May 15, 2019, 12:30 am
It was Bradley Cooper’s “Phil” who said it best when talking to Mike Tyson in The Hangover. “We tend to do dumb shit when we’re fucked up.”
Cavs fans, this is your hangover. It’s a bad one. It’s hurts like hell and every breath you take smells like puke. The party of your lives ended when LeBron James decided that he wanted to close out his career trying to salvage a different kind of shipwreck, while surrounded by family and much better weather and scenery.
But my God what a party it was. You went to four straight NBA Finals and a trophy was finally brought home to a city that so desperately needed to experience the kind of euphoria only a championship can bring. You got to ride along with LeBron James as he went from prodigal son of Akron to The King, cementing his legacy as a basketball deity by delivering a title to the place where he was raised and called home. You got to be the reason why ‘The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead’ went crazy viral. You got to party along with a number of players who have had excellent NBA careers who were all ready to throw down during the good times. You drank the top-shelf stuff with various NBA royalty like Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love and Derrick Rose and plenty of other recognizable faces like Richard Jefferson, Jeff Green, and Kyle Korver. Hell, you went shirtless with J.R. Smith and I’m sure when this damn headache dissipates some more, you’ll laugh about the time he went pantsless in Game 1 of the 2018 Finals.
What a party. WHAT A PARTY. Didn’t matter the cost and the long-term damage done, this party was going to rage on and piss off the neighbors for as long as it could. Taking on bad contracts? Sure! Expensive and aging veterans? Why not?! Mortgaging the future for one last taste of glory? Doesn’t matter because THE MUSIC IS STILL BLASTING AND THE BASKETBALL GODS ARE DOLING OUT HEAVY POURS, THROWING LOBSTERS OFF THE BALCONY AND LIGHTING THE COUCHES ON FIRE! CLEVELAND!! CLEEEEEEVVVVEEEEEEELAAAAAAAAAND!!!
Parties don’t last forever. Neither do the 4-time Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. The 2018-19 season was the equivalent of a Sunday morning when you’re begging the sun to dial it down a little, mustering whatever strength you have to pry open your medicine cabinet, and crawling back to your toilet wondering why you can still taste the pizza that you thought was a miraculous find underneath your couch cushion.
The only solution is to nurse yourself back to health slowly. Get some rest, grab the aspirin, coffee, the bacon egg and cheese sandwich and just know that most importantly, the only thing that will truly make you feel better is time. That and not doing anything rash that would put you right back in this position all over again, only without the positive memories you have of one of the best parties Cleveland will ever know.
Hangovers don’t last forever either. But for now, this is going to hurt for quite some time.
2017-18 Record 55-27, 2018-19 Record 19-63
In a cruel bit of fate, the 2018-19 Cavs matched the regular season record of the 2010-11 Cavs, better known as the first time LeBron left town. This team didn’t have quite the historical year over year drop-off as those Cavs, but on the bright side that team did wind up with the No. 1 overall pick which turned into Kyrie Irving. So perhaps we could be talking about Zion Williamson or JA Morant in a Cavs uni before we know it.
But in the meantime, landing one of those two potential franchise players came with a lot of terrible, no-good, really bad, brutal, bottom-feeding, trashbag and frankly unwatchable basketball. This may sound like an unnecessarily harsh wrestling promo, but to put their stench in perspective, here is a list of team statistics in which the Cavaliers finished in the bottom-5 of the league.
Point Per Game
Field Goal Percentage
Free Throw Attempts
And I haven’t even gotten to the Advanced Stats section of NBA.com.
Holy woof. Everything that could go wrong for this team did go wrong. LeBron James may have left, but Kevin Love decided to stay and was rewarded handsomely for his loyalty in keeping his residence in what was sure to be an apocalyptic hellscape. Sadly, his extremities didn’t get the same contract extension as Love only played in 22 games this season largely due to a severe foot injury.
The Cavs and J.R. Smith both agreed that it would be best if he collected his paychecks somewhere else besides than the Cavaliers locker room. It wouldn’t shock me at all if Smith was the first player in NBA history to be paid entirely in Uber Eats gift cards.
Without Love, Tristan Thompson was putting up rebounding numbers that were usually reserved for guys named Drummond or Embiid. But (there’s always a but) stop me if you’ve heard this one before, his feet didn’t take too well to all that added rebounding responsibility. Basically, if you were a podiatrist in Cleveland this season then you’re probably diving into a vault of money like you’re Scrooge McDuck.
But wait, there’s more!
George Hill was sent packing for a center that wouldn’t play again this season, a couple of picks and Delly’s homecoming tour. Kyle Korver was also shipped off for some spare parts.
For the majority of the season, the Cavs offense ran through Jordan Clarkson. This was a good idea only to anyone with the last name Clarkson. Later in the season, the Cavs turned the reins over to their rookie point guard Collin Sexton. He did what most rookie point guards do by throwing the basketball to opposing players, the stands, the ocean, basically anywhere except the basket or his teammates’ hands.
Cedi Osman was a thing for about a week.
Larry Nance Jr., better known as the only young player that has any semblance of basketball talent on the Cavs, came off the bench for a majority of the season and couldn’t even find more than 30 minutes a game despite the world burning around him. And we haven’t even gotten to the coaching!
All told, this Cavaliers team was fantasy basketball hell. They finished the season with only two players who were top-100 on a per-game basis and one of them was rendered completely useless for 75 percent of the season. The only other top-100 player was the aforementioned Nance Jr., who drove his owners crazy through no fault of his own. After all, when you have a player who does valuable and quantifiable basketball things, the winning thing to do is to quietly put crazy glue in his shorts so that he can’t physically leave the bench. Those wacky Cavs and their shenanigans!
If you ended up rostering any Cavs not named Love or Nance Jr. you were probably doing so because you were either desperate, a sadist, or you don’t like following the advice of this very website. Cleveland was a fantasy graveyard and it doesn’t look promising for anyone expecting to find anything other than corpses and an in-over-his-head top-5 pick here next year.
If you guessed John Beilein have yourself a cookie.
Before the hiring of the former Wolverine frontman, the Cavs started the season with Tyronn Lue as their head coach, which made perfect sense. After all, he never once missed out on reaching the NBA Finals during his tenure of leading the team. That and the fact that he was already employed by the team and I’m assuming that Dan Gilbert couldn’t figure out how to create a LinkedIn post for “NBA Head Coach” before training camp started.
However, after an 0-6 start to this season, the Cleveland brass felt that they didn’t have a particular need to determine if Lue could coach the team effectively without LeBron James. That six-game sample size was all the evidence they needed to kick Lue to the curb. If you want to know if that may have been a rash decision from a pure basketball sense, the Nets endured an eight-game losing streak this same season. Had they fired Kenny Atkinson after that stretch, there’s no telling if they would have finished as the 6th seed in the East. But since this is the Cavs we’re talking about, the rest of their dominoes fell exactly as they were expected to.
Lue was replaced with Larry Drew, who was given the dreaded “interim” badge that NBA assistants should be oh so honored to wear like they were just named Hand of the King. Drew was hoping to rework his contract with the team once elevated, but since he was dealing with the same Cleveland brass that fired his boss six games into the season, his hopes of being somewhere other than the unemployment line in April were dashed pretty quickly. Having had some previous head coaching experience, Drew was an experienced, albeit very uninspiring choice to replace Lue.
Team performance in the NBA is driven largely by the player performance, but a couple things stand out as it relates to coaching in this particular situation. The first is pace and the speed at which teams tend to try and score on offense. Since Cleveland finished 2nd to last in the league in that area, we can describe Drew’s offensive philosophy as “Whatever.” The second is Defensive Rating and the rate at which opposing teams score on you per-100 possessions as an indicator of defensive intensity. Since Cleveland finished dead last in the league in that area, we can describe Drew’s defensive philosophy as “I Don’t Give a Damn.”
Drew is no longer with the Cavs and it will now be on Beilein to be responsible for molding this greying blob of clay that’s been left out in the sun too long. He couldn’t possibly make things worse as a collective, but it will take some time before we can say with any sort of confidence that it will help a particular player or position for fantasy purposes.
What we can say with some level of confidence is that having helped Michigan overachieve over a 12-year span as well as having ties to assistant Cavs GM Mike Gansey, Beilein can and should have enough leash to install his culture to try and develop Collin Sexton and whoever the Cavs may land in this year’s draft.
ADP: 25/32 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 302/300 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 65/69 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 22
2018-19 averages: 22 G | 27.2 MP | 17.0 PTS | 2.4 3PM | 10.9 REB | 2.2 AST | 0.3 STL | 0.3 BLK | 1.9 TOV | .385 FG% | .904 FT%
Kevin Love has long been a very good fantasy player. This year, he was drafted in the late 2nd round to as deep as the late 3rd which you would do on just the mountain of evidence left behind from his career statistics. Even when he was second or third banana to LeBron and Kyrie, he was putting better than top-40 per-game value. Those two were no longer there and while some had Love-in-a-Timberwolves-jersey statistical expectations that were unrealistic, it was fairly reasonable to expect an increase in usage when LeBron and his otherworldly statistics went out the door. Getting Love at a 25-35 ADP felt more than reasonable given that there was the possibility that both the floor and ceiling could be quite high given his new situation.
However, injuries happen in basketball, even to stars. It’s part of the game. It sucks for the players, the teams, and for fantasy players. What really sucks is when an injury happens and there’s never a clear timeline for when a player comes back. That is the kind of thing that will drive us fantasy nerds bananas. A player’s value isn’t just derived from his performance on the court, but the fact that a player is in fact available to be on the court.
When it was announced on Halloween that Kevin Love was dealing with a sore left foot, reports on when he would return to action spanned anywhere from 2-3 weeks to at least a month, to several weeks. A couple of days later, Love had surgery and would be reevaluated in 6 weeks. Okay, fine. That’s made things a little clearer and then fantasy players had a decision to make. Do you:
- Hang onto Love and assume he’ll be back to a form that resembles the top-30 to 40 player that he typically is and just swallow 6-8 weeks without him until roughly mid-January? Or…
- Trade Love knowing that there’s no shot you’re going to get full value in return and try to get a top-75 to 100 player to at least fill some of the statistical void left behind during that 6-8 week period?
This was one of those scenarios where neither answer felt particularly good and we Hoop-Ballers wouldn’t have faulted you for taking either direction. Love would end up being out beyond the All-Star Break and was a shell of himself even when he did play.
There is reason for optimism for next season when considering Love on draft day. Love is still getting paid handsomely by Cleveland and is their best player by leaps and bounds. He’ll have a full offseason to recover and will rejoin a roster that will still be extremely dependent on his scoring and rebounding. Provided he is back to full health, he will again be a great source 3-pointers and free throw percentage with center eligibility. He’ll never be a source of defensive stats, but there’s the possibility he’ll come at a discounted price next season given his age and the fact that he hasn’t played more than 60 games in a season in the past three years so you may not have to sacrifice blocks and steals if drafting Love is an opportunity that arises.
Larry Nance Jr.
ADP: 144/95 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 87/76 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 67/55 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 67
2018-19 averages: 67 G | 26.8 MP | 9.4 PTS | 0.5 3PM | 8.2 REB | 3.2 AST | 1.5 STL | 0.6 BLK | 1.4 TOV | .520 FG% | .716 FT%
Larry Nance Jr. is exactly the kind of player that we love at Hoop-Ball. His value on the defensive side will keep his floor high and he doesn’t hurt you in any other category. You also get the added bonus of other fantasy players being too fixated on scoring that they’ll ignore is 9.4 ppg so you can be patient on draft day and reap the benefits when he falls to you. Nance Jr. easily outplayed his ADP and chances are he’ll get overlooked again next year as well.
Much of that can be chalked up to the fact that despite being 4th in the NBA in steal percentage, yes 4th — as in there were only three people better than him in the entire league — Cleveland’s coaching decided that he didn’t need to either start or be on the floor more than 27 minutes a game most nights. Again, 4th in the league in a valuable defensive aspect of the game. For a team that was dead-last in Defensive Rating, it takes a bit of a coaching galaxy brain to have to play the guy who actually gives a shit on defense. Again, this is why we manage fantasy teams and not real teams because only us Mom’s-basement-dwelling dorks need to worry about those kinds of valuable statistics like STEALS and we should leave the real basketball to the real basketball people.
Nance Jr. should again be a reasonable bargain on draft day next year and the only reservation that we have is that we don’t expect Kevin Love to play only 22 games next season and we don’t have much faith that whoever the Cavs hire will feel the same about Nance as the fantasy community.
ADP: 87/193 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 107/119 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 142/147 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 81
2018-19 averages: 51 G | 27.3 MP | 16.8 PTS | 1.8 3PM | 3.3 REB | 2.4 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.7 TOV | .448 FG% | .844 FT%
When Jordan Clarkson is the 2nd most valuable fantasy player on your professional team, you deserve to win only 19 games.
Souriyo and I, on our Thursday night shows, coined the term “Pulling a Clarkson.” That happens when a player turns in a box score with a relatively high amount of points and absolutely not a goddamn thing otherwise. As the inspiration for “Pulling a Clarkson,” Clarkson used Kevin Love’s injury and lack of other guard options around him as all reason he needed to rev up his shooting engines for a never-ending string of green lights. What must really chafe Clarkson was that he didn’t even lead his team in shot attempts by the end of the season as rookie Collin Sexton put up a whopping 17.4 shots per game over the final month of the year.
I have no idea how Clarkson managed an ADP of 87 on ESPN going into the season, but all I know is that I clearly should have played in more ESPN leagues. All that it tells me is that there are still fantasy owners who place way too much emphasis on scoring. Clarkson is exactly the kind of fool’s gold that can easily delude people into thinking that he’s more than just a well-polished turd with his near-17 points per game and tons of opportunity.
At this point in his career, Clarkson is who he is. He’s a shoot-first, second, and third guard who is as one-dimensional as they come. He’ll still likely do more of that for the Cavs next season so we would only endorse owning him in deeper leagues when scoring becomes slightly scarcer and your conscience less of an imposition.
ADP: 147/151 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 240/235 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 152/149 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 43
2018-19 averages: 43 G | 27.9 MP | 10.9 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 10.2 REB | 2.0 AST | 0.6 STL | 0.4 BLK | 1.7 TOV | .529 FG% | .642 FT%
I always knew Tristan Thompson always kind of existed, but I completely forgot that he was the 4th overall pick in the same draft the Cavs took Kyrie and has been in Cleveland for his entire eight-year career. This seems like rudimentary information, but Thompson just has this feel that he’s just some guy that LeBron liked playing with so he demanded that management trade for Thompson no matter where he went. I feel like Thompson has been in the league for 15 seasons and, like, seven teams.
In any case, Thompson carried much of the heavy lifting on the inside for the Cavs once Kevin Love went under the knife. He was on a career-high pace in scoring, rebounding and assists and was a near top-100 player before dealing with a foot injury of his own that would essentially keep him out for half of the season.
On the bright side, it allowed Thompson to find his new niche as tabloid fodder for the Kardashian that might be OJ’s love child and other random Instagram models. All the more power to him, but the problem is this is fantasy basketball, not fantasy entertainment where points are awarded every time your name shows up on TMZ.
In fantasy basketball he’s an end-of-the-bench top-150 guy who exists to give you a boost in boards and FG%. Again, we doubt Kevin Love plays only 22 games next season so Thompson may struggle to even hit that value next year.
ADP: NA/188 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 129/134 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 162/171 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 76
2018-19 averages: 76 G | 32.2 MP | 13.0 PTS | 1.7 3PM | 4.7 REB | 2.6 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.1 BLK | 1.5 TOV | .427 FG% | .779 FT%
Oh man, the season started and all I heard about on Twitter and in our fantasy chats was Cedi. Any fantasy question I got was about Cedi. He was everybody’s sleeper apparently. And after two games it was like a planet blew up. Cedi mania was in full force. There were more teams called “Return of the Cedi” than sand on Tatooine.
Once everyone calmed down and realized this is Cedi Osman we are talking about, reality set in. The young Cedi wasn’t a particularly good shooter, but was passable from deep. There wasn’t much by way of defense either. All told, Osman played over 32 minutes a game in a style of basketball that I can only describe as a baby deer on roller skates.
I didn’t watch a lot of Cavs basketball for reasons that should be obvious in their win column, but when I did, I saw Osman taking a lot of terribly selected, off-balanced shots. At the end of the day, he competed with Andrew Wiggins as to who could play the most minutes and provide the least amount of fantasy value. Wiggins won out, as he tends to do, and young Cedi remains just a Padawan in that department.
The Cavs’ roster construction and salary situation means Osman will probably see a lot of wing time again, but color me skeptical that new head coach John Beilein will be cool with playing him over 32 minutes a night. Fewer minutes would mean even less value for Cedi which means he’s only really an option for deeper leagues.
ADP: 124/152 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 125/174 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 177/240 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 82
2018-19 averages: 82 G | 31.8 MP | 16.7 PTS | 1.5 3PM | 2.9 REB | 3.0 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.1 BLK | 2.3 TOV | .430 FG% | .839 FT%
In a loaded draft class, Collin Sexton wasn’t going to be outdone. Sexton came into the league with a reputation as a score-first point guard and that is exactly what he did. With no belief in being bashful, Sexton led the Cavs in shot attempts and wasn’t that far behind his more recognizable fellow rookies Luka Doncic and Trae Young in that category.
Fair or not, Sexton is going to be compared to those two guards for the foreseeable future and the thing that stands out is both Doncic and Young are also facilitators and Sexton is very much not. It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of your playmaking abilities when Larry Nance Jr. leads the team over the “point guard of the future” in assists.
Most rookie point guards need time to mature into the position and Sexton is no different. He doesn’t need to turn into Chris Paul overnight, but developing into, say, Monta Ellis might be a start. That would also mean turning up his defense a bit, which we’ll just say generously was rookie-esque. Sexton will again do a lot of scoring for the Cavs next season, can get to the line with frequency and is a good free throw shooter, but will torch you in 9-cat leagues given what’s likely going to be high usage and turnovers again next season. He would be a dart throw at the end of your drafts if Beilein can come in and help his game mature a bit more.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 270/276 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 292/305 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 59
2018-19 averages: 59 G | 18.3 MP | 7.8 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 5.4 REB | 0.9 AST | 0.2 STL | 0.4 BLK | 1.1 TOV | .555 FG% | .705 FT%
While no one on the Cavs mathematically qualified as being a net positive for their team, at least Ante Zizic tried to buck that trend. The afterthought piece that the Cavs brought back when they sent Kyrie to destroy Boston’s chemistry was also thrust into big minutes when no one else in Cleveland’s frontcourt could avoid the trainer’s table. Zizic turned out to be a pretty decent pickup for a stretch of time beginning in January through the All-Star Break where he turned in top-150 per game value with a decent amount of big man stats and solid free throw shooting.
But the theme of this post-mortem is that not all good things are meant to last and neither did Zizic’s value after the break. Love and Thompson would return and Zizic found himself sidelined with issues stemming from a concussion and at times out of the rotation altogether.
Still, there was very clear development from Zizic and despite having to likely deal with a crowd of frontcourt mediocrity in Cleveland, he should see enough court time to continue his progression. He’s only an option in deeper leagues going into next season.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 296/278 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 294/269 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 51
2018-19 averages: 51 G | 19.3 MP | 6.5 PTS | 0.5 3PM | 3.2 REB | 1.1 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.3 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .479 FG% | .682 FT%
David Nwaba has bounced around the league a bit after going undrafted in 2016, but earned a contract with the Cavs and may have earned himself another one. Nwaba is one of the few Cavs who can boast better On-Off metrics in both Offensive and Defensive Rating. Again, we’re nerds here and numbers are for giant pansies, but if the stats indicate that someone helps the team when he’s actually playing versus when he isn’t, it’s probably a good idea to play that person a little more.
Nwaba is able to accomplish this particular feat by not treating the basketball like it’s covered in anthrax and at least putting in the effort on defense. Still, Nwaba doesn’t do much that’s overly beneficial for fantasy purposes so he’s better off being left on wires and scouted should more opportunity come his way.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 291/297 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 370/374 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 68
2018-19 averages: 68 G | 14.9 MP | 5.9 PTS | 1.0 3PM | 1.9 REB | 1.2 AST | 0.3 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.8 TOV | .402 FG% | .891 FT%
I was clearly wrong about Tristan Thompson being a vagabond, but Stauskas has made it a point of being well-traveled. Stauskas has played on five teams in five NBA seasons and given that he’s a free agent, chances are there will be a sixth come this summer. After coming over to Cleveland from Portland in the Rodney Hood deal (not before getting dealt to both Houston and Indiana and then signing back with the Cavs after being waived, of course), Stauskas continued to do what he does best — play limited minutes off the bench, shoot a few 3s and provide little else.
This may be the end of the road for one of the better and more undeserving nicknamed players in the league in Sauce Castillo, but even if he does wind up on an NBA roster he’s not worth owning in any fantasy format.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 365/382 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 407/431 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 43
2018-19 averages: 43 G | 11.6 MP | 4.2 PTS | 0.4 3PM | 3.6 REB | 0.5 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.3 BLK | 0.8 TOV | .372 FG% | .711 FT%
It feels like ages ago that Marquess Chriss was thought to finally be the answer to the Suns’ woes at power forward. A raw and athletic rookie, Chriss looked like he could be the real deal and fantasy owners were salivating at the fact that a 19-year old could be a cash-counter cash cow. But Chriss fell out of favor in Phoenix and was shipped to Houston, thinking that he could bolster the Rockets’ 2nd unit. Chriss never made an impact and was shipped off along with Knight a second time, this time to the Cavs.
For a week, it looked like a savvy move by Altman. Right before the All-Star break and the Cavs ravaged by injuries, Chriss was a top-100 player. The good times didn’t last though as he struggled to get minutes once Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson returned to action.
Chriss remains very young and still does things on the defensive end that remain appealing to fantasy owners and NBA teams alike. However, whether or not he’ll have fantasy value heading into the 2019-20 season depends on where Chriss ends up. He may not be a draft consideration, but be prepared to attack your wire if opportunity presents itself again for Chriss. If it doesn’t, then it may never appear again for him.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 398/393 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 230/218 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 14
2018-19 averages: 14 G | 13.5 MP | 5.6 PTS | 0.8 3PM | 5.1 REB | 1.0 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.8 BLK | 0.9 TOV | .463 FG% | .600 FT%
There was a point in time when John Henson couldn’t shake a logjam in Milwaukee. He had to compete with Greg Monroe, Thon Maker, and a bunch of Plumlees and Zellers just to see the court on a regular basis. Henson finally shook out of that jam in a trade that sent him to Cleveland, except he was traded after he suffered a season-ending wrist injury.
The Bucks are doing just fine without Henson, but that’s not an indictment of him nor does it mean the Cavs couldn’t use his services. Henson never once suited up for the Cavs, but still finished as the team’s leader in blocks per game. While most teams try to protect their paint like it was an original Warhol, the Cavs treated theirs like it was a 4-year-old who decided to make a mess in the living room. A healthy Henson could rectify that pretty easily. W
When healthy, Henson is a reliable source of big-man stats and hovers between the top-100 to 150 with growth potential if he can find minutes. Knowing the Cavs’ defensive issues, it would behoove them to do that, making him a possible bounce-back candidate for fantasy teams.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 317/338 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 324/383 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 48
2018-19 averages: 48 G | 16.9 MP | 5.9 PTS | 0.9 3PM | 1.6 REB | 3.8 AST | 0.3 STL | 0.0 BLK | 1.4 TOV | .405 FG% | .808 FT%
Matthew Dellavedova was brought back to Cleveland in a trade that sent George Hill to Milwaukee, which served to help Cavs fans who were still full of nostalgia for the LeBron years. Delly will always be a loveable scamp to the Cleveland faithful, but that’s about all he offers to the team. He’s still inexplicably owed over $9M next season, but all that means is that he’ll stick around to the tune of his regularly scheduled routine of 18 minutes or so a night off the bench and poor shooting. He does not need to be a fantasy consideration at all.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 420/421 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 285/294 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 11
2018-19 averages: 11 G | 20.2 MP | 6.7 PTS | 1.1 3PM | 1.6 REB | 1.9 AST | 1.0 STL | 0.3 BLK | 1.0 TOV | .342 FG% | .800 FT%
Look, I’m just as stunned as you are that J.R. Smith is still technically on the team. Someone may have to remind him when training camp starts and that it is not a clothing-optional work environment. Until he’s shipped off somewhere else, there’s really nothing to see here other than the blessed J.R. memories playing on loop in our heads and Twitter feeds. Smith hasn’t been good for quite some time and outside of the one miracle game where he drops 25 points in 20 minutes off the bench (which you know is happening at some point, likely in a Knicks uniform for old time’s sake) he can be safely ignored for fantasy purposes.
ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 347/350 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 357/362 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 39
2018-19 averages: 39 G | 18.9 MP | 6.8 PTS | 1.1 3PM | 1.5 REB | 1.8 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.8 TOV | .381 FG% | .794 FT%
Brandon Knight came over to the Cavs so they could pick up a first-round pick from the Rockets. That’s not even a backhanded compliment, but since Knight is owed a ton of money, the Cavs may as well give him something to do in addition to that pick they got for him. At one point in his career, Knight was a high-usage, high-volume scorer. Sounds a lot like a point guard I described like a thousand words earlier, except Knight had his career derailed by a major knee injury and is trying to hang on in the league.
There are worse things in the world than being a mentor to a young and upcoming player, especially one whose game looks very similar to yours. That doesn’t make Knight relevant at all for fantasy purposes, but more of a curiosity to see if he can get his career back on track while helping to grow Sexton into the player the Cavs hope he can be.
Look, take it from a Nets fan. Being lost in the NBA wilderness sucks. But what the Nets have done to leave that wilderness should be a blueprint for a team like the Cavs. All the things that plagued the Nets are about the same as what the Cavs are dealing with now and that is being in salary cap hell, enduring coaching turmoil, and having a limited amount of young assets at their disposal. You can turn things around without solely relying on lottery luck, just in case the ping-pong balls don’t go as planned in the very near future.
First, hire the right head coach with a track record in developing players. It appears that they have done just that with former Michigan head coach John Beilein. Beilein did an excellent job of overachieving at Michigan while competing against some of the other national powerhouses like Duke, Michigan State, and Kentucky for both talent and tournament success. Sustaining a 12-year period of winning, including two national title appearances, is no small feat. Beilein has also had a number of first-rounders enter the league, most recently D.J. Wilson and Moritz Wagner, so it’s not as if he doesn’t know how to groom players for the next level despite not having any actual NBA coaching experience.
He clearly has earned his reputation as a builder and a winner, but for Cleveland and NBA coaches in general who have shorter life spans, it takes more than a season or two to build a foundation and a culture for years to come. Koby Altman may be young, but he’s been unafraid to mix it up during his short tenure with the league. But Beilein is not young and now that he’s staring at a long rebuild, he and Altman need to both endure the hard times while trusting each other that their long-term vision is the right goal for the franchise. Given that at 66 years old this may be Beilein’s last coaching stop, it behooves them both to make sure this isn’t just a quick and hasty rebuild but rather something that will be sustainable for multiple seasons. Beilein’s track record at Michigan suggests it can be done.
Second, grab any assets you can. Fortunately for the Cavs, many of the players that they have under contract expire at the end of the 2020 season. That shouldn’t stop them from trying to grab anything they can for those players. Someone like Tristan Thompson could fetch a first-round pick and players like Brandon Knight, John Henson, Delly or J.R. might realistically net second-rounders or some other players that are considered part of the scrap heap, but the mentality needs to be “something is better than nothing.” The Nets made a point to stockpile second-round picks and that helped them discover a gem in Rodions Kurucs. That needs to be the same approach for the Cavs.
Third, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There’s nothing wrong with trying to find reclamation projects, G-League standouts, or players desperately trying to hang on in the league. Case in point, acquiring Marquese Chriss was a great idea for the Cavs. Granted, they took on Brandon Knight’s salary to get a pick from Houston, but taking a gamble on Chriss allowed him showcase his talent when the Cavs were ravaged by injuries. It may not work out in the long run, but taking a flier on former first-round picks who are 21 years old and have flashed tremendous ability in the past is never a bad idea. You never know when a reclamation project like a Spencer Dinwiddie can work out in your favor.
Lastly, don’t do anything rash. Try to find players who fit the new philosophy, but don’t think another washed up star is going to solve things. Again, just getting back into the playoffs is just a short-term solution. The long-term solution is staying there for the foreseeable future. Everyone, Cavs and fantasy fans alike, needs to realize this is a long rebuild. That means there’s a chance you can find pockets of value in the upcoming season, but understand that most of this current team won’t win you much in the interim. Like we said form the outset, hangovers hurt, but as long as you don’t try to make it worse, they don’t last forever.