An optimist’s completely opinionated take on the 2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers season
I’ve been a long time lurker (we’re talking yeeaarrss) but judging by the general feel of the site in both the comments and articles themselves nowadays, I feel like I have to finally say something. It’s about time I built up the courage to let my voice be heard (haha just kidding I’m really just extremely bored here at work). It’s almost sad that I feel I actually know some of you from how long this creepy lurking thing has gone on. That being said, please bear with me. This might bore you to death, make your eyes bleed, or worse, make you feel OK about the Cavs again.
At the beginning of the season, many people had the Cavs penned to be a surprise contender in the East and even win up to 50 games this year (seriously, this happened). But, that didn’t stop people from saying the complete opposite: this is Cleveland we are talking about, they’ll still only win 24 games. Me? Oh I was somewhere in the middle. I made the prediction of somewhere between 28 and 48 wins for these young Cavaliers. Bold, eh? I admittedly am an optimist, but this team was wayyy too young for me to have an absolute prediction of wins I feel they needed to have for me to be happy.
I would safely say the average number of wins the intellectual fan had in mind for this season was 38-42 wins. There were soooo many variables with the many new players added, a new coach with a new system, and (even with the new free agent additions)a still extremely young team. The youngness (is this even a word?) of our team is why I’m still optimistic.
So here we are, halfway through the season. The world seems like it’s ending here at FTS and judging by the comments I keep seeing, you would think the sky is actually falling at this moment. I’m not bashing anybody for being down or pessimistic about this team, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But after the Deng trade, we are on pace to be exactly where we thought we should be: 38-42 wins (maybe not exactly, but it’s still pretty close). So why are we feeling like we have a terrible team? We are who we thought we were (looking at you, Dennis Green).
Is it the 40 point loss to Sacramento? That sure felt like I got punched in the nuts, but don’t young teams have these types of games on the road? If I recall correctly, we still went on a 5 game Western road trip and came out on top. How bout the loss at home to the Mavericks screwing up the inbounds play? I wouldn’t put it past a young team to accomplish that feat. Plus, the Mavericks are actually a pretty good basketball team if you didn’t know. Is it this last loss to the Bulls missing their top 8 players? Yes, that was pretty rough. But, from my take, we played them pretty well up until the last few minutes of the game. A young team folded in the final minutes of a game against a team of established veterans that are amazingly coached? Woahhh that should never happen (sarc font – I don’t care what anybody says, Butler, Noah, and Gibson are pretty damn good ball players). This same Bulls team is 8-2 in their last 10 games and we played them tough the entire game (sans the last few minutes). I can’t look at a core of players that are barely of drinking age or younger and ask them to play consistent basketball. When I was that age, I couldn’t even consistently hit the toilet bowl with a steady stream. Messy and aggravating – Yes. Reason to think 21 year olds are terrible at basketball and won’t ever get better – I don’t think so.
We win games we should definitely lose, and we lose games we probably should have won. We are young, we are inconsistent. A few years back Kevin Pelton wrote an article about the very solid correlation of the effective age of a basketball team and winning (link - http://basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=571). Of course, like any data, there are outliers and extreme cases like the Thunder, who got a HOF player in Durant. BUT, there was a strong correlation nonetheless. He said that with all things being equal, each year of effective age increase = 4 wins in a season. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the effective ages of any teams other that the Heat (stupid internet) but I would think that our number is one of the lowest of the league.
I think we are basing our thoughts about our team on our expectations. This is normal, but maybe irrational to think that our expectations are the end-all be-all. My thought was that maybe I had too high of an expectation for this season. Rather than thinking we are a young team and our expectations are too high, we are immediately jumping to "our team is terrible and will never be good so let’s blow it up."
Again, this wasn’t meant to try to persuade anyone to think a certain way, other than stepping back from the ledge, obviously. This was just trying to help you understand why there are some of us who choose to believe that our players can be good, just not "there" yet. I believe our players will get better, we still have a ton of cap room for 2014(didn’t people want that?), and they still have time to completely buy into Mike Brown’s system and grow into some cohesiveness. A win against the Bucks will help a little, though, right? RIGHT??
Thanks for reading this edition of the Optimism: 101 text book. Hopefully you aren’t dumber as a result of reading this silly opinion piece.
PS Go Broncos – I’m a huge Browns fan, but living in Denver, I want to see a Superbowl win so I have an excuse to riot, flip cars, and set any trash cans I see on fire.