The Cavs won last night, Andrew Bynum played, and fans everywhere got to watch Kyrie Irving play meaningful basketball again. So obviously what do you think the first question I got for the mailbag was after last night's victory?
Why are you the worst?
With that, we're underway!
The MVP chant for Kyrie was, well...a little stupid, right?
Yeah it probably was, but ultimately every single MVP chant that happens before March or April is. So while I dislike the chant I don't think it's any different than chanting MVP for Kevin Durant last night. It's an absolutely silly concept that I wouldn't miss at all.
Having said that, this one did seem extra absurd given that Kyrie didn't particularly play well last night offensively. But I will say that his defensive effort was already much improved under Mike Brown, and he made the clutch free throws he needed to at the end.
But yeah, hopefully that isn't a recurring thing that Cleveland fans do throughout the season.
How worried should the Gortat trade make me?
Umm...I don't think you should be particularly worried. I'm not a big Gortat fan. He'll ultimately probably bring them two or three more wins than they would have had with Kevin Seraphin at center for three-fourths of the year, but I don't think there's a difference between he and Emeka Okafor. In fact, I actually think that Okafor would have been more valuable to them because they now feature absolutely zero rim protection. Gortat is among the worst rim/post defenders among seven footers in the NBA, and Nene doesn't particularly inspire fear in that regard either. It wouldn't surprise me if Washington's defense takes a step back from last season.
Having said that, there is one major positive to this trade for the Wizards. It's gone somewhat unnoticed throughout his career, but John Wall hasn't been particularly strong in the pick-and-roll throughout his three seasons in the NBA. Be it the fault of his game being more isolation-oriented or the fault of poor screen-and-roll players to play with him, that part of his game just simply hasn't developed yet. Gortat is excellent in the pick-and-roll. He sets phenomenal screens, has prototypical footwork, and great hands that allow him to finish efficiently at the rim. Even if Gortat doesn't stay after this season, this trade still helps the Wizards long-term in the regard that Wall will simply improve in the most ubiquitous play that point guards run in the NBA.
I still wouldn't have made the trade because I don't think that Gortat + a $6 million price (what they paid to waive Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall, and Malcolm Lee) is worth a top 12 protected 2014 1st round pick. I've been on the bandwagon that the middle of the 2014 draft isn't stronger than most drafts, but I just don't think as highly of Gortat as I believe the Wizards do. It seems like a reactionary move on the part of a front office that is worried about losing their jobs, and I think that it ultimately backfires.
What percentage of Cleveland fans would deny that the Cavaliers would be better off with Jonas-Barnes-Oladipo than the guys they took in those spots?
I'm going to take Jared's bait here and answer something that may anger Cavs' fans. I am definitely on his side that the Cavaliers would be better off with that trio, but it's mostly due to the advantage that I believe Oladipo holds over Anthony Bennett.
I don't think there's a real difference right now in the development of Valanciunas and Tristan Thompson. Honestly, I'd probably lean towards taking Thompson right now, but I also have a personal bias that I'm willing to admit. I'd place Barnes slightly ahead of Dion Waiters because that even if Barnes never does fully become the offensive threat that he has potential to be, I think he will defend and shoot threes. Waiters is just difficult to project outside of his attack-oriented offensive game. It may develop, but I'd err on the side of caution and take Barnes. As far as Bennett and Oladipo, I don't believe in the ancillary parts of Bennett's game outside of his ability to be a volume scorer and rebounder. Oladipo is safer, and possess upside in his own regard.
However, the more fun way to think about this is thusly: say you believe the Cavs had a perfect 2011 draft in selecting Irving and Thompson. Wouldn't it make sense to pair Drummond with Thompson? Had the team had faith in Drummond, I don't think they take another big in Bennett, which makes the Oladipo selection more palatable. You're then looking at a core of Irving-Oladipo-Thompson-Drummond, and that's just....
What are you expecting out of Marcus Smart this season?
I'm going to start this off by saying that Smart is an excellent basketball player. He's a shot creator with insane athleticism and an NBA-ready body for a guard.
Smart should have left last year. His stock never would have been higher, and he probably would have gone #2 overall to the Magic. This season, he's relegated to the second tier behind the three freshmen and Dante Exum, the Australian prodigy that I'm both monumentally disappointed and extremely happy won't be suiting up for Indiana this season. I know that college is fun and he has some growing to do as a player, but simply from a stock maximization standpoint, leaving after last season would have been the right move.
I actually think he takes a step back in the minds of the college basketball proletariat this season. His stats will probably be about the same as last year, which will lead to people wondering why a 20-year-old prospect isn't taking the next step. There's every indication he'll still be taken in the top 10 of this draft, but I don't think it's guarantee anymore that he goes top 6. Wiggins, Parker, Randle, Exum and Gordon are all simply better than he is coming into the season, and once you hit sixth overall you're really getting into the needs of specific teams.
Overall, I expect to see more of the same from Smart this season as an unbiased basketball observer. However, I'm not sure that will be enough in the grand scheme of the NCAA this season.
What do you back in the Bennett nickname free-for-all?
From the looks of things, there are quite a few different choices. Matt Moore of CBS Sports came up with "Big Daddy Canada," which I liked at first but ultimately it's too long and doesn't flow right when you say it. The Kraken was also suggested because he'll be spending most of this season as a reserve, but the whole "unleash the Kraken" meme just feels played out considering Clash of the Titans came out like three years ago.
My favorite is probably "Fat Mamba," but I still am not in love with it. Bennett just hasn't proven enough yet to even steal half of Kobe's self-ascribed nickname. So your goal over the next week is to work on creating nicknames for Anthony Bennett, and I'll look through all of the suggestions for the next mailbag and we'll try to vote on the best one.
Speaking of Bennett in a way...
After spending so much time researching the draft who would you have taken for the Cavs in each spot? I need to know the answer to see if I should give you kudos in the future or the honorary Bill Simmons award.
I'm not entirely sure what the honorary Bill Simmons award is, but if it involves being filthy rich and having the ear of John Skipper at ESPN, sign me up.
Bennett was 6th on my big board heading into the draft, and I actually believed that he'd be the guy who fell within the lottery (I GOT THE NEXT FOUR PICKS RIGHT THOUGH!). So I was mostly very surprised when the Cavs took him. As far as who I would have selected, Nerlens Noel is the obvious answer. I've been high on Noel since the beginning of the last NCAA season, and I believe that he's the guy that can transform a defense.
However, let's say that the Cavs knew something about Noel's knees that we publicly don't and red-flagged him. In that case, it would have been a difficult decision for me between Otto Porter and Oladipo. Once Porter puts on weight, I see him as more of a 3 that can play the high post initiator/stretch 4 spot as a role player and stick around the league for years. However, Oladipo would have been the ultimate Mike Brown player with his motor defensively and athleticism. I'll change my answer from what it was pre-draft and say Oladipo despite the fact that they have Waiters already.
Next would be the 19th spot, and I would have selected Reggie Bullock. Bullock is going to stick in the NBA for ten years as a 3-and-D player that does nothing else but shoot and work his ass off on the other end. You can't ask for much more value than that at 19. I have faith in Karasev, but if you want a further explanation on why I would take Bullock over him I'll refer you to a piece David and I wrote about the topic here.
I actually completely agree with their decision to trade the pick at 31. After Livio Jean-Charles was selected, I wasn't particularly high on any of the other European prospects, so stashing wasn't an option, and there is no way this team was going into camp with four draft picks on guaranteed deals. The highest two players remaining on my board at that point were Erick Green and Jamaal Franklin. Given that I have already selected two wing players, Carrick Felix and Franklin are out here. I would have taken Green and stashed him as my backup point guard of the future. He's on a different level as far as ball-handling ability in comparison to Matthew Dellavedova, and he can actually get into the lane and play with his height.
So you're looking at a draft of Oladipo, Bullock, and Green as opposed to Bennett, Karasev, and Felix. I like my three better, especially when it comes to this team's needs, but then again I'm not a general manager like Chris Grant so you should probably go with what he did.
That does it for another edition of Fear The Sword's Mailbag. Keep sending questions to either me on Twitter @Sam_Vecenie or our email address for this little column, mailbagFTS@gmail.com. Mostly anything goes in these things. Cavs, the general NBA, college basketball, television, movies, and of course embarrassing stories about me.
(Note: if someone doesn't ask me about where I stand on Dan Gilbert's goatee for next week, I'm going to be very upset)