April 24, 2014

While We’re Waiting… Are the Cavs buyers or sellers?

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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My good friend at FTS shares the usual options, then mentions this possibility too. “And what if the Cavs are actually buyers? Are they willing to put Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Anthony Bennett in deals for star type players, even as they have put together really good games of late? You would think so. But what about short term deals for guys like Pau Gasol? The team already went out and added Luol Deng. If the team really is hoping to make the playoffs, doesn’t it make sense to give yourself every opportunity to get there?” [David Zavac/Fear The Sword] [Read more...]

The Diff: Revisiting ShotScore and how the Cavs are terrible

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about the downfall for the Cavs in four terrible home losses. This week, I’m focusing on shooting data again.

The Diff

Within the next 15 days, this Cleveland Cavaliers roster should undergo yet another significant shift. The past few weeks of speculation have made it perfectly clear that not everyone – front office and/or personnel-wise – will survive this season from hell. While there are storylines for days about what that means for the organization’s future, I wanted to focus – perhaps for one of the final actually meaningful times – on what we’re seeing out on the court from these Cavaliers of late. Today, I’ll be looking at the Cavs’ efficiency from a number of different areas, again highlighting the ShotScore statistic. [Read more...]

Cavalier Film Room: Too much help-side and three point consequences

When we last convened in the film room, I was breaking down the offensive rebounding of Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao, aka “The Windex Duo”. As always if you have any suggestions for film room topics, you can reach me at kirk@waitingfornextyear.com.

WFNY Cavaliers Film Room

Today, we’re going to be talking about help-side defense and what happens when players help too much. Specifically, we’re going to take a look at several wide open three-point looks the Suns got on Sunday night and how these could have been much better contested with proper defensive floor balance. Let’s go ahead and dive into the evidence.

[Read more...]

The Diff: C.J. Miles, Cleveland Cavaliers difference-maker

The Diff is your (usually) weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sport statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Two weeks ago, I recapped all of the Cleveland Indians pitching moves this offseason. Today, I’m writing about an unheralded Cleveland Cavaliers hero.

The Diff

C.J. Miles is an inconsistent NBA player, generally regarded as a near-average shooting guard. He’s been around the block and has a decent amount of career minutes for only being 26 years old. This season, he played fairly miserably for a solid six-week stretch. The season is exactly halfway over so that’s a pretty large chunk of the total games played. But yet, somehow, he’s numerically been the Cavs’ biggest difference-maker on the court. This post will attempt to show how exactly that’s happened. [Read more...]

Cavs vs. Nuggets Behind The Box Score: Road trip ends on a high note

brown nuggetsThere’s no denying that this was a monster victory, likely the best of the season.

To complete a five-game Western Conference road trip, the Cleveland Cavaliers just beat the West’s hottest team. A 42-point second quarter led the way for a 117-109 victory over in Denver against a Nuggets squad that was 6-1 in their last seven games.

Entering the road swing, the Cavs were just 2-15 on the road all season. They finished the trip with a 3-2 record, more than doubling their previous total of road wins.

Tristan Thompson had a very efficient offensive night while the Cavs bigs dominated again against the Nuggets. The guards led the way early on. Overall, it was a great performance as the team heads into the holiday weekend. [Read more...]

Cavalier Film Room: The potential that comes with sharing

When we last sat in the film room, it was to talk about Dion Waiters and a stale Mike Brown inbound play. Today, we’re not going to talk about last Sunday nigtht’s game in Sacramento. No, we’re burning the footage of that one so that it may never see the light of day again. As far as I’m concerned, it never happened. It NEVER happened! The Sacramento game? What Sacramento game? Exactly… As always if you have any ideas for film room topics, feel free to drop me a line at kirk@waitingfornextyear.com.

Today, we’re going to talk about the first half of basketball the team played after the Luol Deng trade. It was last Wednesday night against the Sixers in the Q. In that half, the wine and gold dished out a stunning 21 assists on their 27 field goals, on their way to 64 points and 55% shooting. The Cavaliers were high on momentum from the trade, and they play so much better at home. Still, even against an inferior opponent on their home court coupled with C.J. Miles’s franchise-record 10 three-pointers, the Cavaliers displayed passing skills and an unselfishness that would travel if they committed to it. Let’s go to the photos.
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The Diff: The Cavs and their terrible, horrible offense

The Diff is your (usually) weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Welcome to 2014. Two weeks ago, I wrote about Omer Asik trade rumors and the Cavaliers. Today, I’m writing about the Cavs’ no good, very bad offense.

The Diff

The Cleveland Cavaliers somehow won last night to improve to 11-21. Within this disappointing season, there have already been a number of issues on and off the court. The most troubling aspect of this year’s terrible start might just have to be the team’s abysmal offense. Overall, the Cavs now sport the NBA’s 27th-best offensive efficiency rating at 97.0 points per 100 possessions. That might surprise you a bit based on the presence of All-Star Kyrie Irving. But 2013-14 has proved to be a collective offensive mess of epic proportions. [Read more...]

WFNY Stats & Info: C.J. Miles’ extended slump

The Cavs are now 10-19. There are a myriad of reasons why they’ve been a bad team through the season’s first two months. But of late, one of the issues is starting shooting guard C.J. Miles.

Miles, plucked away in free agency from Utah last summer, actually was off to a great start to the year. In the season’s first six games, he averaged 14.3 points in just 20.7 minutes off the bench with an uber-efficient .645 efficiency field goal percentage.

Since then, over the last 19 games (16 as a starter) and including his 10-day absence with a calf injury, he’s been quite the opposite. The damage: 17.5 minutes per game, 6.1 points and a dreadful .402 efficiency field goal percentage. Take a look at the stats below for a more complete breakdown of the shooting zones.

He had a .433 efg in the 2011-12 season, his last with Utah. In his first Cavs season, he shined en route to a .519 efg, a huge jump in efficiency. But was that improvement sustainable? One can note that about 50% of Miles’ shooting attempts are now more profitable three-pointers, a huge increase over his Utah days.

Of late, he’s been pretty bad at his usual above-the-break three-pointers and very bad in the restricted area. He has always seemed to struggle with paint shots not in the restricted area, a zone that sees 40% as the NBA average along with mid-range. Miles is not usually average in either zone.

It’s not certain what Miles’ future might hold. He is what he is, in a sense, that he’s just a 26-year-old scoring guard/forward. Those should usually be replaceable, but his struggles are reflective of the Cavs’ difficulty of finding any suitable small forward over the past four years.

[Related: Cavs at NBA’s one-third mark: How much patience is left?]

Cavs thoughts on Dion’s success, trades, Kyrie’s struggles and more

Kyrie Irving, Dion WaitersDuring Thanksgiving eve and the actual holiday itself, I got a lot of questions from family and friends about those pesky 4-11 Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m sure you did too. Here are my assorted takes on the hottest of Cavs topics at the moment.

On the Dion Waiters trade options listed so far … meh. That’s what I have to say. The three main options rumored via ESPN’s Chris Broussard: Chicago’s Luol Deng, New York’s Iman Shumpert and Philadelphia’s Evan Turner. Don’t get me wrong; Deng and Turner would be excellent fits on this small forward-lacking roster. But both are free agents on the verge of big paydays in summer 2014.

Deng is an old 28 because he has nearly 25,000 career NBA minutes including playoffs. He never has been a major offensive weapon, but has been a consistent piece for Chicago for the last decade. Turner, on the other hand, is having a breakout season at still only 25. He’s averaging 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the overachieving 76ers. Which means his agents will make some unfortunate team pay massive money for his services next year. [Read more...]

NBA News: Cavs name Matthew Dellavedova as starter

In yet another change to the Cleveland Cavaliers starting lineup, undrafted rookie Matthew Dellavedova has been named the latest starting shooting guard, the Plain Dealer first reported on Twitter earlier today.

“Delly” has been the biggest surprise of the 4-8 Cavs season, as he shined in the team’s most recent two games. After totaling just 26 minutes in the first 10 contests, he’s tallied just over 30 and 26 in the last two games. He’s earned the respect of fans and the coaching staff for his hustle on both sides of the ball.

The 23-year-old Australian was a star during his four years at St. Mary’s. He averaged just about 15.5 points and 6.4 assists in each of his final two seasons. The Cavs signed him back in mid-September to a two-year deal with small guarantees.

Scott wrote on Thursday saying “Welcome to the rotation, Matthew Dellavedova.” Now, more appropriately, we should be welcoming him into the coveted starting lineup.

As a reminder, C.J. Miles did not join the Cavs on their two-game road trip due to a right calf strain. He had been the most recent starter at shooting guard.

[Related: Cavalier Film Room: Little things from the long name]

Cavs Friday Five: Putting things in perspective

Varejao - Bucks

A week into the season and Kyrie is drawing chants of overrated, the Cavs rank 28th in the league in points scored, and Anthony Bennett looks like the grown up version of Jefferson Albert Tibbs from the movie Hardball.  Still, the Wine and Gold are 2-3 and are one of ten teams within a game of .500 in the East. For as frustrating as this team has been to watch at times, they’re actually playing defense, Bynum has surprisingly been on the floor, and thankfully Sergey Karasev hasn’t had to enter a game and potentially ruin that immaculate hair of his. [Read more...]

The Diff: Estimating NBA ShotScores through shooting zones

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about three intriguing stat-lines to watch for the 2013-14 Cavaliers. This week, I’m getting into NBA shooting charts.

The Diff

One of my favorite sportswriters is Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry. Like many of my favorites, he’s a non-traditional writer. A geography professor at Michigan State, he emerged onto the NBA scene via the 2012 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. His project, titled CourtVision, applied his signature specialty of spatial analysis to the game of basketball. It went viral – or at least basketball Twitter viral. Since then, Goldsberry has taken off, and the visiting scholar at Harvard also contributes regularly to Grantland and ESPN properties. His latest column from last week, about a new statistic called ShotScore, is what I’ll be writing about today. [Read more...]

Short-handed Cavs drop their first preseason game

hendersonwaitersThe Cavaliers looked absolutely gassed. After Mike Brown put them through a full-go practice earlier in the day, the Cavaliers looked a step slow on defense and took a lot of jumpers on offense as they fell to the Bobcats in Canton by a 92-74 count.  Missing in action were Anderson Varejao (rest), Jarrett Jack (knee), Sergey Karasev (visa), Carrick Felix (hernia), Tyler Zeller (appendectomy), and Andrew Bynum (knee). The Cavaliers did get Alonzo Gee back from a hamstring injury in a limited role. With all three centers out of commission, Henry Sims was given the start.  [Read more...]

The Diff: Three intriguing stat-lines to watch for the Cavaliers

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I answered some WFNY playoff questions for the Cleveland Indians. This week, it’s preseason basketball talk about the Cavaliers.

The Diff

Last night was the return of basketball to the Quicken Loans Arena. It was a fun atmosphere; albeit one prefaced with the damnation of “preseason.” Mike Brown’s defensive style was certainly in showcase, one first half defensive miscue-forced timeout at a time. With the regular season now just three weeks away, previews ablazing, today’s the perfect day to look at three underrated stat-lines to watch with regards to the hard-to-predict 2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers. [Read more...]

The Boots: Cavs defense, Dion Waiters and the depth chart

cavs defenseIn my usual half-rapid fire, half-prose form, I’m back with another edition of The Boots. For those unfamiliar with this feature, I assign loosely defined “Boot Up” or “Boot Down” votes to trending sports topics. With a disappointing Indians loss last night, let’s get excited about the Cavs.

Boot Down: The bad Cavs defense – Lest we forget, this is the biggest assumption facing the hope for a competitive Cleveland basketball team in 2013-14. Yes, the young players will need to continue to improve and the free agent acquisitions will hopefully make some impact.

But the Cavs defense under Byron Scott was simply atrocious. At times, it seemed that Scott had no set plans at all to counteract the other team. And the numbers show just how bad Cleveland was over the past three seasons. [Read more...]

Cavalier Film Room: More Defensive Ineptitude

WFNY Cavaliers Film RoomWhen we last gathered in the film room, I chronicled the 27-point blown lead against the Miami Heat, extending their long winning streak. This week, I’m going to continue to look at the team’s defensive effort and execution. Scott covered the embarrassing loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday night, but just how bad was that second quarter? Well, for starters, the Nets shot a stunning 15-of-18 for the quarter and had 63 points at the half. The Cavaliers played a zone defense for stretches of that game, and it broke down in painful fashion. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the horror. [Read more...]

Cavalier Film Room: An Assist From The Bench

WFNY Cavaliers Film RoomLast week, I went over some winning plays on the defensive end against the Jazz in a come from behind victory. This week, I’m getting to a topic that’s long overdue. Sure, I talked about Marreese Speights’s energy and scoring a while back, but that’s just really scratching the surface of a larger theme. Today, I’ll give a round of applause to the entire Cavs’ second five-man (now four with Livingston in the starting lineup) unit of Speights, Wayne Ellington, Shaun Livingston, Luke Walton, and C.J. Miles. There’s no doubt that this group’s new blood and veteran play have sparked the Cavaliers as Coach Scott can now rest his starting five without the fear of a game getting out of reach. The bench’s greatest asset may be that the veteran group functions as a unit, making the right passes, hitting timely shots, and playing stretches of fundamental defenses. Without anymore stalling, let’s get to it. [Read more...]

Conley, Gasol, Third Quarter Woes Too Much For Recovering Cavaliers

conleykyrieThe Cavaliers have a virus that has infiltrated nearly the entire team. It has caused nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea, a veritable Pepto-Bismol antagonist that has plagued the team for some time now.

No, I’m not talking about the flu that has stricken Tyler Zeller, Dion Waiters, Daniel Gibson, and trainer Max Benton among others. The sickness that I’m recalling is the third quarter basketball from the wine and gold.

For the third straight game, the young Cavaliers came out of the locker room at half utterly disinterested and nearly catatonic. The Grizzlies sprung a 10-0 run to open the half on the Cavs, and it gave them the lead for good in this game as a 3-point halftime lead was erased and replaced by a Memphis-controlled second half where the Cavs’ fourth quarter magic wasn’t enough this time to pardon their third quarter crimes.

[Read more...]

WFNY Stats & Info: Continued improvements by the Cavs

Despite Sunday night’s last-minute loss to the Miami Heat, the Cleveland Cavs are 13-15 (.464) since Dec. 22. That’s a tremendous sign of improvement for a franchise that previously was 45-131 (.256) in the last 2.5 seasons.

I’ve tackled this subject several times before — notably, in The Diff last Wednesday. But again, what are some fun stats around this recent stretch of improvement? Fortunately, Twitter has been abuzz with plenty of good facts over the past 24 hours.

For starters, let me share @ConradKaczmarek of Fear The Sword’s table about Dion Waiters’ shooting at the rim, a topic that WFNY covered in roundtable form back in December:

Another fun discovery from yesterday: The website www.vorped.com. In this site, one can look at very simple shot charts for players and teams, as organized by very simple splits. Let’s take a look at this recent table of shooting success via this site:

Entire Season
Zone PPS %FGA
Paint 0.99 46.6%
Other 2s 0.78 29.3%
3-Pointers 1.06 24.1%
Total 0.95 100%
Last 30 Days
Zone PPS %FGA
Paint 1.09 45.9%
Other 2s 0.88 32.9%
3-Pointers 1.11 21.2%
Total 1.02 100%
Prior to Last 30 Days
Zone PPS %FGA
Paint 0.97 46.8%
Other 2s 0.75 28.4%
3-Pointers 1.05 24.9%
Total 0.93 100%

 

Pretty cool to see that the Cavaliers are noticeably better at just about every shooting range in the last 30 days. Next, here’s an update on the Cavaliers’ efficiency metrics and turnover rate over various stretches this season. As you can see, there’s been steady, consistent improvements on the offensive side. The Cavs have the 3rd-best offense in the NBA since Feb. 2:

SPLIT OFF DEF DIFF TOR
first 24 games thru 12/14 96.6 105.4 -8.8 16.7%
next 6 games thru 12/26 99.9 106.7 -6.8 13.5%
next 9 games thru 1/13 101.5 108.3 -6.8 14.8%
next 8 games thru 2/1 104.5 109.3 -4.8 12.8%
last 9 games since 2/2 114.0 108.2 5.8 11.9%
Season (56 games) 101.6 107.0 -5.4 14.7%
NBA Average 102.6 102.6 0.0 15.3%

 

And finally on the Cavs stats front, I’ll pass it over to my friend Ed Manly at @LaughingCavs, who shares these PER splits before/after Jan. 14 for a number of rotation players for the Cavaliers:

Player Before 1/14 Since 1/14 DIFF
Miles 11.4 20.4 +9.0
Waiters 11.8 17.2 +5.4
Tristan 14.7 19.7 +5.0
Zeller 10.0 14.5 +4.5
Irving 21.8 23.4 +1.6
Gee 10.9 11.1 +0.2
Speights xx 17.7 xx
Ellington xx 14.4 xx

 

That’s a whole lot of improvement there too. And a much larger chunk of rotation players being above the established PER league-average mark of 15.0. PER splits aren’t normally searchable on any website, so it was quite helpful to see the table Ed had shared on Twitter.

[Related: Talent gives way to tiredness as Cavs collapse in Biscayne Bay]

Box Score: Cavaliers 118, Magic 94

Goodness gracious, Cavs fans, this was a fun one. The good guys outscored the Magic 67-43 in the second half en route to a dominant victory Saturday night in Orlando, the team’s second largest win in the post-LeBron era (27 points vs. Bobcats on Feb. 6).

The tremendous road win also represents a complete turnaround for these two teams this season — the Magic started 12-13, but are just 3-29 since. That’s ironically the exact same streak that the Thunder had to start the season in Kevin Durant’s second year.

Also notable: The Cavs bench scored 59 points.  Led by efficient scoring performances from Speights, Ellington and Miles, this shows the potential of this more complete Cleveland team. And boy, was this fun. The Cavs are now 13-14 in their last 27 games.

 

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS – 18-37 (Won last 2)
ORLANDO MAGIC – 15-41 (Lost last 5)
Team 1 2 3 4 Total
CLE 26 25 28 39 118
ORL 25 26 21 22
94

 

Cleveland

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Kyrie Irving
G 29:36 4-9 0-1 4-4 +3 0 3 9 1 1 0 0 2 12
Dion Waiters
G 26:02 5-16 1-3 1-2 +22 2 4 4 0 1 0 3 3 12
Tyler Zeller
C 25:15 7-12 0-0 2-2 +21 6 7 1 0 1 1 0 2 16
Tristan Thompson
F 24:26 1-5 0-0 0-2 +15 5 11 3 2 0 1 0 0 2
Alonzo Gee
F 24:16 6-9 1-3 4-4 +9 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 3 17
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 43-87 9-21 23-28 18 47 28 10 8 4 7 20 118
Percentages .494 .429 .821 Team Rebounds: 8
Marreese Speights
22:45 4-8 0-1 10-12 +3 2 8 1 0 1 1 1 2 18
Wayne Ellington
22:18 6-10 3-6 0-0 +21 0 4 1 0 0 0 0 1 15
Shaun Livingston
21:58 2-3 0-0 0-0 +2 1 2 6 2 1 0 0 4 4
C.J. Miles
19:50 5-10 4-7 2-2 +15 1 6 0 1 1 0 1 2 16
Luke Walton
17:23 1-2 0-0 0-0 +2 0 1 3 1 0 0 0 1 2
Kevin Jones
6:11 2-3 0-0 0-0 +7 0 0 0 2 1 1 1 0 4
Omri Casspi
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Daniel Gibson
DNP – Coach’s Decision

Orlando

Starters Pos Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Arron Afflalo
G 29:54 6-12 1-5 3-5 -22 1 3 3 3 0 1 2 3 16
E’Twaun Moore
G 27:45 5-12 2-5 0-0 -16 0 1 5 4 1 1 0 3 12
Nikola Vucevic
C 29:51 3-3 0-0 0-0 -23 1 7 3 2 0 0 0 1 6
Maurice Harkless
F 35:14 6-13 1-2 0-3 -38 3 5 0 0 1 1 1 3 13
Andrew Nicholson
F 21:45 4-10 0-0 0-0 -17 1 2 1 2 0 0 0 0 8
Bench Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
Totals 38-79 4-14 14-22 11 36 22 15 5 7 4 20 94
Percentages .481 .286 .636 Team Rebounds: 7
Beno Udrih
26:58 3-7 0-1 4-5 -2 2 3 7 1 2 0 0 0 10
Tobias Harris
24:38 5-10 0-1 4-4 -10 1 6 0 1 0 3 0 1 14
DeQuan Jones
20:00 4-6 0-0 1-2 -1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 2 9
Kyle O’Quinn
13:35 2-3 0-0 2-3 +9 1 7 2 0 0 1 0 5 6
Doron Lamb
10:20 0-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 2 0
Al Harrington
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Jameer Nelson
DNP – Coach’s Decision
Hedo Turkoglu
DNP – Coach’s Decision