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Team Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers

The LeBrons made a huge leap last year, not only getting to the playoffs but ruining my life as they beat the Wizards in the first round in a series of heartbreakers, and then nearly upending the defending champion Detroit Pistons in the second round.  Not bad for a team that basically struck out the previous offseason: Larry Hughes both underperformed and missed half the season, and Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall stunk up the joint.  This offseason was much more relaxed after LeBron finally re-signed, and the roster is very similar to where it was last year.   The Cavs should be settling for nothing less than an Eastern Conference championship this year, and that means someone is going to have to step it up.  Let’s try and guess who that’s gonna be:

The Stud: LeBron James, SF
Despite all the accolades and attention, is it possible that LeBron James was a little disappointing last year?  His FT% has gone from a nuisance to a legitimate concern, and he took a hit in steals, boards, and assists.  Still, he’s the top pick.  He’s only 21 years old so he could still be improving, as scary as that is.  The other thing to consider is that you have to think his assists are going to go up this year, simply because the Cavs MUST shoot better this year from the outside.  They signed Jones and Marshall knowing that they were going to have plenty of wide-open threes, which they did.  The problem was that they didn’t make ‘em – the Cavs tied for 23rd in the league in three point FG%.  That’s going to improve this year – it just has to.  The addition of David Wesley will help, plus you’ve gotta imagine that Jones and Marshall will at least somewhat regain their form.  That should help James reach at least 8 assists, and maybe more.  The other concern is fatigue, as LeBron played in the World Championships, and has played 42 mpg each of the last 2 seasons as well.  But you won’t get any arguments from us with taking him number one, and if he slips to you at two or three, congratulations.

The Support: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, C
Has there been a more quietly dependable center over the past few years than Big Z?  Each of the last four years he’s been good for at least 15/7 with 1.7 blocks, and last year he even added some nice percentages to his repertoire.  The concern with Ilgauskas for a long time was injury issues, but he’s played in at least 78 games for four years in a row.  The new concern is age.  Z is 31 years old, and last year he slipped just under the dreaded 30 mpg mark.  On the bright side, though, there’s not really anyone challenging him for minutes, and he could see as little as 25 minutes this year and still have plenty of value.  He showed up at 37/44 on the total/average player rater despite his drop in minutes, and with no one in line to take his place should be good for a 4th round pick again this year.  He’s a fine C1 and a luxury as a C2.

The Supporting Support: Larry Hughes
What a bummer that was, huh?  Hughes not only got hurt and missed over half the year, but he also managed to stink when he was on the court.  Not that this was a huge surprise – he set career highs in a few categories the year before, including an absurd 2.9 steals, and that was a contract year, and then he changed teams to boot.  In fact, his on-court performance last year was pretty solidly in line with his career averages.  Despite his struggles, it was nice to see that he still got his minutes when he was healthy, as he played 35 mpg.  Hughes is no longer worth considering in the third or fourth rounds like he was last year, and you have to be careful with percentages, but he should be OK as a mid-round pick this time around.

The Sleeper: Donyell Marshall, F
Marshall was awful last year.  There’s just no way around it.  He saw the same 25 mpg that he saw in Toronto the year before but slipped significantly in every single statistical category.  It’s conceivable that he won’t even get drafted in some leagues this year because he was so bad last year.  Don’t let this happen in your league.  Marshall is worth a spot on your bench at the very least, just because of his potential to be a top-50 guy.  You have to think he’s going to turn it around this year.  Here’s something interesting to look at – check out his splits from last year, and look at how drastically better he was when he got 3 days of rest.  Granted it was a small sample size, but this really gives some support to the idea that he was really out of shape last year.  That’s why the reports that he’s gotten in much better shape over the summer are so encouraging.  Marshall is a nice late risk, and if you’re extra confident you could even draft him for a Utility spot.

The Slacker: Drew Gooden, PF
Make no mistake, we are Drew Gooden fans here at FBB, but that’s in real life, not in fantasy.  The fact is that in fantasy, Gooden just doesn’t do enough in enough categories.  Yes he rebounds and has a decent FG%, but that’s really about it.  He disappointed across the board last year (is this a trend for the Cavs or what?), and regressed badly in FT%.  Here’s a couple ifs:  IF he gets C-eligibility (not out of the question), and/or IF he starts to get defensive numbers up over the 1.0 mark, he’ll be worth a starting spot.  I’m not sure that either of those will happen.  He’s still a decent selection for your bench, though.

Double Dribbles:  Shannon Brown wowed a lot of people leading up to the draft this year, but it’s going to take some major injuries for him to get enough time for fantasy value … Damon Jones lost any value potential when the Cavs signed David Wesley … speaking of Wesley, he didn’t have much value playing 33 mpg on a skeleton Rockets team last year, so there’s no reason to think he’ll have value playing 20 mpg on the Cavs … Anderson Varejao and Scott Pollard will try to out-hair each other, but the minutes just won’t be there for either of them this year.

7 Responses to “Team Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers”

  1. JM Says:

    I’ds say if you’re going to take Lebron at #1, you should do so based on being confident that his #’s from last year will improve. If you don’t expect his #’s to improve than you’re overpaying for him based on his name/hype.

    Last year he finished at #4 (in leagues that don’t count TOs) – behind Marion, Kobe, KG…
    and #6 (with TOs) – behind Marion, KG, Kobe, Brand, Nowitzki

    Of course, if you think Lebron will stay the same this year, but the guys ahead of him will get worse, that’s a reason to take him #1.

    Also, even if Lebron doesn’t give you #1 stats, he likely has #1 trading value in your league (due to the hype). Thus you could draft him #1 and then trade him for one of the other top 6 studs plus another good player.

    Just depends on your league I guess.

  2. DM Says:

    “Also, even if Lebron doesn’t give you #1 stats, he likely has #1 trading value in your league (due to the hype). Thus you could draft him #1 and then trade him for one of the other top 6 studs plus another good player.”

    I think you nailed a key point right there. There will never be a shortage of owners willing to break the bank to get LeBron. And for the record, I do full expect him to get better, maybe get up to 2 3pg, 8 assists, back to 2 steals, 35 points. I’m kind of hoping he and Kobe try to one up each other all season. That could be fun.

  3. Rook Says:

    Great stuff. Could you update us on your timeline for the coming weeks? When do you anticipate posting your overall rankings?

  4. JM Says:

    Agreed.
    I found the breakdown of the tiers within each position was very helpful during my draft last year. I hope you guys are going to do that again.

  5. bv Says:

    OK, here’s the plan going forward – we’re going to finish off the team previews this upcoming week. We’ll start the mock draft and do that for a week, like we did last year, from 10/9 through 10/13. the next week, 10/16-10/20, we’ll do tiers, and then the next week (10/23-10/27) we’ll post our overall rankings and our overall sleepers and busts. then, the season starts. hooray!

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