In which five FTS writers answer five questions about forgotten Cavaliers.
Also, welcome to Zac Lockwood, you all know as ZLock in the comments. I’m very happy to add him to the team. His first story on the Cavs’ likely new lineups can be found here.
1. Looking back, who's a Cavs player you were totally convinced would work out, but didn’t?
Chris Manning (@cwmwrites): Dion Waiters is my real answer forever and always. But to do different, I’ll say Kay Felder. I’ve never thought he’d be a starting quality guard, but he was good enough in the G-League last year to where I thought he could be a backup this season. Las Vegas Summer League told a different story.
Alex Raulli (@EVR1022): Dion Waiters. While he eventually found a home in Miami, I was convinced that Kyrie and Dion were destined to become a deadly offensive pairing similar to what Dame Lillard and C.J. McCollum have become in Portland.
Akash Anavarathan (@akashanav): Iman Shumpert. I know Shumpert hasn’t been officially traded, but I think the writing is on the wall. He was supposed to be the key piece of the Cavs-Knicks trade, but it’s actually been J.R. Smith that’s been a pleasant surprise. I thought Shumpert’s defensive prowess would be valuable, but he’s been hurt and not as effective.
Zac Lockwood (@thezlock): Andrew Bynum, and I'm really not proud of it. I really thought he could at least be half as good as the All-Star he was before the knee injury, even though eons of NBA history say that big men with major knee/foot injuries don’t really make it back.
Justin Rowan (@Cavsanada): Sergey Karasev. I really thought the team’s lack of shooting would help him find a role early on. While there were some questions about his athleticism, I was convinced that he would at least be a rotation player.
2. Conversely, who’s a Cavs player you thought would be bad, but ended up being good?
CM: Richard Jefferson. When the Cavs signed him, I was sure he was going to be another useless older player. And then the 2016 NBA Finals happened. And Road Trippin’.
AR: J.R. Smith. At best I was speculative that he could adjust his game to play effectively alongside three offensive stars. Him developing into a reliable starting shooting guard on a contender has been a pleasant surprise.
AA: Tristan Thompson: I was never convinced that Thompson was deserving of the No. 4 overall selection, but he slowly started to develop into a player that Cleveland can’t win without. His play in the 2016 NBA Finals, from the fighting for extra rebounds to the alley-oop dunks, Thompson ended up becoming a valuable core member of the team.
ZL: Richard Jefferson. I thought he was just a bit too old and his game too reliant on athleticism. He’s still too old and his game is still pretty reliant on athleticism, but he maintains his ability thanks to the wonders of beach volleyball, so it’s alright. Plus, he’s a good catch and shoot guy.
JR: Everybody took Jefferson, so I’ll go with Dhantay Jones. That guy somehow played meaningful minutes in the NBA Finals and helped the Cavs win a title. It wasn’t a huge role, but he came off the street and somehow made an impact.
3. What’s the one Cavs move — a signing, a draft pick or a trade — that still drives you crazy?
CM: Signing Jarrett Jack. It ultimately didn’t matter, but signing a ball-dominant, defensively useless point guard to team up with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters is just an odd roster building decision. Long live the Chris Grant era.
AR: Anthony Bennett. Before the lottery, odds were that the Cavs would be picking third or fourth. I wanted Giannis in that spot, since it was a weak draft and he had big upside. Otto Porter would’ve been a logical, safe pick. After the Cavs won the lottery, it was Nerlens Noel or bust. If he was medically red-flagged, then Victor Oladipo was a reasonable fall-back option. But Bennett?! It just never made any sense.
AA: Anthony Bennett. The Cavaliers lucked themselves into another top overall draft pick. Although that draft was particularly weak, there were some names that were far better than Bennett. Luckily, it didn’t hurt Cleveland long-term, as they moved him and Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love.
ZL: Signing Edy Tavares to a non-guaranteed multi-year deal. I’ve been all over the blog defending him and his potential, but signing him to that deal wasn't great. I'd prefer to have given him the rest of that year and then tried to get him to agree to a two-way contract this year. Now, he might be off the roster completely, depending on how things shake out. He can totally be cut and then resigned two-way, but we’ll have to see.
JR: Andrew Bynum. Yes I thought there was no risk and downside to signing him, but I seriously underestimated just how badly he could screw up the locker room. The Cavs were essentially a .500 team after they got rid of him and the whole thing was just a disaster.
4. Name a Cavs player that, to this day, you still stan for.
CM: C.J. Miles. He was someone who was actually complementary to Kyrie in the non-LeBron years and would randomly catch on fire. And while I get that it would have been hard to keep him the summer LeBron returned, he would been a really good fit.
AR: LeBron. Somehow, people still question whether he’s the best player in the league, let alone whether he should be considered alongside Jordan for the greatest of all time nod. Every year, it seems, he performs at a level higher than we’ve ever seen from him before in the NBA Finals. In theory he should be declining at his age, but there’s been little evidence of that when it matters most.
AA: Kyrie Irving. He may have just been traded, but I’m going to still stan for him, unless he plays against the Cavaliers. He’s yet to hit his prime and has been an absolute joy to watch these past six seasons. Wish he was still in a Cavs’ uniform, but I’ll still stan for him.
ZL: Kevin Love. I would get so beside myself when everyone’s first reaction was to trade Love whenever something went slightly wrong. I think his fit on this team is as good, if not better, than Kyrie’s. Kyrie was just here first. Love doesn’t get as much credit as he should. 10 times has a player averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and shot over 37 percent from three for an entire season. Love has four of those seasons, including 2016-17. He’s the only one who has EVER done it on more than one three-point attempts per game. Rant over.
JR: Delonte West. He was the second best player on those Cavs teams and you cannot tell me otherwise. He was a reliable defender and one of the team’s most consistent shooters. He also provided supplemental playmaking and filled in all the gaps in most lineups. He also didn’t fade in the playoffs, unlike others during that era.
5. The year after LeBron left, the Cavs were absolutely awful. Name your favorite and least favorite players from that team.
CM: Baron Davis was amazing in 15 games and wore No. 85. Everyone else was trash, particularly Ryan Hollins.
AR: Ramon Sessions was somehow the best offensive player on that team, and my favorite of the bunch. My least favorite… probably Anthony Parker. He was really bad.
AA: Antawn Jamison carried that team on the offensive end — even at 34 years old. He was my favorite on that awful roster. The team was so poor that season, I can’t even pick a least favorite player.
ZL: Fifteen games of Baron Davis lighting the Earth on fire from deep to end the year was my favorite. He definitely primed me for the Kyrie Irving experience and the Cavs went 6-9 (.400) in those games. My least favorite is probably everyone else, because they went 13-54 (.194) in the other 67 games.
JR: Baron Davis should have his number retired. Also, shoutout to Manny Harris and his career ending freezer burn. My least favorite had to be what was left of Antawn Jamison.