Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Remember Me?

Sorry, blog fans, the rigors of the NBA season (I've been away from home for 12 of the last 15 nights) plus the news of the Cavaliers impending sale to Dan Gilbert have taken their toll. But I'm back by popular demand. OK, just demand. OK, OK, I got an e-mail from one of my seven blog readers, my sister.

With their 92-86 win in Memphis on Monday, the Cavaliers hit the quarter pole of the season. Here's my player-by-player breakdown after the first quarter. Oh, but, since we haven't spoken in about 10 days, here's what you may've missed: Loss to Bulls, loss to Spurs, all about Dan Gilbert, and my Sunday column.

Caught up? OK, here we go:

Drew Gooden -- This guy is just fascinating, a riddle. He's really a pretty smart guy and can be thoughtful, but often times on the court he slips into a daze. He'll be lost and the next minute feed a no-look alley-oop pass to LeBron or something. So I just think I can sum it up like this: Gooden's basketball IQ and focus is sometimes questionable, but his athletic skills are undeniable. If LeBron and Paul Silas keep him positive -- always keeping him focused is impossible - he's going to have more good games than bad. But he'll probably never be really consistent.

LeBron James -- What do you want me write? I've told people since he was 16 that the reason LeBron is different from everyone else is that he actually lives up to the hype. He answers the bell. he never lets you down. He's made those promises come true. But I just want to focus on one thing here: his defense. He's currently third in the NBA in steals, which has added a major level to his game. But his defense is still his weakest point and he needs to be better off the ball, because that's where he makes the most mistakes. Trying to do too much, he let Bruce Bowen have three straight open jumpers last week in San Antonio in the fourth quarter. That can't happen.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas -- Big Z is big Z. He has excellent offensive skills, a major weapon. His defense hasn't been as consistent as it was at the end of the last season. This season he's been out of position a little too much and also been committing too many stupid fouls. But the Cavaliers are at their best offensively when Ilgauskas touches the ball at least once during a possession.

Jeff McInnis -- J-Mac is having a career year scoring the ball, averaging 15 points. But there are several reasons for this. First, he's shooting it well and he's getting more shots. He's been playing the two-guard down the stretch of games with Eric Snow playing the point. And with LeBron getting double-teamed, McInnis is getting open shots. To his credit, he is making them, especially in clutch spots. His defense, though, has maybe taken a step back from last season. He seems to allow opposing point guards to easy penetration access. Gary Payton, who is four years older than him, showed it could be done and many teams have followed suit from seeing the film.

Ira Newble -- Let's be honest, he probably shouldn't be a starting shooting guard in the NBA. But he has played better than last season. The problem is he often winds up with open jumpers when teams double James and rotate away from Newble. He's not a good jumper shooter, he's at his best going to the basket and in the open floor. Plus his defense has been hurt by the tighter rules on contact. Still, Newble is a solid part of the rotation and takes pressure of LeBron by defending the opposition's best offensive wingman. That's why Silas will keep him in the starting lineup.

Lucious Harris -- Harris may be starting to show his age with his inconsistent jump shot. But he knows how to win and also is the team's best rebounding guard. He really goes after the ball. He's bound to go hot and cold from the field.

Robert Traylor -- He's been a great pickup, especially for $1.6 million. Has been the most consistent player off the bench. People like to call him fat, but you wouldn't say so if you saw him with his shirt off. Sure, he's wide and he's heavy, but he knows how to use it. Can't say I like him taking as many jumpers as he does, but he's been better than expected.

Eric Snow -- Snow hasn't scored as much as he was expected to, but his personality shows on the team. He is a big-time stabilizing force. He's not that physically gifted anymore, but he's so very, very smart and experienced. If you attend a game, just watch the way he moves on the court and the decisions he makes. He certainly has his limitations, but he's won the Cavaliers quite a few games already.

Anderson Varejao -- I can't get enough of watching this kid play. He's wild and intense and very naive. He doesn't have any sort of grasp of what he's doing yet, but he still comes in from time to time and provides good minutes. Then again, sometimes he comes in and fouls everything that moves. He has a chance to develop into a player.

Luke Jackson -- Fans keep begging for him to play but Silas won't budge. Nobody works harder and nobody hates sitting more. Eventually he's going to get a chance, but he still has a lot to learn. He gets lost in the offense sometimes, he doesn't always show confidence, and he's still not that physically strong. But his gifts and ethic will eventually serve him well.

Sasha Pavlovic -- Good athlete, good shooter, good skills. But he seems to go out there and give phantom minutes. Maybe he needs more seasoning. I can't really get a read on him yet, only that he'd probably be better with more playing time. But how do you give him more time when he rarely impacts the game? Let's check back in at midseason.

Dajuan Wagner -- He's got talent, he may yet have a good career. It won't happen in Cleveland. Everything else that needs to be said has been already.

DeSagana Diop -- He's 7-foot and he has a long wingspan. He's good at getting in the way. If you want anything else, you come to the wrong person.

Scott Williams -- Great character, very little left in his legs. Not a good idea to rely on him every night, which is why Tractor's injury has stung a little.

Alright, chew on that stuff for awhile. Feel free to e-mail me at bwindhor@thebeaconjournal.com. For a nominal fee, I may respond. Just kidding, I respond any time, day or night.

Take care,
Brian

p.s. I just ran spell check on this junk and the word "blog" isn't in the site's dictionary. Are you kidding?