Monday, 23 June 2014

Cleveland Cavaliers - NBA Offseason Outlook Series

3rd in Central Division
10th in Eastern Conference
33-49 W-L Record

Team Leaders

Points: Kyrie Irving (20.8)
Rebounds: Anderson Varejao (9.7)
Assists: Kyrie Irving (6.1)
Steals: Kyrie Irving (1.5)
Blocks: Anderson Varejao (0.6)

Team Statistics

Points: 98.2 (22nd)
Rebounds: 44.1 (11th)
Assists: 21.2 (20th)
Points Allowed: 101.5 (16th)

Depth Chart

PG: Kyrie Irving, Jarrett Jack, Matthew Dellavedova
SG: C.J. Miles, Dion Waiters, Sergey Karasev 
SF: Luol Deng, Alonzo Gee, Carrick Felix, Scotty Hopson
PF: Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett
C: Spencer Hawes, Anderson Varejao, Tyler Zeller

Financial Breakdown

Under Contract: Anthony Bennett ($5,563,920), Matthew Dellavedova ($816,482), Carrick Felix ($816,482), Alonzo Gee ($3,000,000), Scotty Hopson ($1,450,878), Kyrie Irving ($7,070,730), Jarrett Jack ($6,300,000), Sergey Karasev ($1,533,840), Tristan Thompson ($5,138,430), Anderson Varejao ($9,704,595), Dion Waiters ($4,062,000), Tyler Zeller ($1,703,760)

Free Agents: Luol Deng (Unrestricted), Spencer Hawes (Unrestricted), C.J. Miles (Unrestricted)

Projected Cap Space: Approximately $16.1 million

Draft Picks

First Round: 1st overall
Second Round: 33rd overall (From Orlando)

Team Needs

Interior Presence
The Cavs are a decent defensive team but lack a true rim protecting center and inside scorer. Anderson Varejao's natural position is power forward and he operates mostly in the high post while Spencer Hawes (free agent) is a stretch 5 who takes more mid range and long distance jumpers than post shots. Cleveland needs someone who can protect the paint on the defensive end and score inside in the offensive end. Points in the paint have direct correlation to a team's winning percentage as scoring inside the restricted area is much easier than outside the perimeter. Therefore, acquiring a big man who is capable of creating his own offense in the post will be key for the Cavaliers moving forward.

Long Term Small Forward
Since LeBron James' departure, a huge void has been left at the small forward position. Alonzo Gee was the primary starter until the addition of Luol Deng. However, the Deng experiment did not work too well and the Cavs find themselves looking for a long term small forward once again. Will LeBron come home this summer? Perhaps, but it is highly unlikely. Cleveland should instead turn their focus to budding forwards available in this year's draft or try to trade for established player with the bundle of assets they have (draft picks, expiring and non-guaranteed contracts, young players). Another route would be to use the great deal of cap space to sign an impact player at the 3.

Keepers & Draft/Free Agent/Trade Targets

Spencer Hawes
Cleveland acquired Hawes at the trade deadline in an effort to make a push for the playoffs. Ultimately, the Cavs fell short but Hawes looked like he could be part of the future. His ability to stretch the floor (42% 3PT) and make good passes (3.0 ast) were instrumental in creating spacing for Irving and Waiters to operate. While Hawes does not offer rim protection, he is a solid rebounder and decent shot blocker. At 26, Spencer Hawes is right in his prime and could contribute greatly to a rising Cavs squad.

Joel Embiid
Embiid was the consensus 1st overall pick in many mock drafts before his foot injury was announced. With major red flags surrounding his health now, Embiid is a huge gamble for any team wishing to draft him. Despite his recent injury, Cleveland desperately needs a long term center and they should definitely consider the big man from Cameroon. When healthy, Embiid is a game changing center on both ends of the floor. Per 40 minutes, Embiid averaged 19.4 points, 14.0 rebounds and 4.5 blocks this year. Many scouts suggest his ceiling is Hakeem Olajuwon while his basement is Serge Ibaka. Embiid's upside is undeniable and potential pairing him up with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving would form a dangerous duo.

Jabari Parker
If the Cavaliers take the safe route, Jabari Parker is the way to go. Parker is the most NBA-ready of all the prospects and he hones a offensive skillset that would provide the Cavs with needed scoring. The main question regarding Parker is his position. At 6'8", it is still uncertain whether he is a small forward or power forward in the NBA in the long run. His lateral movement and defense is also a slight concern but that can be taught at the next level if he is willing to put the work in. Cleveland made a questionable selection by drafting Anthony Bennett last year. Going with Jabari Parker in this year's hyped draft would be a conservative and realistic choice.

Trevor Ariza
The Cavs will make a strong pitch to LeBron this summer but they should also target Trevor Ariza. Ariza is a solid wing defender who greatly improved his three-point shooting this season. As a complement to Wall and Beal, Ariza was utilized as a spot-up shooter and occasional playmaker in the halfcourt setting. For a team that needs a wing defender and a long term small forward, Ariza would thrive with the Cavs because of his ability to play off the ball which is attributed to his low usage rate. The long and athletic swingman makes a lot of sense for the Cavs in free agency because of his price tag too, which will be more affordable than Luol Deng.

Marcin Gortat
Once a backup for Dwight Howard, Marcin Gortat is one of the premier centers in the NBA. The "Polish Hammer" had a productive season with the Washington Wizards and played a crucial role in their playoff run. Looking for a big payday this offseason, Gortat would be an ideal fit for Cleveland. His ability to protect the rim would allow Varejao to play more minutes at his natural power forward position. In addition, Gortat would be a good option for the pick-and-roll with Kyrie Irving. If the Cavs believe drafting Embiid is too big of a risk, they should look to Gortat in FA.

Harrison Barnes
Cleveland had a chance to take Harrison Barnes with the 4th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft but chose Dion Waiters instead. Barnes is not necessarily being shopped by the Warriors but he could be attainable for the right package. Barnes is a two-way player who has the versatility to play/guard four positions. He excels in one-on-one situations where he pulls-up mid-range or drives to the rim. Barnes is the type of player who would be most suitable for a supporting role on a team where he is not faced with pressure to create for himself. In last year's playoffs, Barnes filled in admirably for the injured David Lee and looked ready to take his game to the next level. However, the addition of Andre Iguodala may have stunted his growth. Since Harrison Barnes is only 22, there is certainly room for development and he can be a matchup problem for some teams when utilized in small-ball situations. With a void at small forward and loaded with assets, the Cavs should definitely inquire about the former North Carolina Tar Heel.







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