SB Nation has organized another Theme Day throughout the NBA blogs and it is happening right now. Today's theme is "Most Hyped." Our prompt for this article is to think about what player was the most hyped before joining the Cavaliers and write about whether or not that player lived up to the hype. Unfortunately, we all know which player in Cavaliers history was the most hyped and I think it's certainly up to you to decide if he lived up to that hype or not. But I'm tired of writing about him.
I will readily admit that my main weakness as a Cavs blogger is that I'm just 20 years old and therefore don't have memories much earlier than 2003. I'll defer to you guys to explain to me some of the hype surrounding past Cavaliers' greats in the comments section. I want to know how much hype Austin Carr, Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, and Larry Nance brought with them as they came to the Cavs. So tell me.
But for the sake of this article, I'll focus on a few instances of player hype that I do remember. When the Cavaliers had those really good teams in the late 2000's, they always seemed like they were one piece away from getting over that hump and winning a title. In my estimation, there were three distinct acquisitions that were intended to push the Cavs over the top and into the history books. I'll give you my thoughts on whether or not those players lived up to the hype, but I'm really interested to hear your thoughts.
While the Big Diesel certainly lived up to his hype with the Orlando Magic, the same cannot be said for his time with the Cavaliers. The Cavs traded for Shaq primarily as a way to counter Orlando's Dwight Howard. The Cavs didn't have anyone big enough to defend Howard one-on-one in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals and the hope was that Shaq would fix that. Unfortunately, he never really got the chance to show us if he could or not.
Shaq averaged 12 points and 6.7 rebounds in 53 games with the Cavs in the 2009-10 season, but missed a good amount of time with a thumb injury. It's hard to knock Shaq's production during the regular season -- his per 36 minutes numbers were 18.5 points on 56.6% shooting with 10.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. His numbers didn't even fall off that much in the postseason. The problem was that the Cavs lost the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Boston Celtics and never had the matchup with the Orlando Magic that they had been planning for.
So if Shaq played so well with the Cavs, how can I say he failed to live up to the hype? Well first, he had those injury problems that I talked about. He played only 53 regular season games. Then again, he was mostly healthy for the playoffs and played in all 11 games and that's why the Cavs wanted him. The problem was that he was 37 years old by the time he got to Cleveland was seemingly never in shape. He couldn't be played for heavy minutes and his inability to run the floor seemed to force the Cavs to slow down on offense. During the regular season, the Cavs were 5.3 points per 100 possessions better offensively without Shaq on the court. During the playoffs, that number jumped to 7.7 points per 100 possessions.
Furthermore, Shaq brought a *lot* of hype with him. Remember this Sports Illustrated cover? Remember him crowing about how he was going to "win a ring for the king"? Well that didn't happen.
It's hard to gauge how much hype Jamison had when the Cavaliers traded for him during the 2009-10 season. Some people viewed Jamison as the piece that would push the Cavs over the top against the Orlando Magic (side note: the obsession that the Cavs had with matching up against the Orlando Magic is devastatingly obvious in retrospect. It was clear that Orlando was a horrible matchup for the Cavs in 2009 and the front office did everything they could to change that. Alas, they seemed to forget about Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics.). At the same time, Jamison appeared to be the consolation prize after the Cavs were unable to get Amare Stoudemire from the Phoenix Suns.
Personally, I had high hopes about the Jamison acquisition. Adding another guy that could score 15-18 points per game and stretch the floor seemed like a great move. Even after he had a miserable debut in a Cavaliers' uniform (he shot 0 for 12 and the Cavs got blown out by the Bobcats), I was optimistic. He could score and had the size to matchup with Hedo Turkoglu or Rashard Lewis. However, I was unaware of just how bad Jamison could be defensively. We had heard all the warnings from Wizards fans that he didn't play defense -- but he was leaving a terrible situation in Washington and was getting an opportunity to win a ring, of course he would play better defense. Boy, was I wrong.
I don't think there's an argument to be made for Jamison living up to the hype. While he didn't have the superstar potential that we would have expected from Stoudemire, 2009-10 was title or bust. It was all about winning a ring and convincing LeBron to stay in Cleveland. The acquisitions of Shaq and Jamison did neither.
The Cavaliers traded for Mo Williams on August 13, 2008 in a three-team deal. The Cavs gave up Damon Jones and Joe Smith to get Williams from the Milwaukee Bucks and they did so with the intention of him becoming the #2 scoring option next to LeBron James. In the 2007-08 season, the Cavs went 45-37 without Williams. Once Williams came into the fold, their offense jumped from 20th in the league to 4th in the league for the 2008-09 season. He was a good player who had averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 assists the year before with the Bucks. When he got to the Cavs, he averaged 17.8 points per game and shot an ungodly 43.6% from behind the arc. Of course, his defense left much to be desired, but it really wasn't exposed until some specific playoff matchups. Williams never stopped the Cavs from having a top-10 defense under Mike Brown.
In terms of actual hype, I think Mo probably had the least amount when the Cavs traded for him. I'm not sure that many people knew how good he had been earlier in his career since he was playing for the Bucks. And he really did do a nice job of complementing LeBron. The backcourt of Williams and Delonte West was a lot of fun during that 66-win 2008-09 season. Oh and Mo even made an All-Star game, albeit as an injury replacement. He wasn't able to push the Cavs over the top, but when he got to Cleveland, the team got a lot better. Of course that's not all due to Mo Williams, but he had something to do with it. Considering the fact that he didn't bring a ton of hype and the fact that he was pretty darn good in a Cavs uniform, I think Mo Gotti lived up to the hype.
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