Quick Thoughts

1.    The Cavs Make Me Want To Puke: Before the season, I thought that the Cavs looked like the clear worst team in the NBA.  I was pleasantly surprised to Cleveland get off to a respectable start at 7-9, only to go 1-34 run since and be in the throes of a 25-game losing streak.  Could the Cavs really be this bad?  In a word…yes.  This is the worst offensive and defensive team in the NBA  Their best player is Ramon Sessions, a decent guard, and the only other above-average player right now is Antawn Jamison.  While they have taken an odd route to get to 8-34, ultimately, this is a typical terrible team.

Going forward, though, the historic losing streak should come to an end very soon, with nine straight home games coming up.  It’s not that Cleveland is that much better at home (5-17 versus 3-27 on the road) but the slight difference should come up once in a nine-game stretch.  When will the win actually come?  Let’s take a look at the possibilities:

-2/9 v. Detroit: The Pistons are a terrible 6-21 on the road.

-2/11 v. L.A. Clippers: The Clipps have played better but are still 3-17 on the road

-2/13 v. Washington: Of course, everyone, has this one circled on the calendar.  The Wiz are a remarkable 0-25 on the road.

-2/16 v. L.A. Lakers: Ummm…this is probably not a candidate for a win for the Cavs.

-2/23 v. Houston: Houston should win but they aren’t great on the road (11-18)

-2/25 v. New York: Respectable 12-14 on the road but they were the last team the Cavs beat so far this season.

-2/27 v. Philadelphia: A poor 7-19 on the road.

-3/2 v. San Antonio: The best road team in the NBA…should be fun.

The Cavs are legitimately awful team but not so bad that they shouldn’t snap the streak soon.  As much fun as the Wiz game could be if both teams come in with bad streaks, I think the chances are that Cleveland beats Detroit or the Clipps first.  In fact, the Cavs could end this home stand at 3-6 or 4-5.  Not great but I’m guessing Cleveland fans would take it.

Of course, all this is much ado about nothing.  Whether they are historically awful or merely regular awful, the Cavs are in rebuilding mode.  I’m sure Dan Gilbert feels like a schmuck for his boasts post-LeBron right now but the goal should be to put the team in the position to get good quickly.  The team is almost devoid of young talent and Gilbert should not be shy about dumping the players who worked with LeBron but not so well as primary players for picks/cap room.  Unfortunately, the best trade chip, Anderson Varejao, is out for the season and, therefore, unmovable.  In meantime, Cleveland should focus the rest of this year seeing if J.J. Hickson can develop into a good player and trading Jamison if possible.

2.    Best of the Worst: Bill James once observed that one of the problems with bad teams is that they tend to blame their best players for futility when, in fact, the ire should be focused on the bad players.  The tendency, is to wonder why the stars can’t transcend the scrubs when the question should be why the team can’t amass fewer scrubs.  With that in mind, I thought we could look at the worst teams, record wise, for the last 20 years to see how good their best players were and whether the “stars” ended up being a meaningful players for the future of the franchise.  We’ll pick best player as the regular player with the highest PER (I know PER is not the absolute answer in player assessment but works most of the time):

Year Team W-L Best Player Age PER Afterwards
1990-91 Nuggets 20-62 Michael Adams 28 22.3 Traded for Lottery Pick (Mark Macon)
1991-92 T-Wolves 15-67 Pooh Richardson 25 17.6 Traded for Chuck Person, Micheal Williams
1992-93 Mavs 11-71 Derek Harper 31 15.9 Traded in middle 1993-94 for Tony Campbell
1993-94 Mavs 13-69 Tim Legler 27 16.1 Released after the season
1994-95 Clipps 17-65 Loy Vaught 26 17.1 Injured back after two more decent seasons
1995-96 Grizz 15-67 Greg Anthony 28 18.6 Left as free agent after one more season
1996-97 Grizz 14-68 Shareef Abdur-Rahim 20 17.4 Had four more good years for Grizz
1997-98 Nuggets 11-71 Johnny Newman 34 14.9 Left as free agent after the season
1998-99 Grizz 8-42 Shareef Abdur-Rahim 22 20.7 Traded for Pao Gasol after 2000-01
1999-00 Clipps 15-67 Derek Anderson 25 16.9 Left as free agent after the season
2000-01 Bulls 15-67 Elton Brand 21 20.4 Traded for Tyson Chandler after season
2001-02 Bulls 21-61 Jalen Rose 29 18.4 Traded for Antonio Davis in mid-2003-04
2001-02 Warriors 21-61 Antawn Jamison 25 17.1 Traded to Dallas for Nick Van Exel one year later
2002-03 Cavs 17-65 Zydrunas Ilgauskas 27 19.4 Remained with Cavs for the rest of the decade
2002-03 Nuggets 17-65 Juwan Howard 29 17.2 Left as a free agent after the season
2003-04 Magic 21-61 Tracy McGrady 24 25.3 Traded for Steve Francis after season
2004-05 Hawks 13-69 Ty Lue 27 16.2 Traded for Mike Bibby in mid-2007-08
2005-06 Blazers 21-61 Zach Randolph 24 16.9 Traded to Knicks in 2007
2006-07 Grizz 22-60 Pau Gasol 26 24.1 Traded in mid-2007-08 for Kwame Brown
2007-08 Heat 15-67 Dwyane Wade 26 21.5 Still with team
2008-09 Kings 17-65 Kevin Martin 25 19.2 Traded to Rockets in mid-2009-10
2009-10 Nets 12-70 Brook Lopez 21 20.1 Still with team

So, the vast majority of bottom dwellers dumped their best players rather quickly, with the notable exception of Ilgauskas.  This doesn’t mean it was always a great move.  Notably, Elton Brand could’ve really helped the young Bulls in the mid-2000s.  More recently, the Heat worked to keep D-Wade (though they didn’t exactly try to avoid losing that season) and the Nets have refused to trade Lopez too.  For the Cavs, there isn’t really much worth keeping and they are sure to purge most of this roster rather quickly.

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