Nba nerd

NBAGeek Moves to Cleveland

Over the weekend, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Philadelphia 76ers finalized the trade that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland. The trade also included the rights to my fan hood, which went from Minnesota to Cleveland (in exchange for future considerations).

I'm more of a fan of players than of teams. I grew up in Minnesota, but I moved away long ago. By the time I left, I wasn't a fan at all, and I barely followed the team. It was only Kevin Garnett that roped me back in. And when that Kevin left, I transferred my fandom to Boston. It was fun to watch all the longtime Celtics fans realize that Bill Simmons was full of it. Remember this, Celtics fans?

Fifty years from now, some stat geek will crunch numbers from Duncan's era and come to the conclusion that Kevin Garnett was just as good. And he'll be wrong. No NBA team that featured a healthy Duncan would have missed the playoffs for three straight years. It's an impossibility.

That was, of course, before KG came to Boston, and all the Celtics fans realized how truly horrific KG's teammates had been those last few years. Suddenly, after watching him play every night, Celtic nation woke up and realized that this was not, in fact, KG's fault! A quick look at this travesty of a roster should have been enough. The current 76ers squad would destroy that team if you took away KG. Swapping in Tim Duncan for KG could have fixed that? Oh, please.

It was fun watching guys in Boston realize this, the way it is fun when you find that one friend who has not watched The Princess Bride, you force them to rent it with you, and you get to watch his or her joy. It even made listening to Tommy Heinsohn bearable. Those first 20 games, it seemed like every night I was having this conversation:

Random Boston Fan: Holy shit KG is amazing! I mean, we knew he was good but...holy shit!

Me: Yeah, I never noticed! Like in 2002 I was pretty sure Troy Hudson, Rasho Nesterovic, Anthony Peeler and Kendall Gill just carried KG into the playoffs. Seriously, did Bill Simmons ever look at these rosters!? Gary ****ing Trent was that team's next-best player, and the starters were awful.

WHAT'S THIS GOT TO DO WITH LOVE?

Why is this relevant? Well, because I am about to enjoy the same experience. You see, the only thing that roped me back into Timberwolves fandom again was the next Kevin. When I saw the Timberwolves draft O.J. Mayo, I thought "Damn, I am glad I am done with this shit show of a franchise!" When, a day or two later, Kevin McHale surprisingly managed to rob Memphis blind ("Hey, how about you give us that good big man prospect for our crappy dime-a-dozen wing prospect? Oh yeah, and could you thrown in your best player? Yeah? Ok, cool!), I was like:

And even though Randy Wittman tried really, really hard to ruin it for me, I stuck with them because there is a certain glory in being one of the few people to recognize greatness. Talking heads at ESPN conveniently have conveniently forgotten that they all ridiculed McHale for this trade while OJ Mayo put up 18 inefficient points a night and Kevin Love played a mystifying 15 minutes a night (this was before Al Jefferson's injury). The next year, Kurt Rambis managed to win about five games fewer than he should have, by limiting Love's minutes to 28 per night. At the time, nobody seemed to realize that Love was by far their best player.

Well, I'm about to relive some interesting conversations:

Random Cleveland Fan: Holy shit Kevin Love is amazing! I mean, we knew he was good but...holy shit!

Me: Sigh. Yeah, I bet you wondered why he couldn't make the playoffs with guys like Wes Johnson, Darko Milicic, and Michael Beasley. It turns out he is not, in fact, just playing fantasy basketball.

The meme for Kevin Garnett in Minnesota was: "couldn't get his team out of the first round for seven years." This is remarkably similar to the "couldn't get his team into the playoffs for six years" meme on Kevin Love. And like Boston did in 2008, folks in Cleveland are about to realize that it really wasn't Kevin's fault that his organization was so incompetent.

Now please, Flip, if you could do me a solid and trade Rubio so that I never have to go back to watching your team again? Yeah, thanks.

that's right comparing kg's last 3 years in minnesota to kg's last 3 years in boston, the twolves has a 44.3 winning percentage and no playoff appearances while boston from 2011-2013 has a 59.4 winning percentage and not only did they make the playoffs but they went to the 2nd round at least twice so yeah a kg at his peak in 2005-2007 cannot get the wolves to the playoffs but then a washed up kg went to the conf. finals in 2012 with boston i wonder why......
I am not sure you will see best of Kevin Love in Clevland. One of the best things about him is rebounding. But maybe they will have too many good rebounders: Varejao, Lebron, Thompson, Zeller, Haywood. I've noticed and read somewhere that great rebounders playing together cancel each other out somewhat.
@ tiredtime

Even if his rebounds go down he'll still be a good rebounder. Part of his skillset is his ability on the offensive boards (defensive rebounds are much more positionally based) and that should not take a hit. With the amount of attention Lebron gets (who is basically a power forward who can play shooting forward with no issues) the other teams bigs will be hard pressed to box Love out. When you add to that Lebron sprinting back on defense Love won't even need to worry about getting back immediately and I think his offensive boards will go up (which is scary - giving Lebron an additional 2-3 possessions a game is unfair).

The only real issue I see with this team is that it can take a while for everyone to get on the same page. Of course, if that means they go to the finals and lose I would still count that a success.
Is Cleveland really a Contender with Kyrie and Dion in starting lineup? An average (and regressing) PG and a ridiculously bad SG that played more than 4500 min combined last season.
Diminishing returns apply only to defensive rebounding. Love is one of the best offensive rebounders in the NBA.

Furthermore, given how LeBron has slimmed down, doesn't anyone think it's likely that he intends to play small forward, and leave power forward to Love, Marion, Thompson, etc?

Papucar,

Yes. Much depends on Varejao but even if he misses his typical 30 games this team has a ridiculous collection of good players on the bench (Marion, Miller, likely Ray Allen).

Whether or not Waiters gets minutes will depend largely on LeBron. I suspect Blatt is more than willing to bench him despite management's wishes to play the guy they drafted, and he'll have enough power to do that if LeBron is on his side.
@papucar yes with such good frontcourt, weakness of their backcourt might be really frustrating. Maybe the new coach will recognize that Waiters is not good and won't give him that much many minutes.
Dion Waiters is so bad that even scrubs like J. R. Smith and Jamal Crawford would be big upgrades. Actually Crawford would add something like four wins to Caves total!
Kyrie signed five-year, $90 million contract extension. Five-year, $90 million, injury prone PG less productive than Steve Blake.
@papucar Kyrie's not necessarily regressing. His minutes went up by 500, leading to a lower shooting percentage. The lower shooting percentage resulted in less wins produced. Assuming that Lebron and Love now get the majority of shots, Kyrie's efficiency should jump.

As for Cleveland, is there a possibility that Shawn Marion gets in the starting lineup?
Zeller is with Boston now. I heard that Cleveland is in the market for more bigs. I could see James playing more 1 or 2 like in his rookie year. Irving,James,Marion, Love, Varejao. Come on that team wins 65 games depending on Varejao's health. Ilgauskas has been rumored to be coming out of retirement. Mozgov in trade talks to Cleveland so this is gonna be amazing. I have been accused of being a fair weather fan because I root for players and not teams. In the end, i'm more happy than a Sacramento fan.
Z is 39. And he may as well be 50 after sitting out 3 years. He's not coming back (and if he were, yikes, that would not improve things).

Z is one of LBJ's friends but that's a crazy rumor (which, btw, his agent has already claimed is false).
My point was that Cleveland isn't done making moves to the roster. Wouldn't be surprised if Waiters was traded.
with a wp/48 of a little over .100 kyrie is not necessarily a star but not terrible either and with lebronand love getting double teams i expect kyrie's production to improve now regarding dion sure so far he's been terrible but the impact of it could be lessened by limiting his minutes to only 24-26 a game and giving the rest to miller and jones now playing someone like dion 20 min a night is of course ridiculous but remember this is the eastern conference wherein you can get away even if you throw out a not so productive lineup plus let's say that because of dion the cavs win "only" 55 games instead of 60 and above well that's still very good since in the east 48 wins can get you a 3 seed while 55 can get you a 1 seed.
@iceman
That's wp/48 around .100 (.097 last season, .110 career avg) at $7,070,730 this season and on average $18,000,000 from 2015-2016 on.
"His minutes went up by 500, leading to a lower shooting percentage."

Huh?
No love for The Shaq of the MAC? Tough, but fair.
Not one to make excuses for players, but Kyrie seemed confused and disengaged amidst the mess that the Cavs were last season. He wasn't the only one, as many vets saw their performance decline (Deng, Jack, Clark) and many younger players stagnated (Thompson, Waiters, though he did play better post break, etc.). With some semblance of an offense this year, look for the 22 year old Irving's efficiency to exceed his rookie season (56.6% TS), and for improving assist/turnover numbers. Should get his WP48 well over .150.
Cleveland will screw up a championship handed to them watch and see. they are too crappy an organization not to.
All hail San Antonio.
I can see Irving improving playing alongside LeBron and with a real coach. His biggest problem has been his shot selection, which has gotten progressively worse every year; a secondary concern is that that his passing, which typically you expect to see improve on a young PG, continues to be a weak point.

If playing alongside LeBron allows him to play more like a shooting guard, lowering his ball handling burden and drilling some shot selection into him, I can see him being quite good for the Cavs.

That said the contract they gave him was terrible and they can only hope that he improves enough that it isn't an albatross for them.
@sheila

well for the 1st 3 years i dont think the goal is a championship but rather 2 nba finals appearance in 3 years so in that regard i think they will succeed.
@Fat_Lever

If anything it seems likely, to me at least, that even more intra squad trouble will happen this season as four out of five players in starting lineup like to have ball in their hands (USG: LeBron 29.1, Kyrie 27.8, Love 27.7, Waiters 25.7).

I will be amazed if Kyrie gets his WP48 well over .150. Why would he change his shooting habits when he was richly rewarded for being chucker? People where saying similar staff about Monta Ellis before the start of past season and shock, horror! his WP48 (.069) in Dallas was almost exact as season before in Milwaukee (.068).
You see, when a high usage but not particularly productive player all of a sudden begins playing with LeBron James, his game transforms so that he automatically become much more productive merely by playing with LeBron. You know, like Chris Bosh. Oh, wait...
Good article Patrick. I agree. Of course, the injury bug trumps all predictions when it bites, so the rosy future in CLE is still a gamble.
I think the big danger is that if they don't win a championship this season; the cleveland management, will try to manage the team again and make them worse ever subsequent season.
I do think it will be interesting to see how they handle 4 high usage players -- LeBron and Love will be fine, and I am guardedly optimistic about Kyrie. He has been successful playing with stars for the FIBA team. Waiters I am less optimistic about, so we will see how that plays out...The thing about Kyrie's extension people here lose sight of is that it was absolutely essential to get LeBron to return, and LeBron's return was absolutely essential to make the Love trade work. Plus with players like Kyrie, you typically have to make the decision to extend when they are 22, i.e. before they have reached their peak. Look at Kyrie's numbers his rookie season and his second season (2012-13) through the all-star break, and you will see the numbers of a rising star. Again, I'm not the biggest Kyrie fan out there, but that extension was a risk that needed to be taken and it's really not that huge of a risk.
Er, I have looked at Kyrie's numbers over the years, and I don't see a rising star. I see a talented young player that is failing to improve with age, largely due to stupid in-game decision making; his shot charts have gotten progressively worse every year, he's chucking up more long jumpers, his passing, normally something you expect to see improve in a point guard, has gone nowhere.

He came into the league as a really young 'some guy' (great! young players improve) and has only gone backwards since then. Maybe playing with LeBron will help, like it did Bosh...

Wait a second...Bosh's shot selection went to shit when he moved to Miami! He had always taken a lot of long 2s, and playing alongside LeBron...he started taking even more long 2s, at the expense of shots at the rim. What about playing alongside LeBron and Wade makes him want to take more 20 foot jumpers?
speaking of bosh's shot selection in toronto 29.7% of his fga came from long 2's (im using basketball reference's shots 16+ feet away from the basket) while in miami it increased to 32.6% not only that but he shot less from the 0-3 feet area 27.5% from 34.4% however i don't think it is in the shooting efficiency wherein he had a problem (ts% decreased from 58 to 57 while efg% increased from 50 to 52) but rather in rebounding 14.1rebounds per 100 in toronto then only 11.4rebounds per 100 in miami which is possibly because since he shot those long 2's he was too far away from the hoop to be able to get those extra rebounds on the other hand kevin love who spends more time inside the paint has a better chance to grab the ball (18.8 rebounds per 100 possessions in the past 4 seasons)

speaking of mediocre high payed players like kyrie , since 1978 how many of them who were average in their rookie contract .100 w/48 became a solid starter .150 w/48 years later?

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