NBA OFF-SEASON PREVIEW: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
Things ain’t so bad in Cleveland. Right? Here’s my argument:
Sure, whatshisname left, but look at the bright side - You have a young team, a new coach, an owner who believes in the franchise (to say the least), some new (old Minnesota Gophers) jerseys, and you got rid of all of those annoying bandwagon fans. There’ll be only true Cavs supporters at the Q this season. Plus, this summer was so rotten, basketball fans all over the country are now actively pulling for your team. It’ll be low expectations. All positivity. Plus, there’s NO WAY the Cavs are a disappointment this season. That’s a good environment to incubate a team.
I think J.J. Hickson makes The Leap this year. Nice footwork around the basket. Finishes well. His stats per 36 minutes? 14.7 pts, 8.5 rebs. Kevin Garnett’s 2010 averages? 14.3 pts., 7.3 rebs. J.J.’s 22, plays hard, runs the floor well, and has an outside shot at being a better Jeff Green this season. I know Coach Scott is not thrilled with Hickson’s play right now, but that’s because Byron loves him so much, right? That’s the excuse my parents gave me when I was 6 and spilled the OJ in the fridge…IT WAS AN ACCIDENT, MOM!!!*
Playing well on a crappy team isn’t easy. Losing can get you down. Rob you of your will. Good thing Cleveland has three guys who don’t just have experience playing under these circumstances, but excel in them. Mo Williams, 27 and Ramon Sessions, 23, have very similar backgrounds. Each had a breakout year for maligned Bucks team, and each played themselves into a sliver of limelight, and a new contract. Neither has true point guard skills, but each has the ability to play the 1 or the 2. They’re shifty. Nice perimeter games. Why can’t these two be the Lite Beer versions of Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley?
(photo by @DocFunk)
And we can’t forget Antawn Jamison. This guy plays his best when absolutely nothing is on the line. He’s the Duke of Performing on Crappy Teams (there are only a couple of ranks higher than that - Prince, King, War Chief). His best season was ‘00-‘01, when he hung 24.9 pts., 8.7 rebs., 2 asts., and 1.5 stls per game for a team that went 17-65. He averaged 22 and 8 over two more campaigns, ‘02-‘03 & ‘08-‘09, and those teams finished a combined 57-106.
Guys, we’re talking Crap Squad Hall of Fame here. And I’m only slightly kidding. This guy knows how to stay engaged. Losing doesn’t faze him at all.
Plus, there’s Anderson Varejao. You’re not allowed to like Joakim Noah and hate Andy V. It’s a League rule. Anthony Parker is in a contract year. He’ll play super hard because nobody wants to go back to Israel to ball. He and Jamario Moon are wings built to run, and that’s exactly what Byron Scott will have them do.
Scott is as good as they come with reclamation projects. He took the Nets to The Finals in his second and third year in NJ, plus coached the Hornets to a 56 win season, and first place in the Southwest Division. All 3 teams ran the ball.
BONUS: Shaq’s gone. You saw what that does for team chemistry in Phoenix last year.
Let’s recap. Cleveland has two young, versatile guards who know how to shine on bad teams, a veritable Garbage Time All-Star, Varejao’s hair, Anthony Parker’s fear of Israel, a Shaq-shaped hole in the locker room, and a new coach with a winning pedigree, ready to run.
On top of all that, there’s a stink in Cleveland right now that no one wants to sit through. It’s the stink of LeBron James farting on the city. If this Cavs team has heart, and that’s the leap I’m making this season, then the Cavaliers will play good, hard-nosed, honest, spit-on-your-hands basketball to rid the city of said stink, making Northeast Ohioans proud.
Prediction? I think the Cavs will be better than the Raptors, 76ers and Pistons. They can be just as good as the Nets, Wizards, Pacers, and but a mere click behind the Bobcats, Bucks, Knicks and Hawks, which means…I think they have a shot at the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference. I really do.
Wouldn’t you like to see LeBron and the Heat play at least two Playoff games in Cleveland next Spring? That’s reason enough to believe in the Cavs.
I think I just convinced somebody things ain’t so bad in Cleveland. Is it you?
(Got ‘Em Coach)
*Exclamation points used with the expressed, written consent of the Exclamation Point Master himself, LeBron James.