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Monday, December 3, 2012

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 29. Cleveland Cavaliers

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  3-12,  fifth place Central Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)

Points Scored: 97.0 (18th)
Points Allowed: 102.2 (29th)
Team FG%: .424 (24th)
Opponent’s FG%: .492 (30th)
Rebounds per game: 40.9 (22nd)
Opponents rebounds per game: 39.8 (5th)
Turnovers per game: 15.8 (21st)
Opponents turnovers per game: 16.7 (5th)

Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring (ppg): Kyrie Irving (22.9)
  • Rebounds per game:  Anderson Varejao (14.1)
  • Minutes per game: Anderson Varejao (35.6)
  • Assists per game: Kyrie Irving (5.6)
  • Steals per game: Alonzo Gee (1.8)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Alonzo Gee (0.5)

Worst Player of the Month: CJ Miles

When the Cavs signed him as free agent away from the Utah Jazz, many expected CJ Miles to have a breakout season.  While at Utah, Miles showed glimpses of what a good player he can be, and it was expected that given the new environment and playing alongside future All Star guard Kyrie Irving, Miles would live up to his potential.  Unfortunately that has not happen as CJ has performed rather lackluster thus far in the early stages of the season averaging a little over five points per game while shooting just .292 from the field—a far cry from his numbers in Utah (8.3ppg, .418FG%).  Although it is very young in the season and Miles can improve his numbers, it has become quite apparent that he will not be anything more than a mere role player.  Fortunately for the Cavs, they did not waste too much their money as Miles has a rather affordable contract (6$ million over the next three years) that can easily be traded if his play continues to go sour.    

First Player of the Month: Anderson Varejao

After spending the bulk of last season shelved with an injury, Anderaon Varejao has bounced back with a vengeance posting career highs in scoring (14.1ppg) while leading not only his team, but the league in rebounding (14.1 per game) at the same time.  Often considered a throwback of the former Lebron James era, Anderson seemed out of place and no longer a factor on a Cleveland team that is one its way to a long arduous rebuilding period.  At 30 years old, Varejao has not only shown that he is still relevant, but given the chance, he can prove to be quite the contributor.  Despite his inspiring play, it remains to be seen whether or not Cleveland will continue to keep him as Varejao still remains a relic of a past regime.  Some contend that all he is doing is increasing his trade value in the effort of finding a suitable home for his talents while Cleveland marches on a new direction without him.  


Despite their struggles, last season was a blessed one for the Cleveland Cavaliers—they won the number one overall pick in the 2011 draft, Kyrie Irving, which as result breathed new life into the Franchise.  Behind Irving’s rookie of the year performance, Cleveland managed to return to relevancy once again as Cavs fans looked to move on from “the Decision” that shattered their lives two years ago.  This season was supposed to keep the light of hope burning as Cleveland would return with new faces and draft picks to bolster their roster and make them a force to be reckoned with in the NBA.  Unfortunately, that has not really happened as the Cleveland Cavaliers have stumbled quite a bit at the start of the season winning just three games as the team has allowed their opponents to have their way with them on the offensive end.  It looks as if it will be another long season for Cavaliers fans as their team enters the season with an extremely young and inexperienced team.

Much of the Cavs’ problems simply have to do with their players’ young ages and severe lack of NBA experience.  The average age of the players on roster is 24 years old, ten of them who are under the age of 25, and a majority of the players have a little over a year of NBA experience.  They are no veterans to really look to for leadership as they are either incapacitated or they have become completely irrelevant as they were holdouts of the previous regime and are currently out of place on this next generation of Cavs players.  As for the rest, many of them have come to the league via the NBA draft or as rookie free agents that rose up from the D-League.  With the severe lack of playing experience, there is little wonder how this team has started the way it has.

They won their first game against the Washington Wizards in convincing fashion (10/30/2012) then dropped their next two to the Chicago Bulls by a sizable margin on their home court (11/2/2012) and the Milwaukee Bucks by just three points on the road (11/3/2012). The Cavs would then pull off the upset by beating one of the NBA’s Elite in the Los Angeles Clippers, but then go on to drop their next six games by rather sizeable margins—by an average of 9.2 points.  Cleveland managed to break their losing streak by upsetting the Philadelphia 76ers at home (11/21/2012), but went back to losing four straight before finishing the month with a much needed win against the Atlanta Hawks (11/30/2012).  From what can be seen from the performances, one can see that the talent is there as the Cavs managed to beat two teams whom are above .500 and managed to hang tough against some of the league’s elite clubs such as the Miami Heat losing by just two points (11/24/2012).  The problem, as is the case with every young team as inexperienced as Cleveland, is that although the effort is there, they severely lack the consistency to really become a threat to their opponents.

Offensively, all that coach Byron Scott can count on is the production of his star Kyrie Irving while the rest of the team remains an enigma.  Despite the surprising emergence of Anderson Varejao, it must be noted that this is his best performance in his eight year career and at his age, 30, that production will sooner or later decline as he gets older.  Save for Irving and Varejao, the only other player that shoot more that .450 from the field is swingman Omri Casspi, and he is not much of a factor offensively as he averages just 4 shot attempts per game.  The rest of the team just shoot in the low 40s and high 30s putting more pressure on Irving and Varejao to come through for them.  As for the defensive end, it has been a mixed bag as they have allowed a league’s worst .492 from the field, yet force their opponents to turn over the ball at a rather high rate.

Until they can develop their players to become more consistent on the offensive and defensive ends, the Cavs will remain a team just sputtering along with lopsided performances with each passing game.  That will take time, however, and with a roster that is salmonella/e-coli raw, don’t expect the team to massively improve anytime soon.  Adding to Cleveland’s problems is the absence of team leader Kyrie Irving who will be sidelined until the third week in December as he recovers from a sprained finger on his shooting hand.  Losing Irving will be tough for Cleveland as they enter a month facing subpar competition and can possibly win at least half of those games if Irving were on the floor.  Thus it seems to be another long season for Cleveland fans as they watch their team consisting of young and naive players get throttled by a cold and cruel league.