasn’t falling early, but he made some plays closer to the basket (and also looked to be playing decent … wait for it … DEFENSE) and eventually got some shots to fall. 18 and 10 to lead the team in scoring and rebounding and he let most of it happen within the flow of the game. I do not trust you, J.J. Hickson … but I may also be falling for you. Stop it, stop it … he’ll only hurt you again.

-I really like some of the players on the Nets, I’m just a little confused on what they’re trying to do with the collection they have. In fact, I found myself wondering if LeBron was on that team, if they would have won as many games as he did with a Cavaliers roster that has been savaged by the national media. Probably comparable, but we’re a more veteran team and that does count for something.

-I really like Ryan Hollins. I liked him more before this game when I could still say that I couldn’t remember seeing him miss a free throw. Well, I got to see him miss two tonight, which is really just a drop in the bucket because…

-We shot 56% from the free throw line. That’s without having Shaq on our team. Not good, guys. But we’ve been pretty good so far this season, so I’ll step off the ledge for a moment.

-Sit back and watch: this team is going to get blocked a lot. Both Mo and Sessions can beat their man off the dribble. Boobie can on occasion too. But every guard on this team is at least 15% less athletic than they should be to finish consistently at the rim. So, you’re going to see the defense recover and end up contesting a lot of balls.

In closing, Jawad Williams may have finished with a team-high +14, but Jawad Williams is not a rotation player in the NBA. Not really. He’s more of a symbol of how bad our small forwards are. So, the inaugural winner of our STATS LIE award goes to (and I bet it won’t be the last time): take a bow, Jawad Williams.