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“Cleveland Cavaliers: C+ 11-32, No. 13 in the East
This grade might seem generous for a team with only 11 wins, but it’s what results when averaging Kyrie Irving’s “A+” with the “F” of everything around him. In all seriousness, this Cavaliers’ season basically boiled down to Irving’s development: Would he be able to stay healthy and progress from an incredibly impressive rookie season? So far, the answers have been “for the most part” on the former (he missed 11 games with a broken finger) and “yes” on the latter. He’s surely headed to Houston for the All-Star Game, which should be the first of a decade’s worth of appearances. While the Anderson Varejao season-ending blood clot was a crushing blow, Tristan Thompson hasn’t gotten enough love for stepping up in his absence. In January, Thompson is averaging 14.7 points and 11.6 rebounds while shooting 51.1 percent from the field. That’s promising, and the Cavaliers can use all the promise they can get.” [Goliver/Point Forward]
“When Jabaal Sheard was in the 2011 NFL Draft, many expected him to be a good fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. After playing his first two seasons at left defensive end, it’s time for Sheard to make the switch. Sheard’s role won’t change a ton as he makes the transition. Rather than being in a 3-point stance on most downs, Sheard will be standing up the majority of the time now. He will still be asked to rush the passer most of the time. Also, this may be surprising to many, but Sheard stood up on 22.1% of pass plays in 2012 and dropped into coverage on 6.1% of those plays. Sheard will undoubtedly have to drop into coverage more often and he may have to lose some weight (may not have to), but his skill set fits the position well and I expect him to play well in Ray Horton’s defensive scheme.” [Leister/DraftBrowns]
Lakers’ fans coming to the realization they may not make the playoffs OR have a draft pick this year– “In two separate but interconnected trades, the Lakers dealt away most of their future draft assets. Let’s look at what happened earlier this year in order to understand what’s going to happen in June when David Stern calls his final draft.
March 15, 2012: The Lakers traded Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, a conditional 2012 first round pick (used to select Jared Cunningham at the 24 spot), future draft considerations and cash to Cleveland for Ramon Sessions and Christian Eyenga. While this trade brought the Lakers a stopgap point guard in Sessions, it’s the future draft considerations we want to focus on here. The Cavs had already stockpiled first-round picks from the Heat (in the post-decision LeBron James sign-and-trade) and Kings (as part of their J.J. Hickson-Omri Casspi deal in 2011). In the Sessions trade, the Cavs gained the right to swap the worst of these picks and their own pick with the Lakers, as long as the Lakers’ pick isn’t in the lottery.” [Coon/Lakers Index]
“A couple of weeks ago, I noted the Cavs floor spacing woes. At that time, of the front-court, Walton paced the group with 37% efG from fifteen feet and out. Well, Speights provides 48%. The backcourt struggled with Waiters offering 43% and Gee, 42. Ellington is a three-point marksman; his 55% slides in behind Kyrie on that list. This acquisition definitely makes it easier to keep two or three shooters on the court at all times.
Where do the minutes come from? Luke Walton is averaging 18 minutes per game in January, Zeller is at 35, and Gee runs for 31. Arguably, that is more than any needs to play in an NBA game. Take thirty minutes between that group, and the shavings that Casspi gets, and suddenly Cleveland can goes nine or ten deep.” [Hetrick/Cavs the Blog]
“Both Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and Cavaliers GM Chris Grant are admitted trade junkies. Suns GM Lance Blanks, a former assistant GM in Cleveland with Grant, may be following the same path. Each has a different approach, however. Morey is more of a cowboy, a guy willing to pull the trigger on almost any deal — provided it helps his team right away.
Grant is considerably more strategic, thinking about today, but with a bigger eye on the future and maintaining flexibility. Blanks, it seems, is somewhere in the middle. Obviously, those aren’t the only three men working the phones at this time of the season. They’re just doing what they can to not be denied.” [Amico/FSO]