Friday, January 7, 2011

Formerly of the NBA, Your 2010-2011 Cleveland Cavaliers

Happier times: a preseason photo-op
I'm not sure what happened to the feisty group of overachievers who beat the Celtics on opening night and ran out to a surprising 7-8 record, but ever since being shellacked in LeBron's return to Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland fans have been rooting for a shell of a basketball team.  Something happened on that night.  The team's collective spirit was broken, shattered into a billion microfragments that only a total rebuilding can repair.  I mean, the Cavaliers aren't just losing, they are losing in epic fashion, on the road, at home, to good teams, to bad teams.  How bad has it gotten?  Try a season sweep at the hands of the Timberwolves.  Defense has become a myth and ball movement an afterthought to a group that prefers to brick 19-foot jumpers instead of making an extra pass.  Heading into an inevitable blowout loss at Golden State tonight, their record stands at a frightful 8-27.

Surprisingly though, I'm pretty OK with this and I'm looking forward to seeing the team rebuild over the next few seasons.  In the meantime, we are going to have to live with a squad that will be lucky to win 15 games.

Let's run through the lineup real quicklike.


PG: Mo Williams - His team needs him to put up 20-6 to have a chance of winning on any given night.  I thought he was up to it.  LOL!  Instead, his dagger jumpshot has deserted him entirely and he has devolved into a turnover prone role player who hasn't made a three pointer since November.  His contract has two more seasons after this one.  At this point, if GM Chris Grant can unload him, that would be quite a coup.  Am I being too hard on Mo?  Probably.  His arrival two years ago coincided with the Cavs becoming a 60 win team.  Clearly, though, he is a player who needs to be surrounded by talent.  He will not succeed when opposing teams are able to sag on him.

G: Daniel Gibson - Likable guy.  Winning smile.  Good for an occasional 25 point outburst.  Otherwise, we are watching BJ Armstrong trying to lead a team to the promised land.  Can't pass, can't defend, can't create his own shot, can't make a layup.  Also injury prone.  Current status: injured.

SF: Anthony Parker - It's been hilarious listening to Cleveland announcers try to put a positive spin on this season.  For a few weeks, Jim Chones was going on about how the loss of LeBron James meant that 'the new Anthony Parker' was somehow going to cut loose and start pouring in the points.  The great Euroleaguer is old, slow and, ultimately, ready for the glue factory.  The ineptitude of teammates has required him vacate his normal position and replace LeBron at small forward.

PF: Antawn Jamison - A classy pro who can still put it in the bucket, but cranky knees mean he couldn't guard Joe Tait.

C: Anderson Varejao - Earns the purple heart, but the lone player of real quality has been forced out of position after the departure of Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O'Neal.  The only capable defender on the team doesn't have enough juice on the offensive end to deliver any wins.  Major trade asset.  My sentimental side doesn't want to see him go.  Recent cracked cheekbone followed up by timely ankle sprain.


PG: Ramon Sessions - Probably the quickest player on the team.  Can get to the basket, sure, but he won't hit a jumper if you're pointing a gun at his mother.  Not much of a defender, either.  It's easy to see why bad teams have been quick to give up on this journeyman.

PF: J.J. Hickson - Plenty of talent.  Has the basketball IQ of a medicine ball.  Seems little inclined to learn.  Top move: fumbling the ball out of bounds.

PF: Leon Powe - Slow and slower.  Knees like porcelain dolls.  Currently slated for surgery.  Again.

F: Jamario Moon - Utterly wilted when asked to replace LeBron.  Seldom plays.  Total goofball.  Perfect fit for the Globetrotters.

F: Joey Graham - Journeyman forward who could supposedly defend.  Not so, it turns out.  Second Graham twin to have a cup of coffee with the Cavs.  Second player unable to start at small forward.

F: Jawad Williams - Third player to fail at small forward.  Waived for the second time in as many years. 

C: Ryan Hollins - The smallest big man I have ever had the misfortune of watching.  I honestly would feel more confident with Earl Boykins on the block.  Worst rebounder in NBA history.  Tiny, delicate hands a microcosm of his tiny, delicate game.

PF: Samardo Samuels - Don't bother remembering his name.

SG: Christian Eyenga - Freakish athleticism.  A blown ACL waiting to happen.

PG: Manny Harris - Manny Harris?

F: Alonzo Gee - Alonzo Gee?

Joe Tait - When it rains, it pours.  In his final year as the Cavs' radio voice, Tait's preseason pneumonia has led to double bypass surgery and a pacemaker.

Yes, folks, that there is a team built to lose.  And lose they will.  Let's hope the Cavs can bury the ghosts of draft picks past and trick some free agents into believing that South Beach is on Lake Erie.


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