Will Added Depth Be Enough For Cavs

Basketball season is just around the corner and the most interesting team in the NBA is probably the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A team that has gone to the NBA Finals three consecutive years has made some drastic changes to the roster.

In fact, the Cavs might have the deepest roster in the league, with 14 players currently on the roster who have had success in the NBA.

That number includes the newest Cavalier, 12 time all star Dwyane Wade, who signed with the wine and gold after getting a buyout from the Chicago Bulls.

Tyronn Lue will need all the depth because there is a lot medical issues on the roster, so the 12 players who are active will probably change on the night by night basis.

Isaiah Thomas will likely miss the first two and a half months with his hip injury, so he will not be part of the mix early in the season, and we would expect Wade, who will turn 36 this season, to get plenty of games off as well.

Veterans like Kyle Korver, Channing Frye, and Richard Jefferson are others who may not be active every night when the schedule gets heavy.

Lue will have to find a balance between rest and rust for these players, making sure they can stay sharp in the regular season while making sure they are sharp for the post-season.

What will this mean if the Cavs and Golden State Warriors match up in The Finals for a 4th straight season?

For one, Cleveland played even with the Warriors when LeBron James was on the floor, but when James was on the bench, Golden State rolled.

Hopefully, there is way more firepower off the bench, and it’s not just the extreme isolation ball (Kyrie Irving) or one dimensional three point shooters.

With players like Wade and Derrick Rose, Lue has more players who can create their own shots at his disposal, and that will keep more pressure on opponents.

Face it, last year, the only Cavs who could create offense were James and Irving.  This year, Lue has James, Wade, Rose, and Thomas when he returns.

And they still have JR Smith, Korver, Frye, and of course Kevin Love, who can knock down threes.  Don’t sleep on Jae Crowder in that regard either.

Cleveland also added a premier defender in Crowder, which will take some of the responsibility for guarding Kevin Durant away from James, and veteran Jeff Green, who can cover both small and power forwards.

There is no question is our mind that the difference in the Finals was Durant.

If he can be slowed down, it would definitely help the Cavs’ cause.

While giving the veterans some rest, he could use that time to develop young players Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic, and Edy Tavares.  The latter two could be key because the roster still seems to be one quality big man short.

It will also be interesting to see how quickly the newcomers gel with the players who were here last season.

Lue and James have made the transition much quicker than it has taken other teams in the past.

Will the Cavs miss the player they traded to Boston?  They certainly will miss his incredible shot making ability.

On the other hand, they won’t have to play a completely different style with James off the floor, which could lead to a reduced workload.  They should also have ball movement no matter who is on the floor.

It should be fun and it should be interesting to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers this year.  Watching a highly motivated James won’t be bad either.

JK

 

 

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In Midst Of Rocky Times, Cavs Find A Rose

With all of the controversy whirling around the status of Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the wine and gold added another point guard in former NBA MVP Derrick Rose, inking him to a one year deal.

Rose is trying to rebuild his career after being traded a year ago by the Chicago Bulls to the Knicks (ironically, Jose Calderon was in the deal), and suffering through a multitude of knee injuries.

However, it was just two years ago, in the 2015 playoffs, that Rose hit a game winning three point shot to give the Bulls a two game to one lead over the Cavs.

Rose did average 18 points per game last season, his highest total since 2011-12, when he scored 21.2 for Chicago.  He also shot 47.1% from the floor, the best since his second year of his career, the 2009-10 season.

He ranked second in the league in points in the paint for guards last season, and his shooting percentage improved because he basically stopped taking three point shots.

Our concern with Rose has never his ability, it is his ego.

We feel the problems he had in Chicago came after his injury, when Rose still thought he was the Bulls’ best player, when it clearly had become Jimmy Butler.

And last season, he referred to the Knicks as a “super team”, greatly over estimating that team, which failed to make the playoffs.

That won’t be an issue in Cleveland, where everyone knows who the alpha dog is.

The other concern is his injury history.  Although he has played more than 60 games over the last two seasons, you cannot forget he played in just 100 games over a four year period (2011-12 through 2014-15, missing the entire 2012-13 season)

As for Rose’s role, we expect him to be used as a combo guard, perhaps starting beside however the Cavaliers acquire for Kyrie Irving, if they indeed trade him (and we believe they will), and run the offense when James is resting.

He can create his own shot which is something Cleveland lacks, as only James and Irving can do that presently, and no one on the bench is capable of doing it either.

As for the naysayers on this move, remember that the Cavs are only paying Rose the veteran minimum, a little over $2 million per year, a small amount in today’s NBA.

It’s a chance for Rose to get back to playing on a winning team, a squad that has a chance to go deep into the playoffs, and perhaps another trip to The Finals, which would be the veteran’s first trip.

Also, it again was reported that James did reach out to Rose about signing here, again ruining the national narrative that he is not recruiting for the wine and gold this summer.

Even with everything going on with the franchise and that Irving has asked out here, this is a good signing for the Cavs.  We aren’t saying this makes Cleveland the favorite to beat Golden State, but it does make the team better.

That’s all you can ask for at this point.

If James and Irving reconcile, then Rose adds another player who can put pressure on the defense by driving to the basket.  If Irving leaves, he would be more of a factor as a facilitator when James is not in the game.

All in all, this is a positive more for the Cavaliers.

JK

 

 

Analyzing Kyrie

For most of the last two seasons, basketball fans in Cleveland have focused on two players when things have gone bad for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

However, David Blatt is no longer the team’s head coach, and although Kevin Love’s value is still misunderstood by many who claim to know the game, the spotlight has been deflected from him recently.

More and more people are taking a look at Kyrie Irving.

There is no question that Irving, the first player taken in the draft in 2011, is uber talented, and also a highly decorated player.

He was the Rookie of the Year in 2012, the All Star MVP in 2014, USA Basketball’s player of the year, and last year was named to the third team All-NBA squad.

He may have the best ball handling skills in the league, and can seemingly get to the basket anytime he wants to.

But for many of the basketball cognoscenti, there is something missing.

First of all, it’s Irving’s effort and ability on the defensive end of the floor.  As Coach John Wooden once said there is no excuse for a good offensive man not to be a good defensive man.

The same quickness that Irving uses to get to the rim on a nightly basis can certainly be used to stop his defensive assignment.

The second problem is his tendency to show off his handle.  He loves to dribble.

After Irving scored 33 points in a win over Dallas on Wednesday, he was being praised by some because “someone has to score”, but meanwhile his teammates were said to be upset by his monopolization of the ball.

The guard’s big hoop in the last two minutes came from giving up the ball, and getting it back on a pass from JR Smith as he cut to the basket.

Meanwhile, Dallas came back from a 20 point deficit because Irving dribbled the shot clock down to expiration and then had to take poor percentage shots.

There is no doubt the Cavs need him to score, but it can be done by giving it up and moving without the ball to open spots where his team can find him.

Players are human.  They don’t like to go up and down the floor without ever touching the basketball.  It is understandable that professional players are frustrated playing with a ball dominant player, especially when the coach and the best player on the team stress that style of play.

The other issue with Irving is that he doesn’t seem to be improving as a player.

His shooting percentage hasn’t gotten appreciably better since entering the NBA ( career high 46.9% as a rookie, now 46.2%), nor has he become a better passer (5.4 assists as a rookie, career best 6.1 in last year without James, now 4.5).

His player efficiency rating (analytics!) was 21.4 as a rookie, peaked at 21.5 last season, and is now at 21.0).  Here is how that stacks up against other in their first five seasons–

Stephen Curry:  16.3, 19.4, 21.2, 21. 3, 24.1
Damian Lillard:  16.4, 18.6, 20.7, 23.3  He is now in his fourth year.
Derrick Rose:  16.0, 18.6, 23. 5, 23.0, hobbled by injuries since.

We picked these players for the following reasons.  Curry and Lillard are players compared most to the former Duke standout, and Rose was also a one and done player, while the others played more college basketball than did Irving.

While Irving started out better than the other three, he hasn’t taken the step up in his game that the other three have.  The Cavs need him to take that next step because he is that talented, and LeBron James is getting older.

Irving is the one who needs to “fit in”, and stop listening to a player like Kobe Bryant, who tells him to be more aggressive.

He needs to remember that in Bryant’s first three championships, he was NOT the best player on those teams, Shaquille O’Neal was.

The Cavs need him to win, but he needs to share the ball, and get it back to score.  Oh, and to pick it up on the defensive end too.

He can do all of that.  It’s just a matter of actually doing it.

JK