Cavaliers, WWW

How good was the Cavs bench in its prime? While We’re Waiting

Kyle Korver Cavs Warriors

In the span of just three weeks, David Griffin pulled off his latest wizardry. By adding guard Deron Williams, forward Derrick Williams and center Andrew Bogut, all off the free agent haystack, Griffin stacked up the bench for the defending NBA Champions.

So the question du jour is this: How good would this new Cleveland Cavaliers bench be, if all of the players were in their respective primes?

Let’s review the facts: Deron Williams is a three-time All-Star and former No. 3 pick. Andrew Bogut, the No. 1 pick in 2005, has an All-Rookie, Third-Team All-NBA and Second-Team All-Defense nod to his career. Richard Jefferson averaged 18-plus points per game in five different seasons. Kyle Korver was an All-Star just two years ago and one of the NBA’s all-time great three-point shooters. Channing Frye is Channing Frye. Derrick Williams was a No. 2 pick. Iman Shumpert has had his moments.

It’s a fun team to think about. Maybe Deron Williams and RJ, as the two leading scorers in their peak, wouldn’t provide enough efficient outside shooting for today’s day and age. But Korver and Frye would be nice secondary offensive complements, plus the defense and athleticism from Bogut, Derrick Williams and Shump would fit well, too.

How many games do you think such a team would win? Well, thanks to the concept of www.WhatIfSports.com, we can actually test this out a bit. I put together a team of those seven players at their best seasons, added in James Jones’ best season, and threw in four final random Cavs-y scrubs: recent end-of-the-bench seasons from Jared Cunningham, Joe Harris, DeAndre Liggins and Chris Andersen.

WhatIfSports roster

For ease of simple analysis using the free methods on WhatIfSports, I just attempted to simulate how this fantasy Cavs bench team would perform against the 2015-16 Cavaliers playoff schedule. So I just matched them up against all of those 2015-16 rosters. And I just made sure to edit the depth chart a bit to fit the reality of basketball positions.

WhatIfSports depth chart

They proceeded to do quite well in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They swept Detroit, beat Atlanta in five games, then promptly swept Toronto. So that’s even better than the real-life Cavs did last season! But after winning Game 1 in Golden State in the NBA Finals, they then ultimately fell in six games.

The fictional WhatIfSports “payroll” of this Cavs team was $44 million, just north of the $43.9 million of the 2015-16 Warriors. So they’re clearly quite talented. The fictional romp through the Eastern Conference playoffs might seem a bit optimistic to me, but clearly this would be some type of high-40s or low-50s-win competitive team, if you could somehow magically cross eras and styles.

Meaningless experiment? Sure. But it just goes to show, if only in one narrow example, how impressive it is that David Griffin has pulled all of this off recently. Deron Williams and Bogut aren’t in their primes anymore, that’s for sure. But they certainly have a chance to be far more valuable than the youngsters who were getting burn so far this regular season for the Cavs.

Random other tidbits from around the sports world:

  • Kudos to the folks at The Athletic for launching this week. I’ve got a sneaky feeling that they’ve made an awesome choice with the Cleveland sports market as one of their early targets. And Jason Lloyd was an absolute slam dunk of a hire. Many fans on Twitter are already announcing their $40 purchases, even if only for Lloyd’s Final Thoughts alone. It’ll be wild to see how this new website develops over the next 6-9 months.
  • The Dayton Flyers are the Atlantic 10 Conference men’s basketball regular season champs after a victory over VCU on Wednesday. It’s hard to overstate the job that Archie Miller has done to revitalize this historic program and bring them back on the national stage. Definitely beaming with pride over this conference championship and excited about where March might lead with Archie’s first full class of seniors.
  • This weekend is the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. I’ll be attending for a fourth year in a row. It’s always a fun spot to mingle with Sports Twitter, see the big wigs in analytics, and network throughout the industry. David Griffin is on a panel this year. It’ll definitely bring me back to the days of that big feature I wrote on the Cavs and analytics from post-Sloan in spring 2014….

  • mgbode

    Richard Jefferson demonstrated in the playoffs last year why getting “former good-to-great” players for the bench can be important. They cannot be that player for an entire season or even an entire game. But, for a 10-minute stretch or so every now and then, the adrenaline will let them relive their youth. Those stretches can be the difference in a series.

  • Chris

    It must be really helpful to have two extra minutes of production out of the center position
    https://media.giphy.com/media/2pjspMQCi70k/giphy.gif

  • RGB

    The crowd shots last night just make you hate Bahston sports even more.

  • RGB

    RJ isn’t as good as he once was.
    But he is good once, as he ever was. 😉

  • maxfnmloans

    Could this team, minus LeBron, Kyrie and Love beat the 08-09 or 09-10 Cavs without LeBron? I say yes.

  • chrisdottcomm

    It was really cute to watch the Celtics do everything they could last night to pull that win out while Lue literally toyed around with lineups without two starters.

    Bless their hearts.

  • chrisdottcomm

    Dahntay Jones approves Bode’s comment.

  • mgbode

    YES!

  • RGB

    Not once did the Cavs ever looked concerned about the gameplay, or even the outcome.

  • JNeids

    I turned on the 4 letter last night for the last 2 minutes of the game. I am far more annoyed at how pro-Boston the announcers were than the fact that we lost. Outside of Kyrie’s most recent basketball porn highlight, they seemed legitimately upset whenever we scored. Felt like I was listening to Joe Buck call the WS all over.

  • chrisdottcomm

    08-09 Starting Lineup (adjusted w/o LeBron)
    Mo Williams
    Delonte West
    Wally Szerbiak
    Ben Wallace
    Zydrunas Ilgauskas

    09-10 Starting Lineup (adjusted w/o LeBron)
    Mo Williams
    Anthony Parker
    Jamario Moon
    Antawn Jamison
    Shaquille O’Neal

    16-17 Starting Lineup (adjusted w/o Kyrie, LeBron and Love)
    Deron Williams
    JR Smith
    Richard Jefferson
    Derrick Williams
    Tristan Thompson

    Two factors I see in why the 16-17 team would beat the other squads; Coach Lue and the rotations available. 16-17 team still has Frye, Iman, Korver on it’s bench.

  • RGB

    Typically, I have the game on the computer with the sound off, while we watch other things on the TV.
    So, fortunately I didn’t hear any of the Dick Vitale/Bill Walton abomination last week vs the Pacers.

  • JNeids

    I opted for the 4-letter through the Apple TV so I could watch on the big screen as opposed to FSO on the smaller iPhone screen (yes I know I can push the iPhone up to the Apple TV, but the picture doesn’t always come through clear). Once I heard the slant, I was willing to trade picture size for listening pleasure…except my phone was almost dead and I was too lazy to track down a charger.

    (talk about 1st world problems…)

  • RGB

    How about the 06-07 Eastern Conference Champs without LBJ…
    Daniel Gibson
    Larry Hughes
    Zydrunas Ilgauskas
    Drew Gooden
    Sasha Pavlović

    …shiver…

  • JM85

    I passed on watching it on ESPN so I can only imagine what they said. Probably some nonsense about Boston being for real and the Cavs should be worried.

  • chrisdottcomm

    LeBron carried glorified AAU teams with a cardboard box for a head coach to the Finals.

    He’s the greatest ever and I don’t wanna hear about it.

  • scripty

    I was a lot of really old people, like 75 years + who couldnt stand to cheer if their lives depended on it.

  • scripty

    That old team played defense. I think the last 2 years on Lebron Era I, they went like 15-2 without King James.

  • maxfnmloans

    Agree with your first sentence. Not with your second. Might be age bias/glorification of things from my youth, when I didnt have bills and and “grown up” problems, but Jordan. I hated Jordan, and still loved watching him play.

  • maxfnmloans

    not trading Sczezerbiak for Shaq at the 09 trade deadline remains one of the largest What if’s in CLE sportshistory. Hurst less now, but still

  • Chris

    You didn’t miss much. The play-by-play guy sounded like someone the BTN would put on the Nebraska-Rutgers game.

  • chrisdottcomm

    I hated Michael Jordan for what he did to us year in and out, but loved to watch his game. He was so smooth and effortless in everything he did.

    LeBron to me though is a completely different animal that Michael and I love them both for who they are.

    I just appreciate what LeBron has done from a big picture standpoint more than what Michael did personally.

  • Matthew Grant Anson

    I’m gonna disagree about the play-by-play — I thought that dude was way better than past-their-prime guys like Marv. Marv was once great, but now constantly makes mistakes when announcing.

    The play-by-play guy in this game, Ryan Rusomething, was ready to pop every time someone shot it from halftime onwards. It was like watching Gumbel call basketball which is awesome, IMO.

  • scripty

    you should talk to Austin and hear how bad Shaq’s habits were at that point in his career. Cashing dem checks.

  • I was paid 104000 bucks in last twelve months by working on-line from my house a­n­d I manage to earn that much by working part time f­­o­­r 3 or sometimes more hrs each day. I was following a money making model I found online and I am so excited that i made so much extra income. It’s very beginner-friendly a­­n­­d I am just so grateful that i found this. Check out what I do… http://easyurl.net/51df4

  • maxfnmloans

    ah yes, but his antipathy for Dwight Howard was strong at that point, and thats all we needed him for

  • Saggy

    I won’t say anyone is wrong, but to me it comes down to Jordan and LeBron. I don’t want to hear about Bill Russell whose stacked (6 HOFers?) teams played against 7 other teams to win their championships. If you wanted to bring Kareem into the mix I’d be fine with that, but LeBron and Jordan do things nobody else does at that level.

    Personally, LeBron is my guy.

  • Saggy

    Deron Williams hadn’t played in a fortnight and he just goes out and logs 30.
    Does Isaiah Thomas get EVERY call? it’s maddening. Guy doesn’t even get touched but he contorts his body and gets calls. Meanwhile, LeBron gets hammered every time to no avail.

  • chrisdottcomm

    IT gets the benefits of being the smallest human to ever play in the NBA while LeBron has to deal with being regarded as a Metahuman.

  • lewis-raymond@mail.ru

    I have earned $104,000 in last 12 months by freelancing from home a­­n­­d I did that by wo­rking part time f­o­r 3 or sometimes more h every day. I used a money making opportunity I came across online and I am so amazed that i earned so much money on the side. It’s beginner friendly a­­n­­d I am just so thankful that I found out about this. This is what i do… http://jump.wtf/3Wbmkl4

  • spear.james@mail.ru

    I’ve earned $104,000 previous year by working from my home a­­n­­d I manage to accomplish that by w­orking in my own time for 3 or sometimes more hrs every day. I used a business model I came across online and I am excited that i earned so much extra income. It’s very beginner-friendly and I’m so thankful that i discovered it. This is what i did… http://jump.wtf/CCcHHu1

  • The Moops

    FS doesn’t have an Apple App? That’s weird. They have one on android & amazon.