So, I'm sure every single one of you has heard ten different arguments for what the Cavs should do this year. Push for the playoffs and get some postseason experience or allow the team to lose out and get a good lottery pick in the 5-10 range? Well, I felt that this issue had been settled, but apparently Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio has other ideas. Now, I have nothing against Amico, I enjoy his articles usually. But his argument for making the playoffs is just so off-base that I was left with no alternative but to offer my rebuttal.
The Cavs are currently in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and, as of this writing, only one game behind the New York Knicks for that final playoff spot. John Hollinger's Playoff Odds put both the Knicks and the Bucks (currently in 9th place thanks to a .005 better win percentage than the Cavs and also one game back of the Knicks) as more likely to make the playoffs than the Cavs, giving the Bucks a 53.3% chance, the Knicks a 46.8% chance, and the Cavs a ......... 12.8% chance?
Well, how could that be? Hollinger's statistics have some flaws, but to give the Cavs that miniscule of a chance, despite their current virtual tie with the Bucks? Seems like a bit more than a statistical anomaly to me. I'd say there's a definite reason why the Cavs have such a low chance of making the playoffs given their current standing.
And the reason?
Now, I know what you're saying. "What about our record right now? Aren't we beating some good teams?" And the answer to those is yes, of course we are. I'm not going to argue about what we've done, as I feel that the results are self-evident. But what those results mean is something completely up for debate. I won't go in to detail in this post about what I think these wins have meant, but suffice it to say I don't think they meant a whole lot. The OKC win was nice, but Denver was just getting back Nene and Danilo Gallinari from long stretches of injury, and Houston was without its best player in Kyle Lowry. So no, I don't think those wins were portents of success this year.
The fact that the Cavs are in contention for the last playoff spot in the east says more about the Eastern Conference than it does about the Cavs. We're competing with a highly dysfunctional Knicks team that has missed both Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire for stretches, and a Bucks team that has been without its best player in Andrew Bogut for basically the entire season. Also, remember how people were upset last year that a sub-.500 team was making the playoffs? That's going to happen again this year most likely, only it'll be an even worse team. And you think the Cavs should be that team?
Let me just say: No thank you. Nu-uh. No way kemosabe. Ain't happenin'.
Call me crazy, but I don't think the chance to get swept by the Bulls or the Heat in the first round is going to exactly bolster the confidence of Kyrie and company. If anything, it would only serve to demoralize them! Getting into the playoffs would simply show the Cavs how vastly inferior they are to those teams that are seriously contending for a title, and just how much more they need to get to that point.
And what's the best way for a small-market team like Cleveland to obtain that talent? The draft. And what's the most surefire way of hitting on a pick? Having it be a higher pick. This isn't about lottery versus playoffs. This is simply pointing out the fact that a higher pick means a better chance of getting a guy that is more highly rated on Chris Grant's draft board. The most All-Star caliber players come from the lottery. Take a look at this year's All-Star game. Out of 25 All-Stars, 20 of them were selected in the lottery, not including Steve Nash and Roy Hibbert, who were taken 15th and 17th respectively.
The simple fact is that being in the lottery drastically increases your team's chances of obtaining an All-Star quality player. And why wouldn't you want another All-Star on the Cavs to go with Kyrie? So they can get swept this year in the playoffs? Sounds like a great plan to me (hint: Sarcasm).
Realistically, the Cavs have one year out of the entirety of the Kyrie Irving era to draft in the lottery. One. And that year is 2012. I, and I'm sure many of you, feel that after this year the Cavs will be in the playoffs every year from now on. So why would you waste the solitary chance you have to draft the most talented, statistically safest choice possible?
The playoffs will always be there. Bradley Beal will not. We may luck out and find a diamond in the rough, but do you really want to stake the future of the Cavs on the off-chance that we find the next Tony Parker in the late first round? I didn't think so.