|Cleveland Cavaliers: Crawling from the wreckage.
John Popp (email@example.com), Duct tape and Bondo supplier to the
|Everytime the Cavs are ready to explore the upside of
the potential they've acquired the injury bug bites again. After only 5 games they lost
center Zydrunas Ilgauskas for the season with another broken foot. The season wound down
with Anderson, Kemp, Knight, Ilgauskas and Person all injured. In fact the seasons last
game they dressed the minimum (8) and after Sura went down finished the game and the
season with only 7 healthy Players.
Kemp put the team on his back and carried them through the season. Until Kemp went down
with injury the Cavs were knocking at the door of the playoffs. A tough end to a tough
season but with two first round lottery choices the Cavs should field a very competitive
team in 99/2000.
Cavalier Draft History under General Manager Wayne Embry
- 1986 Brad Daugherty 1st, Ron Harper 8th, Mark Price 25th
- 1987 Kevin Johnson 7th
- 1988 Randolph Keys 22nd
- 1989 John Morton 25th
- 1991 Terrell Brandon 11th
- 1993 Chris Mills 22nd
- 1995 Bob Sura 17th
- 1996 Vitaly Potapenko 12th, Zydrunas Ilgauskas 20th
- 1997 Derek Anderson 13th, Brevin Knight 16th
Needless to say some pretty good choices in the past and
only a few busts. Embry certainly has a nose for talent and with this being his last year
running the draft he's sure to make the most of the picks.
The team just is'nt deep enough to make a real run in the
playoffs. They'll need to score big in the draft if they plan to be more than a first
round playoff casualty.
|Zydrunas Ilgauskas A
stronger Rik Smits. Good post moves on the blocks, decent jump shot out to 18', strong
rebounder and the ability to block some shots. A real talent and the steal of the 1997
draft. He'll need to keep off the injured list for the team to be real competitive and
could possibly be an All Star.
Declercq Acquired in the Vitaly Potapenko trade which also
sent Boston's first round draft choice to Cleveland. Gets up and down the court well,
adequate rebounder and can score inside. Can play power forward and center and is the
perfect bench player to spend minutes behind Kemp and Ilgauskas. Currently signed to a
fairly low salary contract he should be able to for the next few years.
|Shawn Kemp Arguably his
best season in the NBA. Some of the air game is gone but he is so solid in the post that
teams regularly sent double and triple teams his way any time he touched the ball.
Starting to pass out of the double teams more effectively and his added bulk has'nt kept
the ball out of the basket. Could be in for a really big season if the Cavs get an outside
threat at small forward and a healthy Ilgauskas keeping some of the heat off him.
Danny Ferry Able to bury the three but not
much of anything else. Danny does'nt get to the free throw line, has no post game and
averaged only 2 rebounds per game in over 20 minutes a night work. This is the last year
of his contract and a big onus will be lifted from the club.
Corie Blount (FA) Adequate
size to play up front and rebounds well. Nothing more than a bit of size to round out a
frontcourt. The fifth power forward/center off the bench. Could very well be a free agency
casualty as he is hoping to be signed to a $1.75 or 2 million salary cap exception
Ryan Stack (FA) I like what
little I saw of him this season. Nice 18' jumper on the baselines and the ability to score
on the blocks. Needs to add some weight to be an effective rebounder and stay in the
league a few years. If he adds some muscle this off-season he'll definitely be worth
|Cedric Henderson (FA) With
Cedric as your starting small forward you don't have to look any further where tour team
can use some improvement. A decent rebounder and good open court skills his biggest caveat
is the inability to hit the open jumper. Would fit well on a team that pushed the ball
alot but would be better coming off the bench. If he has reasonable contract demands then
he is worth signing, if he pushes it the Cavs can pull in some one else to get the job
Johnny Newman Johnny is a long range gunner who has seen better days. His time in the
NBA is winding down and unless the Cavs have some trouble acquiring a small forward via
free agency, trade or the draft he'll see only limited playing time.
|Wesley Person Can knock
down the long range bomb and plays pretty decent defense for an offensive minded shooter.
Does'nt put the ball on the floor much and rarely gets to the charity stripe. Wes is at
his best when opposing teams double the post from the 2 spot. The real engine behind the
Cavs success, when he gets decent looks the team is pretty tough to beat. A small forward
to take some of the long range pressure off Person would be a big boost for him.
Derek Anderson A potential All Star if he can
remain healthy. Can score off the dribble, create his own shot and plays solid defense.
Needs a little more range on the jumper to be a three point threat. Has done a decent job
filling in at point guard and I would'nt be surprised to see him get more minutes there if
the Cavs make a move with Knight.
Mitchell Butler (FA)
Would'nt be surprised to see him re-signed. Can play small forward and also point if
pressed. Good range on the jumper and excellent skills in the post. A tough, gritty
defender that makes an excellent second guard off the bench.
|Brevin Knight A true point
that has quick hands and averages 1.8 steals per contest. At only 5'10" he sometimes
becomes a defensive liability. His offense is a bit shaky as he has limited range and
does'nt pull the trigger enough to keep defenders from sagging on him. With Brevin's
limited offensive game the Cavaliers need to produce points from the other 4 starters for
him to be effective. Best suited to a bench role the only thing that will keep the Cavs
from seeking improvement is Brevin developing a decent mid range jumper.
Bob Sura A player who lacks so much
confidence that the wheels seem to be coming off of his game. After the 96/7 season alot
of people around the league had big expectations from him. In 97/8 he had a severe ankle
sprain which sidelined him for 36 games. The ankle still is'nt functioning all that well
and the hops which led to some big dunks were gone. The Cavs also insisted on Sura playing
the point where he often looks lost and have driven his already shaky game into the
basement. Best suited to off guard where he can still take people off the dribble and
does'nt have the responsibility of running the offense.
Earl Boykins (FA) At
5'5" it goes without saying that Earl has some special talents or he would'nt be
here. Lightning quick he has the ability to get into the paint and get some easy buckets
for team mates. He also does'nt hesitate to put up the open jumper although he does'nt yet
have the percentage to justify it. A real defensive liability, he'll probably be playing
elsewhere if the Cavs draft a point guard with one of their first rounders.
|The Cavaliers have already released Mike Fratello and have stated that they would
like to have a new coach instated before the draft. Fratello was in the last year of his
contract and owner Gordon Gund did not want any distractions for his club. The players
thought that the style of play employed by Fratello needed to change although no one could
argue with the results. The slow down style was designed to get more effective minutes
from the starters on a team with little depth. It worked to a point but in the process
disenchanted fans and players. Hard to argue with the success Fratello had with such a
thin roster and one can only wonder how well he would have done with a solid 8 man
|Wayne Embry did the
honorable thing and resigned as General Manager and inserted Jim
Paxson in the position. Embry will still run this years draft
and Paxson will take over July 1st. Embry and Fratello were often at odds over style of
play and personnel. When Fratello was released, Embry also stepped aside to squash the
rumor that it was strictly a power struggle. Embry has always been a great judge of talent
and will have a very active off season to put his signature on a team under Paxson's
reign. Wayne will act as a special consultant to the club for the 99/2000 season. Rookie
General Manager Jim Paxson has held a front office position in Portland and will prepare
the team for the next millenium.
|Gordon Gund has always ran
a first rate club. He restored a team that had traded away most of its future and inserted
good management and coaches. Never afraid to spend money on quality he has bellied up to
the bar to keep the team competitive despite some very untimely injuries. The future looks
bright for his club if they have a productive off season and with a little luck may make a
strong run for a champioship.
|A top notch organization with a young and talented team.
With only 5 solid players under contract they need to fare well in the draft and use there
two salary cap exceptions to add playoff depth. The teams future rests primarily in the
hands of a few players that have sorted injury tales from their pasts. So much of the
promise can be wasted away if Ilgauskas or Anderson again spend a serious portion of the
season on injured reserve.
|First and foremost the Cavs need some point production
and range from the small forward position. It should'nt at all be a secret that the Cavs
would like to draft Wally Szczerbiak if he's
available at the eighth spot. The Cavs also have a need at point behind Brevin Knight. If
the top ranked small forwards are off the board they'll definitely take a look at a point
guard who can make an impact off the bench and possibly move into a starting role. The
other need is frontcourt size and perhaps Wayne Embry said it best when he stated "If
I'm going to make a mistake I'd rather it be a 7'3" mistake". With Ilgauskas
already missing 2 out of 3 seasons the Cavs will definitely consider some size in the
Possible sections (working under
the assumption that Lamar Odom, Elton Brand, Steve Francis and Baron Davis have already
Richard Hamilton A consistent scorer at off guard and the range the Cavs are looking for.
Able to create off the dribble and plays decent defense. The biggest concern has been his
slight stature and how well he'll hold up to the rigors of an NBA season. The only problem
is the depth the Cavs already have with Anderson and Person. If Rip is on the board at the
eighth selection the Cavs will need to take a look if only to set up a trade for a veteran
Corey Maggette Tremendous athleticism and eventually the ability to take people off the
dribble at the NBA level. No doubt he'll struggle a bit for a couple of seasons but may
well end up to be one of the leagues top scoring off guards. I have my doubts as to how
well he'll fare playing minutes at small forward but certainly will get some minutes
there. Another draft and trade scenario for the Cavs as the team already has enough youth
and does'nt have the luxury of waiting a couple years.
Wally Szczerbiak Wally is the guy the Cavs covet and if he's there at the eighth spot it
may very well be the fastest eighth selection in draft history. A big time scorer with
range and the size to be an adequate defender for posting small forwards. His problems
will come defensively guarding the perimeter and being taken off the dribble. Wally's game
could open up the whole court offensively giving more room in the post for Ilgauskas or
Kemp to work. A bigger version of Chris Mullin he should enjoy a long time NBA career at
worst being a long range specialist.
Andre Miller Perhaps the best pure point in the draft. The only thing that could see
him sliding to the eighth spot is his somewhat suspect shot. Miller can dictate the pace
of a game, knowing when to run or slow the pace. A great defensive point guard that has
the strength and size to function well in isolation situations. A bigger Brevin Knight who
could be a big plus if Knight opts for greener pastures when he becomes a free agent after
Jason Terry More gifted than Miller or Davis offensively but more of a scoring point.
He will be able to run a team effectively at point although questions about how his frame
will hold up in the NBA persist. A great man on man defender his biggest problem will be
handling post up guards such as Mark Jackson. Will be the 4th or 5th guard selected.
Jonathan Bender The concensus number one high school player in the country. The size to
develop into a power forward later in his career with some added weight but will enter the
NBA as small forward. A quick leaper with range and the defensive presence to block more
than a few shots. He acquired a love of weight lifting his senior year of high school and
has already added 15 lbs to his slight frame. At 6'11" and only 210lbs he is not
ready physically for a lot of NBA action but could be a force in years to come. Probably
not a player that fits the mold of players who the Cavs have drafted in the past as the
team places a high premium on 4 year collegiate experience.
Jumaine Jones A great athlete who will certainly be a lottery choice but just does'nt
fit well with the Cavs as his perimeter game is a bit shaky for the Cavs needs. He'll need
to step up his defense at the pro level to eventually land a starting role but can be an
adequate bench player for a lot of clubs.
Ron Artest A pure basketball player that will have some diffculty finding a position
in the NBA. Its very hard to shoot any holes in his game and the leadership he brings
makes him a solid selection. His ability to run an offense from small forward may make him
an intriguing selection at number 8 but not probable with some of the other talent that
may well still be on the board.
William Avery Probably already signed his fate by backing out of an interview and
workout with the Cavaliers. Avery will certainly not go as high as originally expected and
hopefully has not signed with an agent so that he may return to Duke to lock himself into
a lottery selection. Nothing I don't like about his game but he really needs another year
of collegiate hoops so that he has a very marketable aspect of his game to upgrade his
Aleksander Radojevic Perhaps a long shot at number 8 but I'll return to the previously
mentioned Wayne Embry quote "If I'm going to make a mistake I'd rather it be a
7'3" mistake". The scouting reports I've seen say that he runs the floor well
and has 15 foot range on the jumper. Its kind of hard to not draw comparisons to Ilgauskas
although Radojevic will enter the league 20lbs heavier and without the medical baggage.
First or twentieth selection I have no idea where he'll go but I can certainly understand
the choice as the collegiate ranks seem pretty void of any talented 7 footers.
|With the departure of Fratello the Cavs will look for
less of an Xs and Os coach. The coach they bring on will have a bigger commitment to
player development and open up the style of play. The players will again become the
attraction at the Arena and not a vocal coach with a wide variety of stylish suits
pleading with the officials or barking out instructions on every posession. The new
coaching staff will also carry with it a few assistants that can put on some warm ups
before the beginning of road games and put in some much needed work for the 9-12 guys on
the roster. The only coach able to do that under Fratello was Marc Iavaroni and his work
with Ryan Stack started showing dividends by seasons end.
|The Cavs will definitely be seeking some veteran help
this off-season. They will either use one of their draft choices to acquire a starting
small forward or provide some depth by using their $1.75 and 2 million salary cap
exceptions to add some roster depth.
The Next Couple of Drafts
|The Cavs have no intentions of being in the lottery
again for the next few years so the team that enters the 99/2000 season will be the main
pieces in building a contender. From this point forward the team will look to the draft as
a place to acquire adequate reserves that slip into the late teens or twenties. That
combined with being able to draft the best player available or most potential should keep
them in the playoffs for the next 5 years.
|Jason Terry, PG,
The Cavs have a
couple ways they can go but so much will be predicated by who's on the board when they
select. The front runners are Wally Szczerbiak, Andre Miller and Jason Terry. If these players are
gone it becomes a situation of who the best player left might be which could include Hamilton or Maggette. Some other outside possibilities would include Radojevic, Bender, Jones
The obvious choice for the Cavs is Wally Szczerbiak if
he's still available. If Wally goes early the Cavs will likely draft the best point guard
With Wally Szczerbiak the Cavs get the range they need at
small forward to open up the post game. He's too solid of a ballplayer to not have an
immediate impact on the club. The added bonus is that he also puts fans in the seats as he
is certainly the fans choice to join the club.
If Wally is gone the choice may very well be Jason Terry as his offense from the point would lift some of the heat placed on the
post. More than anything the club needs to come away with an offensive minded player who
can make where the points come from less predictable.
The third alternative would be Andre Miller. Not exactly the scorer the Cavs are looking for but a solid back up at
point and providing some insurance should Brevin Knight head elsewhere next season. Beyond
Andre the Cavs will just be looking at players to be used as trade bait which is a
distinct possibility as management has said they would like to add a couple veterans. The
exception could be an early flyer on Radojevic or Bender
who both add to the teams frontcourt depth.
What will actually happen
|The Cavaliers will walk away from the draft with a small
forward. They won't care how they arrive with one be it a trade of the choice(s) or Wally
Szczerbiak landing in their lap. There have been talks of them trading up with Vancouver
and Toronto for a higher choice or trading out to Milwaukee for Tim Thomas and a future #1
or Utah in exchange for Bryon Russell. The goal is to field a competitive team in 99 and
make it past the first round of the playoffs. A lofty goal but a team well poised to
deliver just that.