Re-making The Cleveland Cavaliers From a Fan's Perspective

Posted by Clevis Murray on Friday, June 13, 2014 with No comments



The city of Cleveland hasn't enjoyed a championship parade in any of the four major four sports since 1974. Back in 2003 the Cleveland Cavaliers hit the jackpot when they drafted hometown kid LeBron James, who was dubbed the "Chose One" and "King James" coming out of high school. James was the "Chosen One" in Cleveland, but his coronation as "King James" didn't come until he took his talents to South Beach in the summer of 2010......the rest is history. Right now the only buzz in Cleveland is the Browns' Quarterback Johnny Manziel, who hasn't even laced up a pair of cleats yet in a regulation game.

Since James departed from the franchise, the Cavaliers were in rebuilding mode. After going a dismal 19-63 during the 2010-2011 season, and having a dubious NBA record for futility with a 26-game losing streak, the franchise was desperate. After having a 19.9% chance of winning the lottery, Cleveland rocked by winning the No. 1 pick. They went on on to draft Duke Point Guard Kyrie Irving, giving him the keys to their car.

Individually, Irving had a good rookie campaign, going on to win the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year award. He accomplished this even though his team failed to make the postseason with a 21-45 record in the lockout condensed season. With the No. 4 pick in 2012, Cleveland decided to bring in Syracuse Shooting Guard Dion Waiters to be  Irving's sidekick.

The 2012-2013 campaign was nothing special with Cleveland, as they struggled creating an identity, as their young core went through the growing pains of the NBA, suffering a multitude of losses with wins far and few between. Cleveland ended another dreaded season with a 24-58 record and had a 15.6% to win the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft. Unfortunately for Cleveland, it was labeled one of the worst drafts in recent NBA history.

*Just with their luck,* Cleveland would go on to win the lottery, and surprise the world by selecting UNLV Canadian freshmen forward Anthony Bennett.  Experts and fans alike shared the same sentiment of shock and awe when Bennett's name was announced. ESPN's Bill Simmons had a classic reaction to the selection, as he exclaimed loudly and was as confused as the viewer.  

Right off the bat, Bennett going No. 1 wasn't a fan friendly pick and his 2013-2014 rookie year did nothing to change people's thoughts. Bennett's inept play was quite moronic at times. His career wasn't off of to a sexy start as most No. 1 picks were in the past. It took Bennett five games to score his first basket as a NBA player and admitted he never previously struggled like that in his basketball life. Bennett's play was so anemic that there was talk of him becoming the first No. 1 pick to be sent to the D-league. The thought was that he would regain his confidence and start to play like a No. 1 pick to a certain degree. 

"It's something I'd think about, for sure," Bennett said on possibly going to the D-league. "It's not a bad thing, especially going down there, hopefully playing a lot, going out there, building my confidence."

"It's a learning process, and all I can do is just work hard, you know?'' Bennett said. "I'm just patient. I missed the whole summer due to the surgery, so I'm kind of behind in everything, trying to catch up on everything. Like I said before, the only thing I can really do is work hard. It doesn't show much in the games, but in practice I've been going hard. My conditioning is a lot better. I lost weight and everything. So it's coming along slowly."

Bennett would go on to average an underwhelming 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds in his rookie season.   Bennett's struggles were just one of the reasons the Cavaliers had a tumultuous 2013-2014 season, as Irving and Waiters were involved in rampant trade rumors, and GM Chris Grant was fired.

Many of these problems could have been avoided had Cleveland went a different direction in the 2013 draft, selecting Victor Oladipo instead of Bennett. Drafting Oladipo would've made the most sense, as he is further along in his development, and has been compared to Avery Bradley, but with a higher ceiling. Oladipo isn't a ball dominant guard and is more of a slasher and off-ball player, the type of sidekick that would mesh well with Irving's needs.

With drafting Oladipo, the Cavaliers would have gotten a special player, not only with how he plays but how he carries himself. Oladipo is a very conscientious man with his work ethic that would be contagious to his peers. The Cavaliers needed someone like Oladipo in the locker room as he is youthful but has the maturity level not many 22-year olds carry with them.

Also, Waiters would have been able to slide into the sixth man role, a situation he succeeded in at Syracuse. Scoring is his first, second and more often times than not, his third option. He is a capable distributor when he wants to be, but the Cavaliers already have a ball dominating guard in Irving in the starting lineup, so moving Waiters to the second unit would help everyone involved. In the NBA, if you are a potent scorer with not much else to offer, then you are  better suited to come off the bench with a scoring mentality, ala Jamal Crawford, J.R. Smith, Jordan Crawford, Nick Young and Nate Robinson.  

In May of 2014, the Cavaliers become hypocrites by firing Mike Brown one season after calling it a mistake when they originally gave him the pink slip in 2010. In just four short years, Brown has been fired three times (Cleveland twice and Los Angeles Lakers in 2012).

Cleveland now has a vacant head coaching position and many coaches are being linked to their somewhat lucrative position, in which they have many options. Cleveland could hire a former head coach, current assistant coach on another team, or just give someone a opportunity.  Former Warriors coach and current ESPN analyst Mark Jackson is a strong candidate. The reason why Jackson has culminated as the best option for Cleveland is because he's a players coach, someone who can get the most out of young players.

Back in the Bay Area, Jackson took a team which was fun to watch but addicted to losing weren't winners at the NBA level, and turned them into one of the most exciting teams with a winning attitude at "Roaracle," the popular nickname for their home court, Oracle Arena. In three seasons, Jackson compiled a 121-109 record (.526) and led Golden State to the second-round of the postseason for the first time since 1991. In the process, they compiled their first 50-win season since 1993-1994. Jackson developed Stephen Curry into an All-Star point guard, something he should have a penchant for after playing the position from 1987-2004. He is the coach Irving needs to take the next step in his development into becoming a floor general and finding the balance between scoring and passing, something he struggled with at times throughout his career thus far.

"Being in our particular position, he'd obviously help a guy like Kyrie [Irving] being as he played the position," Cavs guard Jarrett Jack said about his former coach. "The type of person he is and the attitude he has, he demands certain things -- respect, discipline, togetherness. Those are three things that he definitely incorporates. That's the thing you can't measure in wins and losses."  

One can agree with Jack's sentiment because Jackson preaches to his players as somewhat of a father figure; he is beloved by anybody who crosses his path. Jackson isn't the most stringent person and that's something most players appreciate, but at the same time he isn't a pushover, letting his presence be felt when needed. The Cavaliers need a coach like Jackson to bring a winning attitude back to Quicken Loans Arena, the "Q". With him being a former player, he would gain more respect from players.

On May 20, 2014 the Cleveland Cavaliers become the second team with a 1.7% chance to win the lottery.  This is the third time in four years that the Cavaliers have won the lottery, and unlike the Anthony Bennett pick, they can't mess up this time around with the unprecedented amount of hype this years draft class has received from basketball pundits.

The three top prospects in this years draft are Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Joel Embiid (Kansas) and Jabari Parker (Duke). You can't go wrong with any of the trio, but all have their flaws going into the draft. Selecting Wiggins is a toss up because watching him play, it seems as if he lives off his athletic ability, a pure talent with no skill. His basketball instincts are up for debate, but for the Cavaliers to be safe their top two choices should be Embiid and Parker.

Embiid has been linked to Cleveland since they won the lottery, but medical reports about his back have made them skeptical about him, even though there are conflicting reports about it. The thing with Embiid is that he's only been playing basketball since 2010. He has a massive amount of potential to blossom into a dominant big-man which is something the NBA is deviating from. Having Embiid would be advantage because not every team has a traditional center, most teams are playing forwards at the five. Embiid, if healthy, would dominate the league and with the look to develop into an Andrew Bynum-type of player when he was a All-Star with the Lakers. 

Even with that said, the Cavaliers would be best off having Adam Silver announce, "With the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Jabari Parker from Duke University." Parker in wine and gold is the best fit because of his scoring and shooting ability, rebounding, athleticism, work ethic and maturity. Parker is an All-Around player and has equal or possibly more potential than Embiid. 

The NBA is entering a golden age of Small Forwards, and to win a championship it's becoming more crucial to have a wing player that can defend and shoot. Parker has all the intangibles and a high IQ, giving the Cavaliers their first real shot to fill the void at the 3-spot since James left a few years ago.

The Cavaliers need to do their homework to make the most of this pick. In all reality, you cannot go wrong with either Parker or Embiid, as either would go well with Irving and Waiters and hopefully a rejuvenated Bennett. In a perfect world Irving and Waiters would already be combined with Oladipo with Parker being added this year and Jackson manning the sidelines. But this is the Cavaliers we are talking about, so they have to make due with what they have and hope it is enough to convince Irving to stay in town past his rookie contract and have some talent come and join him in Cleveland.