I previously gave out grades when we were about a quarter of the way through the season. Now that we're approximately at the halfway point, I guess it's time to revisit them. I think it's safe to say that overall, the Cavaliers have exceeded expectations. I predicted that they would win just 16 games throughout the entire season and while that is still possible, it seems unlikely that they will win just three games the rest of the way out. For better or worse, the Cavs currently sit at 13-18 and are not that far away from a playoff spot. Keep in mind that these grades are somewhat arbitrary and are based on what I expect out of players in their specific roles. That means that I'm not going to penalize Luke Harangody too much for being a scrub.
It's also probably worth checking out Andrew's midseason progress report at Waiting For Next Year. He takes a little more serious approach..
#1 Daniel Gibson: Previous grade: B+ ---> New grade: B
Injuries have plagued Boobie Gibson and his lack of time on the court makes his grade suffer a little bit. He's still been pretty much what we expected, except with improved defense. His three-point shooting is a little bit down from his career average, but will probably bounce-back to a degree in the second half. Overall, he's probably the Cavaliers best option at shooting guard right now.
#2 Kyrie Irving: Previous grade: A/B+ --> New grade: A-
I'm scrapping the idea of giving him two grades (one for a rookie and one overall) because it's too much work and probably kind of confusing. Instead, I'm just giving him an A-. He's been great. He's shown that he isn't afraid to step up in the big moments and takes over games on a regular basis. He remains the team's most consistent and viable offensive threat but seems to be progressing as a facilitator as well. His scoring efficiency has gone down a bit, but that's probably just a result of defenses getting more film on him and keying in on stopping him. He's also been in a bit of a slump with his jumpers, but if the Rising Stars Game is any indication, he's about to break out of that slump in a big way.
#3 Ramon Sessions: Previous grade: B --> New grade: A-
In the role of backup point guard, Razor Ramon has been very good. He's giving us plenty of good minutes, scoring effectively, and dishing out assists at a pretty high rate. The bad thing about Sessions is that he takes minutes away from Kyrie. He forces Byron Scott to play Irving at shooting guard and thus takes the ball out of our best player's hands. I assume this will end when Sessions is inevitably traded for draft pick(s) in the coming days.
#4 Antawn Jamison: Previous grade: C --> New grade: B-
He's playing some pretty good basketball. I can't believe I'm saying this in 2012, but Jamison hasn't been bad. He's scoring and he's doing it relatively efficiently. He seems to have a 25+ point game every week or so and is knocking down open jumpers with more regularity. Furthermore, I also think I saw him close out on a jumpshot on defense once or twice. It's almost like being on a team that isn't totally miserable makes him want to try harder. Go figure.
#5 Ryan Hollins: Previous grade: F- --> New grade: Facepalm
Somehow, Ryan Hollins got worse. Despite the fact that his PER nearly doubled (3.4 to 6.4) since the last time I graded him, he's been just as bad. Did you know that there are 25 guards in the NBA with a higher total rebounding rate than the 7-foot tall Hollins? Seriously. Kyrie has to stop passing to this guy. He drops everything and is averaging fewer rebounds per 36 minutes than Alonzo Gee and Omri Casspi. If Hollins never played for the Cavs again, I'd be like "cool, bro".
#8 Christian Eyenga: Previous grade: ??? --> New grade: Adorable Cat
He still doesn't play. I have nothing to write here, so I'll just give you this cute cat video.
#9 Semih Erden: Previous grade: Incomplete --> New grade: C-
He hasn't been terrible, but he hasn't been not awful -- if that makes any sense. He looks like a guy that has the potential to be a decent backup center at some point, but he still makes way too many mistakes. He's averaging 6.8 fouls per 36 minutes (hint: you only get 6 in a game). He's had a few good games, but much of that is just his ability to catch the ball when Kyrie finds him open. As long as he is the starting center, the Cavs could have some trouble defending and scoring in the paint.
#13 Tristan Thompson: Previous grade: B --> New grade: B
His grade remains unchanged in my eyes. He missed quite a few games with an ankle injury and then started off slow when he came back from said injury. Since then, however, he's been productive in the minutes that he gets. His shooting percentage needs to improve -- there's no reason for a power forward to be shooting 43% from the field. His free throw percentage could also use an enormous boost. Other than that, he's done pretty much what we've asked him to do. He plays good defense and averages 13-11 per 36 minutes. As he becomes more consistent, he'll start to earn those minutes every night.
#17 Anderson Varejao: Previous grade: A- --> New grade: Sad face
Andy V broke his wrist. This prevents the Cavs from using him in games or from trading him for a while. This makes me sad. He was easily the most consistent player on the Cavaliers roster before he was sidelined and was having a career year. He's probably out for another couple of weeks. If he manages to come back before the trade deadline and put together a few solid games, he could still be traded. If Varejao is shipped out, he'll bring in a really nice return to help the Cavs rebuilding efforts.
#18 Anthony Parker: Previous grade: C- --> New grade: D+
Has Parker gotten worse? Not really. Has he played much? No, not really. He's been hurt with a back injury and essentially never plays. Once he is healthy, however, I assume he's going to be getting significant minutes while Manny Harris still doesn't get a chance to play. For that, I am preemptively downgrading him.
These two guys replaced Mychel Thompson. They have filled in admirably by also not playing at all.
#24 Samardo Samuels: Previous grade: C+ --> New grade: C-
Samardo also doesn't play. I figure that he's got to be better than Ryan Hollins, but apparently Coach Scott disagrees. Oddly enough, Byron doesn't ask for my opinion when assigning minutes.
#33 Alonzo Gee: Previous grade: B- --> New grade: B+
Gee remains one of the most awesome stories of the Cavs season. He has developed very nicely and as I previously wrote, is definitely the Cavs' Most Improved Player. He's playing solid defense and throwing down big jams on a nightly basis. It also helps that he's shooting three-pointers more consistently and has an overall improved jumper. The Cavs need to extend his contract in the offseason.
#36 Omri Casspi: Previous grade: D+ --> New grade: C-
Good news: J.J. Hickson is downright terrible for Sacramento. Bad news: Omri Casspi isn't much better for Cleveland. He's starting to get a little more comfortable and rebound better, but his shooting is still pretty miserable. He's shooting under 30% from deep and just a bit over 40% overall. His defense is questionable and more often than not, Scott turns to Gee when the Cavs need it the most. The Casspi-experiment has been slightly better than a trainwreck thus far.
#44 Luke Harangody: Previous grade: WOOOOOOOO --> New grade: Wait, what? Harangody is in the game? Well, we're screwed.
He's a bench warmer and he's damn good at keeping that bench warm. Multiple reports indicate that Cleveland has some of the warmest benches in the league. It's the times when he accidentally plays in games that cause problems. When he does that, he's pretty much the worst thing ever (non-Ryan Hollins division, of course).
You'd think I could say all of this without using 1500+ words. Apparently, however, I cannot. Feel free to tell me where I screwed up.