July 29, 2014

Cavs vs. Jazz Behind The Boxscore: Offense! Honest-to-goodness offense!

dengjack

Luol Deng made his Cavalier debut tonight in Utah, and it couldn’t have went much better for the Wine and Gold. Deng showed some nice things in a 4-for-8 shooting effort for 10 points in 21 minutes, but it was the Cavaliers’ 39-point third quarter explosion that allowed them to jump out to an insurmountable lead. Seven Cavaliers finished in double figures, and the Cavaliers thumped the Jazz 113-102 in Energy Solutions Arena to improve to 13-23 on the season and 2-0 since the Deng trade.

Let’s dig into some of the stat nuggets from this game, and there is no shortage of them.

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WFNY Stats & Info: Cavs frontcourt’s potential without Bynum

andy tristanIt’s no secret that the Cleveland Cavaliers were not a good basketball team with since-departed Andrew Bynum on the court. Heck, they obviously haven’t been good overall with their 12-23 record, but it was particular awful with the current free agent.

In Bynum’s 480 minutes, the Cavs had a -11.3 net efficiency rating per 100 possessions. That’d easily be the worst team in the NBA. In the remaining 1,240 minutes this season, the efficiency differential is just -3.0, a mark resembling that of a 30-win team, which might just be enough for the playoffs in the year’s historically bad Eastern Conference.

But that alone wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to dig even further into the specific frontcourt combinations that the Cavaliers have used this season. I then looked at all of the iterations of playing time between Bynum, Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson. The data was parsed with an eye toward the corresponding plus-minus points and net rebounding data. It’s not easy to track possessions in this way, so I averaged them out per 48 minutes of playing time.

My goal: To look only at Cavs lineups with Thompson and/or Varejao on the court, but never with Bynum. These are the options the team will rely upon going forward in the second half. So their past success (or failures) could tell a sign for the future.

cavs frontcourt plus minus

Looking at only the highlighted combinations, they represent 63% of total minutes this season: 1,077 overall. And, to great fortune for the team’s future: They have exactly a zero plus-minus thus far. They’ve been perfectly average. That’s awesome. That should be music to Cavs’ fans ears.

Obviously, this excludes the lineups we’ve seen without Thompson, Varejao or Bynum on the court. Those will still be possible going forward, so their issues aren’t just immediately alleviated. The Cavs have been very bad during those minutes. Still, it’s pleasing to know of the positive results.

On the rebounding side, the combined Thompson/Varejao lineups — representing 39% of minutes — out-rebound opponents by 6.4 boards per 48 minutes. That’s elite and very impressive. It’s perhaps in line with Varejao’s recent eight-game rebounding hot streak. Although the Cavs are an average rebounding team overall, they’ve been below average in every other lineup iteration.

The biggest factor for the future could just be the health of the team’s best players stars, specifically Varejao. He personally has a -3.7 plus-minus per 48 minutes in the last four years in 3,708 minutes despite all of the franchise’s terrible struggles. If he can stay on the court — and Bynum gone — then this Cavs team could truly have a fighting chance with solid new addition Luol Deng.

[More Andrew Bynum thoughts from WFNY's Scott Sargent: The end of an era]

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cavs vs. Bucks Behind The Boxscore: Kyrie beats the flu and Milwaukee too

U-G-L-Y. This game certainly had no alibi for the first three and a half quarters. The Bucks, missing nearly half of their roster including three starters, played the Cavaliers hard as both teams struggled to play aesthetically pleasing basketball. What we did see, however, was a thrilling finish that saw huge shots from several different Cavaliers, and they needed every single last one of them to eek out a 114-111 overtime victory over the Bucks in Quicken Loans Arena. Let’s highlight some of the numbers from this much-needed win that keeps the Cavs just one-half game out of the 8 seed in the wide-open East. Cavs Bucks 1 - The Cavaliers had just one turnover in the fourth quarter and did not turn the ball over in overtime. With just 12 miscues for the 53 minutes of action, it’s even more impressive when you point out that nine of those came in the first half of the game. The Bucks only turned it over 11 times themselves, and what that meant was more shots going up. Each team took 100 shots with the Bucks making one more with 40. The single most detrimental thing game in and game out for the Cavaliers is their number of turnovers. Holding them in check allowed them to survive a subpar effort defensively and shooting-wise.

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Cavalier Film Room: Conceding The Defensive Glass

Last week in the film room, we dove into some of Mike Brown’s defensive principles. This week, it’s pretty obvious where I’m going given Tuesday night’s outcome in the heartbreaking loss at the hands of Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers. As always, if you have an idea for a film room topic, I’m always happy to take suggestions at kirk@waitingfornextyear.com.

WFNY Cavaliers Film Room

On Tuesday night, the Cavaliers allowed the Blazers to collect 18 offensive rebounds. That doesn’t sound particularly outrageous on its own, but when you consider that the Blazers turned that into 35 second chance points on 12 field goals and the Cavaliers only grabbed 31 defensive rebounds (or roughly only 63% of the rebounds at that end) themselves, it becomes the single most significant factor as to why the Cavs weren’t able to pull off the sizable upset on their home court. Let’s take a look at a few of those 18 Portland second chances and see if we see any common themes develop.
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Cavalier Film Room: Defense: Clipper Tested, Mike Brown approved

Last week in the film room, we looked at Andrew Bynum’s recent big contributions. As always, if you have suggestions for a topic, feel free to contact me at kirk@waitingfornextyear.com.

WFNY Cavaliers Film Room

 

This week, we’re going to finally dive into Mike Brown’s defensive system and how well the Cavaliers are adopting it through the first quarter of the season. We’re going to focus on Saturday night’s home win against the Clippers for this effort. The Cavaliers won 88-82, allowing the Clips to shoot just 32% as they attempted 35 three pointers. Here, we’ll touch on just a couple things that I like to see with Brown’s defense, as this will be a recurring theme that we’ll visit plenty throughout the season in slightly different formats.

We start off with Chris Paul at the top of the key, guarded by Kyrie Irving, entering the ball into Blake Griffin, covered by Tristan Thompson. The first thing I enjoy seeing is Tristan attempting to deny the ball into Griffin. Far too often, we see the defender just allow the ball to get entered there. Sure, Griffin isn’t a good shooter, but the first step in any power move that he has is getting the ball entered.

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While We’re Waiting… Whither Trevor Bauer, 2014 starter?

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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Remember this guy? “The majority of Indians fans and the media as a whole are somewhat overlooking Trevor Bauer’s candidacy for the Cleveland starting rotation. It seems to me as if we’ve forgotten him a little bit, that we are leaving him off our ‘who I’d like to see in the 2014 rotation’ lists. Trevor is always in the mix, but most of the time I see Josh Tomlin and Carlos Carrasco mentioned ahead of Bauer, while I think Bauer has more talent. He could yet prove to be a key contributor to the Indians in 2014.” [Ash Day/Let's Go Tribe] [Read more...]

The Diff: Cavs big men trio among NBA’s best of late

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 “ace” Justin Masterson’s future with the Cleveland Indians. This week, it’s back to basketball to talk Cavaliers big men.

The Diff

The Cleveland Cavaliers have suddenly won four of their last five games. During these contests, the triumvirate of Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson has averaged a combined 37.6 points and 32.0 rebounds on 54.9% true shooting. The resurgence of these three has been a huge reason for the recent streak. Now that they’re all (currently) healthy, they might be one of the best frontcourts in the very weak Eastern Conference and perhaps in the entire NBA. Let’s dive into their recent success and look at their possible future together in leading the Cavs. [Read more...]

Paul Walker, Cleveland Cavaliers, Twitter etiquette and more with Brian Spaeth – WFNY Podcast – 2013-12-10

WFNY Podcast LogoTalking to Brian Spaeth is almost always a good time. I thought maybe this one would be depressing because he’s such a big Paul Walker fan. Still, this felt more like a celebration of Walker than a funeral. We talked about Cavs basketball and other stuff too.

  • Brian Spaeth’s love for Paul Walker
  • Brian’s love for the Fast and Furious films
  • Paul Walker compared to Keanu Reeves
  • What to do with the Fast and Furious movie franchise
  • The Boney trolling podcast and Brian’s response to it
  • AOL Chatrooms and civility online
  • Comedians and snark and freedom and originality
  • The Sound of Music and hate watching stuff
  • Aging out of the snark and negativity
  • Twitter being the specific group of hardcores
  • Enjoying the Browns bye week
  • Brian’s Cavs podcast false-starting
  • Praising Kyrie Irving and needing to be careful about it
  • Is Kyrie Irving the next Stevie Francis
  • Is Dion Waiters the next Vinnie Johnson?
  • Tristan Thompson as John Hot Rod Williams
  • Sitting in awe of TD’s piece about the Browns vs. Bears game
  • Charlie Manson and serial killers
  • Candy Crush addiction and how much money you spent [Read more...]

Cavaliers reach the quarter season mark with more questions than answers

kyrie_brownAs the Cavaliers get set to take on the New York Knicks Tuesday night at The Q, Cleveland currently sits with a 7-13 record at the 20-game point of the season. For all intents and purposes, the 20-game mark represents the first quarter of the season. It’s an important milestone because it’s typically the point in the season when you can begin to define what a team is or isn’t. It’s the point in the season in which you can’t really apply the “it’s still early” mantra.

That could be bad news for the Cavaliers, kings of the statutes of patience and learning. But in the case of the Cavaliers, “it’s still early” actually still applies. It’s not early in the season, but it’s early in the team’s development. That doesn’t mean everything is going to be fine and the Cavaliers are still on the path to an eventual contending team. It just means that’s it’s still a little too soon to place too much value on results. As disappointing as this season has been, the team as a whole is still improved over last season, and that’s really the most important thing. [Read more...]

Cavs vs. Clippers Behind the Box Score: Rebounding and defense continue to be Cavs’ winning formula

They say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.

Tristan Clippers23.7 - Points below the Clippers’ season average the Cavaliers defense held them to in Saturday night’s win. The Clippers attack that is used to flying up and down the court, and is in the top five in the league in scoring  started off the game well, but had the clamps put on them in the second half by the Cavaliers’ defense. The Cavs led the Clippers 50-49 at the half way point before the game was slowed down to the grind it out slug it out affair that was just what Mike Brown wanted. The Clippers managed just 33 points in the second half compared to the 37 the Hawks jumped out to in the first quarter on Friday.

13 - Field goal attempts for Andrew Bynum. In Bynum’s last three games he’s had games of 14, 15, 14, and 13 field goal attempts. Before that stretch the big fella had only attempted double digit field goals  twice on the season. Bynum continues to show flashes of the the form that made him a force back in his Lakers days. Time and again on Saturday Bynum found himself getting a catch deep in the restricted area, allowing for an easy drop step and jump hook for two.

Bynum logged 24 minutes on his way 16 points and 7 rebounds, but was subbed out of the game late in the third quarter and did not return.

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While We’re Waiting… NFL Draft QBs, Rebounding, and B1G Title Prep

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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Leading off, Urban Meyer has changed his mind and has decided to apply some sort of additional punishment to offensive lineman Marcus Hall, who won’t start tonight’s Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State. Zac Jackson of Fox Sports Ohio says that it shows a different Urban Meyer than in past seasons, “It might be a one-drive suspension. It might be a hollow gesture. Whatever happens, it shows that Meyer knows people are watching, listening, waiting for the chance to feed him his own words or catch him with his guard down.  Meyer knows he might need people on his side, too. The final BCS standings are going to be decided by voters in the coaches and Harris Polls on Sunday. Not that anyone is going to change a vote because Meyer chose to punish Hall, but there’s no need to give anyone any extra reason to potentially  put Auburn very high in these upcoming final polls and Ohio State much lower than most. Just in case. ” [Jackson/FSO]

Over at Stepien Rules, Cleveland Jackson talks about Tristan Thompson and rebounding, “There is a predictive calculation being made there.  He is not just tracking the basketball, it’s angle of trajectory and speed with his eyes.  He’s measuring where it will go. He has always been capable of this. At Texas, in the one season he played college basketball, Tristan Thompson averaged an astounding 3.8 OFFENSIVE rebounds per game.  He came into the NBA with a 38.5 inch vertical leap and a standing reach of 9 feet and one half inch.  By extension, at least in theory, Tristan Thompson can touch an object 12 feet 3 inches above himself by jumping. ” [Stepien Rules] [Read more...]

Is the Cavaliers’ Win Streak a Mirage or the Start of Something Different?

cavs_nuggets13“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.” – LL Cool J

On Wednesday night, as the Cleveland Cavaliers were working on putting away the Denver Nuggets for the first win streak of the season, Cavs fans on Twitter began to rejoice. With good reason, too. After the miserable month of November for the Cavaliers, the team was coming off back-to-back home wins against playoff teams.

Perhaps some got a little carried away in their exuberance. Austin Carr called the win “the shot heard ‘round the league”. Others seemed to be channeling their inner Walter Sobchak in proclaiming “our f***ing troubles are over, Dude”. Of course, in the case of Walter and the Dude in The Big Lebowski, their troubles were actually really only just beginning. But what about the Cavaliers? What are we to make of their November troubles?

A two game win streak isn’t the kind of thing most teams celebrate. It’s certainly not something I expected to see Cavs fans celebrating in early December. But that’s the kind of season it has been. Predictable in its unpredictability. And amongst the mounting frustration and anguish of media, fans, coaches, and players, answers kept seemingly growing only in their elusiveness.

After the Cavaliers let a late lead in New Orleans slip away to the Pelicans, followed up by the San Antonio embarrassment the next night, there really seemed to be a sense that everything was slipping away. It was the moment the players had to unite as one and collectively take a hard look at themselves in the mirror. The fate of the season seemingly standing of the edge of a precipice, unclear which way it would go. Would the players give in and let everything fall off the edge? [Read more...]

Nuggets vs. Cavs Behind The Boxscore: Rebounding and D lead Cavs to two straight wins

They say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.

btbsnuggetsAre things starting to turn around? The Cavaliers won back to back games for the first time this season as they used their three days off to find some toughness and defensive tenacity as they topped the weary Nuggets 98-88 in The Q.  The Cavaliers improved to 6-12 on the season, and that puts them back on the track to getting back on the right side of the playoff picture.

Frontcourt comes up big - The Cavaliers got multiple key contributions from their big men this evening. It was headlined by Tristan Thompson, who posted a career-high 21 rebounds in 34 minutes. Nine of those came on the offensive end, and Thompson added 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Anderson Varejao looked like his 2012 self pre-injury with a 18 point, 13 rebound effort as Andy mixed in a nice variety of mid-range jumpers and gyroscope moves under the hoop. Andrew Bynum, who had completely changed the way the Cavs think on offense when he’s in there, posted 14 points and 7 boards in 20 minutes. He took a jaw-dropping 15 shots in those 20 minutes, hitting just 6 of them. Again, some of it’s Bynum getting that touch back as he got good position against J.J. Hickson and Timofey Mozgov. Overall, though, getting 49 points and 41 rebounds from this trio was huge as the Cavs used their size advantage. [Read more...]

Cavs 97, Bulls 93: The Andrew Bynum Game

Andrew-Bynum_bullsThis is the best-case scenario. This is the All-Star.

Cavs center Andrew Bynum dominated for the first time in Cleveland, showcasing his talents with a 20-10-5 performance and leading the charge for a 97-93 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Bynum played a season-high 30 minutes and also contributed three assists to go along with his points, rebounds and blocks. With Kyrie Irving still in the midst of a season-long funk, Bynum was the key for preventing yet another fourth-quarter meltdown.

The Cavs nearly led coast-to-coast and had a 12-point lead with 10 minutes left when the usual comeback began. Chicago was led by 27 points and 11 assists from veteran Luol Deng — rumored trade target — plus 18 points from rookie Tony Snell. They used an 18-5 run to lead by one with four minutes left.

But that’s when Bynum made a jumper, the Bulls made a few mistakes offensively and the Cavs somehow held on for victory. They improved to 5-12 on the young season, including a somewhat impressive 4-3 at home. [Read more...]

The Boots: Focusing on disturbing Cavs trends

Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty ImagesIn my usual 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. Today, I’m all about Cavs pessimism.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are now 4-12. After last night’s shellacking in Boston to the tune of 103-86, they have the NBA’s second-worst road record (1-9). They rank second- or third-worst in almost every team efficiency standing. While the myriad of issues and complaints could go on for days, let’s take care of just three today.

Boot Down: Where is Tristan Thompson, budding All-Star? – One of the emerging trends over this latest five-game losing streak has been the lackluster play of the 22-year-old Canadian out of Texas. He’s averaged only five points and seven rebounds in 26% shooting in 24 minutes per contest during this run. [Read more...]

Cavs 100, Pelicans 104: Late collapse dooms Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers again

irving cavs pelicansFor just over 43 minutes, the Cleveland Cavaliers looked like a new team. They were hustling, passing and doing all the “little things” that make a basketball team actually competitive.

For the final 4:43, everything stopped. Defense was non-existent. The ball hardly moved away from Kyrie Irving’s hands – for better and for (mostly) worse. And the host New Orleans Pelicans out-scored the Cavs 23-7 down the stretch to win.

It’s clearly a tough loss. The Cleveland team with playoff hopes fell to 4-9 with an ugly 1-7 road record. But in the end, there were signs of hope from New Orleans.

Pregame, the story of the day was undrafted rookie Matthew Dellavedova getting the starting nod over Dion Waiters and the injured C.J. Miles. Again, this is the Dellavedova who played just 26 minutes in the team’s first 10 games. But Mike Brown saw enough out of his hustle and intensity in the two previous games to give him the honor. [Read more...]

Cavs Friday Five: Would you rather? Cavs and Wizards edition

Kyrie John WallIt’s tough to be a Cavalier fan these days. Real tough. They could very well be the worst team in all of the Association. Sure, their 4-8 record puts them only a half game behind Detroit for the 8 seed, but as I sat in The Q and looked up to see The Diff read -26 against a 3-7 Wizards team coming off a back to back while the Cavs had just enjoyed three days off I found it hard to imagine things could get much worse. Honestly they really can’t. Either the team gets better and creeps back in the playoff race or they tank and earn themselves a shot at landing a franchise changing lottery pick. [Read more...]

The Kyrie We Know and The Delly We Didn’t

kyriewash“His handle seems loose, his ability to take over the game late has been neutralized, and his attitude has flat-out sucked. I saw one play where he didn’t get a foul call, looked at the official, and then jogged half-heartedly back down the court as the Bobcats scored. THAT is the kind of crap that is unacceptable. You want to be a star, a max player? Act like it!”

That’s part of my rant about Kyrie Irving from Friday night’s debacle at home. Never have I felt that a team needed a win so badly in the early part of the season, but that’s how I felt last night. The Cavaliers were pretty predictably mediocre in the early going of this game, and then it escalated to flatout bad halfway through the second quarter as the Cavaliers trailed 40-25 at one point to the Wizards. But, somehow, someway, in the nation’s capital, the Cavaliers crawled back, forced overtime, and then won it in the extra session on the back of Kyrie Irving as he tied his career-high 41 points for the second time in the Cavaliers’ 103-96 win over the Wizards. How did they do it? Kyrie ACTED like he wanted to be that star player. [Read more...]

Game 8: Cavaliers vs Bulls Behind The Box Score

They say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.

Kyrie Irving Derrick Rose BullsThere are different degrees of losses for sure. Some losses are better than others. I’m not sure I would go so far as calling something a good loss. That would imply value in losing, and that’s such a dangerous proposition. I certainly don’t want to be back in a position where losing games is a good thing, especially this early in the season. But on the sliding scale of losses, this loss to the Bulls wasn’t as bad as some of the other losses.

It’s not that the Cavaliers played particularly well. In general, this was an ugly game with a lot of bad basketball being played. But the Cavaliers showed a lot of spirit and heart in this game, coming back from a 2nd half deficit to get within 1 point in the 4th quarter before things fell apart a bit. But playing Chicago hard on the road really is progress. After seeing so many 20+ point blowouts over the years, it was just nice to see the Cavaliers come out and play the Bulls tough for once.

Now lets get into the numbers: [Read more...]

NBA: Chad Ford on Anthony Bennett, the 2014 draft and LeBron’s free agency

The Bill Simmons “WHOA!” will live on forever, but the fact is that there was no consensus number one pick in the 2013 draft. What also appears to be fact is that 2013 wasn’t a year merely without a consensus number one, but a down year in general for the NBA talent infusion process. How much of a down year remains to be seen, but the hype for 2014 is officially off the charts if you believe Chad Ford from his latest ESPN chat.

Sonic (Poland)

Would you trade A. Bennet for next year lottery pick (no 8-14)?Don’t want to write him off but am I wrong that in next year lottery may be better talent from no. 1 pick to no. 14 pick than in this year’s draft top 3?

Chad Ford (1:04 PM)

Top 10 pick? Yes. Not sure I’d go lower than that. Bennett has talent. He’s just out of shape and rusty. But the bigger point is that the 2013 NBA Draft just didn’t really have a true No. 1 pick. That’s why there was so much uncertainty leading up to the draft. I’d take anyone in my Top 7 right now over anyone in the 2013 Draft.

That certainly doesn’t speak to what Anthony Bennett can become, but it definitely is a bit of a wet blanket right this second for Cavs fans. It might just be the case that the Cavaliers were really lucky in the draft lottery in an off year. Imagine if the Cavaliers had somehow managed to win the lottery a year before and could have matched up Anthony Davis with Kyrie Irving?

I was talking to WFNY’s Andrew about this topic and he had the following response.

“I’m not sure who, specifically, Ford thinks the Cavs should have taken instead of Thompson or Waiters. Perhaps Jonas Valanciunas or Klay Thompson instead of Thompson and I suppose Andre Drummond over Waiters, but hindsight is easy to cover the fact that the Cavaliers simply had the unfortunate luck of picking high in a few drafts that were short of impact talent at the top.”

Of course any time Chad Ford chats with fans, the best basketball player on the planet is sure to come up. And until LeBron James retires, I don’t think Cleveland will be able to escape his shadow.

john (jacksonville)

What should miami heat do if big 3 leaves in free agency?

  Chad Ford (1:22 PM)

I don’t think they’re going anywhere … I love the idea of LeBron returning to Cleveland … but as long as Dan Gilbert is the owner, I don’t see it happening. Besides … I’m not sure the Cavs have drafted well enough to make it compelling for LeBron. Had they chosen differently on Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett? Maybe … but they’ve clearly missed a few times on players that could’ve been more helpful to their cause. Thank goodness for Kyrie Irving.

Thank goodness indeed. While many Cavs fans continue to talk about Mike Brown being the same old Mike Brown, the real question should be about the guy who is in his first rotation in his position. That’s general manager Chris Grant who needs to prove that he can build a top-tier NBA roster. So far, Grant’s biggest defenders are heard saying it’s too early and calling for patience more than they are standing up for the talent as it sits today on the Cavs roster. How much of that is circumstance and how much of that is Chris Grant’s responsibility won’t matter if the Cavaliers don’t eventually compete at a very high level in the league.

[Related: Kyrie vs Rose: (Almost) The Matchup We’ve All Been Waiting For]