Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Concession Report: Cavs Edition

The second entry into the Concession Report is another team who came into the season with considerable optimism. The Cavs appeared to be well on their way to rebuilding the franchise: they had a marquee, if slightly overvalued 20 year old point guard in Kyrie Irving, a solid frontline in Varejao and Thompson, and another top five pick in a very strong draft. Even last season, they were a candidate for the 8th spot in the East prior to Varejao breaking his wrist in February.
Fast forward to 2013 and the Cavs hold the league's second-worst record and frankly get blown out a lot. Let's get out the forceps and dissect this corpse...

What Went Wrong: A common criticism levied by adherents to Win Score theory against certain players is that they shoot the basketball too much. It is better, we say, to engage all five players on the floor and work the offense to get high percentage shots. The counterargument is that players like Kobe need to shoot all of the time because they have the ability to 'create', and that the lesser players on the court only look efficient because they don't have to take tough isolation shots. The evidence tends to support spreading the ball around, but what, you may ask, is the point of all this?

I'm glad you asked. The point is that neither side could say a word about this Cavs team. This is a TERRIBLE shooting team. I have no idea who on this team should shoot, or at what point in the shot clock, or from where on the court- they suck at it all. They turn the ball over too. Only three teams turn it over more and they run at much quicker paces. Hold on a second, over half the team is shooting under 40%! Can that be true? Half the team!?! You could never win playing that way, ever. How is their defense? 25th in the league? Good.

Plus Irving and Varejao have missed time and Waiters and Zeller have been lousy.

What Went Right: They rebound the ball really well. Thompson hasn't exactly come flying out of the gates, but in his sophomore season is starting to look like the player that the Cavs hoped they were getting. (I don't have the numbers in front of me, but Thompson's DI was huge coming out of Texas, a green-plus prospect.) Varejao is a dominant force on the glass and has been one of the league's best players this season. Irving is an above-average contributor and is good enough you can check off the ever-important 'point guard' from the list of team needs.

If We Ran The Show: The current discussion regarding the future of the Cavs is whether to trade Varejao. He's 30, he gets hurt alot, you've got Thompson to take the 4, I can see where you might explore the option. That being said, trading Varejao just isn't advisable. Unless a team that uses analytics would give you something comparable to what Sideshow Bob is worth, I wouldn't dream of it. You shouldn't trade anyone whose actual value outstrips their perceived value, as a rule.
To begin to fix the Cavs, perhaps the most important step would just be to start cleaning out the clutter on this roster. This team is laden with players who have never been productive, and never will be. Gibson and Miles log heavy time and neither have even sniffed a .100 season. Gee plays 34 minutes a game and I can't say I would even want him in my rotation. I would swap out any of these guys that someone would take, comb the D-league and the waiver wire, play Luke Walton and Kevin Jones...These are all actually steps in the right direction.
You don't fix this thing with D-Leaguers though- You're going to have to break out of the safe GM paradigm to do that. The current leadership will likely continue to give run to their guys: Zeller, Casspi, and Waiters namely. It's the safe and obvious position, but one DI, and the players' own performances thus far, suggest is a futile one. The sooner they sell these guys off, the sooner they'll have a chance to compete. We would ride into town and start launching these bums.
The overall outlook here, as we said with Washington, is actually pretty solid. You've got 3 good starters, sufficient cap space, a likely high lottery pick and another first from the Lakers for Sessions. Poythress might be a good fit for them this summer. On the free agent market, they've got to get a defensive stopper and somebody with some leadership qualities. There are times the Cavs look decent for a half and then just come unspooled and that doesn't have to happen. Shawn Marion or Matt Barnes would suffice.


  1. I love the first half of that article, greevousandrew (and also the apparent nod to Gram Parsons in your handle), but find the conclusions ridiculous. Trading Zeller, Waiters, and Casspi violates the rule of "You shouldn't trade anyone whose actual value outstrips their perceived value, as a rule." The Cavs perceive their value as much higher than the rest of the league right now (at least with Waiters and Zeller). Trading them would net them very little at this point. A wait and see approach is necessary, as when it comes to rookies, they're not much different than any other rookies besides Lillard this year. Also, the article fails to realize that the general clutter of the Cavs roster is probably by design: both as a way to save money (lowest payroll in the league) and as a way to be bad enough to get good draft picks. The wisdom of this is debatable, but most informed Cavs fans know that this is the plan. See my free agents article for thoughts on who the Cavs should bring in. I'd be shocked if Barnes or Marion ended up here. Marion's not opting out , and Barnes won't be leaving the west coast. -@oldseaminer (n8 from Cavstheblog).

  2. Thanks for the response (and Gram Parsons reference indeed)

    - In regard to Waiters and Zeller, my primary area of interest in draft analysis and neither player received high marks last summer according to our system. Now, when they both come out and play even more poorly than we would predict, that has got to be a red flag.
    You may be right, you would not get fair market value if you were to trade them, but they are young and cheap, and I would think there would be teams willing to talk about either. I realize its not conventional and is in stark contradiction to the team's current vision for its own future, but this is just what I'd do if they gave me the GM job, and I'm not waiting and seeing with guys that I don't think have much potential.

    - You make a fair point on the practicality of the players I specifically mention; Marion would need to be a trade and Barnes would at the very least cost more than he is worth to get him off the coast. Your review is very thorough and there are some good suggestions there. A Budinger or Dunleavy might be more realistic and provide alot of the same skill set I'd be looking for.