Is this late, late season resurgence an example of too little too late? Or is it a showing of what's to come for the Wine and Gold? The Cavaliers record may not show if but as of late, the young talent of the team has shown the fan base so much potential. In the past few games the hustle and stats show an entirely different team out there then the one that was out there during the massive losing streak. The fact the Cavaliers may no longer finish at the bottom of the league, and the idea of a 20 win season is looking actually plausible, both prove the team is slowly turning things around. Sound like the idiotic ramblings of a blogger blinded by his 'fandom'? Maybe, but the statistics from this last stretch of play tend to agree with what I'm saying.
Speaking statistically the Cavaliers are really starting to turn things around in this last bit of the season. Don't believe me just look at the facts. Over the last 4 games the Cavs have been out performing their points per game by quite a bit, the average PPG this season has been 95.2 ranking 26th in the league; but over the past 4 games they're scoring 104.3 PPG which ranks in the top 10 of the league. No longer is it just a few players showing up, now it's looking like a whole team shown up at once. It's obvious when watching the games that they are performing at such a higher level; to put it blunt the Cavaliers look like a brand new team.
But is this resurgence just a team winning a few games with opposing teams caring little about their records, or is it something more? The whole team looks rejuvenated and hope is once more present in the minds of the fans. With the addition of 2 lottery picks in the next NBA draft and the use of the remaining trade exemption this young team CAN work it's way back into the playoffs sooner then most of the ESPN talking heads expect.
Looking at the back court you have quite the foundation already. At the point position you have one of the most talented point guards in the league in Baron Davis (When Baron wants to apply himself that is) and behind him you have 24 yr old Ramon Sessions. Baron and Ramon have been averaging 15.5 and 17.3 points with 8.5 and 3.8 assists per game in the last four. At the Shooting guard you have Anthony Parker, Daniel "Boobie" Gibson, Christian Eyenga and Manny Harris. Parker and Eyenga have shown their versatility having playing time at both the 2 guard and 3 forward. Many fans believe after this season Parker will be done as a Cavalier, being 35 years old and Free Agent. But for the future of the position many look at Gibson, Harris and Eyenga. Eyenga and Harris both being NBA rookies are still very raw and unproven but with more and more work they're looking like serious contributors.
It's hard when following the NBA, who's in the plans of a team long term and who's being looked at as trade bait. If I were to guess two players in the back court who were the most likely to be dealt, I would put my money on Ramon Sessions and Daniel Gibson. Both are quality players, but with the trade exception I get the sneaking suspicion one of those 2 may be moved. And what makes this possibility even more likely would be addition of a 1 guard lottery pick such as Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, or Brandon Knight. If one of those were to be drafted by the Cavaliers it would appear that Sessions may be headed out of town.
Now looking at the forward positions it's apparent that some of the future is already on the team. Starting at the Small Forward position the Cavaliers have the young 'swingman' Alonzo Gee. Gee has gone from a random player signed off the street to a key contributer in the Cavaliers success. In this last 4 game stretch he's tied for 4th on the team in PPG at 11.5, and tied for 3rd in rebounds. He's shooting field goals at .533 but he's shooting 3 pointers at an even higher .556. Behind him theres really no one though, Gee may not be the starter next year but he very well could still be in the rotation. At the Power Forward position the Cavaliers have 22 year old J.J. Hickson who is finally showing that he's becoming the player we believed he could. In April he's been averaging 22 PPG, and 11.8 rebounds per game making him the 5th highest scoring PF over that period and tied with Dwight Howard at 7th for Rebound per game. Behind Hickson there's veteran Antawn Jamison, and the 2 rookies Luke Harangody and Samardo Samuels. Antawn could very well be headed out as the team looks to shed the 15 million dollar contract. Which leaves Luke and Samardo as Hickson's back up, they both have big upsides but are really 2 different types of players, Luke having the ability to slide to the 3 and Samardo having the ability to step in and play the 5 when called upon.
It can be assumed that another 3 will be brought in next year the only question is who? Derrick Williams, Harrison Barnes and Terrence Jones are all three talented 3's who are eligible for this years draft. But with this massive trade exception is it out of the question to think the Cavaliers would attempt bring in a new Small Forward via trade? I don't think that can be entirely ruled out just yet. But this may all depend on where the team's lottery picks land.
At the Center position we have 1 answer followed by 3 questions. The only true answer we have for the Center position right now is the "Wild Thing" himself Anderon Varejao. His high motor play and 'flopping' ability has been a key component to the success the team has had (even in the LBJ era). He has been out for most of the year but will be ready to go again next season. Now onto the three questions: Ryan Hollins, Semih Erden and Sasha Kaun who they own the international rights to. Ryan Hollins has looked great over this past stretch, but can Byron Scott get this level of play out of him consistently? He's been scoring an average of 11.5 points, 1.5 blocks and 3.8 rebounds per game. If you can this level of play off the bench, splitting time with Anderson, the positions not much to worry about. Semih Erden is a Center who we received during the deadline trade with the Celtics sending a future 2nd round pick for Erden and Harangody. He's got decent skills for a center, but he's more finesse then a banger; he's currently injured and well, he's not doing much to disprove the NBA stereotype that European bigs are soft. The biggest issue is that little is known about his role with the Cavaliers as he's only appeared in 1 game all season. The last question is what is going to happen with international player, Sasha Kaun? He'll be free to come over this season, but do the Cavaliers even want him over here? The former Jayhawk has potential to be a contributor but it's not clear how his skill set will transfer over. I expect Sasha and Semih to both be playing summer ball for the Cavs.
If the Cavaliers are put in a position of value I could very well see them get a center. For example if Enes Kanter were to happen to be there at our 2nd lottery pick. As I've pointed in the other positions it really is unclear who may be trade bait, and who's really the building blocks of the future. There were rumors through this past season Varejao may be on his his way out of Cleveland. If and that's a big IF Andy were to be moved I would expect the Cavaliers to attempt to get a big man to step in right away to replace him. If Andy is not traded (or planned on being moved) I wouldn't see the Cavaliers really itching to get a new 5 to step in to start over him.
With all of this that I mentioned, I have hope. I see the potential in these players, as they play hard during the final stretch of the season. I see a young team with tons of possibilities and if the right off season moves are made could be back in the play off hunt once more. The franchise is proving it really is headed down the right direction, and even during this bleak season there is a silver lining. With every game played this team has been tried and tested, but at the end of the season they're still playing hard for the city. They're still playing 4 quarters, and they're not "phoning it in" like many other teams would do right now. As a fan, while the season draws to a close I only get more excited, because now I can see what GM Chris Grant can do during an off-season with 4 draft picks (2 being lottery picks) and a trade exception. If that can't get you the least bit excited I just don't know what will.