August 15, 2014

All the numbers on new Cleveland star Kevin Love

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Minnesota Timberwolves

Analyzing the statistics on the soon-to-be-acquired power forward

Where does Kevin Love rank in the NBA’s elite class?

Confidently, I’d say he’s a top-12 player. In case you haven’t done this exercise in a while, it is indeed very difficult to rank NBA players. We know pretty well that the top three are LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. From there … there are lots of possible directions one could go, both anecdotally and statistically.

ESPN Insider’s Kevin Pelton ($) recently argued that Love is a current top-five player. For me, that seems a bit too high too soon. Love is only 25 years old, after all1. He’s only a three-time All-Star. He missed most of 2012-13 and was inefficient when he played that season. He’s at best a purely average defensive player. Is he that concretely better and more dominant than Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard AND Anthony Davis? He’s maybe better than some, but not likely all. That’s why I prefer to say top-12 with confidence. And I hope to explain why in this post. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Here’s your scary reminder that Durant is three weeks younger than Love, but we never use age as an excuse for his ranking. []

Trusting and believing in Kevin Love

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly agreed to send two former No. 1 overall picks and a protected, future first-rounder for one guaranteed year of the best power forward in the NBA along with his word that he will re-up for five more years next summer. In the deal, Minnesota gets Andrew Wiggins, a much hyped and once thought of as a LeBronesque rookie, along with an in-shape and a steady breathing Anthony Bennett. Throw in a future Heat first-round pick and Flip Saunders and the T-Wolves faithful got a sizable haul compared to superstar trades of years past.1 Still, despite Minnesota inheriting some hope for the future, the value which the T-Wolves got back is nowhere close to comparable to what Cleveland brings in with Love. Love’s numbers and skills speak for themselves, but the most intriguing piece of this deal—one that won’t be measured until next summer—is Kevin Love’s word. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. The best of recent history is the Nuggets sending Carmelo Anthony to New York in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov and a future first rounder which ended up being the eleventh pick in the 2014 draft. Over the next three full seasons the Nuggets would win four more games than the Knicks. []

LeBron James’ recruiting gets tangible

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For weeks, Cleveland has heard about the recruiting efforts made by LeBron James, a guy who, just last week, met his new head coach for the first time since agreeing to terms with the Cavaliers on July 11. For weeks, James has reportedly been a part of the discussions surrounding Kevin Love joining him in his quest to bring a championship to the lakefront, if only on a player-to-player basis. For weeks, names like Mike Miller and James Jones were bantered about, cagey veterans who would fill the role of winners who just so happen to efficiently force a piece of inflated leather to splash through a nylon net hoisted 10 feet into the air.

With the Cavaliers officially signing Miller and Jones, and promptly introducing them to the city’s media contingent on Wednesday morning, all of those talks immediately became real. James, who was criticized for his inability to get players to come to Cleveland during his first act in the town, has taken his off-court game to the next level. Jet-setting around the world, stopping in places like Rio De Janero, Brazil and various cities in China, the four-time MVP has found time to reach out to friends, those who not only helped him win during his time in Miami, but those whom he feels can take marry their winning résumés with their infallible work ethic as the Cavaliers transition from NBA Lottery fixtures to the game’s marquee attraction.

[Read more...]

LeBron James was Born to Run

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I’ve said it multiple times before on my podcast, but I’ll say it again: I’ve always wanted to see LeBron James play on a team full of young or entering their prime highly athletic players. James has been a part of some great offenses, mainly due to his talent. His final two years as a Cavalier, the team ranked near the top of offensive efficiency and hit threes at a higher percentage than the rest of the league save for the Nash-led Suns. The problem being is that they played at one of the league’s slowest pace and the entire offense was built around Lebron James pick n’ roll in the half court while spacing the floor with shooters. This offense carried over to Miami, though they mixed it up a little as James began to initiate offense from the post where he almost unguardable one on one, something that Cavaliers fans had been screaming for him to do throughout his last two seasons in Cleveland. Still, LeBron teams have always spaced themselves well in the half court and played relatively slow compared to the rest of the NBA. His teams have almost always been in the bottom third of pace and, excluding his rookie season, none of his teams were even at or above the league average.

[Read more...]

Supporting cast, contract confidence yields Wiggins-Love answer

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Kevin Love. Andrew Wiggins. It’s been exhausting, and we’re looking at four more weeks of it as the No.1 overall pick’s contract clock ticks. Granted, it’s not “LeBron James” exhausting. It’s more nervous excitement. The Cavaliers are going to have three REALLY good players one way or another. I’ve been quite outspoken in my desire to hold onto Andrew Wiggins, and I stand by that earlier sentiment. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not excited by the thought of James, Irving, and Love playing together in Cleveland.

But, if I’m reading the writing on the wall, Kevin Love will be a Cleveland Cavalier, Andrew Wiggins will probably be a Minnesota Timberwolf, and the weight of expectations on the Cavaliers will increase. They’ll go from Eastern Conference contender to supposed Eastern Conference shoe-in and maybe even title favorite. And that’s the scenario I want to talk about. [Read more...]

Mike Miller signing and some Dion Waiters thoughts

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Does this look like ‘bench’ material to you?

The Cleveland Cavaliers reached a deal with veteran sharpshooter Mike Miller, reportedly being ready to sign the 14-year veteran to a two year deal worth around $5.4 million, including a player option for the second year. Miller is a favorite of homeward-bound Cavalier LeBron James (yes, that was as fun to write as it probably is to read) and he, by all indications, chose the Cavaliers over more lucrative offers from the Denver Nuggets and possibly Houston and Dallas. According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, Miller had a longer-term, higher-paying offer of around three years for a total of $12 million from Denver. But he followed LeBron’s decision by wanting to play in Cleveland. For less money.1

Now it isn’t as if Mike Miller is hurting to feed his family, as Latrell Spreewell once proclaimed after being offered a $30 million extension from the Timberwolves that he felt was below his value. Miller, according to Hoopshype, has made just under $76 million in his 14-year NBA career. But due to his age, this could be Miller’s last shot at a long-term deal. You could be asking yourself, “Who is this guy and why is he writing about a deal that is yesterday’s news?” We’ll get to me later, but the answer to the latter half? Because he chose to come to Cleveland so he could play alongside the best player in the world and possibly compete for additional championships, that’s why. Why is this all significant? Because Miller wanted to come to Cleveland! No, he isn’t a game-changing player—although he will really help spread the floor with his dead-eye three-point shooting. Players want to play with LeBron and Miller’s signing demonstrated this. Hopefully this is just the first of many veterans that choose to come to Cleveland in order to win big and play with LeBron.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Yes, the deal in Cleveland doesn’t include a third year so the actual comparison to the Denver offer has to be looked at in the prism of Miller and his possible contract two years from now, because he will most likely be getting paid something after his two-year Cavalier deal. But by that time Miller will be 37 and it would be surprising if he could still get close to that $4 million that Denver would’ve still been paying him. So for arguments sake, let’s say Miller will be playing for the veteran minimum of about $1.5 million two years from now. That means he would’ve taken about $5 million less over three years to come to Cleveland. That is quite significant. []

What’s it like to play for new Cavs’ coach David Blatt?

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David Blatt is still largely an unknown commodity to NBA fans, but in the past week the mainstream media can’t seem to get enough of this mystery man. The story that everyone seems to know regarding the Framingham, Massachusetts native is one of success in stops all across club basketball in Europe, in addition to a 2007 EuroBasket title with the Russian National Team, and a Bronze medal with the Russians at the 2012 Olympics in London.

The word around Blatt is that he is an offensive savant, rooted in the ideals he learned as a player/English major at Princeton, and then fostered during his playing and coaching careers in Europe. But outside of his ability for offensive innovation, what makes Blatt tick is still a mystery.

[Read more...]

Everything you need to know about trading for Kevin Love: WFNY FAQs

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So the Cavs are willing to trade Andrew Wiggins now for Kevin Love. Maybe. LeBron wants Love on this Cavs roster. But even that’s easier said than done.

Why would they make the deal now? Why wouldn’t they just wait? Who counts as what? Is Wiggins even signed? How is the Collective Bargaining Agreement involved?

As the questions pile up, we here at WFNY have compiled a bit of an FAQ of sorts to help guide you through the process. Enjoy.

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LeBron James and the moral dilemma of free agency

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Obviously, most everyone in Cleveland is elated with the return of Lebron James. Equally obviously Heat fans are bummed and feel let down. LeBron didn’t have another “The Decision” and he didn’t have a pep rally to tally up expected championships in front of Cavs fans in The Q. Both of these things are massive improvements since 2010, but did LeBron James still cause some unnecessary injury to the Miami Heat? Are Heat fans justified in feeling upset at all with how LeBron handled his business this time? One half of Dan LeBatard’s show in Miami, Stugotz, does think so. He wrote an interesting perspective on it and I felt it was a worthwhile discussion for the WFNY crew. [Read more...]

Trade Wiggins for Love? Why I’d do it.

“I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010.”

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Barring a major injury to LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be back in the playoffs next season. They will be a contender, although a title — with the current roster– seems like a stretch. There is a lot of youth. There is a serious lack of playoff experience outside of James and Varejao. The team needs shooting, and after missing out on a couple of veteran centers, they have to find another big.

One solution to the biggest X’s and O’s problem facing the Cavaliers would be to acquire Minnesota All-Star Kevin Love.

The new big three of Kyrie, LeBron and Love would be formidable. The Cavaliers have reportedly been trying to get a third team involved in order to acquire Love without having to part with top pick Andrew Wiggins. Obviously that would be the ideal situation. James, Irving, Love, Wiggins, Varejao and whatever is left on the roster is a team that as Charles Barkley said would have the Eastern Conference wrapped up.

But what if Wiggins has to be included? [Read more...]

WFNY Roundtable: Should the Cavs trade for Kevin Love?

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And you thought that the Cleveland Cavaliers were done with lightning-rod debates for the summer? No, my friend, they are just getting started.

During the four days since LeBron James’ letter, Twitter has been on fire with all sorts of takes on the potential for a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love. To get a sense of where we all stand, I asked my Waiting For Next Year colleagues for their brief responses to the current rumors. Stay tuned for more posts to come soon and share your thoughts in the comments.

Scott Sargent (@WFNYScott): This won’t make for great debate, but I somewhat feel that the Cavaliers—especially David Griffin—will be in a no-lose situation. The decision, reduced to its most simplest terms, comes down to winning more games sooner, or delaying potential dominance, but with the window open a bit longer. [Read more...]

What’s Next for the Cavs in Free Agency?

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have already won the offseason by winning the services of the best player in the NBA, LeBron James. The whole direction of the team has completely changed in the past week. James makes everyone on the team better and his unselfishness gets his teammates a lot of open shots. He is a physical freak, who can dominate on both sides of the ball. He will be the leader of a young team with a lot of potential. Kyrie Irving is already an All-Star caliber player, who can team up with James and be part of one of the best duos in the league. He is a talented scorer, who is a dual threat with his shooting and driving to the basket. We have already seen in the NBA All-Star Game that these two can make the Cavs an exciting team. James and Irving give the Cavs the makings of a top team in the NBA.

[Read more...]

A Brief Return of The Journal of Emotional Hygiene

Nike Homecoming King

LeBron is back, and so now it’s time to figure out how that makes us feel.

A story: The hood and roof of my car have a few long scratches in their paint. They showed up sometime this winter, long silvery gouges on the otherwise-pristine field of metallic blue. The scratches in the roof sit just above the driver’s seat and are obvious to anyone who may be getting into the driver’s seat. That person is usually me, and I see the scratches every time.

My wife pointed out the scratches to me sometime in the late winter, maybe early March. Our initial theory was that our car got keyed. This seemed plausible, and was infuriating. Random damage happens to cars parked in cities; one of my tires had been slashed just a few months prior on Thanksgiving weekend. It sucks, but it’s part of city life. The idea that someone came onto our property and damaged my vehicle angered me, but that anger quickly subsided. C’est la vie.

One morning a thought occurred to me: I had used a metal shovel to clear snow off of my car. The metal-on-metal friction likely caused the scratches. Another thought occurred to me: I’m a goddamned idiot. [Read more...]

Cavaliers take first two in Las Vegas Summer League

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The Cavaliers summer league team played two games over the weekend in Las Vegas. On Friday night, they beat the Milwaukee Bucks 70-68 in a one-versus-two matchup of the 2014 NBA Draft. Yesterday, they topped the Spurs by a 82-70 count. There was plenty to be pleased with for wine and gold fans. For years, the summer league has given us a window into what to expect from key contributors, and this season is no different. In addition to No. 1 overall picks Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, there are multiple other players that will either be on the roster or have a very real chance at making it somewhere if not in Cleveland. Here are some of my thoughts from the weekend that was.

Slim Good-Bennett: Let’s start with Anthony Bennett, who looks like a completely different player. He’s no longer playing timid, and he’s lost a noticeable amount of weight. The first thing to mention is that he’s been attacking the glass with authority. In the two games over the weekend, Bennett hauled in 21 rebounds (17 defensive), including eight in rapid succession to start off the game against San Antonio. We saw Bennett run and fill the lanes for fastbreaking thunderous dunks. Probably the most promising development overall, however, is his better form and comfort on the perimeter. Last season, just about every shot he took from long range looked rushed and panicked. In his home away from home in Las Vegas, he’s used the dribble to crossover a couple of defenders and either open space for a long jumper or a driving lane to shoot or dump off to a teammate. AB has also rediscovered his ability to draw fouls and get to the line (4-of-7 in two games, but several non-shooting fouls called while posting up). In all, Bennett shot 11-of-24 (2-for-8 from three) for 28 points to go with 21 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and just three turnovers in 62 minutes. Bennett still has a way to go with consistent defensive burn1, offensive shot selection, and conditioning, but I’m expecting him to be a key contributor this coming season. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Oddly enough, Bennett picked up eight fouls against Milwaukee and zero against San Antonio in roughly the same playing time. []

A monarchy restored, but the subjects never left

LeBron's back

I spent nearly four years holding onto a lot of hard feelings when it came to LeBron James. A lot of us did.

The first year could only be described as raw and open wound hatred. The second year, culminating with LeBron’s first championship, was acceptance. What Cleveland had been resisting had happened, and even though it was incredibly painful, it allowed the wound to start to clot and scar.

In year three, it was more apathy than anything. Watching James and the Spurs go toe-to-toe, I at least started to watch for the spirit of a good series of playoff basketball once again. One or two rings, it didn’t matter as much. Then, the fourth and final year in Miami, one could feel the tide start to turn. Some people, a good portion of people, no longer wanted to actively boo James at all. The Heat started to look human in the regular season, and there was the thought that maybe, just maybe, if things didn’t end in a three-peat, James would look to move on to somewhere else. [Read more...]

He Selected Us

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As little as one month ago, the Cavaliers, as a representation of Cleveland, were a mess. They missed the playoffs. They were without a head coach and a general manager, and didn’t know if their two-time All-Star point guard would be re-signing for the long run. Their No. 1 pick a season ago, was frequently listed in any discussion surrounding The Worst. Radio call-in shows were debating the draft prospects of Doug McDermott. They then won the 2014 NBA Lottery, only to have their target succumb to a foot injury in the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft. They hired a head coach who has nary a day of NBA coaching experience and promoted their assistant general manager—a move similar to what they did leading up to the free agency period of 2010. Dan Gilbert, the man largely credited with being the biggest roadblock to any type of reunion, was not only still in charge, but was wielding a hammer that would make Thor blush. Their odds, a highly discussed numerical probability of  said reunion as derived by record, roster and random hot takes, was said to have decreased mightily. But none of that mattered.

[Read more...]

LeBron James coming home to join the Cleveland Cavaliers

BronHomeThe waiting game is over: LeBron James made his announcement to Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins that he’ll be rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 2014-2015 NBA season.

The letter is simply wonderful:

Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.

[Read more...]

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the free agency free-for-all

The following is a guest post by Adam Redling. Adam is a writer and editor born and raised in Cleveland. He has written about the Cavs and Browns for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and Tencentbeers.com, and believes that Johnny Manziel is innocent until proven guilty.

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The Cavaliers have become adept at turning in-season failures into offseason optimism over the last four years thanks to Dan Gilbert’s virtual monopoly on top-five picks.

So it’s not surprising that the selection of Andrew Wiggins June 26 stirred up all the familiar front-office talk about fresh starts and brighter futures that comes standard after the draft.

“[We’re] really, really excited about what we were able to do with the first pick,” GM David Griffin said on draft night.

“This is a night where the Cavaliers got appreciably better — the kind of night that you really look forward to in our business when you can go home and know things are going to get a lot brighter from here.”

The optimism is understandable. When you get the No. 1 pick in one of the most loaded drafts ever, who also happens to have the size and athleticism of a NBA 2K14 video game creation, there should be hope. [Read more...]

WFNY Roundtable – What is Miami’s next move?

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Hey, did you guys hear the news? LeBron is coming back!!!!!!

Well, ok, that might not be true. It’s probably not true. But somehow we find ourselves in a world where there seems to at least be a realistic possibility of The Return happening. So naturally, we decided to discuss the issue in one of our Roundtables. Specifically, Craig wanted to find out everyone’s thoughts on what the Heat can realistically do to improve their roster.  [Read more...]

On LeBron’s potential return to the Cavs

Joshua Gunter/The Plain Dealer

So, how’s everyone’s holiday going? Paying attention to the news?

There isn’t any real news yet, of course, but that hasn’t stopped Twitter and sports talk radio from exploding with the idea that LeBron’s return to the Cleveland Cavaliers is feeling imminent. Obviously nobody knows what’s actually going to happen and we here at WFNY know all too well that just because sources are saying one thing doesn’t mean that it will eventually come to pass. Until LeBron is sitting in a press conference with a Cavaliers jersey in his hands with media firing questions at him, it isn’t real. But damnit if it doesn’t feel pretty fun to potentially be on the cusp of relevance.

Whether we’re talking about Dustin Fox, Chad Zumock or The BSK Kendall Lewis, it appears that everyone’s hearing the same things. LeBron is talking seriously about coming back to Cleveland. Did someone overhear a conversation that Dan Gilbert had with someone else? Are there specific conditions that have been laid out to the Cavaliers by Rich Paul, LeBron’s agent? Nobody knows for sure, or at least for sure for sure, but there’s just no denying that there is smoke even if it never gets the requisite oxygen to become a full-fledged fire. [Read more...]