Cavaliers

Cavs at the halfway point, everything sucks

I laugh every time.
kyrie_brown

When I’m shouting “move move move”, that’s code for “stand there”, got it?

I was really looking forward to this Cavalier season.  No more lottery visits for us, no sir. The Cavs were making a push towards the playoffs. They were taking the Next Step. I was excited to see Mike Brown take over a young team with (potentially) multiple offensive weapons. No longer would Brown be beholden to a superstar, he’d be able to work with multiple young first rounders and mold them into competent NBA players. This year was going to be different.

*sigh*

The Cavs, at 15-27, are not good. They lost by more 40 points to the 15-26 Sacramento Kings. They lost at home to a Bulls team missing roughly their 17 best players. They had not one, but two five second inbound violations against the Mavericks (with one coming on their final possession). And these are games after the Luol Deng trade.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are not a good basketball team.

Sure, the Cavs’ .357 winning percentage is a marked improvement over last season’s .294 pace, but it’s still fairly horrid. The Cavs are one of seven teams with an average point differential worse than negative 4 and their negative 5.4 is fifth worst in the entire NBA. If the Cavs were in the Western Conference, their record of 15-27 would put them second to last, just ahead of the tanktastic Utah Jazz at 14-29.

But thankfully for fans of sub-.500 playoff runs and Chris Grant’s near term employment, our young Cavs play in the East.

In the East, the Cavs are only three games out of the final playoff spot. In the East, only five teams have a winning record (and Indiana and Miami are the only teams more than a few games above .500). In the East, there are actually five teams that are worse than the Cadavers. In the East, no one can hear you scream.

So the Cavs are sticking to their guns. It’s playoffs or bust. They traded notorious knucklehead Andrew Bynum for certifiable Good Guy Luol Deng. Sure, they’ll be riding vets like CJ Miles, Anderson Varejao and Jarrett Jack to a Bobcast-esque first round exit (as opposed to playing all those first round picks they’ve drafted), but the playoffs are the goal. The only way Kyrie will learn how to play defense is if he gets swept by the Pacers.

Friday’s game against the Bucks will be Cleveland’s 43rd of the season, just past the halfway mark. Let’s take a look at where we stand in the middle of the season.

The Starters:

Kyrie Irving: I’ve probably fluctuated on Kyrie more than any Cavalier in my lifetime. He’ll have absolute moments of brilliance (like when he hit five straight threes against the Bulls) followed by… nothing. Voted in as an All-Star starter, Kyrie is an unbelievably skilled offensive guard. At the defensive end… Kyrie is an unbelievably skilled offensive guard. It is frustrating as hell to see opposing point guards like DJ Augustine, Isaiah Thomas and Joe Calderon consistently light up the Cavs1. A lot of folks complain about his leadership and well, that is a sorta fair given that he’s the best player on the team and point guards are generally considered to be the proverbial Coach On The Floor. At the same time, Kyrie is averaging 21 points and 6 assists per night (with a PER over 20) while getting little-to-no help from his running mates. I wanted him to be better this season, to take the Next Step and it hasn’t happened. I’ve been underwhelmed by Irving all season and his sporadic spurts of awesome aren’t nearly as soothing as they used to be.

 Dion Waiters CJ Miles: If you follow me on the Twitter machine, you’ll notice I have a running joke with WFNY stat boy Jacob over CJ Miles. Whenever CJ does well, Jacob lets me hear about it. When CJ Miles does poorly, I respond in kind. This happens a lot, as CJ is as streaky of a player as I’ve ever seen. When he plays well, the Cavs do well. The Cavs are 15-27.

even the beat writers are phoning it in.

Even the beat writers are phoning it in.

Luol Deng: Holy crap a basketball player. To say Deng is an upgrade at small forward is an injustice to upgrades. Going from Alonzo Gee/Earl Clark to Deng is a ColecoVision to X-Box One type of jump. Deng does a ton of little things that the Cavs have lacked, like: move without the basketball, play defense for multiple minutes at a time, and show up ready to play basketball competitively. The Cavs added him to make a push towards the playoffs but, unfortunately, the Cavs seem to be more than simply a competent small forward away2. Also, Deng is an unrestricted free agent after this season and barring a massive overpay, I’d be surprised if he stuck around.

Tristan Thompson: Ah, Chris Grant’s only first round pick who can play defense. But can he play offense? Eh…. signs point to no. Double T has clearly worked hard at his game and he’s developed a few decent offensive moves (a running hook, a jump hook/push shot thing), but he’s not a smooth offensive player (his dribbling and shooting are… not pretty). Opposing defenses aren’t exactly concerned with Thompson, but if left open, he can make you pay. This is an distinct improvement and I’m not joking. He’s a good-to-great rebounder who can find garbage points but the Cavs should never run an isolation play for him ever again ever. Listed at 6’9″, Thompson is a bit undersized for my liking. He gets pushed around too easily and while he’s a solid individual defender, he’s not big enough to make opposing bigs uncomfortable. In certain matchups (like say, against Denver) Thompson looks great but it doesn’t translate every night because, at 6’9″, he’s always going to struggle inside due to his size and limited offensive arsenal.

Andreson Varejao: Varejao is a little bit older and a little bit slower, but he’s still an above average player. Even though Varejao has worked on his midrange jumper, I wonder if he and Thompson can play together long term. Why won’t opposing defenses just pack the paint against them? And sure, while they get ALL THE REBOUNDS, neither TT or Andy is a rim protector or a great help defender. Andy is always in the right spot and always tries hard (which is a novel concept, eh?) but I wonder if he’s getting in the way of Thompson’s (and Zeller’s and Bennett’s) development. If the Cavs decide that this year is a wash (and with the No. 1 overall pick racking up DNP-CDs, we’re getting close), Varejao is far and away the Cavs most attractive trade asset.

The Bench:

Dion Waiters: Hey, remember when Mike Brown said Dion was a starter? Good times. It’s not been the best season for Dion. He lost to me at his bowlathon, his name has been mentioned in trade rumors, he accused Tristan and Kyrie of playing “buddy ball” at a tense players only meeting, Grantland’s Zach Lowe dinged him for showboating versus the Hawks, the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd said other players have grown tired of his act, and he’s still struggling to play next to Kyrie. All that being said, I’ve been more upset with how the Cavs have handled Dion than how Dion has handled himself. They drafted a small, ball dominant guard the year after taking Kyrie (who is also a small, ball dominant guard). They tell him he’s a starter, then they move him to the bench not a month into the season (whoever could’ve seen *that* coming!?). So now Dion comes off the bench playing next to Jarrett Jack… who is also a small, ball dominant guard. Dion needs to be Jarrett Jack, not be playing next to Jarrett Jack. Feels like only a matter a time before Dion is traded.

Jarrett Jack: Jack… has left much to be desired. I don’t like his shot selection and he’s been too careless with the ball for someone who’s supposed to provide veteran leadership. While Jack is averaging less turnovers per game than he has over the past few years, his turnover rate is actually up, as his usage rate has gone down. We’re not a full season in and I’m already wondering if they can flip Jack or include him in some deal. Early in the year, before we knew Anthony Bennett was Anthony Bennett, I got really frustrated with Jack deciding to shoot while Bennett was rolling to the hoop post-pick. “Feed the young guy!”, I screamed at my TV, “reward your big!” Alas, Jack (and CJ Miles) ignored my advice. Also, turns out Bennett is useless as an NBA player so you might as well chuck an 18 footer with 15 seconds left on the shot clock. YOLO.

I laugh every time.

I laugh every time.

Anthony Bennett. I feel for the kid. Is he a small forward? Is he a power forward? I don’t know! He’s getting booed at home and he’s loafing at the end of blow outs. He’s been bad. Really bad. He’s been so bad that he’s actually telling reporters he’d be open to going to the D-League. Think about that. The top pick in the draft is saying he’d be cool with a D-League stint and the Cavs still won’t send him down. Are they afraid he’d fail in the D-League? Is he too out of shape to play? Is his asthma a worse problem than we all realize? Are they trying to save face? Again, I don’t know! What I do know is that he’s currently racking up DNP-CDs while the Cavs lose to crappy teams. Which makes zero sense to me. Also, Anthony Bennett is fat.

Earl Clark/Alonzo Gee. Earl Clark is a back up stretch PF who was getting minutes at SF because Alonzo Gee is Alonzo Gee. Both of these guys are somewhat serviceable, but they’re both pretty limited. Gee isn’t much of a shooter and Clark (despite this dribble drive dunk vs the Bulls) can’t really do anything but shoot. Neither guy should be starting or playing big minutes. And they won’t be, at least until Luol Deng leaves in free agency.

Tyler Zeller. Tyler Zeller is a backup big. He’s somewhat quick (he rim runs pretty well) and he’s somewhat skilled but he gets pushed around with regularity. Zell-zell had a rough start to the season, missing all of training camp with a finger injury and then acute appendicitis (negating his offseason weight gain). He’s a fine player, but limited. I feel his destiny is to be a throw-in in a trade and then bounce around the league for a decade.

Matthew Dellavedova. Whoever saw Delly being the most productive Cavalier rookie, please raise your hand. I can see why Coach Mike has been playing the rookie from Saint Mary’s (by way of Australia): the kid plays hard. It’s kinda nuts that Delly is the Cavs’ best defensive guard. Disagree? It’s either him or CJ Miles. Have I mentioned that the Cavs are 15-27? For what it’s worth, there’s a semi-decent chance that Delly would be the Cavs’ lone representative in the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star weekend. Which is totally not depressing.

Sergey Karasev/Carrick Felix: These guys would be super useful to this particular Cavs squad if they were in their fourth or fifth year. The Cavs could totally use a sweet shooting lefty forward and an athletic, high motor wing. Unfortunately, Mike Brown doesn’t play rookies, so we’ll never know if they’d actually help this particular Cavs squad. Fortunately, the Cavs are willing, unlike with Bennett, to send these two down to Canton for some seasoning.

Management

Mike Brown: I wasn’t thrilled with the re-hiring of Mike Brown, but I talked myself into it. One of the reasons why I thought Coach Mike would work this time around was that he wouldn’t be under the gun. I thought that Brown would be willing to let his young team learn from their mistakes and not have a such a quick hook with the kids. Nope. It’s playoffs or bust for our Cavs and Coach Mike can’t afford to let Bennett (or Dion or Karasev) make a mistake. Nevermind that the offense is just as ugly as we all remembered. Nevermind that he has a quick hook for some guys, but a longer leash for others3. Also, Dion Waiters is a starter. Until he isn’t. Anthony Bennett is a power forward only. Or he’s maybe a small forward. There’s no consistency. The team routinely commits dumb fouls (cheap fouls on fast breaks that lead to three-point plays) and they’ve had multiple end of game situations where they failed to even get off a shot. The players don’t seem to be buying into Brown’s defensive teachings and I don’t see them doing so until they start winning. Unfortunately, I’m not sure they’re gonna start winning with this roster any time soon4.

Chris Grant, GM: This is a team full of trade assets that nobody wants. It was an open secret that the Cavs were trying to deal the top pick before the draft. Then they were trying to move Dion Waiters earlier this season. Other teams have to know this and are low balling the Cavs. Why? Because if Grant and company really liked Dion Waiters long term, why sign Jarrett Jack to a four year deal? My pet theory is that Grant wanted to flip Dion+Bennett+[stuff] for some kind of Big Name but it’s blown up in his face. No one like Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge ever became available. With the hiring of Mike Brown, the Cavs haven’t put these offensive players in position to even make themselves attractive to the rest of the Association. And while all of Grant’s draft picks can be defended in a vacuum, it’s hard to defend them in the Big Picture. Grant has had six first round picks in three years and only one (Thompson) can be considered an even decent NBA defender. None of them have a major size advantage at their position. The Cavs have to work so hard to score and, barring some late growth spurts, I don’t see how that’s going to change. You can’t maximize Dion next to Kyrie. You can’t maximize Bennett next to Thompson. Zeller is a backup. Plus, they haven’t stashed one second round pick over in Europe for seasoning (a thing smart teams like the Bulls and Spurs routinely do). I liked Grant’s big picture plan of hoarding picks and assets, I just don’t like his execution. They have a team full of trade assets that they can’t even showcase. His Bynum-for-Deng trade was more than solid, but I’m not sure on the wisdom of tanking for the crappy drafts, but gunning for the 8th seed with a flawed roster (filled with okay veterans) during what’s regarded as the best drafts in a decade. This team needs more talent.

Dan Gilbert: You fire Byron Scott and your coaching search began and ended with Mike Brown. One guy, eh? Really left no stone unturned, did ya? Say what you will about the Browns, but at least they talked to more than one guy (not on purpose, but still!). Hell, Chris Grant didn’t even interview Dion Waiters before picking him and it’s unclear when the Cavs found out about Anthony Bennett’s sleep apnea and asthma. I also worry that Gilbert’s lottery night playoff declaration put more pressure on this team than was necessary. Anthony Bennett isn’t playing both because he sucks AND because the Cavs can’t afford to have him suck. Nevermind that Anthony Bennett figuring it out is pretty damn important to the franchise’s future (even if only as a trade piece). The Cavs can’t afford to play the rookies and yet they still lose to a depleted Bulls team. It is beyond frustrating. Oh, and stop with the petty LeBron crap, it’s not a good look.

So where do we go from here? I really have no idea. Pre-Deng trade (while the Cavs were in talks for Pau Gasol), I was ready to blow the whole thing up. And by “blow the whole thing up” I mean I was ready to trade Anderson Varejao and probably CJ Miles, as those are the two guys who could definitely help a playoff team right this instant. The rest of the roster is full of unattractive contracts, players you’d be selling at low value or pieces that other teams just plain old don’t want. They’re an absolute mess.

Tonight’s game against the 8-33 Milwaukee Bucks feels like a turning point of the season, at least to me5. With a victory, the Cavs would be taking their first step in salvaging this five game home stand (with winnable games upcoming against the Suns and Pelicans). But losing at home to the worst team in the worst conference in the NBA would be… devastating? Can a team that’s 15-27 even have devastating losses? Regardless, following up a 3-2 road trip by losing three straight games at home is downright stupid.

Tonight’s game should be fun. The Cavs have a home game against the worst team in the NBA and Kyrie Irving was just named an All-Star starter and selected for Team USA tryouts. Plus, the Cavs just added an All-Star caliber small forward and they’re only three games out of the final playoff spot in the East. This is about a “must win” of a game that a 15-27 NBA team can have in January. But if you couldn’t already tell, I’m not exactly optimistic that our Cavs will pull this one out. The Cavs haven’t realized that other crappy teams see them as an easy win. Hell, Cavs have already lost to this Bucks team once and they needed overtime and a 39 point effort from Irving to squeak past the Buck at The Q back in December. A loss to the Bucks at home, following that putrid performance against the depleted Bulls, means we could have very well hit rock bottom in a season that’s already chock full of so many low points.

(Awesome Anthony Bennett photoshop courtesy of FearTheSword writer Justin Rowan, follow him at @Cavsanada)

  1. I’m not so sure it’s healthy to be the star of a national ad campaign while also not giving a crap on defense. Opposing guards just might want to take it to Uncle Drew. []
  2. Big picture, I’m also concerned about how much he’ll actually help. The Bulls teams that Deng was a part of were known for their great defense, but had real trouble scoring. Teams aren’t exactly afraid of Deng from long distance, so he’s not gonna do much to stretch the floor, especially next to limited offensive players like Thompson and Varejao. []
  3. And I get that you can’t treat all guys exactly the same. But Dion’s defensive lapses can be just as damaging to a win as a terrible CJ Miles shot that leads to a run out, but only one gets pulled. []
  4. I’d feel much better about this team if their wins weren’t “they looked like garbage but then Irving/Waiters/Deng/Miles/Jack got hot for five minutes and they pulled one out” []
  5. Narrative! []

  • RGB

    Fool me twice…

  • When your team struggles to learn how to win games…

  • whosevelt

    While I sympathize with Ben’s perspective, in my opinion, all the pieces are in place and they just need time to grow together. In the front court, Varejao is a uniquely gifted player, Deng is a borderline all star, and TT is a solid role player. In the backcourt, Irving is a budding superstar, Waiters has the talent to be an all star, and Miles/Jack/Delly are serviceable to varying degrees. Playoff teams do not differ substantially in makeup; where they differ is in the utilization.
    There is currently a gross imbalance in the way the Cavs play because they have no offensive plan. It is depressing to see the Cavs meander for the first ten seconds of every possession before a random ball-handler wanders to the top of the key and hands the ball to Kyrie. The result is less cohesion on defense as well, since players expend more energy and spend more of the game confused.
    But there is a lot to work with. Irving can get by the first defender 100% of the time, and can instantaneously exploit whatever choice the secondary defender makes. If the defender collapses, Irving drives. If the defender establishes position, Irving shoots the jumper. This demands constant attention from second and third defenders and opens up opportunities for lurking bigs (who are sadly, not great finishers) and lanes for secondary slashers like Waiters and Miles. Unfortunately, the Cavs rarely default to this – even when it happens, it’s after fifteen seconds have run off the clock and it seems like Irving has to conceive of the idea anew on each possession.
    I don’t know if the problem is Mike Brown; or better put, I don’t know if Mike Brown fails to have a plan or fails to inculcate the team with it. But there is no reason why these personnel, under the right direction, cannot be solidly in the playoffs year after year. Moreover, I see a lot of potential in Waiters and even a bit in Bennett, but for some reason they have been stagnant. Waiters has a shiftiness that can’t be taught, but his ball handling is exactly where it was in the 2012 preseason (admittedly, his shooting has improved). I don’t know what the practical reality is like, but why is someone who could theoretically learn a ton from Kyrie not progressing at all? There has to be some situation in which this can be improved. I hope that with incremental improvements in these areas, the same team we see today can be good in the not-too-distant future.

  • BeautifulDude

    If you notice, there is no “defensive end” in those Uncle Drew commercials. Cavs are the most gutless, quitter, coach mutineering team ever. Even though this coach might deserve its mutiny. What a disaster. The “Q” stands for QUITTERS.

  • Denny

    It’s like the Browns and the Cavs are having a competition to see how many times fans can say the same excited things/still have enthusiasm in the preseason over the course of like ten years.

  • Mike Brenkus

    I laughed.. I cried.. I laughed some more.. but honestly, a no-bs look at the Cavs. Great write up. Now if I can only drag myself to the Q tonight.. Hey, maybe I’ll win the 50/50 raffle! Things are looking up!

  • RGB

    At least the Browns didn’t rehire Romeo.

  • BenRM

    Your first paragraph on Deng had me LOLing. So funny.

  • boomhauertjs

    “This is a team full of trade assets that nobody wants.” Sums up this season perfectly. Grant kept taking players with no regard for team building. Now because they can’t play together, they have no value (or at least no value in getting the Cavs what they need).
    I gave up on the season after the Bulls loss, but the whole front office and coaching staff (because you can’t fire the players) should get canned if they lose tonight.

  • BenRM

    …yet.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    EN FUEGO DUDE!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Sssssssshhhhhhh!!!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Amen!

  • Benny08302

    sports are fun

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Kudos Ben for being able to write something harsh and admitting being let down I agree although I must say I wasn’t expecting something great I just wasn’t expecting what the Cavaliers have done to this point either.

    If someone had written something like this about the Browns or the great coaching search of 2014 this topic would have blown up already. It just shows even as pathetic as the football team is it’s what interests Cleveland fans the most.

  • Harv 21

    Ben, Ben, Ben … does someone need a medication adjustment?

    Actually, yes, that someone is me. Because I don’t see a whole lot to dispute in your article. Except maybe attributing Anthony Bennett’s utter lack of self-confidence in an macho league to sleep apnea or asthma. Another hour of sleep and he would have hit that wide open jumper and made that dunk, just like in college.

    Fun fact re Grant’s accumulation of talent: It appear that Chris Mills, the 22nd overall by a former reviled GM, had a better career than Tyler Zeller, the 17th overall, will have. This is where we are. Grant is a very tall accountant, a savvy bean counter, not a player evaluator. He cleverly squirreled away a pile only to trade it for plastic trinkets. He’s been miscast into a position where he’s capable of doing significant damage. He must leave now.

  • Pat Leonard

    I think the toughest thing for me about this season is that I finally have expectations for this team, and not only are they not meeting those expectations, they are taking a flamethrower to them. It seems almost impossible that Andy Varejao is still healthy this late into the season, and yet the Cavs only have 15 wins. They seemingly make the same mistakes night after night and never learn from them. Dion Waiters is still forcing shots and getting blocked at the rim. Tristan Thompson is still forcing shots and getting blocked at the rim. Kyrie Irving is still dribbling and turning over the ball too much. Jarrett Jack, in spite of being terrible, is playing crunch time minutes next to Irving and Waiters instead of guys who can defend like Miles and Delly. Passing is a rare occurrence in the 4th quarter. The team might be worse at this moment than they were at the beginning of the season.

    I know that the Cavs are still very young as a team, but man… where do they go from here? Somebody has to show improvement at some point, right???

  • Rob

    Great article. The truest statement summing up the season though was in the footnotes: I’d feel much better about this team if their wins weren’t “they looked like garbage but then Irving/Waiters/Deng/Miles/Jack got hot for five minutes and they pulled one out”

    The cavs can’t generate easy baskets and are unable to prevent the other team from generating easy looks. Aka wins will come only when our shooters get hot for stretches. It’s comical that in a year where everyone is trying to be bad and we’re trying to be good we are still on pace to win less than 30 games.

  • Lyon25

    The worst part is Brown refusing to play the youngsters. Good lord we’re terrible, let’s try to get a jump on next year at least. Every minute that Clark and gee play stunts growth for Bennett and Karasev.

  • BeautifulDude

    Ladieeeees and Gentleman… your CLEEEEEEVEEELAND…. DRIBBLEEERS!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Joe Banner is jealous of Grant’s height!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Gee never plays unfortunately when Clark does he decides to step out of bounds.

  • CLE23

    wow…craig is pessimistic about a Cleveland sports team?

    that’s out of character

  • Horace

    The problem with bennett is that all of his current flaws were plainly obvious on draft day (though nobody knew he’d be THIS bad). For one, he lacked a true position bc he was too unathletic/not a good enough shooter to play Sf but was too short for PF. He was also somewhat out of shape at UNLV, which is often a harbinger of bad things when a 19 year old athlete is out of shape. His shot selection and work ethic were both questioned at UNLV. He was a year too old, so he was technically a sophomore last year. He was thought to be an outside threat, yet his shooting #s were fairly average (think josh smith).

    We should’ve just taken noel…what a mess.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    This article was written by Ben.

  • Earl Malmsteen

    This is delusional. Look at the results. The Cavs don’t have any guards who play defense, and they don’t have a big guy who can reliably hit an 18 footer or maybe a 15 footer. Waiters is a poor man’s Monta Ellis or JR Smith, a talented overconfident heat check guy who doesn’t hustle, pass, or exercise shot selection. Deng is a quality player but his one limitation on offense is range, which is made worse by the lack of shooting in the Cavs’ frontcourt players. I’m not sure any starter on the Cavs would start on the Pacers and actually make them better (Kyrie would hurt their D). Probably TT over Haslem in Miami. Varejao would start for OKC. Nobody would start over the Spurs’ starters except maybe Deng over Leonard (but probably not due to spacing). Kyrie and Deng are very good players, but the PG and SF positions have never been stronger in the NBA, and these guys are not playing like top 5 guys at their positions.

    I don’t doubt that a better coach would have this team in the playoffs in the East, but it’s not remotely a contender or even a .500 team, even with good coaching.

  • mgbode

    honestly, those expectations are why it’s so hard to even know where to cheer for this team. the past few seasons, we chalked up the struggles to a young team learning the ropes. well, Kyrie shouldn’t still be a ghost on defense, Tristan should have 1 mediocre offensive move by now, we should at least know who Waiters is and it’d be nice if the 2013 draft wasn’t looking like Mangini’s draft for the Browns w/o Alex Mack.

    and, most importantly, who are we as a team? we seem to have been constructed to be a old-school Warriors full-court, running offensive team that only plays defense to get rebounds. but, Mike Brown is our coach, so we won’t ever play that way.

  • Pat Leonard

    Great comparison to those Warriors teams. You’re right, and for as silly as Austin Carr can sound at times, he’s a smart guy who understands basketball and he can never seem to grasp why the Cavs aren’t trying to push the tempo and run more. He sees that the Cavs are built that way, but Mike Brown has always loved to slow it down and grind it out. Nobody on this Cavs team wants to do that.

  • whosevelt

    My defense of the Cavs in regard to most of what you’ve written is that they’re young and inexperienced, and have not had time to mesh as a team. Irving is not a good defender, but he can become a good defender. Waiters has the kind of tendencies that can lead to him being a J.R. Smith… or a Monta Ellis (although he’s bigger than they are and can possibly be a more physical player). I’m not saying that they’re great or even good right now, and I can’t guarantee that they’re going to improve. I’m saying that right now, they are where teams who eventually go on to be really good, might have started out.

  • mgbode

    what type of team though? how do the pieces fit? why aren’t these guys even showing glimpses of what they might be?

    I don’t disagree with you. But, I am completely frustrated that Kyrie is in year3 and still doesn’t even pretend to play defense now. That Waiters hasn’t seemed to improve from day1. That every single veteran we bring in seems to play below their career average marks. And, that it’s tough to see how all the pieces fit together right now. That can change, but right now it’s an unstarted 10,000 piece puzzle of a snowstorm.

  • Earl Malmsteen

    I appreciate your honesty but I think the results just disagree with that. The pieces don’t fit. They have two gunners in the backcourt who both settle for long 2s AND shoot a low percentage AND play no defense, an aging SF on an expiring contract who belongs on a contender and has little future, only one guy who can shoot the 3 (and he’s also supposed to be the playmaker), and nobody with an above average post game. TT and Varejao get a lot of love here but are below average starters.

    The way teams win is by taking efficient shots, which are open 3s and shots at the basket, along with a guy or two to make tough midrange shots when that’s all you can get. This is how the Spurs make chicken salad every year out of guys like Danny Green and Matt Bonner. Three and D, plus aging one interior star and one perimeter star who creates and shoots an excellent percentage.

    This to me is exactly what bad teams look like who are stuck in the cellar. Can you think of a closer team to this than the 2012-2013 Bucks? Two young confident guards leading the team in scoring shooting long 2s, a solidly “meh” front line, no post offense, lack of two forwards who both can space the floor, and at most two guys who can hit a 3. I can’t think of a more similar team.