2009/10 Season Review:
The Cleveland Cavaliers were the only team to reach the 60 wins mark
during the regular season and they looked ready to make a Championship
run in the playoffs, but we all know what happened then…
Lebron James was the league’s best player in the regular season and
deservedly received his second MVP award. To make short the story I’ll
use ESPN specialist John Hollingers’ Top Player Efficiency Rating in the
last 3 years:
2009-2010 1st LeBron James 31.19
2008-2009 1st LeBron James 31.76
2007-2008 1st LeBron James 29.15
Having the best player on the court isn’t enough to win a
Championship and the Cavs were a cruel example of such historic
problematic in the NBA. Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert said James quit on the
Cavs during their second-round series against the Boston Celtics:
“He quit,” Gilbert said. “Not just in Game 5, but in Games 2, 4 and
6. Watch the tape. The Boston series was unlike anything in the history
of sports for a superstar.”
It’s quite curious to make such accusation when the player averaged
26.8ppg, 9.3rpg and 7.2apg. Also in the final and pivotal game 6 of the
series James scored 27 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and dished 10
assists…but it wasn’t enough!
The real and cruel truth is that the Cavs supporting cast couldn’t perform at a high note when it mattered: the playoffs.
Mo Williams was supposed to be the second best player of the team,
but he shot just 40.9% from the field in two Playoff runs and he was
never able to provide that consistent helping hand of offense needed to
keep the defenses honest against penetration or double-teams.
Even Antawn Jamison was completely outplayed by Kevin Garnett in the
East Conf. Semifinals and by using Hollingers’ Player Efficiency Rating
in the Playoffs we know that the Cavs second most valuable player in
the playoffs was… Jamario Moon!
It was the end of an era in Cleveland…
2009/10 Advanced Stats:
Pace 24h 94.1
Offense Eff. 3rd 108.7
Defense Eff. 6th 101.5
Rebounds 1st +3.94
Projected Depth Chart:
PG: Mo Williams, Ramon Sessions
SG: Anthony Parker, Daniel Gibson, Christian Eyenga
SF: Jamario Moon, Joey Graham, Daniel Green
PF: Antawn Jamison, J.J. Hickson, Leon Powe, Samardo Samuels
C: Anderson Varejao, Ryan Hollins
Now that Lebron James is gone it’s crucial for us to know what Cavs’
owner Dan Gilbert is planning for the future. If you remember well,
Gilbert swore that his team would win a title before Miami did,
regardless of the fact that they didn’t have Lebron James anymore. In
the last years Gilbert did everything in an attempt to improve his team
chances to win the championship, but “his” players failed to produce
in the Playoffs.
First let’s remember that the club received a $14.5-million Traded
Player Exception this summer, allowing them to wholly absorb that much
salary from another team in a search for a “top player”. The pertinent
question is: assuming the Cavs receives such top player like Monta
Ellis, Vince Carter or Andre Iguodala is that enough to push this team
into the upper-reaches of the Conference? I doubt about it and maybe
it’s time for the franchise to follow the steps of Portland, Oklahoma
City and more lately Sacramento: build a team via draft picks by being
smart and patient.
Nevertheless the team has to play this season, but the expectations aren’t sky high anymore.
Byron Scott is the new head coach of the franchise and he has a
history of winning. He was a great player and as a coach he already has
two experiences in turning two “losing” franchises into top teams: New
Jersey and New Orleans - He was named the 2008 NBA Coach of the Year
with the Hornets.
However for the first time in his coaching career he won’t coach a
great Point Guard Playmaker. I remember that in the New Jersey, Jason
Kidd was the man who ran the show and in New Orleans he was Chris Paul
to guide the team. In Cleveland he’ll have Mo Williams…
Williams is one of the only pure scorers left on the Cavs roster for
this season and he will be asked to take on a much bigger role in the
Cavaliers’ offense. Simply put: down the stretch he’ll be “the man” for
the Cavs. We can expect him to have better offensive numbers across the
board, but will he be able to manage this team and be the floor
general that Byron Scott demanded in Jason Kidd and Chris Paul? Being
the answer yes or no, he still has three-years remaining on his
contract (w/$26.3-million remaining) and so it won’t be easy to move
The Cavs brought Ramon Sessions to compete for the Point Guard
position and Sessions is coming from a disappointing season in
Minnesota. The truth has to be told: he logged just 21.1 minutes per
game, while being a backup in one of the worst teams in the league so in
such circumstances it was difficult for him to confirm the promising
signs he showed back in Milwaukee. Curiously when he was a rookie in
Milwaukee and had a terrific end of season highlighted by his 24 assists
record game against Chicago where he was replacing… Mo Williams in the
starting lineup! I wouldn’t be shocked if Byron Scott chooses to play
with both players at the same time with Mo Williams as the Shooting
Guard and Sessions as the playmaker.
Anthony Parker will be the starting Shooting Guard and even though
he isn’t a superstar player, his leadership will be important for a team
currently looking for an identity. He averaged 7.4 points with 1.3
3-pointers in 28.2 minutes per game and probably he will improve his
numbers however he’s 35 years old playing on $3-million expiring
contract, so probably the Cavaliers won’t be his only team this season.
On the other side Daniel Gibson has an excellent opportunity to
establish himself in the franchise. He was buried on the bench for the
past two seasons, but with the team looking to find offensive weapons
Gibson can help the team in this department because he doesn’t offer
much else outside of his shooting ability.
Who will take James job at the Small Forward position? Jamison could
get some minutes in this position, but he is less effective playing so
far of the basket, so Jamario Moon would be the starter by default. He
showed some good play in the playoffs, but we are talking about a
player that logged 10.3 minutes per game! He is 30-years old, so his
game won’t develop exponentially by simply playing more minutes. In a
rebuilding team, Moon doesn’t fit exactly in the “player for the future”
profile, so with young guys like Christian Eyenga or Danny Green on
the roster, Byron Scott might choose those youngsters over Moon in
order to accelerate their development.
If there is an award in the league for the unluckiest player in the
league then Antawn Jamison would be a leading candidate to win the nod.
He started last season playing for the revamped Wizards with high
expectations and the “Arenas drama” happened. Then he got traded to play
in a legit contender team and all of suddenly the “Lebron James drama”
happened, so Jamison is once again the team’s best player, when he was
not supposed to be the man in the team.
He has a career average of 19.8 points on 45.6 percent shooting and
8.1 rebounds per game. Barring any injury, he will be a 20 point per
game player again this season. Even though Jamison is now 34-years-old,
he has not seen a drop off in his offensive production or effectiveness
in his 12-year NBA career, however doesn’t he deserve to play for a
legit contender team for an entire season?
To complete the frontcourt the Cavaliers have their brightest spots
in their roster in J.J. Hickson and Anderson Varejao. Hickson was
productive last season by averaging 8.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.4 steals
and 0.5 blocks in just 20.9 minutes per game. After LeBron’s
departure, Hickson surely will be a popular sleeper candidate in any
fantasy Projection and his Vegas Summer League production was
encouraging at least: 19ppg and 6rpg, while shooting 58% from the
field. He is part of the franchise’s future and Byron Scott has the
pressure to develop Hickson into a best player.
Meanwhile Anderson Varejao is now entering his prime and without
Shaquille O’Neal and Zydrunas IIgauskas to fill the center spot, the
Cavaliers are counting with him to be the starting center. Varejao
should see at least 30 minutes per game for the first time in his career
and he has proved to be quite efficient as a starter throughout his
career by averaging 9.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
The Cavaliers aren’t a typical rebuilding team, as they are a
veteran team with tremendous experience and experienced players, so the
task will be to still remain a competitive team and fight for a playoff
spot, but probably it is asking too much for them.