July 30, 2014

What to expect from the 2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers: A WFNY Roundtable

WFNY_roundtable

Scott: The opening tip is just a few hours away. Speculation and prognostication has ranged from dreamy to dreadful—the Wine and Gold could be on of the league’s surprise teams or they could fall flat on their collective face. The youth and patience that Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant have been touting could finally pay off or the amalgamation of lottery picks could prove to be a bowl full of bust.

With all of this in mind, what do you all expect from the Cleveland Cavaliers? For the sake of  chronology, let’s start with the offseason. The Cavs had quite the summer with regard to the draft and free agent market. Which newcomer will prove to have the biggest positive impact for thee Wine and Gold by season’s end? My thoughts on Jarrett Jack are well-documented by this point, but do you guys feel the same way?

Andrew:  I’m going to choose to be optimistic and say Andrew Bynum. I just like the things I’ve been hearing about his work ethic and his conditioning at this stage. I think by the end of the season, Bynum will be fully acclimated to playing again and will make a big impact on the franchise.

Jacob: By season’s end, Andrew Bynum. That’s me making my bold prediction already. Even just 20-30 games for Bynum at 90 percent of what he did in 2011-12 is a huge difference-maker and nearly better WAR-like production than 80 games of healthy Earl Clark. I love Jarrett Jack, don’t get me wrong, but productive Bynum still is at another level.

Ryan: While Bynum by far has the most upside of any off season addition, Jaret Jack will be the guy Cavs fans come to love and appreciate night in and night out. He’ll bring leadership and stability to a young bunch both on and off the court. When opposing teams key on Kyrie and Dion is being Bad Dion it will be Jack who takes over the offense, takes big shots, and rights the ship.

Rick: Depending on how many games Bynum plays, he should be the answer. As one who doesn’t have high hopes in that regard I am going to say Jarrett Jack.

I see opportunities for Jack to get plenty of minutes and make an impact. I really liked the small line-up we saw in the preseason with Irving at the 2 and Jack at the point. But even if he just backs up Kyrie and Dion, he has plenty of value. Several media outlets have called him a legit sixth man of the year candidate. I tend to agree.

Kirk: I’m going to go with Jarrett Jack as well. I thought about picking Bynum, but then I thought, even if he stays healthy, Jack will have a more vital role. I expect to see plenty of the Kyrie-Dion-Jack trio together in crunch time. Jack running the offense allows Kyrie and Dion to focus on getting open and taking good shots. His leadership and confidence will be contagious. He won’t be afraid to take the last shot if the ball swings his direction.

Ben: Due to his outside shooting, I think Sergey Karasev will make the biggest impact for the Cavs. Having Karasev to stretch the floor will make Kyrie’s life easier, to say nothing of the space he’d allow Andrew Bynum (assuming Bynum even plays).  Of course, Karasev only sees the floor if he Ds up, but he looked neither lost or afraid on the defensive end during his preseason minutes.

Craig: I’m also going with Karasev. I have no idea really, but based on my glances at pre-season I see a kid that isn’t scared and has an ability – shooting – that translates immediately to the NBA.

Scott: A lot of you mentioned Kyrie Irving already, so we’ll switch gears to the third-year point guard. He has made it be known that All-Star endorse machine isn’t enough for him—he wants to be the best player in the league. While this may be something that will take more than this season, what do you expect from the 21-year old? Will he improve defensively? Will he shift the scoring load to others? Will he, most importantly, finally stay healthy?

Will Big Daddy Canada shine? (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Will Big Daddy Canada shine? (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Craig: I think Irving will take the teachings of Mike Brown and become more than just a young up-and-comer. I know it’s vague and it won’t show up in the box scores, but he will seem more complete and more mature this year. Whether it’s finishing games, leading his team on the court or being hard on younger guys who need some scolding, Kyrie Irving is going to seem older to Cavs fans by year end in a good way.

Andrew: I too fully expect Mike Brown to get better defensive effort out of Kyrie. I think Kyrie is serious about wanting to be the best player in the league, and Coach Brown will drill the idea into Kyrie’s head that you can’t be the best player without playing defense. I don’t know how to predict whether he will stay healthy or not, but I do think Kyrie will continue to improve and will be a better all-around player this year than he was last year.

Kirk: I expect him to correctly be in the short conversation for best point guard in the association. He will improve defensively, though I’m not expecting miracles. I just want the olé blow-bys to disappear and for him to force some more steals to get out and run. I think some of the scoring burden can and will be shifted to Waiters, Bynum or Varejao, and Tristan Thompson. Health is the limiting factor, of course. I’d consider 70 regular season games from him a success. I think he’ll end up somewhere between 65 and 72 games played.

Rick: Simply improving defensively shouldn’t be very difficult for Kyrie, but I think Mike Brown’s insistence on defense will help Kyrie take a big leap forward in that department. Consider this, Kyrie played fewer than 20 games of college basketball. He came into the league trying to prove that he was worthy of the risk the Cavaliers took on him offensively. He’s also just 21 years old. I believe that Kyrie can grow tremendously on the defensive end. Can he be a top defender? Maybe not. But even an above the mendoza line defender would be a step up.

Ryan: It would be fantastic to see Kyrie dishing out double digit assists game after game, but it’s his ability to create his OWN shot that makes him so special. His defense will improve to the point it’s not a liability but will still be far from a strength. I expect him to earn 3rd team All NBA honors and play around 70 games.

Jacob: I expect a fairly similar season for Kyrie Irving. He’ll play more 2-guard than in the past with the addition of Jack, thus bringing down his assist numbers. He’ll showcase enough defense to be taken seriously, but the peripheral numbers will be similar. He’ll finish with 71 games played, a large increase on last year’s 59 but still not perfect.

Ben: I think Kyrie is due for a monster year. His assists should go up with better, healthier teammates. It seems like he’s buying into Coach Mike’s defensive philosophy. Also, I imagine he’ll play through some of the injuries that might’ve sidelined him these past two totally not tanking seasons.

Scott: Assuming that Irving is joined by Dion Waiters, Earl Clark, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao in the starting five on Opening Night, what are the odds that all five players are members of the Cleveland Cavaliers come March? Who, if anyone, is no longer here?

Rick: I would say that those five are around come the trade deadline. For fun, I would put the order of being traded in this group would be 1) Varejao 2) Clark 3) Waiters 4) Thompson 5) Irving.

Kirk: I’d say there’s a 85% chance of them all being here after the deadline. Kyrie, Dion, and Tristan aren’t going anywhere, nor should they. Clark could be dealt on the cheap if Mike Brown chooses to go with Alonzo Gee, CJ Miles, and Sergey Karasev at the 3 and Clark falls out of the rotation. In my eyes, the season would have to go really wrong to trade Andy. He’s cheap for his production when healthy, and because of the health issues, they won’t get fair value for him in a trade.

Andrew: I doubt anyone goes but if anyone I could see it being Dion. He’s 21 and has the ability to take over games offensively. Dion is a valuable trade asset but I expect Gilbert to try and add rather than subtract at the deadline. So if Dion goes it’s part of blockbuster deal.

Jacob: I’ll go with a March starting lineup of Irving-Waiters-Clark-Thompson-Bynum. The biggest trade piece the Cavs have is Anderson Varejao. He doesn’t seem to be a long-term fit, despite his clear short-term value. Anthony Bennett will need more minutes, while a rotation with Tristan Thompson and healthy Bynum makes the older Varejao a bit more expendable.

Waiters QuoteBen: I’d also say Dion, with Tristan as a close second. With multiple lotto picks on rookie deals, some expiring contracts and a bunch of future picks, the Cavs are primed for a big trade. Dion makes the most sense to be moved, as he kind of duplicates a lot of what Kyrie does. But really, the only guy I really expect to be on the roster in June is Kyrie. Everyone else can be had in my opinion.

Craig: Anderson Varejao is always a possibility to be traded because he’s the old man on the block right now and any contender that wants to be marginally better on defense will covet his skill set. That being said, I don’t expect the Cavs to trade Andy this year and I don’t foresee anyone else being traded either. It’s probably my naiveté.

Ryan: I personally doubt that anyone goes but if I had to pick someone, I too could see it being Dion. He’s 21 and has the ability to take over games offensively. Dion is a valuable trade asset but I expect Gilbert to try and add rather than subtract at the deadline. So if Dion goes it’s part of blockbuster deal.

Scott: Several talking points in with a slew of tangents and not one of us has muttered the name Anthony Bennett. What are your expectations for Bennett, a player who may be the most under-discussed No. 1 pick in recent memory? 

Ryan: Bennett has the luxury of not having to carry a team as the No. 1 pick. He can come off the bench, use his irrational confidence to his advantage and give the Cavs a valuable scoring option off the bench. Unfortunately I don’t think he’s closing games out come the end of the year.

Kirk: I’m being realistic. Bennett will have some nights where he will hardly get off the bench if Bynum and Varejao are both playing. But, I think if Brown can put some trust in his rookie, he could win them some games with his offensive hot streaks. I’d like to see a small ball unit with Thompson and Bennett down low form. His fouls, fatigue, and defensive breakdowns will limit him to 18-20 minutes per night, but I can see him averaging 9-10 points and 6-7 rebounds, using it as a stepping stone for better days down the road.

Jacob: Say 20-25 minutes of standard production. Perhaps 10 points and 6 rebounds per night. He’s a good rebounder and potentially elite scorer, but that’s about it. He’s not much for assists, per his UNLV production. The defense is a question mark, although many fans will overlook that and call for him to start over the unheralded Tristan Thompson. He’ll provide a few great games of 20-plus points to keep fans excited for the future.

Andrew: My expectations are pretty low, mostly because—as Kirk alluded to—I think Mike Brown is too stubborn to play him. It’s the one thing I don’t like about Coach Brown, his lack of desire to play young players. I guess there’s a reason his winning percentage is so high, and part of it is he always plays the players that give him the best chance to win that night. But that comes at the expense of a lot of player development, and it’s a concern with young players like Bennett and Karasev. I hope Brown finds a balance, but until that happens, I just don’t think Bennett will play much or have much of a chance to improve and get used to the league.

Rick: So hard to nail this one down. My hope would be that Bennett plays a reserve role for half the season until his production starts to force Mike Brown’s hand. I have high hopes for Tristan Thompson this season however. If Bennett can average 8 or 9 points a game with 5 or 6 rebounds in 18-20 minutes I would be happy with that.

Craig: My expectations are that he gets into shape and becomes a decent bench contributor in the second half of the season. I really would love to see him put up stats like J.J. Hickson did in his second year in the NBA—he put up some double-doubles and scored 20-plus points eight times. I’d like it to look a little bit better on my TV and in the arena than Hickson’s stats did being accumulated, but that’s what I want. Pretty modest for the No. 1 overall pick, huh?

Ben: I think 10 points and 4-6 boards off the bench is doable. I’m going to be really interested to see how Brown handles his minutes, bc Coach Mike had a pretty short leash with rookies like Shannon Brown and  Hickson during his first go round. I really really like the idea of having Bennett come off the bench and going against the other teams second unit. I think he’ll be a lot of fun.

Scott: So given where your expectations appear to be for Bennett, who do you all foresee as being the Cavaliers’ “breakout” player for this coming season? Can Kyrie take things even further? Will Tristan finally crack that double-double average? Or will it be someone we don’t even expect? Conversely, who will disappoint?

Andrew: I’ll just flip a coin and say Dion Waiters will have a breakout year. I’ve commented a lot about rookie shooting guard struggling their first year and then improving in Year 2, and I think Dion Waiters will follow that arc. I think he has a better understanding of how the NBA is going to defend him and how he can attack that. I’m not saying Dion Waiters is going to be a borderline All Star this year (although that would sure be awesome if he was), but I do think he’ll show the most growth and development as a player of anyone on this roster.

Regarding the disappointment, I’m tempted to say Anthony Bennett here only because I’m not sure how he gets minutes if/when Bynum and Tyler Zeller are both back. That said, I’ll say Jarrett Jack will be the biggest disappointment. Not because he won’t be good, but I think fans’ expectations for Jack have been growing out of control and I don’t think he can possibly live up to them. Jack is always a bit of a streaky player who, while his effort is consistent, will have a lot of nights where he doesn’t look good but his confidence will cause him to keep pressing. I think Jack was a huge pickup and will be an important part of the turnaround this season. But fans seem to have already elevated Jack to hero status and I worry that he just won’t be able to live up to those expectations.

Jacob: Dion Waiters seems like an appropriate candidate after his inefficient rookie season. He’s a borderline top-100 player in the NBA, too. With Irving and Jack dominating the point, Waiters has one main goal this season: Work on his off-ball game to become a more efficient scorer. He’ll do so, although not all the time, and remind folks of his long-term potential.

Jarrett Jack will disappoint. He’s solid but not that great; I think the team might eventually regret his contract. He’s dependable and steady, but fans will clamor for Irving-Waiters lineups when it matters.

No Cavs player is more polarizing among the WFNY crew than Dion Waiters (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

No Cavs player is more polarizing among the WFNY crew than Dion Waiters (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Rick: Like I mentioned earlier, I am hoping that Tristan becomes a 15 and 10 player and a cornerstone of the franchise.

I’ve been the Andrew Bynum detractor since the signing, but since I have no real expectations for him, I can’t really claim him as a disappointment. Which brings me to Dion Waiters. I REALLY hope I’m wrong about Dion, but I’m not seeing enough from him to make me think he’s the future at the 2 guard for the Cavs. I’d love for him to show me up. I don’t see him fitting in as well with the Mike Brown philosophy.

Kirk:Tristan will be the popular pick and I agree that he’ll have a great year, but I too am going with Waiters. He got disrespected a lot last year for a rookie shooting guard when you look at their numbers historically. Yes, his field goal percentage was horrific, but without the rookie hazing from officials, I expect it to increase 3-4 percent with plenty more trips to the free throw line. Unlike Kyrie, I think Waiters can be coached up with some already existing defensive qualities and be at least an average defender. If he learns to move without the ball and keeps his shot selection in check, I think the Cavs have the young backcourt everyone is envious of by season’s end.

As for disappointments, there are couple candidates here, including Bennett, Earl Clark, and Bynum, but I’ll go with Anderson Varejao. He’s got to stay healthy, and I think Tristan may start doing certain Andy-quality things better than Andy. Can Andy consistently play the four anymore? If Bynum succeeds, Varejao will have to do so part time.

Ryan: Can I say Kyrie Irving? While he won’t appear too different to those in Northeast Ohio, as the team wins more game Kyrie’s rocket ship to superstardom will blast off. i.e. Steph Curry in 2013.

Dion is my choice for disappointment. Sorry guys. I love Dion and his confidence but unfortunately I think after 2013-14  Bradley Beal will be the better 2-guard from last year’s draft.

Ben: I’m going to go against the grain and say Sergey Karasev. His name never comes up during any national previews but I think NBA Twitter will fall in love with the sweet shooting lefty.

My disappointment is also Dion. I hope I’m wrong, but the moment he has a bad game you’ll see folks on Twitter complaining about Harrison Barnes and/or Victor Oladipo.

Craig; Add another vote for Dion Waiters as a disappointment. He  will have an up-and-down year and ultimately won’t be consistent enough, despite showing flashes of a much improved player at times.

As for my breakout, I’m stickin’ with Karasev. If the Cavs are in playoff contention, it will be an X-factor bench guy and I’m betting on the shooter.

Scott: Ah. Playoff contention. That’s a solid segue to the record prediction discussion. When it’s all said and done, what does your crystal ball say for these guys? For what it’s worth, I’m on record with them finishing 42-40, a marked increase over last season’s dismal returns. This should be good enough for the sixth or seventh seed in the East.

Craig: Come this April, the Cleveland Cavaliers will finish the season with a 39-43 mark, and be the 8th seed in the East.

Ben: I will blend the two of you: I think they’ll finish with 42 wins, but will slot in as the 8th seed.

Rick: I will go with 38-44, finishing 9th in the East.

Jacob: Let’s go with 43-39 and seventh in the Eastern Conference. That likely brings them away from a Miami Heat first-round showdown.

Andrew: I’ll say the Cavaliers will go 41-41 and finish 8th in the East, but I really have no idea. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team with such a wide array of possible outcomes for a season. Literally anything could happen with this team this season.

Ryan: I’ll add a few more wins. They’ll go 44-38, taking home the 6-seed and losing to the Pacers in six games in the first round.

Kirk: I was the bull on the Indians this spring and will keep it going with the Cavs. They’ll finish 45-37, good enough for the 6th in the East. Taking it a step further like Ryan, they’ll lose to the Brooklyn Nets in seven games, but it will be one of the best series in the entire playoffs. It will also set the stage for…

Scott: Oh no you didn’t. All right…as a final word of sorts, finish this sentence:  The summer of 2014 will be…

Kirk: A killer on my eyes, ears, heart, liver, and twitter feed. I hope it’s all worth it in the end, whatever the outcome, and the Cavs are title contenders next year.

Rick: …Disappointing for most as the free agent market doesn’t pan out to be as spectacular as everyone hopes.

Jacob: Annoying. I keep hearing positive murmurs about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Regardless, fans will remain optimistic about the exciting and emerging combination of Irving-Waiters-Bennett-Thompson. It’s an odd fit, but great talent.

Ryan: Oh so glorious. Time to swallow our pride and bow as the prodigal son returns.

Craig: Hopeful.

Ben: Nauseating.

Andrew: …ridiculous in every way.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dconeil Hamsterdam

    A lot of bad teams in the east. Cavs likely will win about 34-37 games and miss the playoffs.

  • Harv 21

    A few quick takes:

    - I expect a slow start for the team as a whole given the little I saw in preseason. Even Mike Brown, Mr. System Installation, cannot impose his will on a team so young that either didn’t take their last coach seriously or were permitted to do whatever.

    - I do not expect them to shop Dion. He clearly improved through his rookie year and his current role is no more redundant than when Grant first envisioned him on the court with Kyrie. Buying high (#4 overall) and selling low with less than 2 seasons to figure it out? Highly doubtful.

    - Chances are excellent Andy will get hurt again and Grant knows it. If they are considering moving him it’s doubtful that Grant would chance waiting until the all-star break. With Tristan coming on Bynum maybe getting healthy, this is a potential long-term beneficial move.

    - There’s something about Karasev that might be special, a glue guy scoring and passing threat from the forward position that could lead to easy buckets everywhere. Maybe kind of a Hedo Turkoglu-type. I’m even digging the free throws, that machine-like stroke of a coach/player’s son – shades of Price, Curry. Don’t mess with that stroke, coaches.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I think the D improvement will be huge for this team. 44-38, 6th in the East, and a great first round series (perhaps upset) against the Nets. By the end of the season I think people will view the Cavs as a top-4 East team even if their record doesn’t show it yet.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Turkoglu is the guy I think of when I was Karasev play, as well. He’s got those point forward skills and a sweet stroke. I’m not sure if this will be the year that he has a big impact though… he’s not the 24-year-old vet coming over from the Euro leagues, he’s still only 19 and hasn’t been playing pro ball very long. However, it IS the Cavs and they may end up needing to play him more minutes due to injury than one might originally project.

  • Kildawg

    I think the Cavs move Varejao in a big trade (at least 3 teams) and get Caron Butler (expiring) or Rudy Gay (conditional expiring) as a stopgap at SF (with the Cavs taking back copious amounts of salary as well) until Akron Boy decides he wants to play under Mike Brown again to try to win another ring with a DPOY. I can’t imagine how nuts Twitter would be this Cavs season.

  • CB Everett

    Predictions are so precarious with the injury history we have (Bynum, Andy V and Irving). It’s positive that at least we’re deeper now when inevitably one of those guys goes down. If they could buy into Brown’s system and win 40 games, I’d be thrilled. This is time for the young core to start to start to bud, if not blossom.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I’ve got the Cavs winning 43 games. A year of growth alone for the young guys would be worth 4-5 wins over last year’s team. Adding Jack, Bynum, Clark, Karasev, Felix, and of course Bennett should mean that the team continues to play at a higher level even with injuries.

    I think Carrick Felix could factor more into this year’s team than people realize. Sure, he can’t shoot the ball, but will Mike Brown care about that? From what I’ve seen, I think he’s already a plus defender and plus rebounder for his position and he’s got the athleticism to finish around the rim and draw fouls. He’s the kind of guy who is on the floor for every loose ball. My bold prediction is that he finishes the season with more minutes played than Karasev.

  • ThatAlex

    Not enough Tristan praise, guys.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    I’m with Rick: 38-44, missing the playoffs in 9th place. An underwhelming first overall pick, inevitable Kyrie and Andy injuries, and overinflated expectations contribute to an overall feeling of disappointment. All this to be followed by renewed bitterness and vitriol when the Prodigal Son chooses not to return to Cleveland, though this time fans will have only themselves to blame. Maybe it’s residual negativity from another disappointing Browns season or continued pain from the result of the Tribe playoff game, but I’m having trouble seeing positives here at the start.

  • Steve

    Agree with just about all of this. The defense is going to take time, and it could be frustrating (especially for Brown) early on. Move Varejao as soon as you can. He’s not playing on the next Cavaliers contender. Get someone who will for him.

    I’ve seen a lot of love for Jack, both around here and elsewhere, and I think he’s going to be a solid bench player. One thing that’s going to be a pain in our sides, though, is his proclivity to take the ball and dribble out the clock in crunch time. He did it playing next to Curry, so he’ll do it next to Irving. Having the stones to take the big shot is a two-edged sword. There’s going to be more than a few possessions where we need a basket, and Jack calls his own number, and guys like Irving, Waiters, or Thompson aren’t going to touch the ball.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Please no Rudy Gay…I hate that man’s game (and thus hate seeing his name attached to my team.) LOL Butler would be OK as a stopgap…

  • Ben Frambaugh

    “Andrew: My expectations are pretty low, mostly because—as Kirk alluded to—I think Mike Brown is too stubborn to play him. It’s the one thing I don’t like about Coach Brown, his lack of desire to play young players. But that comes at the expense of a lot of player development, and it’s a concern with young players like Bennett and Karasev.”
    I really can’t stand this statement. LOL Mike Brown had how many “young players” to attempt to develop during his tenure here (besides Lebron…who seemed to develop quite nicely under him.) JJ Hickson who to this day still doesn’t play good defense (which is a big no-no with Mike Brown.) And Shannon Brown? Mike Brown was essentially given project players who didn’t pan out. Is it really his fault under “player development”? Sure, he’s not Greg Popovich…but who is? The way the Cavs were constructed, the way that our team was being built (win now, win now) we were never going to develop anyone other than Lebron.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Carrick Felix…like a young version of Eric Snow. Defense defense defense. That’s what Mike Brown preaches, teaches and eats-ches.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Yup – and having a guy like Karasev (assuming he continues to develop) allows you to be more creative with your bench lineups…as well as your regular substitutions. Kyrie sits, you don’t have to bring a legit PG in to replace him, just slide in Karasev with maybe a guy like Felix (to play defense). You can still run your offense (albeit from a 6’8 player) and still have a defensive guy to hound the other teams PG.

  • Steve

    I get the impression that Brown prefers vets over rookies as well, but I don’t think its a stubborness, or affects player development too much. Like you said, he’s not going to play guys who don’t get his system on defense, and we’ve seen veterans need some time to pick it up, I’d imagine that its a big shock for rookies.

    Bennett is also going to see his minutes reduced because of his conditioning, asthma, and sleep apnea. I expect to find myself scratching my head some nights about why Bennett can’t get 20 minutes, and I’ll have to remember that it’s going to be a bit of a struggle to get him in game-shape.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    My comment refers only to rookies, not to “young players”. The fact that I said “young players” is a mistake on my part.

    Mike Brown himself will tell you how much he hates playing rookies. Shannon Brown, Daniel Gibson, JJ Hickson, it doesn’t matter. If you’re a rookie, he’s probably not going to give you very many minutes unless you are an elite level defender.

    It’s not an overarching complaint, just an observation of one aspect of his coaching that I disagree with. Who knows, maybe Bennett will get 25 minutes a game and prove me wrong. I’m just reacting to Mike Brown’s own comments about Bennett and rookies in general.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I honestly only expect to see him playing 20+ minutes in games against heavy tankers like Phoenix and Philly…teams that we should be blowing out of the water.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I think that Bennett won’t see much time early because TT is better now and because of his own injury/conditioning.

    I think that Karasev is kind of stuck because he has to contend with Waiters and CJ Miles if he is playing SG and he has to contend with Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee (both veteran defenders) at SF. Even in blowouts, he won’t be needed for much action.

    I don’t know that it’s necessarily about these guys specifically being rookies…they’re just drafted into tough spots on a team that actually has some legit NBA depth.

  • Steve

    I think I’m on board with that. Would be nice to use the shiny new toy more, but he’s going to be a work in progress.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Yeah, who knows. Mike Brown is a smart coach who puts the team in the best position to win now. Sometimes I would prefer rookies get more minutes (regardless of why he’s not playing them), but he’s going to lean on his veteran players.

  • mgbode

    hmmm, interesting points by all. my thoughts:

    (1) I think most are over-estimating the impact of Waiters and Karasev. I hope I am wrong, but I keep seeing a bunch of people having high expectations for these guys. I think Waiters makes some strides (but is still somewhat inefficient at scoring) and I think Karasev really struggles as a rookie.

    (2) Lesser extent with Jack. People have read all the great puff pieces from Warriors land. And, in time, he likely will be a fan favorite. But, he also comes at a price and there will be moments we are dropping/throwing the remotes cursing his name. It’s just who he is.

    (3) On the other end of the spectrum, I think people are under-estimating Bynum. While it is likely due to his injury, I still keep seeing “even if he’s healthy” attached to underwhelming outlooks. If Bynum is healthy, then he is a candidate for the best center in the entire NBA. Now, the odds of him being that healthy are low. But, he likely can be healthy enough to crack the top10-15 most valuable centers this season even in limited time (~50games/24min per game).

    (4) Irving is great. We are waiting to see the effect of Mike Brown on his defense and cannot judge that much until we see him in live action. Should be fun.

    (5) Young Fat Shawn Kemp (YFSK) – I think this is the most apt comparison for Bennett at this point. Not the worst thing as Kemp’s first 2 seasons for us were rather good (not Kemp-level good though). We’ll see if Bennett can bust through that comparison ceiling. I agree that he’ll likely have to fight like crazy just to get decent minutes on this team.

    (6) Depth – we have ridiculous quality depth. something the team has not had in recent memory. much like the Indians, we will see how big of a regular season difference it makes to be using guys like Jack, Clark, and Bynum instead of Livingston, Ellington, and Walton.

    (7) Prediction – no clue due to potential injuries, but if we stay somewhat healthy, then I think that 44-48 wins is reasonable (note: our depth can help us balloon our regular season win total above our starting talent level). It seems I’m in the minority (or think that health has a better chance of happening than most). I’ll split the middle on that and just state 46 wins and the 5th seed (sorry Knicks).

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I think even if Mike Brown did want to play Bennett for 25 minutes a game, he probably wouldn’t be able to… I see Bennett living in perpetual foul trouble this season as he learns how to hedge on screens, move his feet, and not be fat.

  • Kildawg

    Only mentioned Gay as a possibility because the Cavs have plenty (maybe too much) cap space and might have to add salary. I prefer Butler over Gay and the Cavs current SF options. Another prediction is that Jack and Varejao (if he stays) will be hot contenders for the Sixth Man Award.

  • turnercr

    On your first point I agree that people are overstating Karasev’s potential impact. I really like this kid as a long-term project due to his length and his beautiful stroke. But I completely disagree about Waiters. I think he will have a very fine season. I’m not saying he’ll be at the ASG by any stretch but I think he’ll be a very effective player. I’m a ‘cuse fan so i may be a little biased but I truly was hoping that’s who they’d take going into the draft and I’ve loved the pick since then.

  • turnercr

    Gimme 43-46 wins and a playoff birth. No way Grant trades Dion. He just drafted the guy for a reason and won’t give up on him in just over a full season. Look for the Cavs to make some noise next offseason. There is a lot of talent that will be FAs after the season. While I love what Karasev can potentially bring to the table I’ll be very surprised if he makes much of an impact at all this year. Hope I’m wrong because that shot of his is just beautiful to watch, but I think he’s the kind of player who won’t make a big impact until he’s had a year to get his feet wet

  • mgbode

    It’s just tough for me to believe that he is going to make as big of a jump in efficiency on offense AND on defense.

    I like the fact that he can get to the hole at will. It’s an important skillset to have on the team. But, he isn’t a great finisher, isn’t a great shooter, and struggles on defense.

    His PER was 13.7 last year and WS/48 = .026

    If he can get that up to 16 and .075, then that is good progress in my mind. It seems to me that people are expecting more.

  • turnercr

    I think you underestimate this team if you think they’ll only win 38. But I do agree about Lebron. I’d be very surprised if he came back, and I don’t see why people keep getting their hopes up over this only to get upset. There is no indication that he’ll return and personally I’d rather he didn’t. I know we could plug him in right now and be instant title contenders (favorites), but I still don’t want him. Now I’m not one of those fans that says they’ll stop rooting for the team (they’re full of it btw) but I truly would rather we spent that free agent money elsewhere next season.

  • turnercr

    I agree with most of what you have here. But I’m not sure the Hedo comparison is fair. Karasev is 6-8 165 while Hedo is 6-10 220. Hedo is pretty strong, whereas I see Sergey as a little weaker. I don’t ever see Karasev being a forward as I think he’ll be too thin. I think he’ll always be a tall lanky shooting guard (which isn’t a bad thing to have). I think the only time he’ll play at the 3 is as a 3rd guard rather than a true SF. I really like this kid but I think he and Hedo are vastly different.

  • mgbode

    I think you are both going too far by saying you prefer Butler over Gay. Gay is a better defender and scorer than Butler. Plenty to dislike about his game, but there are good pieces as well. He would be a huge upgrade to what we have there though I wouldn’t want it at his cost (unless we were certain he was not opting in next year).

  • turnercr

    Personally I expect him to improve vastly on the defensive end. With his tools and Mike Brown in his ear, I think he’ll improve a ton. Because lets be honest. If he doesn’t he may not play

  • mgbode

    I echo your sentiments on the item that I am already sick of and will continue to dominate the ESPN Cavs talk throughout the season.

  • Harv 21

    My comparison is the possible multi-threat effect on the court, not physical similarities. He also probably won’t have as hairy a back or as hang dog an expression. Even when he fills out Karasev will be thinner. But I’m thinking he has the potential to do a bunch of everything well, especially see the floor and set up up teammates while his quick release and range (superior to Hedo’s) can stretch the defense and open lanes for cutters. I expect an adjustment year, though – Karasev has just gone from international tournaments to training camp. Without a summer break his first NBA season grind against the biggest and fastest might chew up a teenager real good.

  • mgbode

    I do love that if any player (especially a SG/SF) isn’t playing well on defense that Mike Brown can pop-in the old tape of WallyWorld against Ray Allen.

    Deficient-D Cavs player: Defense is hard, I’m trying coach.

    Mike Brown: I got Wally Friggin’ Sczerbiak to play such tight defense against a HoF SG that they swapped boxers mid-game. You think you are worse at defense than Wally-Z??!!!??? DO YOU!!!!?!!?!?

  • woofersus

    I agree expectations may be a little high, but I expect to see him evolve throughout the season. I think he will probably perform at or below your listed numbers in the first half, but better than them in the second half.

  • mgbode

    i’d sign up for that type of progress

  • turnercr

    I know I’m going to get really tired of Cavs national coverage. How about we talk about THIS team okay? It’d be nice to see ESPN talk about the Cavs because of players ON the team.

  • turnercr

    That’s fair. I do think you’re right that he’ll do everything well. And I completely agree about his first season. A lot of Euro players struggle at first. Especially at that age. But I hope he’ll get some decent playing time and chances so he can grow for next season when I expect that he’ll be able to make a meaningful impact