PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 12: Anderson Varejao #17 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Phoenix Suns during the final moments of the NBA game at US Airways Center on January 12, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Cavaliers defeated the Suns 101-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Cavaliers have played 13 games and currently have the 7th best record in the Eastern Conference at 6-7. They've played significantly more road games (9) than home games (4). Head coach, Byron Scott still hasn't locked down the rotation of players that he intends to use and has been working out different possibilities and combinations to see what is effective. Regardless, 13 games is just about 20% of this 66 game season. That means we're basically one fifth done with the 2011-12 NBA season. That said, let's give out some early season grades for the members of this surprising team. Keep in mind that my grades are dependent on the expectations that we have of each player. If one player gets a higher grade than another, that doesn't not simply mean that they have played better. It means that they have filled their given role better.
#1 Daniel Gibson: B+
I'll be honest, I didn't know what to expect from Boobie Gibson at the start of the season. In retrospect, that seems pretty foolish. He's supplied exactly what he's been known to supply for his whole career. He's shooting an impressive 45.3% from behind the arc and has been the best perimeter defender on the team so far. He recently did a great job slowing down Golden State's Monta Ellis and will be getting more minutes if Anthony Parker is forced to miss more games with his back injury. Overall, I've been very pleased with the contributions from Boobie Gibson and he receives a solid grade as a result.
#2 Kyrie Irving: A/B+
Why does Kyrie Irving get two grades? Well the first mark is grading him on a rookie scale. For a rookie that has played just 13 games in the NBA? He's been phenomenal. Spectacular, even. He leads all rookies in PER and is averaging 17.7 points per game to go along with just over 5 assists. I'm tempted to give him an A+, but his defense has been less than ideal up to this point. His willingness to work and get better lead me to believe that his defense will improve significantly as the season goes on. The second grade is on a general NBA player scale. If we're looking at Kyrie as just a plain old veteran point guard, he gets a B+. His turnovers and lack of defense bring his grade down on this level. That being said, most teams in the league would be more than happy to get this kind of production out of their point guard, regardless of his age.
#3 Ramon Sessions: B
After a very strong campaign last season, Razor Ramon has predictably come back to earth a little bit. I'm willing to attribute some of this to the fact that he is not consistently playing with the rest of the starters and moving into a backup point guard role may be a somewhat difficult transition. Despite all of that, Sessions has still been quite productive in his allotted minutes. He's averaging just under 10 points and 5 assists in just 21 minutes per game. If you adjust that for the minutes that he might be able to get on some potential contenders, those are some pretty good numbers. I still think that Sessions is trade bait, but I cannot complain about the minutes that he's given us while backing up Kyrie Irving.
#4 Antawn Jamison: C
Oh, Antawn. It seriously took me a little while to figure out what to give Jamison. If I wrote this post after the first five games of the season, I would have had to create a new letter or symbol or something to fully express how terrible he was. Luckily for Antawn, however, I'm writing this post after he has posted several solid performances in a row. He isn't scoring efficiently, but he's scoring (17.0 ppg). When you take into consideration the fact that he is being relied on as the best scorer on this roster, that's not terrible. Irving has emerged as a better offensive option, but when Kyrie is dishing out assists, he's most likely going to Jamison. His defense has been bad, but not as atrocious as last season. He's still a great guy and if he keeps up his solid play, Chris Grant might get a few phone calls at the trade deadline. All things considered, he's been okay.
#5 Ryan Hollins: F-
Overreaction? Probably not. He's been that bad. In the season opener, Hollins was given the minutes at backup center but quickly lost that job to Samuels and was soon relegated to 4th string center once Erden got healthy. Hollins boasts an impressive PER of 3.4. He is the only player on the active roster that has a WinShares/48 minutes that is below zero. When he's on the court, he's been pretty much useless other than his ninja-stanced screens (most of which are illegal). He also got blocked by the bottom of the backboard like 4 times in the first couple of games. If that's not worthy of an F-, I don't know what is.
#8 Christian Eyenga: ???
He's gotten a whopping 1 minute of playing time. We know that Byron Scott was not happy with his effort during training camp and preseason. He has since been sent down to D-League Canton to get some playing time and try to earn a role on the Cavs.
#9 Semih Erden: Incomplete
Erden suffered a broken thumb before the regular season started and has only played in 6 games since coming back. He's been a mixed bag off the bench at the backup center role and is coming off of his best game (by far) against the Warriors. Six games is not a big enough sample size for me to either praise of mercilessly roast the guy, so we'll come back to this.
#13 Tristan Thompson: B
I'll be honest (honesty seems to be a theme in this post so far), I was slightly terrified when the Cavaliers drafted Tigger with the 4th pick in the draft. I wanted the big Lithuanian kid, Jonas Valanciunas, but am happy to report that I am quite satisfied with Double T up to this point. In the minutes that he is getting off of the bench behind Antawn, he's been quite productive and effective. He brings tons of energy to the game and really just seems to love being on the court. He's rebounding at a high rate and attacks the basket fearlessly. He's obviously still pretty raw, but the talent is evident. It may be a year or two, but I believe Thompson has the ability to become an impact player for the Cavaliers.
#17 Anderson Varejao: A-
Not sure how much more we could ask for from Andy V. He's supplied everything that he's supposed to. He's played solid defense, endless hustle, and great rebounding. He's currently 3rd in the league in offensive rebounds, one spot ahead of Dwight Howard. Varejao might be another guy that is ultimately traded for younger assets and draft picks, but two things are for sure: he's totally loved in Cleveland and he will give 100% every time he touches the floor. I love what I've seen from the Wild Thing in the first 13 games.
#18 Anthony Parker: C-
Parker was sidelined in a recent game against the Charlotte Bobcats with a back injury and missed the following game against the Warriors. Before he got hurt, though, he was basically pretty meh. He's shooting a disappointing 31% from behind the arc and not really doing all that much else. His defense has been okay and he's providing some invaluable "veteran leadership".
#21 Mychel Thompson: Uh, who?
This dude has barely played at all.
#24 Samardo Samuels: C+
Byron Scott is not happy with Samardo Samuels. I'm not sure why, honestly. He's been a lot better than Ryan Hollins. Yes, I realize that isn't saying very much, but the point still stands. When Erden came back from his thumb injury, he basically knocked Samardo out of the rotation. Maybe he'll get another shot at some point, but as it stands right now, Erden is getting the minutes of Samardo.
#33 Alonzo Gee: B-
Despite the fact that he is coming off of the bench, Gee has been a relatively pleasant surprise. He has shown some improvement in his outside shooting and remains one of the more athletic and aggressive players on both sides of the ball. He has a significant amount of untapped potential still and can probably improve quite a bit. I maintain that he has the ability to become a rotation player on a contending team. He certainly has the physical ability to do so, it will just be a matter of learning the game further. As it stands right now, Alonzo is a pretty solid player on the second unit.
#36 Omri Casspi: D+
The Cavs traded away J.J. Hickson to the Sacramento Kings and received Omri Casspi to be their starting small forward. Until a few games ago, he was basically terrible. He's gotten better as of late, but he's still not good. We're starting to see his ability to attack the basket and draw fouls, but he basically refused to do that for the first ten games of the season. Instead, Casspi seemed content to stand on the perimeter and twiddle his thumbs. It's possible that it's just a matter of getting used to the new scenery and system. Regardless, Byron has kept him in the starting lineup and he's starting to improve.
#44 Luke Harangody: WOOOOOO
This is basically our token goofy white guy. He's a comedic genius when he's on the court. That's all I have to say about that.
Holy crap, that was a long post. Feel free to give some feedback if you think I screwed up any of these grades.