The DEFEND Cleveland Show

2 Days Till Tip Off – A DC Show Cavs Preview


Food Poisoning, playing catch up, Santa, and 1 more day to go yet still a day behind. And if you haven’t read days 5,4 and 3 ‘Till Tip Off’ before this one, a lot of what I’ll say here might make even less sense. Just Saying.


2 days till open…

1 –Samardo Samuels. At 6’9″ he is too small to be a power forward yet not only is that his position, he plays even bigger logging occasional minutes at center. He has no bounce. Can’t jump at an NBA level at all. Turns the ball over a lot while being overly physical in forcing his offensive game. This physicality also leads to him fouling a lot, and getting fouled a lot. The last part is okay, but it would sure be better if he shot more than just 60% from the line. All these things, simply, add up to why he went undrafted last year before finally being offered a contract by the Cavs after the post draft summer league. And all of these things also really should have meant he wouldn’t be apart of this Cavs DC Show breakdown this year. Yet, as the odds fighter he is, he is.

Somehow Samardo achieves, and then continues to get better. When you look at this Cavs team and what it is as it rebuilds going forward, something it seemingly already has this year in contrast to last, is a decent amount of depth. Samardo Samuels is a huge factor in this, and his minutes will only increase this year as such. I’ve covered how improved perimeter defense will be key to Jamison’s play this year, and Parker’s, and Boobie’s, and the reason why is what the interior defense should be with Varejao, Casspi and Thompson patrolling the paint (more on this later). Samuels is a perfect compliment for this interior presence off the bench. His per 40 minutes averages in his rookie season in this role, 16 points and 9 rebounds. And just like his minutes from last year, expect those numbers to go up too.

Still don’t believe me on this one? How about we look solely at his pedigreed  journey to the pros even though he went undrafted. He ranked 9th in the nation by in 2008 coming out of high school where he shared billing on the #2 team in the nation alongside Tristan Thompson (yep, that same #4 Cavs pick this year, rookie Tristan Thompson). On that Rivals list only one player ahead of him ended up not drafted eventually in the 1st round of the NBA, and 4 of those 7 other players who were selected, were all selected in the top 10 picks of the draft.  After high school he was of course heavily recruited and finally chose to play for Rick Pitino at Louisville where in his second and final year there, he led them in scoring and rebounding. Not bad. And after last year and continued promise in camp this year, I’m buying it.

And you should buy into this guy too, and then revel in the enjoyment of watching him “achieve, and get better”, and how it is he even fell into the lap of the Cavs in the first place.

2 – Ramon Sessions. Starting to talk depth, folks. It’s a fun conversation made even more fun in thinking this team didn’t even really have a starting lineup last year, yet alone a bench to turn to. Don’t mistake this depth as something better than it is, but the Cavs very much have a team that goes 8 to 9 deep in quality players. Now, because this team is not likely to challenge for the post season yet as there still needs to be more talent, and to have some of that talent it now has get older than 19 and 20 years old, Sessions is and will be caught between both roles as a starter and as a reserve. In other words, on a great team Ramon comes off the bench, on the majority of teams in the league not considered to be great (the teams Dan Gilbert would have all renamed the Washington Generals), Ramon can be a starter. And Ramon will start for this Cavs team, at least in the beginning of the year.

This is not as bad as it may seem as the guy does score. In fact, John Hollinger, ESPN basketball’s very own Bill James of statistics, has pointed out that his rate of scoring last year made Ramon “far and away Cleveland’s best offensive weapon last season“. Of course if he scored around the rim as well as he gets to it, or if he had an outside shot to even take notice of, this debate of starter or not starter wouldn’t even be one. He’d start anywhere. That’s not him though, yet the guy still scores, and always is looking to do so. As Kyrie finds his way, Ramon coming off the bench much like he did briefly with Baron last year, looks better and better. His only real problem? Defense. As in he doesn’t fight through screens defensively anywhere near as well as he uses them offensively, and his lateral movement is as much a threat as it is in playing checkers; yes, it’s as if he’s literally not allowed to do so by rule he’s so bad at it. This too is what makes him ideally, added depth on a good team. The sooner this team needs him in this role, a significant boost off the bench, the more fans will see the promise this Cavs team will begin to show this year. How long this will take? Hate to cop out and keep saying “it’s a young team, who’s best talent are rookies at 19 and 20 years old”, so I’ll cop out with the sage old adage of, it’s why they play the game.

3 – Defense. You’ve heard Coach Scott emphasize it this year. You see pieces in place that illustrates its emphasis. Bottom line, the offense as it is will be far from anything perceived as a consistent threat this season, and all told will likely only slightly improved on last year’s 25th overall ranking in points per game. The defense will have to be better though if this team expects to win more than the 19 or so games most predict them winning. And this is why it’s being so emphasized, and you can see where players have been specifically chosen to compliment this design to make it who this team is headed forward.

Fact: If the defense doesn’t gel, even a shortened season of 66 games will seem like another extra long and arduous one for the Cavs. Trump card fact: With a healthy Varejao and upgrades at small forward defensively with Omri Casspi and power forward with Tristan Thompson, and with Samardo giving those aforementioned solid minutes off the bench, this interior defense should keep their offense in some games their offense alone would have no business keeping them in. This is not a big “if” either in happening. It will gel. When?, is the only real question. If it does sooner than later or at least before the midway mark, look to have some fun this year, Cavs fan. Fun beyond again how much you’re already going to have watching Kyrie Irving wow and amaze you. And “if” this defense works as well as it’s capable, you might even end up with a team no one expects to be any good, actually being just that and surprising a whole league of folks.

Day 1 up next, Coach Scott, predictions, and what Cavaliers fans this season really want to know more than anything else.


-Mike James

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Posted by on Dec 26 2011. Filed under Featured, Show Reports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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