April 16, 2014

Sunday Cavalier Thoughts: Barren Bench A Sore Thumb

Injuries. Trade. Inconsistency. Three words that sum up what’s happened to the Cavaliers bench in the past month. Once a strength of the team in the early season, these three factors have relegated the bench to a shell of its former shelf. It’s no coincidence that the Cavaliers are spiraling downward as a result. Let’s take a trip down memory lane at what the bench was at the outset and other relevant Cavalier news items.

  • Ramon Sessions, Daniel Gibson, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, and the revolving door of Ryan Hollins, Samardo Samuels, and Semih Erden formed one of the highest scoring benches in the league. Before you knew it, the Varejao injury eventually pulled Thompson out of the second unit, Gibson is likely lost for the season, Sessions was traded to the Lakers, and Gee was promoted due to the ineffectiveness of Omri Casspi. A few weeks later and with Kyrie Irving out of last night’s game against the Knicks, the Cavaliers brought ten-day contractor Lester Hudson, Casspi, trade acquisition Luke Walton, midseason signee Manny Harris, Samuels, and Erden off the bench with recently signed Donald Sloan starting for the injured Irving.
  • Couple the bench’s dropoff with the recent struggles of Antawn Jamison (12.9 points per game in the last ten) and the repeated poor performances from Anthony Parker (under 40% shooting on the season, just three double digit scoring games since returning from injury at the end of February), and you essentially have three players producing and keeping the team afloat. Irving, Gee, and Thompson are the three who have increased their production and stepped into the key roles on this team. One point, one wing, and one big man, hopefully all in the wine and gold for the foreseeable future.

  • Remember when everyone was in a fit about the Cavalier competing too much, pushing for a playoff spot, and ruining their chances at a high lottery pick? Do you remember what I kept saying to anyone that would listen? “Things would take care of themselves”. By that, I meant that the Cavaliers were undeniably playing over their heads when they were in the playoff picture. I also believed that trading Sessions and a key injury (like Varejao’s) would have this type of effect on a team that lacked depth.
  • To me, this has been far from a disappointing season. The Cavaliers and their key young players had some early season success, grabbed several banner victories against playoff teams, and now they’re in a position to add another key piece around Kyrie Irving. The overwhelming negativity regarding how things have played still boggles my mind. Four picks in the Top 40 of the upcoming draft, four keepers from the current team, and no bad longterm contracts? To borrow Nick Gilbert’s line, “What’s Not To Like?”
  • The Cavaliers are currently fifth and within one game of fourth best odds in the draft lottery. At that slot, they should be able to get one of the dynamic wings in Florida guard Bradley Beal, North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes, or Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. If the Cavaliers can pair one of those three with Kyrie and Tristan, I like the odds of the team’s dynamic changing next season.

(Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP)

  • cmm13

    “…ineffectiveness of Omri Casspi.”

    Understatement of the season.

  • Breakfast

    “The Cavaliers are currently fifth and within one game of fourth best odds in the draft lottery.”

    Currently, this may be inaccurate. I see 6 teams with more losses than the Cavs, atm. If they all won their remaining games, the Cavs would still have the better record. Therefore, it appears the Cavs would have the 7th, or 8th best odds in the draft lottery.

    Even DraftExpress says the same thing, as of April 1, 2012:
    http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-mock-draft/2012/

  • pete

    He’s going off of winning percentage, though. If every team played out the rest of their games at their current winning percentage, we would wind up with the 5th-worst record.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Beal or MKG would look mighty nice in a Cavaliers uniform.

  • CavsFanInLA

    With 20+ days left in the season, the Cavs are doing exactly what they should be doing: losing games with the long-term picture in mind.

    These next 16 games or so are meaningless compared to the chance to draft an All-Star caliber player in this more-stacked-than-normal draft.

    I think that the injuries to our second best player (Andy) and the other injuries were a blessing in disguise, because we get to test out our young guys and see who can play and might be a keeper for next year.

    At the same time, next year we will have a much better team with Andy back, Kyrie wiser and more mature (it’s hard to imagine him player better in his second year, but odds are he will), and a probably top 5 pick.

    By the way Drummond might also be available at 5, and could give us a very big strong body as center.

    I’m excited about the Cavs future, and can’t wait until the draft.

    The Cavs were in playoff contention before the injury to Andy….  They will be markedly better next year and have a decent chance to make the playoffs.

    And then, we have 6 more first round picks in the 2013-2016 drafts….

    It’s fun to a watch a team being rebuilt in a smart and generous way.

  • CavsFanInLA

    Definitely…. Any of the top 5 prospects would make the Cavs significantly better

  • Kildawg

    Biggest need for the Cavs is a starting SG to pair with Kyrie, unless Boobie gets it next year. A true C would be a boon, causing competition between AV and T2 for the starting PF job. Gee has basically secured the SF position for next year with his impressive play.

  • Ezzie Goldish


    To me, this has been far from a disappointing season. The Cavaliers and their key young players had some early season success, grabbed several banner victories against playoff teams, and now they’re in a position to add another key piece around Kyrie Irving. The overwhelming negativity regarding how things have played still boggles my mind. Four picks in the Top 40 of the upcoming draft, four keepers from the current team, and no bad longterm contracts? To borrow Nick Gilbert’s line, “What’s Not To Like?”

    Yup.

  • Lyon25

    Gibson shouldn’t even be on the team next year, let alone given a chance to “get it”.  He’s had enough chances.  Either keep him as a bench shooter or let him go.

  • Jaker

    YES YES YES YES YES. As much as it sucks watching your team lose over and over again, this is unquestionably the best situation for the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise. Adding one of those three players would be AMAZING. And quite frankly, we should consider trading next year’s first rounder to get a pick in the teens this year and grab a SG like Rivers or Lamb, because they are both better than anyone we can get with next year’s pick(which will hopefully be a playoff pick). Trade La’s pick and our 2013 first rounder, and that could do it.

    PG- Irving
    SG- Lamb
    SF- Barnes
    PF- Thompson
    C- Andy

    Use the other picks to add to this bench and you have a CONTENDER

  • http://twitter.com/Pelderskelter Patrick Elder

    To go off of anything other than win percentage is silly. Why wouldn’t you go off of who has more wins than losses?

  • http://twitter.com/Pelderskelter Patrick Elder

    To go off of anything other than win percentage is silly. Why wouldn’t you go off of who has more wins than losses?

  • http://twitter.com/Pelderskelter Patrick Elder

    Tristan should be starting at PF next year no matter what. There aren’t that many true centers in this draft, but here’s my favorite scenario. Cavs land the number 1 pick and Anthony Davis and play him at C. Then we trade Andy (sad-face) for Jeremy Lamb or Perry Jones III, play Lamb at SG or Jones at SF. Then we could trade up a couple spots with draft picks to snag Terrence Ross should we take Jones, or Jeff Taylor should we take Lamb.

  • pete

    Because there’s a chance all of the bottom 8 teams could go undefeated for the rest of the season!

    So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance…

  • mgbode

    unless Drummond is still considered a top5 pick :)

    (ok, he has a crazy high ceiling.  but, he scares me more than anyone in this draft not named Perry Jones III)

  • mgbode

    Gee gives us great flexibility.  If we get MKG, then he is athletic enough to play SG (though we’d be a little short on outside shooting).   If we get Beal, then he stays at SF. 

    I doubt Grant would pick one over the other based on need, but Gee’s flexibility means he doesn’t even have to consider it at all.

  • mgbode

    we’d have to tell the other team who to select, then select who they want at the Lakers pick before making such a trade (to avoid Stepein rule of not trading 2 consecutive 1st round picks).

    I think that would be giving up too much though.  I would prefer to trade the Lakers pick and pickup a 1 or 2 year bad contract.   We could also throw in an extra 2nd round pick if needed.

    I do like the idea.  I am a J.Lamb fan and if we end up in the top3 with MKG, then that lineup looks even better (to me at least):

    Irving / backup TBD
    Lamb / Gibson
    MKG / Gee / Casspi
    TT  / backup TBD
    Andy / Samuels

    We’d still have depth issues (particularly in the frontcourt), but that is the makings of a fine team.

  • Jaker

    Not just a fine team, but a couple years from now we may be seeing the Thunder effect to that team if it plays out like you said. I like your’s better, but I think MKG may go too high for us. I like the bad contract idea, but my only point was that we would need to do it this year before we start making the playoffs again and start missing out on the lotto picks.

  • Jaker

    but can Gee shoot well enough to start at SG?

  • Vindictive_Pat

    “What’s not to like?”

    I would say the answer to this question is the fact that nobody has taken hold of a real opportunity to create a name for themselves (Gee and to a lesser extent Tristan Thompson are excluded, although neither has been a player who the Cavaliers can ride to a win).  Even if the Cavs add a really good player and a starter-caliber player in the draft next year, I was hoping someone else would make a case like Gee did for being included in the long-term plans fo the Cavs.  Manny Harris has disappointed with extensive playing time.  Donald Sloan looks like a possiblity, but his low assist totals are alarming for a PG.  Casspi remains in a season-long slump.  Luke Walton is a joke of a player and has no business being in the NBA.  Erden and Samuels are both looking like end-of-the-bench guys who shouldn’t see playing time unless someone gets injured.

    I don’t want wins, but I want SOMEBODY to make a case for being included on our future championship teams.  The lack of urgency/competitiveness is sickening to watch when you realize that the players and Byron Scott are absolutely not tanking on purpose.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I would say yes because I expect continued improvement from Gee as a shooter.  This year he added a fairly consistent step-back jumper to his game, which is a move that I don’t remember him having in previous years.  I think he will keep adding new components and refining ones that he’s already learned as the years progress.  To me, that is the most fun thing about Gee’s emergence this year… if he successfully added a step-back jumper in the offseason and showed real improvement in his shooting, then it seems reasonable to assume that he will work on his game again in the next offseason.

  • mgbode

    Gee + MKG might be scary that we don’t have enough outside shooting (as noted above).  But, also think how good that defense would be, how good the backside crashing the lane would be, etc.

    I’m willing to take that chance.

  • mgbode

    if we have the 4th to 6th best lotto odds, then I’m hoping we can land a top3 pick, which is where MKG becomes a possibility.

    agreed on your points.