[Editor's note: Front Page'd]
It seems as though everyone has come to a consensus over the last couple years: there is only one model for NBA general managers to follow if they happen to be from a small/mid/cold weather market, and that is of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I dont mean to suggest that this isnt right, or that somehow OKC isnt in a terrific position moving forward with Westbook/Durant/Harden. They have solid perimeter defenders, they have solid interior defenders, they have perhaps the best pure scorer in the league, they have a pg who doesnt really seem to have a ceiling, and they are incredibly young.
But I am unsure that this is the only way to build, or that it is even possible to really emulate. For one, it isnt every day that Kevin Durant is available for anyone to draft. Second, a talent like Russel Westbrook isnt always available with the fourth pick in the draft. If the Thunder had won the lottery a couple years ago, we are looking at a team in OKC waiting around on Greg Oden. So it is hard.
The Cavs seem to have the first part of it down. Kyrie Irving looks like he is two years away from being a really transcendent basketball player. Whether he gets to the DHoward/LBJ/Wade/Bryant/DRose/Durant level, well, it sure looks like it will be close. Tristan Thompson, the jury is out. He looks, at a minimum, like a defensive force. And this is where Joe Dumars comes in.
I think the Cavs need to build like the Pistons did when they won a championship. At the most basic level, this means a commitment to defense, and offensive efficiency. Every team strives for this- the Pistons did it without a truly great player. Chauncey, very good. Sheed, very good, Rip, Tayshaun, Mcdyess, Wallace, good. They had a big point guard who could defend and create and shoot. Sound a little bit like a 19 year old rookie on our team? They had an athletic big who was limited offensively but knew his role and disrupted everything. Echoes of Tristan Thompson, should the young fellow continue to improve. These are the pieces we have. So what else do we need?
Chauncey, Rip, and Sheed were all capable of putting up 20 points and it wasnt a surprise. We have Kyrie, and Jamison, and Jamison isnt going to help moving forward. As much as I love a guy like Kidd-Gilchrist, and would love to have him aboard, he wont take pressure (anytime soon) off of Kyrie as the lone offensive threat. Harrison Barnes may not be available with our pick, and this is where the Thunder complications come along. The Thunder dont take on bad contracts and build through the draft. Well, if Barnes isnt around, the quality of wing scorers goes down. Last year, our options were Kawhi Leonard and Alec Burks. Perhaps they wont be bad players but I dont see Durant or Harden talent there. This year, it will be a similar rolling of the dice. Maybe Beal becomes a star, we may have to count on it. But ultimately, we will have to consider making trades like Dumars did to pick up a veteran like Sheed who can come in and score.
This creates risk. A lot of people thought the trade for Sheed was a major risk and wouldnt pay off for Detroit. In a year or so, I hope the Cavs are willing to take a risk to compete. So what does this look like? Am I just rambling? Maybe. Guys in parenthesis are draft/trade targets. will the trade targets be perfect? no, but to get a championship, you have to take on risk
SF: ----, Gee (Gerald Wallace, Iguodala, Barnes, Kidd-Gilchrist, Lamb)
PF: Varejao, Thompson
C: Varejao, Erdin, (Drummond, hope we hit on a draft pick from Miami/NO/trade)
I guess the main thing I am arguing is that assuming Tristan Thompson and our pick this year will turn out to be slam dunks like OKC is a lot to ask. We have to be ready to take on veterans come 2013 that can take pressure off of Kyrie. We have cap space this summer, and we arent getting any big time FA to just sign here. We gotta trade for them.
Thanks for reading.