The Cavs made an interesting move this week, claiming 6′ 11″ power forward Jon Leuer off of waivers. Check out the pre-draft video above and the player profile prepared by DraftExpress.com for some background on Leuer.
After drafting Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson in the last two draft some might question why the Cavs made this move, but you can never have too many quality big men, and this also makes it easier to move Anderson Varejao if the opportunity arises.
The Cavs under Chris Grant certainly can be unpredictable, but that’s also a reflection of how the media narrows in a several potential scenarios in the draft.
The Cavs went with Dion Waiters with the fourth pick, leaving Harrison Barnes on the board. Then, they traded the rest of their picks in order to snag #17 selection Tyler Zeller.
If you look closely at both picks, you’ll begin to under stand what the Cavs are trying to do. The Cavs reportedly went after Bradley Beal but then chose Waiters. They obviously wanted an athletic 2-guard that could get to the rim and create his own shot who could compliment Kyrie. It’s critical to have multiple players who can slash to the rim in the Princeton offense, and not they can add Waiters to the mix with Kyrie and Alonzo Gee.
With Zeller, the Cavs fill an important need at center, so both Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao can go back to their natural position of power forward for the majority of their minutes. More importantly, Zeller runs the floor very well, and the Cavs clearly want to run with Irving and Waiters. Zeller won’t be a dominant player, but he also gives them another scoring option in the half-court game as Zeller plays well with his back to the basket. So the Cavs will be able to run while also keeping size on the floor. Imagine a rotation when you have Irving, Waiters, Gee, Thompson and Zeller on the floor. This unit can run with any team in the league, but can also match up with size in the half court. It could be very fun to watch.
I have no idea if Waiters was the right pick at #4. In today’s NBA, you’re picking kids with very limited resumes and you have to project out their skills to the NBA game. Remember last year when many pundits complained about Kyrie’s lack of experience at Duke? That said, Waiters avoided doing workouts, so there’s clearly some risk here with this pick.
But we can see what the Cavs are trying to do. Players need to fit together in a system, and it looks like Waiters and Zeller could be great fits with Kyrie and the system being run by Byron Scott.
Ricky Rubio, 2009 NBA draft pick for the Minnesota Timberwolves, smiles as he answers questions at a news conference in Minneapolis, June 21, 2011. Rubio, the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft has signed a multi-year contract with the Timberwolves. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
This should be fun. Ricky Rubio is generating a ton of buzz around the league with his play, and Kyrie Irving is getting his own share of attention.
Kyrie Irving is playing like a No. 1 overall pick. Derrick Williams is looking like the second-best rookie on his team.
The statement is neither an indictment on Williams’ potential nor a reflection on how the Timberwolves view the power forward they selected No. 2 overall behind Irving in the NBA Draft. But as Irving and the Cavaliers face the Timberwolves Friday night in Minneapolis, any talk of rookie-of-the-year showdowns must include Ricky Rubio, who’s part point guard and part pop star to a fan base that has been eager for a reason to get excited since Kevin Garnett left town in 2007.
Rubio, 21, and Irving, 19, are the only rookies among the 120 players on the NBA All-Star Game ballot.
The Cavs have been fun to watch with their energy and team play, and this matchup gives them a chance to pick up a road win.
I also want to watch Williams play. Many in Cleveland wanted him over Irving, especially since Tristan Thompson wasn’t a very popular pick at #4. Now Thompson is winning over Cleveland fans and Irving is showing flashes of brilliance, so it will be interesting to see them match up against Williams as well tomorrow night.
Toronto Raptors James Johnson (R) goes to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers Antawn Jamison (4) during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto January 4, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
If you haven’t been watching the Cavs and you just started last night, give them another chance. This team has excellent young talent in Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, but more importantly the entire team plays hard and plays well together.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (Cumulonimbus)
There was much garments-rending over how LeBron left Cleveland in rancid shambles, but few noted the bizarre NBA paradox: Rancid shambles = where you want to be in this league. Rank failure is rewarded, and handsomely so. The upstart Cavs now sport the first and fourth picks from 2011. With Baron Davis amnestied, and Antawn Jamison expiring, Cleveland will have ample financial room going forward.
Despite widespread assertions to the contrary, I believe that Kyrie Irving has superstar potential. Tristan Thompson looks like he could become a valuable defensive force at the 4 spot, no small thing in this league. Promising draft, promising team.
Ointment flies: Owner Dan Gilbert seems quite impulse oriented, and he might jump at the chance to trade for the next Jamison. Coach Byron Scott has been meager with minutes for Irving and Thompson–which should buy Scott a swift conviction in the Court of League Pass.
Let’s see if the Cavs can play well on this tough road trip and generate some more attention.
Kyrie Irving smiles after being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in Newark, New Jersey, June 23, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
I have no idea how the Cavs are going to do this year in terms of wins and losses, but after watching the two exhibition games, there’s certainly cause for optimism for the long-term prospects of the franchise.
First, Kyrie Irving looks like a player. Just watching him on the court you see a player with all the tools. While he has struggled with his jump shot, he looks like a natural point guard. He handles the ball beautifully and he can finish near the basket. His teammates are still getting used to the passes he zips in there. He knows how to drive to the hoop and get to the foul line. He’s very quick and also seems to have a second gear that helps him blow past people. He’s also smart and steady. With Irving it looks like the Cavaliers have a legitimate building block for the future.
Tristan Thompson has also shown some flashes. When he first walked on the court in Detroit he looked lost. He doesn’t have much of an offensive game and he was making dumb fouls on defense. But when he came out in the second half he got a couple of dunks and then some wicked blocks, and all of a sudden he looked great out there. The kid runs the floor very well and he has a high motor.
Omri Casspi looks like a nice addition. He’s another high energy player that will fit in well on a team that will be relying on defense and fast break points. Coach Byron Scott made a revealing observation last week, calling Casspi a “pit bull” and implying that the team last year sometimes had the attitude of less aggressive canines. I think he was referring to J.J. Hickson, who clearly had talent but often seemed to disappear.
Scott wants an aggressive team this year, and it looks like they have a bunch of players who will put in the work and effort. Getting Anderson Varejao back is a big part of that. He’s looked great in the preseason games and he sets the tone for the entire team. Guys like Samardo Samuels and Alonzo Gee bring that same attitude.
This will be a high-energy group that plays like a team, so I don’t expect this team to be embarrassed like they were last year. They should be competitive and start the process of building for the future.