Coincidentally, the Cavs are Waiting For Next Year

In talking with Cavaliers guard Baron Davis, it took everything I had to not ask the blatantly self-serving question.  Thankfully, Davis didn’t need much baiting as he and the rest of his teammates are focused on the big picture: next year.

As he has countless times since his arrival, Davis spoke highly of the young players who litter the Cavaliers’ roster, applauding their growth over the last month of play while stating that the rest of the season – though the team has long been out of the playoff hunt – is about playing hard, executing offensively and take each remaining game as an opportunity to grow.

One of two veterans on the roster, Davis himself has not spent much of his time with the team on the floor, having played less than 31 minutes in every game since the late-February trade.  When asked if the progress of players like Ramon Sessions, Alonzo Gee – averaging 11 points and four rebounds over the last three games – and Samardo Samuels had anything to do with his landing in Cleveland, Davis was willing to take on some of the credit but would attribute the majority of the effectiveness to time spent together.

“I just reiterate a lot of what the coaches tell them,” said Davis, the player who Byron Scott previously deemed his “fifth head coach.”  “Guys get excited when they see what they’re being taught actually work in a game.”

Davis continues to spend the bulk of his practice time with players like Sessions, Gee and Manny Harris, helping those younger than him learn new tactics even with the majority of the season in the rear-view mirror.

“I, myself, being a leader on this team, I have to make sure that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing on the floor, getting guys in the right position and keeping guys together,” said Davis.

Since Davis has been inserted into the starting lineup, the Cavaliers have averaged 112.5 points per 100 possessions.  In the 11 games prior, the Wine and Gold were scoring an average of 91.9 points per 100 possessions.

In 10 games with the Cavaliers, Davis is averaging 14.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.1 steals in just under 25 minutes per game.  Doing a lot of his damage from beyond the arc, Davis is hitting at a 45.9 percent clip – the sixth-highest mark in the league over said span.

Though still a work in progress, Davis feels that the last month of play shows that this very young team has the ability to continue their growth into next season and these last six games can only help carry their confidence into the offseason. Following Sunday night’s game in New York, Davis even went as far as to use the “P” word.

“I think next year, barring injuries, is going be a great year for us,” the two-time All-Star stated. “(If we) get some guys healthy – get myselfhealthy – and I think we’re not far off being where you see the Knicks and a lot of these teams in the Playoffs. We’ll be fighting for a Playoff position definitely next year.”

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

  • mgbode

    a 20-game improvement makes us ‘fighting’ for a playoff spot. certainly do-able if we hit on our draft picks (and there is, you know, a season next year)

    not sure fighting for a playoff spot is really the best thing for this team though. it might be better to be more like the Clippers were this year. plenty of flashes and bright spots to point to and give hope to the fanbase, but enough losses to ensure a spot in the lottery and a decent draft slot (of course they gave that away but thats not the point).

  • AMC

    I agree with Baron about the “P” word. IF the Cavs hit on both their lottery picks and IF Baron produces, they will be in the hunt for a spot with Varejao and Jamison coming back. Now whether or not that’s a good thing is another question as it could stunt the Cavs rebuilding.

    Of course none of this probably matters since we’ve got an extended lockout in the NBA around the corner.

  • Don

    Does anyone else feel that Baron Davis is the veteran we’ve needed on a young team, and the veteran we were expecting Jamison to be?

  • Harv 21

    @4: I do not. More like the zebra mussel that rode in with the Clippers’ lottery pick. Cute and harmless at first, but there’s a reason so many org’s have dumped him despite the talent. Best to fish that lotto pick out of the ballast water, isolate and then get him the heck out of here before he spreads and infects the good young stock.

  • mgbode

    @Don – yes, suprisingly so far.

    @Harv – he very well may be ‘auditioning’ for a trade to a contending team. but, even if he is, I appreciate the effort because he may make himself tradeable. I am still very much on the Irving bandwagon and would love to be able to get something in return for Baron (he has to have enough value for that to happen, he still doesn’t but he’s trending up at least)

  • mgbode

    Ok, somewhat realistic but really a dream scenario time :)

    we complete the rumored Rip trade before the draft for the Piston’s 1st rounder (#7). they get nothing but the TPE and out from his contract.

    we land a combination of PG Irving(#1/2), C Kanter(#7), SF Veseley(#8) with those 3 lottery picks and with #31 get either SG/SF Honeycutt (less likely) or C Lucas Nogueira (more likely) and stash #54 overseas with a European player.

    then, the 2011/12 season is locked out. and we get another top4 pick from that draft.

    we can then auction off Jamison and Gibson’s expiring deals (and have Graham to even out values if needed). Baron would be a year away from the same.

    Long term guys we’d then have:

    PG: Irving, Sessions (only as energy-backup)
    SG: Eyenga, Honeycutt?
    SF: Veseley
    PF: Hickson
    C: Kanter, AV

    Our 2012 #1 pick then would best be at SG or SF unless there’s an elite guy we feel obligated to pick.

    Now, that’s an exciting, fun athletic team that would provide hope for the future :)

  • christopher

    @6 – or with a weaker draft class do you trade the Pistons lotto pick for future picks and/or players?

    granted i realize that the trade of that picks looks undesireable because of the weaker draft pick but you never know who wants what during draft season.

  • mgbode

    I doubt the Pistons give up their 2012 pick without significant protection, so I’d rather draft now and get the talent in the pipeline myself.