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“Waiters shot 51 percent from the floor in February, and though he still shoots too many 3s for a subpar long-range shooter, he has shown more careful judgement of late in jacking them up. He’s proven a skilled passer with a very nice assist rate for an off-guard; he should be able to take over the offense when Kyrie Irving sits, and the evolution of NBA defenses makes it borderline essential for teams to have two capable ball handlers on the floor at all times.
The Cavs will be happy if both guys continue to mature on the floor, but perhaps even happier if the team shows any progress on defense. The Cavs are an awful, uncoordinated mess on that end — 28th overall in points allowed per possession — and they’ve actually been even worse during this otherwise very nice 11-9 stretch. Young teams are typically bad at defense, and Irving, for all his brilliance with the ball, is still struggling on that end. It’s time to see some baby steps; another young team across the country, in Sacramento, never even got that far, and they’ve stalled out as the league’s worst defensive team. The Cavaliers have another high draft pick coming and tons of cap flexibility they may want to save for LeBron James’s potential free agency in the summer of 2014. Even if they hoard their space this summer, Cleveland should set an internal goal of snagging a playoff spot next season.” [Lowe/Grantland]
“People have started to recognize how great Shazier is, and this year he should become a widespread national star. He’s a big, explosive player and a vicious hitter who kept getting better as his sophomore season went on last year.
Shazier finished the season with 115 tackles, including 17 for loss. He also broke up 11 passes to prove he can do it all. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he replaced Simon as the Big Ten’s defensive player of the year. As the only starter to return in the front seven, it will be a challenge. Opposing offenses will try to avoid him at all costs and test his lesser known teammates.” [Schwab/Dr. Saturday]
More reports like this from spring practice please. “Braxton Miller’s mechanics were noticeably improved. His footwork is crisper and he has raised his arm angle. The result is a tighter spiral. We will of course have to see how the mechanics are under pressure, but it is clear his offseason work is paying off. Miller also looked to be conscious of his pocket presence and willing to scramble when necessary, a much-needed improvement.” [Fulton/Eleven Warriors]
“The most encouraging lesson from the “OKC model” is the basic reason why it is so popular in the first place: a team can become good, and every once in awhile very good, without having to add stars via free agent or trade. The Cleveland Cavaliers are not following the Oklahoma City Thunder, at least not by design. They are building through the draft now, but it doesn’t seem to be their only focus. Still, the Thunder provide a precedent for giving young guys a ton of minutes and letting them figure it out on their own. My concerns with waiting for the Summer of 2014 before really trying to make a run to the Finals are well-documented. It is a long ways away, and there are no guarantees that players on the Cavs wish list ultimately come here. And I hate the idea of potential good moves slipping away due to patience. But another year of letting the young guys figure it out might be just what the Cavaliers need; it certainly was for the Thunder.” [Zavac/Fear the Sword]
“On a banner at the south end of Ohio State’s indoor practice facility are the words, “The Chase.” Meyer said under the banner is some workout equipment the players use when the coaches aren’t permitted to supervise or oversee them, so it’s called the chase area.
But “The Chase” has more symbolic meaning, and though Meyer said that meaning qualifies as in-house business, it’s really not a secret. Standards and expectations have never been higher. Meyer treats the first practice like it’s the last because he won’t be happy until the Buckeyes are one of the last teams practicing at the end of a season.” [Jackson/FSO]