July 23, 2014

The best CB tandem, coaching flowcharts and like father like daughter …While We’re Waiting

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Another week gone by and it is my turn in the rotation for www. Let’s kick things off with some Browns optimism.

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of NFL.com’s Adam Schein before. But if the Browns’ defense comes close to what he thinks it will be, I’ll be pretty happy. There is no doubt that the Browns upgraded at cornerback in the offseason, and as much as I respect D’Qwell Jackson as a person, I think Karlos Dansby will be a bit of an upgrade in the middle. I’m not sure that Pettine will turn Paul Kruger into the sack specialist that Schein thinks he will be, but I’d love to be wrong.

This line was interesting to me- “And it should surprise nobody that Pettine plucked Justin Gilbert, the elite corner in the 2014 draft class, with his first selection as Browns coach. I think Cleveland could have the best cornerback combo in the NFL this year. Seriously.”

The best CB combo in the NFL this year? Sign me up for that one. I’m in. Take it. A definite defensive identity? Take that as well. I love me some great defense. The video in that piece is just kind of a silly Q&A with Joe Haden, but has an interesting factoid or two.

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The amount of truth in this statement by ESPN’s Chad Ford may be an overlooked part of why Mike Brown was fired after just one year-

“Just because Griffin wants to take Embiid No. 1 doesn’t mean he’ll get his wish. Two years ago, Gilbert and head coach Byron Scott overruled Grant on draft night and selected Dion Waiters over Grant’s choice, Harrison Barnes. Last year, it was Mike Brown who helped push Bennett to the top of the Cavs’ draft board.”

Here’s the deal, we know that Mike Brown watched a lot of Bennett while he was out west and Bennett played for UNLV. We were told by Chris Grant last year that Mike Brown had seen him play a lot and really liked what he could do. If Bennett was more Brown’s pick than anyone else, AND he failed to coach him to an acceptable level of play for a first rounder, let alone the top pick overall….

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My tweet of the night comes from one of my favorite musicians David Crowder. He was answering some questions from fans when he got this Harry Potter related question and gave his response. If you aren’t familiar with the series, well just move on to the next item.

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I’m a father who has only a daughter. As such, I can relate to this story even if I’m not a major league ball player. Kudos to Marla Ridenour for this one. And honestly, I can’t believe it took this long for someone to think of this.

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We’ve heard about coaching trees before, but a coaching flowchart? Only four steps to go from Naismith to Popovich? Well, makes sense why his team is fundamentally sound I guess.

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alhambraI will end with another mini-game review. The latest added to the collection is a game called Alhambra. It is a game that we’ve had our eye on as a family for a while now, but just never pulled the trigger. I’m glad we did.

In Alhambra, you are adding buildings and gardens to your palace/complex/Alhambra. (Hence the name.) You collect different currencies in order to pay for these buildings, as each builder wants to be paid in their native currency. Once the group has the hang of the different types of things you can do on your turn, it moves pretty quick.

It has an element of luck to it, but it is also very strategic and somewhat puzzle-y. The game is for 2-8 players, and is one of the rare games that actually works well with two players. A lot of games designed for more than two are kind of awful to play with just a pair, but this one works. It works well with 3 or 4 as well. Haven’t played or watched with more than that many yet.

It is designed for ages 8 and up. I think that is a good age limit. Obviously the more a child can handle some abstract thinking , the better off they will likely be.

If you have a family and like some of the more family friendly games I’ve suggested before, I think you’ll like Alhambra as well.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski writes about how the Cavs lost their way

Chris Grant Cavaliers RookiesLiterally minutes after the Cavaliers sealed a rare three-game winning streak on Tuesday night, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski decided to rain on Cleveland’s parade and release an article about what he’d dug on a seemingly dysfunctional Chris Grant regime.

Wojnarowski is the most well connected NBA writer out there and he tends to be the one to break most of the major news that hits The Association. It’s not often though that he decides to expound further on NBA events beyond dropping #WojBombs on Twitter. So when such a well informed writer decides to go more in-depth about your favorite franchise, it’s hard not to pay close attention.

Some of the most interesting claims he makes in the article are:

  • Despite the league-wide acclaim for interim GM David Griffin, owner Dan Gilbert is going to search far and wide for a replacement this summer. That doesn’t mean Griffin is out of the running though.
  • There was belief among the Cavs organization that Grant had not scouted Jonas Valancinunas well enough before the 2011 draft. Though most of the Cavs personnel department wanted Valanciunas, Grant used the fact that the player’s agent, Leon Rose, would not negotiate a buyout agreement with his European club before they knew where he would be drafted. Thus, that was his justification to select the player he wanted in Tristan Thompson.
  • Grant passed on Andre Drummond in the 2012 draft over concerns that a Tristan Thompson-Andre Drummond frontcourt would not be offensively compatible.
  • Kyrie Irving pushed hard to have his “close friend” Harrison Barnes drafted by the Cavs in 2012.
  • Grant had been attempting to trade Dion Waiters before he was fired.
  • Klay Thompson was discussed for the No. 4 pick in the 2011 draft by the Cavs, but Grant believed he could move back into the lottery and snag him later.
  • The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft was between Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett.
  • If Bennett had not been selected by the Cavs, then he would have fallen somewhere around the No. 10 spot in the lottery.
  • Bennett loved making late-night pizza runs at UNLV which was a contributing factor to his weight problem.

I take qualms with some of the opinions expressed in the article such as Victor Oladipo being the “perfect two-way player to complement Kyrie” and that Anthony Bennett is a “colossal failure” considering no one in this draft class has colored themselves in glory. Plus, Bennett hasn’t been given a ton of opportunities. Nonetheless, the sourced information is fascinating and a must-read for any Cavs fan.

[Related: David Griffin: Next Man Up]

Photo: Joshua Gunter, The Plain Dealer

Waiters vs. Barnes: Comparing Players, Teams, And Situations

dion waitersThe Golden State Warriors are in the middle of a thrilling second-round series with the San Antonio Spurs. Rookie Harrison Barnes, the 7th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, has had an increased impact in the postseason at both ends of the floor, averaging 19 points in the series and posting a stat line of 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting and seven rebounds in 39 minutes. Meanwhile, Dion Waiters is in the midst of offseason workouts. The 4th-overall pick by the wine and gold found out yesterday that he joined Barnes on the NBA All-Rookie First Team (and gained more points as well as first-team votes than Barnes) along with Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, and Damian Lillard.  

While the media and Cleveland faithful are starting to rally around what they’re watching on their television screens and wish they had Barnes instead, it’s not as simple as that.

[Read more...]

NBA Rookie Rankings: Harkless emerging, Valanciunas showing signs of life

Moe-Harkless-MagicWith the Cavaliers having two rookies playing prominent minutes, WFNY thought it would beneficial to see how the fresh meat around the league is faring in comparison with the Cavalier rookies. Each week, we’ll have NBA rookie power rankings where we’ll rack and stack the freshman class of the NBA. The rankings will be weighted with the most recent games carrying the most importance, but the whole body of work will be taken into account. Great nicknames, beards, and great celebrations may also play a large factor.

1. Damian Lillard (Last Week: 1)

After winning two in a row and climbing back in the hunt for the West’s 8 seed, Lillard and the Blazers have stumbled to two losses in a row, keeping them three games back of the Lakers for the final playoff spot1.

Lillard hasn’t been quite his usual phenomenal self of late, but is clearly still the top rookie. While there haven’t been many games of late that “wow”, the Portland point guard is still averaging 17.6 points and 6.2 assists in his last five games. But for Portland to make the playoffs they’re going to need to lean more on Lillard.

Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge are two exceptional options for Portland, but the fact of the matter is Lillard is heartbeat of that team, and if he isn’t on top of his game the Blazers will struggle. In Portland’s latest loss to Brooklyn, Lillard struggled shooting from the floor (despite being 3-5 from downtown), and turned the ball over four times.

In the Blazers last five wins, Lillard is averaging just 2 turnovers a game compared to the nearly 4 he is averaging in their last five losses. For as dynamic as he is, Lillard must also be efficient to keep Portland out of the lottery and move them into the playoffs.

2. Anthony Davis (Last Week: 2)

Look out — the New Orleans Hornets have won 3 out of their last 4 thanks in large part to play of last year’s top pick. Last week I mentioned how a signature win over a premier team can ignite a team and it’s fan base, and boy does that seem to be happening right now in NOLA.

After Anthony Davis’ game winning tip in over Boston, the future Pelicans have won 3 out of 4 with the other wins coming in hard fought game against Memphis and a 24 point beat down of Denver to snap the Nugs’ 15 game winning streak.

Davis has been everything you would expect he’d be over that stretch. He’s been nothing flashy, but he is averaging just under 14 points and 10 rebounds a game during this favorable run for the Hornets and is doing so on over 60% shooting. It’s efficiency like that and hysterical talking unibrow commercials like this that is making me come around on the Hornets’ young star.

3. Maurice Harkless (Last Week: 3)

Harkless was a straight monster last Friday against the Thunder. Not only did he have a career high 25 points, but how about 9 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 blocks as well? Moe Harkless was the best small forward on the court that night, and that includes Kevin Durant.

Harkless has become far and away the best scoring small forward of this draft class and this last week he was thrown into an Advanced Placement NBA Defense class having to run up against LeBron and Durant. The St. John’s product kept the league’s two biggest stars from going off but each still managed 25 plus points on over 50 percent from the field.

As each game passes Harkless is looking more and more like the real deal. Scoring from the wing is vital in the NBA and Orlando seems to be on the right track filling that void with Harkless.

4. Harrison Barnes (Last Week: NR)

Barnes continues to chip in for the playoff bound Warriors. He’s not scoring 20 a night or single handedly influencing games, but he’s scoring efficiently when called upon and playing strong defense for Marc Jackson and company.

Barnes is very reminiscent of Kawhi Leonard last season for the Spurs. Both are dependable to knock down open shots, play good defense on the wing, rebound, and have the athleticism to make the big play. Neither is called on to do too much, and simply is called on to just play within the system.

The Warriors have won 6 of their last 9, a stretch that has seen the steady Barnes average 10.4 points on 54% shooting. Barnes has Warriors fans very stable at the moment, not too many highs and not too many lows from the rookie from UNC.

5. Jonas Valanciunas (Last Week: NR)

After a strong start to the season, Valanciunas hit the typical rookie wall in the winter months, but has bounced back nicely of late for Toronto. The bruising big man out of Lithuania has been in double figures in 9 of his last 10 games. Big V seems to be settling into his starting role for the lowly Raptors, logging 27.5 minutes a night during the Raptors last 10.

Valanciunas is earning a reputation around the league for being an absolute pest. The way in which he throws his body around underneath the glass has sparked a couple different altercations in the last month. He’s becoming a guy you hate to play against, but would love on your team.

He’s not going to be a star, and is still behind Tristan Thompson who the Cavs selected just in front of him in terms of development, but Valanciunas is showing signs of life north of the border.

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Footnotes:

  1. Good news for Cavs fans []

NBA Rookie Rankings: Anthony Davis starting to live up to the hype

Anthony Davis runningWith the Cavaliers having two rookies playing prominent minutes, WFNY thought it would beneficial to see how the fresh meat around the league is faring in comparison with the Cavalier rookies. Each week, we’ll have NBA rookie power rankings where we’ll rack and stack the freshman class of the NBA. The rankings will be weighted with the most recent games carrying the most importance, but the whole body of work will be taken into account. Great nicknames, beards, and great celebrations may also play a large factor.

1. Damian Lillard (Previously: 1)

If I were Damian Lillard, I’d be sending text after text to that evil elf, David Stern, asking where my trophy is? The ROY race is locked up, it’s over. After capturing the Rookie of the Month award for the 4th time this February, DL has hit March, full steam ahead. Game after game, the Blazers guard continues to put up 20 plus points, including a monster 35 point, 9 assist effort as the Blazers embarassed Western Conference leaders San Antonio last weekend. Lillard led the Blazers to a whopping 79 points in the second half, including 46 in the 4th, to slam the door shut on the Spurs and hand them their worst loss of the Timmy Duncan era. [Read more...]

Rookie Rankings: Lillard’s big fear, Waiters keeps chucking

With the Cavaliers having two rookies playing prominent minutes, WFNY thought it would beneficial to see how the fresh meat around the league is faring in comparison with the Cavalier rookies. Each week, we’ll have NBA rookie power rankings where we’ll rack and stack the freshman class of the NBA. The rankings will be weighted with the most recent games carrying the most importance, but the whole body of work will be taken into account. Great beards and great celebrations may also play a large factor in rankings.

The end of November is upon us. Halloween and Thanksgiving are distant memories as we turn toward the final month of 2012. Basketball and football overwhelm the televeision schedule in December, giving us plenty to watch while spending time with our families on December’s traditional holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years. This year, we get the treat of another special day in December because on December 21 the world may or may not end. That means we may or may not only have 21 more days of basketball to watch, 21 more days of arguing team vs. team, or player vs. player. There’ll be plenty of time to talk about Armageddon1, but for now we must talk basketball. More specifically, the NBA. Not just the NBA, but its crop of rookies. We’ve seen the surprise rise of Damian Lillard in Portland, and flashes of what’s to come for Anthony Davis in NOLA. We’ve seen Dion Waiters become allergic to passing, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist be exactly who we thought he was. With so many rookies playing large roles for their teams the first month of the season, it’s important we take a step back and see where the NBA’s fresh meat stands after one month of play. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Somewhere Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck are training to save us. []

NBA Rookie Rankings: MKG winning, Waiters struggling, and the rise of White Russia

With the Cavaliers having two rookies playing prominent minutes, WFNY thought it would beneficial to see how the fresh meat around the league is faring in comparison with the Cavalier rookies. Each week, we’ll have NBA rookie power rankings where we’ll rack and stack the freshman class of the NBA. The rankings will be weighted with the most recent games carrying the most importance, but the whole body of work will be taken into account. Great beards and great celebrations may also play a large factor in rankings.

What ‘s the most American 24 hour period in the year?

4th of July?

Veteran’s Day?

The real answer is from noon on Thanksgiving to noon on Black Friday.

It starts with sitting on the couch watching football. Followed by a meal so large that people strategically wear pants with an elastic wasteband to allow their stomach to stretch. Then it’s back to the couch for more football. Followed of course by more over eating, this time deserts. Then guess what? More football. 

And that’s just the first twelve hours.

At midnight we flock to retailers all over the country, shove strangers out of the way, and wrestle 30 others to get our hands on a $100 laptop, a tradition that would make Frank Constanza’s Feats of Strength look like a game of paddycake.

After it’s all over we’re forced to go back to our normal lives. It’s no longer acceptable to assault a stranger in the quest for gadgets, nor is it acceptable to pour gravy over your entire plate. Fortunately for us, on the day after Thanksgiving the NBA returns. The NBA takes a day off during this most American 24 hours, but returns in full force on Friday. So after you get home from your shopping, eat your left over turkey sandwhich, take your inevitable nap, and eat some more turkey, give yourself a much deserved rest and flip on some roundball. 

Without further ado, this week’s rookie rankings.

1. Damian Lillard (Last Week: 1)

Lillard has been a gem to watch so far during his rookie campaign. Night in and night out the rookie guard is leaving his mark on the game, and as you might expect with a rookie, the results have been mixed. In the last week, Lillard recorded his two highest scoring games, as well as a career high in turnovers. Rookie guards in the NBA are like your buddy who just got out of a long relationship and he’s out at the bar for the first time in a while. You can’t help but get excited about the potential they have, but not having seen much of them in action, you definitely can’t trust them to always make the right play. He’s capable of pulling off moves that dazzle you, but decisions that baffle you. It takes some time to get in the rhythm of things, to know when to try and score, and when passing is the safe decision, but all the while it’s entertaining as hell to watch.

Lillard continues to lead all rookies in scoring, assists, and steals, but also is the rookie leader in turnovers at 3.5 per game. Ball security will continue to be a concern for Lillard, but the last thing you want to do with a rookie guard, or a newly single buddy, is rattle his confidence. Instead of cautioning them, you give them the green light. The Blazers’ guard has embraced the green light given to him, by coach Terry Stotts, but he must be careful of settling for too many jumpers as 61% of Lillard’s shots have come from 16 feet or farther out. Despite all the outside shots, he is still shooting 45% from the field. It’s easy to fall in love with the jumper when it’s falling, but Lillard must force his way into the lane to create for his teammates and give himself some easier looks at the hoop.

Anthony Davis (Last Week: 2)

When Anthony Davis is on the court, he is something special to watch, but The Brow is struggling to stay on the court. Davis has only played in 6 out of the Hornets’ 10 games, missing the last two with an ankle injury. Davis hasn’t played since last Saturday at Milwaukee where scored a career high 28 points to go with 11 rebounds. Davis’ 28 and 11 are worth noting, but the most significant stat from last Saturday was the number of blocks Davis recorded. For the first time in the NBA, or college, or probably in his whole life, Anthony Davis did not record a blocked shot. Still, Davis leads all rookies, and is top ten in the league with 2.2 blocks a game.

Davis continues to lead all rookies in efficiency, EFF481, rebounding, blocks, and is second in scoring. He is still Vegas’s favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but to win hardware, you need to be playing. With Davis out, the Hornet’s spotlight shines on fellow rookie Austin Rivers. Rivers has struggled so far this year and doesn’t appear to be the solution to stopping New Orleans’ five game skid. For Rivers, the Hornets, and those who bet on The Brow to win ROY, Davis’s return can not come soon enough.

3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Last Week: 3)

In case you were distracted by Thanksgiving, football, or any other of the 31 NBA teams, it’s worth noting that the Charlotte Bobcats have won 5 of their last 6 games.

“The same Bobcats that didn’t win their fifth game until 36 games into the season!?”

Not quite.

The 2012-13 Bobcats have one big difference from last year’s team. Three words, one hyphen.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

The Bobcats are 40 points better when MKG is on the court versus when he’s on the bench. That’s the greatest difference in +/- of any rookie. His 1.4 estimated wins added is second among rookies2 and equal to the likes of Dwyane Wade, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Serge Ibaka, and Kevin Garnett. To be in the company of those names in a category that measures how much you help a team win is extremely impressive.

Article after article about the Bobcats’ success this season emphasizes the intangibles Kidd-Gilchrist brings to the team. The kid3 is a winner. Last year, the Bobcats had the worst season in NBA history, and this year they have the league’s seventh best record. Last year’s roster looks almost identical this year’s except for those three words and one hyphen, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Third among rookies in efficiency, second in rebounding, fourth in scoring, and shooting 47% from the field, MKG does a little bit of everything. Everything except hit outside shots. Kidd-Gilchrist still has only made four shots not at the rim all season. For someone to score as much as he has, and efficiently as he has, it’s astounding that he has only made four jump shots all year. Once he develops his outside shot, the sky is the limit for MKG.

In MKG Bobcats fans finally have hope, and as The Shawshank Redemptiontaught us, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies”.

4. Dion Waiters (Last Week: 4)

After the top 3, there is a significant drop off in production from this rookie class. Waiters is avearging 13.9 PPG, leaving him third among rookies in scoring, but in his last four games he is 16 of 67 from the floor, good for 24%. He’s shooting well from behind the arc at 42%, but is only 35% on 2-point field goals. Coming into the season everyone expected Dion to get his points at the rim, not 3-point land. Dion needs to find a better balance between outside and inside to start scoring more efficiently.

Dion Waiters is not shy, which is a good quality of a rookie guard or your newly single buddy,  but when Dion’s shot isn’t falling he must find other ways to help his team win. In the Cavs win over Philladelphia this week, Waiters recorded a career high 6 assists and career high 4 rebounds. 6 assists and 4 rebounds may not seem like much to brag about, but it’s a positive step in the right direction for Dion.

With Kyrie Irving out for the next month, the weight on Dion Waiters’ shoulders will only increase. He’ll see more time as the team’s primary ball handler, which should lead to more assists as well as more turnovers, and will also see more plays as the team’s primary scoring option.  Over the next month, Waiters will be thrown into the pressure cooker, Cavs fans can only hope he enters as a lump of coal and comes out a shiny, new diamond.

5. Alexey Shved (Last Week: Honorable Mention)

“White Russia”4” as he is being referred to, had a career night last Friday against Denver. Shved scored a career high 22 points and dished out a career high 7 assists. He leads all rookies in assist percentage5 and has an almost identical EFF48 to Damian Lillard. In the two games where Shved has played 30 minutes or more, White Russia is averaging 19 points and 6 assists.

The Timberwolves are .500 and Shved is making fans forget about their other European point guard, Ricky Rubio. Shved is nowhere near the passer that Rubio is, but his scoring is farther along than the Spaniard. Shved is a hybrid point/shooting guard and I am salivating at the idea of Rubio at the 1 and Shved at the 2.

T-Wolves general manager, David Kahn, is often the butt of many jokes, but recently Kahn has been pressing some of the right buttons. Russians Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved were two under the radar free agent signings this summer that are paying dividends early on, as well as big man Nikola Pekovic. Kahn is quietly adding quality European talent around Kevin Love that could help the ‘Wolves make the playoffs for the first time since 2004, or at least make them a popular draw on League Pass.

Honorable Mention

Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Jonas Valenciunas

Zeller Report

Since returning from his concussion, Zeller has been fairly quiet for the Cavaliers. He adds much needed depth to a thin Cavaliers’ roster, but has yet to make a serious impact in a game this year. Although Zeller hasn’t shined, he also hasn’t stunk it up. The more time on the court, the more comfortable Zeller will get. All-Rookie 2nd team appears to be a realistic goal for Zeller and Cavs fans.

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Footnotes:

  1. EFF48 measures how affective a player is while on the court []
  2. Lillard is first. []
  3. No pun intended. []
  4. My second favorite nickname, behind “Chandler Bang” []
  5. The percentage of team field goals assisted on while on the court []

NBA Rookie Rankings: Fresh Meat

(Photo: AP/Gus Ruelas)

Fresh meat. We all love it. Whether it’s the new guy at work, the new girl in your apartment complex, or the guy at the tailgate with the slab of baby-backs, everyone stares and starts asking questions fast.

“Is he here to fire someone?”

“Is she single?”

“Is there any way we can trade him three natural lights for those ribs?”

Once we get the information we want, we spread the information as fast as possible. [Read more...]

Cavaliers Road Trip Takes Them to Golden State

The Cleveland Cavaliers have played 4 games this season, and sit at 2-2. In 3 of the 4 games, the Cavaliers were able to feel good about the way they played. Only in the Chicago game last week could their effort and desire really be challenged. This is a good sign for the early season.

Tonight, as they continue their road trip by playing against the Golden State Warriors (2-2), the Cavaliers will try to keep the momentum going. One of the biggest positive for the Cavaliers is that 3 of their 4 opponents have been very good defensive teams this season. In terms of defensive efficiency, the Bulls are 1st, the Bucks are 3rd, and the Wizards are 12th. Only the Clippers (19th) fall in the bottom half of the league.

[Read more...]

WFNY’s 2012 NBA Draft Roundtable

NBA Draft day is here! In the Cavaliers’ franchise history, these have been some special days. The Cavaliers have drafted nearly all of their franchise cornerstones, and they’re hoping to add another for the second straight year. Here at WFNY, we’ve got a wide range of college and pro basketball opinions, and we drew on those experiences in this roundtable. We hope you enjoy.

Who is your guy and why (obviously excluding Anthony Davis)?

Kirk: “The answer to this question for me has been MKG, Beal, and Barnes all within the last three months. I remain firm in my opinion that the Cavs should not and will not be disappointed if they stay at four and select Barnes. In the end, I’m hoping for MKG. I’m counting on the fact that he’s only 18 and it will give him plenty of time to develop that jumper, and the other aspects of his game will be outstanding enough to warrant the selection even if he never becomes what you would call a good shooter.”

Andrew: “I remain on team MKGtoCLE. I totally get people’s concerns about his shooting ability, but I don’t want MKG as a shooter. I want MKG to run the floor with Kyrie, slash to the rim, draw fouls, grab rebounds, play tenacious defense, and be an on floor leader. Basically, I want MKG to be MKG and do all the things he does best. When watching Kentucky games, you couldn’t help but notice him doing all the little things to help his team win. It’s intagibles similar to what you get with Anderson Varejao. Fine, those guys are limited offensively. But they’re winners. They do whatever it takes to give you a chance to win. That’s what I want on the Cavaliers.”

Rick: “Admittedly, I watch probably less college basketball than any other writer at the site. That said, I have been tracking Beal since February, thinking the Cavs would have a shot at him. What I read about MKG makes me think he is the smart choice. Truthfully, I will be excited about either of these guys. ” [Read more...]

2012 NBA Draft: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes and Growing Debates

Volume versus efficiency. Finesse versus raw athleticism. Relatively regal or standard with a hyphen.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers owning the fourth spot in the upcoming NBA Draft1, and every selection beyond the first-overall being laced with various layers of mystery, there is a growing belief that Chris Grant and his staff, if they stay put, will have their choice among the best small forwards in the pool: North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes and Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Both players providing solid character traits, ideal size and high-grade pedigree, both players having strong personal ties to last year’s first-overall pick in point guard Kyrie Irving – Barnes sharing the same agent and pre-draft itinerary – but each player coming equipped with his own brand of getting-it-done skills. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Assuming they don’t do this []

NBA Mock Draft: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist To Cavs In Latest Chad Ford Projection

Chad Ford released the eighth version of his 2012 mock draft on Friday, and the ESPN scout thinks the Cavaliers will have their choice of Harrison Barnes and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 4. Ford predicts Thomas Robinson will go to Charlotte at No. 2 and the Wizards will scoop up Brad Beal at No. 3, leaving Chris Grant with a delectable choice between the two wing players to run alongside Kyrie Irving:

If Beal goes No. 3, the Cavs have a choice between Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes. The team is high on both players and could go either direction. Kidd-Gilchrist brings toughness, defense and leadership and would be great running the floor with Kyrie Irving. Barnes is a much better shooter and scorer who could add more punch to the Cavs’ attack.

At this point I’d give Kidd-Gilchrist the slight edge over Barnes.

As you may be aware, both have strong connections to Irving. MKG was his high school teammate at St. Patrick’s while Barnes and Irving were considered the top two players in their high school class and developed a strong friendship during high school. They’re also represented by the same agent.

[Related: Should Cavs Trade Up For Brad Beal?]

NBA Draft 2012: Time To Go Get Brad Beal?

The NBA Draft is upon us, and the Cavaliers and their fans are sure to have an eventful week, climaxing on Thursday night. The Cavs hold the No. 4 overall pick in a Draft that has little locked in after Anthony Davis at No. 1 for New Orleans. After Davis, there’s another five prospects who have all consistently been rumored within the top four — the big man duo of Thomas Robinson and Andre Drummond, and Harrison Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Bradley Beal. At one time or another, the Cavaliers have been linked with all of these prospects, with a consensus coalescing around the latter three.

The Cavs, of course, will not have their pick of the litter at No. 4. It’s likely that Beal, for one, is off the board before Chris Grant is on the clock. In comes Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated, who reported yesterday that many league executives expect Grant to approach the Bobcats with a trade for the No. 2 pick: [Read more...]

NBA Free Agency: Cavs Likely to Match Offers to Alonzo Gee

Though the fervor amongst fans of the orange roundie has been firmly focused on the upcoming draft, Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers will likely match any offers given to swingman Alonzo Gee.

Citing several league sources, Amico states that the team will look to retain Gee, 25, following what was considered to be a breakout campaign from a player who was scooped out of the NBDL just a year earlier. Playing both off of the bench and in a starting role, Gee averaged career-highs in points (10.6) and rebounds (5.1), playing in 63 of a possible 66 games.

Though likely to retain the restricted free agent’s services, the Cavaliers are widely considered to be in the market for a small forward in the June 28 NBA Draft, having their sites set on Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes. Given the current salary cap flexibility afforded to Chris Grant and his staff, however, the Cavaliers can afford to draft a small forward and still ensure that Gee remains in a Cavalier uniform for the 2012-13 season and beyond.

[Related: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Cleveland Far From a Sure Thing]

Sources: Cavaliers Have Drummond Ranked Higher Than Barnes?

While things have quieted down a bit in recent days with the rumors of the Cavaliers going after Andre Drummond in the draft, it’s possible this could be exactly what the Cavaliers want everyone to think.

The general assumption has been that the Cavaliers are targeting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal, and Harrison Barnes at #4, but according to ProBasketballDraft.com’s Joe Kotoch, that might not be the case. In reality, Drummond might be higher than Barnes. Kotoch writes:

Per sources Cleveland covets Michael Kidd-Gilchrist but seem less inclined to deal with Charlotte to acquire him.  After Kidd-Gilchrist the Cavs brass appears to have it ranked Beal, Drummond, Barnes, and Robinson but that their final draft board will not be set until next week.  The UCONN center arrives in Cleveland this week and it will be an interesting workout as Cleveland has been very hushed about their feelings on him.  Looking historically at Cavs GM Chris Grant he prefers to draft athletic prospects with high upside whenever possible as evidenced by J.J. Hickson, Christian Eyenga, and Tristan Thompson.  Grant was the assistant GM but in charge of the draft and ranking the Cavs board at the time Hickson and Eyenga were selected.  It would not be a shock to see the Cavs pull the trigger on Drummond as the Cavs, who could have as much upside as any player in this draft.  Sources in Cleveland do concede if the Cavs were to select Drummond the rest of the draft would be centered on finding perimeter scoring with their remaining picks.

Kotoch also notes that the Cavaliers have been extremely active in trying to trade with New Orleans, Portland, and Houston to see about getting one of the 10th, 11, 14th, or 16th picks in this draft. If the Cavaliers do take Drummond at #4 and trade back up in the first round, potential targets would likely include Jeremy Lamb, Dion Waiters, Terrence Ross, Austin Rivers, Moe Harkless, and Perry Jones.

The draft is just 10 days away, so expect plenty of rumors like this to be coming fast and furious over the next week and a half.

[Related: Cavaliers' Plans at #4 Need Not Include a Center]

NBA Draft: Bradley Beal and Harrison Barnes perform well in workout, Andre Drummond to visit next week

Looks like both Bradley Beal and Harrison Barnes performed well for the Cavaliers today.  Jeff Goodman, of CBS Sports, tweets:

From Joe Kotoch at ProBasketballDraft.com:

Cleveland is seriously considering Kidd-Gilchrist, Brad Beal, Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, and Austin Rivers.  Rivers has been a name that is rising on the Cavs board with his creative scoring ability and range.  Rivers is rising up boards and is under consideration by Portland, Toronto, and New Orleans in the top-10.  Cleveland hosted a workout between Beal and Barnes today, according to sources Beal really impressed as a shooter while Barnes showed surprising improvement as a ball handler.  It is very likely the Cavs decision will come down these two players and the Cavs are not in a rush to make a decision.

Austin Rivers? That’s kind of surprising. I can’t imagine the Cavs would take him at four. Now if they would say, trade down with Portland, take Andre Drummond (or another big) at six and Rivers at eleven? Sure. But Rivers at four? That’d be a bigger surprise than Tristan Thompson.

And speaking of Andre Drummond, ProBasketballDraft tweets:

 

And in case you forgot when Festus Ezeli was coming in for his workout (how dare you!), he’s scheduled to be here Monday, June 18th.

[Related: What I Think I Know About the NBA Draft]

What I Think I Know About the NBA Draft

The 1986 Draft put the Cavs on the path to contention. Let’s we’ll say the same for the 2012 Draft.

Here’s what I know about the 2012 NBA Draft:

1. It takes place on Thursday, June 28th, 2012 (you should watch it here).

2. The New Orleans Hornets will take Kentucky center Anthony Davis with the first pick.

3. The Cavs have four picks and a lot of options.

When the lottery gods pushed the Cavs out of the Top 3, many were understandably down. Trust me, I was one of them. I had just spent a month dreaming of Kyrie Irving throwing alley-oops to Anthony Davis and having earnest “if the Cavs have Irving and Davis and LeBron wants to come back, what do you do?” conversations. Also, the local conventional wisdom seemed to be: “as long as the Cavs can stay in the Top 3, we’ll be OK.” Landing in the fourth spot was definitely a let down.

But picking fourth isn’t so bad. A number of high caliber players could be available to the Cavs at four. It’s Chris Grant’s job to figure out which one fits the best with Kyie Irving and the rest of your Cleveland Cavaliers. [Read more...]

2012 NBA Draft: Harrison Barnes Scouting Video

One of the latest productions from the great folks over at Draft Express, we have a scouting video of North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, a player who has been consistently linked to the Cleveland Cavaliers with regard to the June 28 NBA Draft. Complete with player comps and testimonials, strengths and weaknesses.

[Related: NBA Draft: Staying at #4 And Debating The Prospects]

NBA Draft: Staying at #4 And Debating The Prospects

When the NBA Draft Lottery dust settled and the Cavalier contingent was a bit downtrodden to see their sword and basketball logo pop up in the #4 envelope, I was among those thinking of what could have been. If the Cavaliers had nabbed the second or third pick, they were guaranteed either Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Florida guard Bradley Beal, the two realistic scenarios that kept Cavalier fans with their eye on the ultimate prize in the doldrums of late spring losses in #TankStrong season. However, the more I think about, watch film, and listen to news reports, the more I think the Cavaliers need to take a patient approach and see what falls to them at the four slot.

With the unibrowed one, Anthony Davis, already with his bags packed for New Orleans, it’s pointless to discuss him any further. Instead, if the Cavaliers stay at four, it’s likely that Kidd-Gilchrist, Beal, North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes, Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, or Connecticut center Andre Drummond will be a Cavalier. Yes, there’s always the possibility of Connecticut guard Jeremy Lamb, though he could potentially be had after a trade down. I’ve watched film on all of these guys recently to a varying degree as well as getting a look at each of them in several games throughout the college basketball season, and what I see is a lot of similar talent level. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Harrison Barnes, Nick Hamilton, and More NBA Draft Talk

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

Leading off, our own Scott Sargent chronicled the path of Harrison Barnes to the NBA and compares his path to the one carved out thus far by Kyrie Irving, “Descending upon the media portion of the NBA Draft combine one year after one his best friends in Irving did the same, Barnes, fresh off of his 20th birthday, stood out amongst the group of giants not due to size or stature but due to his demeanor, professionalism and understanding that, despite the inability to legally consume alcohol, he has to be as much of an adult as the veterans with whom he will soon be sharing a locker room.” [Scott/Still WFNY @ Cleveland.com]

Over at Did The Tribe Win Last Night, there’s a great story on Nick Hamilton, the recent Tribe draft pick and son of Tom Hamilton, “Unlike his dad, Nick Hamilton’s first read on the ball is not how it sounds coming off the bat, but what it looks like. “Your senses make up for each other,” Nick Hamilton said. “I have very good vision. I think that’s what I rely on more instead of sound. I can [hear] the difference between a really badly hit ball and a really well hit ball, but for the most part, I use my vision and try to judge the speed that way. It’s amazing how the body works.” [DTTWLN]

Brendan Bowers at Stepien Rules has been talking plenty of NBA Draft recently. Yesterday, he covered several topics, including the Bobcats shopping that second pick, “If the Bobcats would take pick number four to allow themselve to dump Diop and/or Thomas on the Cavaliers in order for Cleveland to move up two spots I’d give the tires a quality kick on that. The Cavs are way under the cap, and per the new CBA they may need to look for ways to actually spend money in order to get themselves to the minimum salary cap floor.” [Stepien Rules] [Read more...]