Cavs land Anthony Bennett and Sergey Karasev

Anthony Bennett Cavs 2013

The Cavs shocked almost everyone when they took Anthony Bennett in the first round, disappointing some fans but also letting the rest of us breath a sigh of relief. I wanted pretty much anyone other than Nerlens Noel, so I was fine with this pick. The the Cavs pleased most of their fans as Sergey Karasev fell to them at #19 and they pulled the trigger. Here are some initial observations:

– I’m thrilled that they went with two guys who know how to score and can shoot. The Cavs desperately needed offense, and I didn’t want a project like Noel who only brought defense and dunks.

– Most experts believe Bennett will be a real force with the pick-and-roll, so he can be a perfect fit with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.

– Karasev is also an excellent compliment as he can shoot well from the outside, so he can be a great outlet for Irving and Waiters when they drive to the rim.

– Bennett looks like a beast; a little like a Charles Barkley or Larry Johnson type player. Who knows if he’ll approach their level of success, but the guy looks like a baller.

– Both players have very high basketball IQs. They know how to pass the ball and involve teammates.

– I’m not worried about their defense. Mike Brown will make sure they learn how to play, and defense is all about effort and can be taught.

– Noel was a major risk, and he’s a much better fit for a team like Philly that is tanking now for next year’s lottery. The Cavs are too far along in their rebuilding process to wait for a player coming off a torn ACL.

Overall, I like what Chris Grant is doing. Let’s hope the team can stay healthy and we see real improvement this season.

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Sergey Karasev could be option for Cavs at #19

With the Cavs coming away with the #1 pick in the draft again, there will be plenty of debate as to who they should take at the top of the draft. But they also have the 19th pick due to the relentless philosophy of stockpiling draft picks. If they go with Narlens Noel or another big man at the top of the draft, I’d love to see them grab a shooter like Sergey Karasev with the 19th pick.

Watch the video above and you’ll see a pure shooter and natural passer. The Cavs desperately need wing players that can knock down threes to compliment Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Karasev could help fill that need.

Terry Pluto rips Dion Waiters

Terry Pluto is rarely this harsh, but he has some tough words for Dion Waiters, and it’s hard to argue with him.

But the message should be clear: Waiters needs to shape up physically and mentally. He has the arrogance you find in some East Coast playground legends. Listening to Dion Waiters, you know that he thinks Dion Waiters is the greatest player he’s ever seen.

Now, he should know better. And the Cavs probably know why Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim stayed on Waiters, even bringing the guard off the bench despite saying Waiters was the most talented player on the team.

No doubt, coach Byron Scott will deliver some stern lectures and serious challenges to Waiters. The Cavs say he “lives in the gym.” Well, he better do just that before the regular season starts.

If nothing else, this should stop all of the wild comparisons to Joe Dumars, Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade.

I’m not too worried at this point. All indications were that Waiters showed his explosive first step in Las Vegas, and the cold shooting is not a big deal at this point.

It’s obviously disappointing that he wasn’t in shape, but I’m sure Byron Scott will make him pay for it.

The ego could become an issue, but cockiness isn’t the worst quality for an NBA shooting guard expected to get to the rim. The kid is young and obviously a little immature, and Pluto makes some great points, but I expect him to shape up under Byron Scott. I’d be much more concerned if he didn’t appear as athletic as advertised.

Draft grades are all over the place

Chad Ford from ESPN gives the Cavs an A- (membership required to see link):

For the second straight year, the Cavs took a player at No. 4 who was ranked in the late teens on our Big Board in May. Like Tristan Thompson last year, Waiters had a meteoric rise the last month of the season. Unlike Thompson, his rise happened without ever doing a workout or interview with the Cavs. The Suns shut down Waiters early in the draft process, but it only seemed to start a Waiters feeding frenzy for teams ahead of them.

Waiters is the most dynamic scorer in the draft — his ability to get to the basket is truly special — and a handful of GMs felt that after Davis, MKG and Beal, he was the guy in this draft with the most star potential. He has NBA skill and, together with Kyrie Irving, should create a dynamic backcourt in Cleveland. Some will say taking Waiters at No. 4 was a bold pick, but I think it was a smart one with both MKG and Beal off the board. People said the same thing a few years ago when the Thunder took both Russell Westbrook and James Harden higher than expected.

I’m more agnostic about the Zeller pick. He’s not going to be a great NBA center, but he runs the floor well and can play right away. At No. 17, you can’t really ask for more than that.

Waiters did attend one workout according to one caller on the radio and he apparently dominated against other prospective draft picks. I like much of what I’m hearing about him, though I wish the Cavs had a chance to work him out.

At the other end of the spectrum, USA Today was not impressed, ranking the Cavs last with a D+:

The Cavaliers landed two good players in Syracuse guard Dion Waiters and North Carolina center Tyler Zeller, but they overpaid horrendously. Waiters was the first stunner of the draft when Cleveland took him fourth, ahead of several players who would have been better fits and better talents. Zeller, picked 17th, should be a perfect fit but came at the cost of the 24th, 33rd and 34th picks in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks. The Cavaliers had too many holes to fill to give up so many picks for an injury prone center.

I think this is overly harsh. Zeller at 17 seems like a great value to me, and the Cavs didn’t need to load up on more young players in the second round.

Cavs look for pieces that fit with Kyrie Irving

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.