Today’s focus is on basketball, which obviously means plenty about the Cavaliers. Before we get there, if you didn’t catch SportsCenter, you need to hear this story about Owen Groesser, a middle-school baller with Down syndrome who made it rain last night on the floor and on Twitter through a campaign to get him on SportsCenter. This is a great story that shows how sports can mean so much more than what you see on ESPN.
The Cavs are off today, and should have new-comers Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington available when they return to the floor at The Q tomorrow night against the Milwaukee Bucks. Earlier today, newly-acquired Josh Selby was assigned to the Cavs’ D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge.
Joe Gabriele put together a comprehensive look at all of the Cavaliers’ options in this year’s draft and many more in the future. It takes some concentration to get through and grasp the boatloads of picks that Chris Grant has compiled and when they may come, but it’s a good read to understand how flexible the future is for him and his staff in Independence.
For 2013, the readers’ digest version of the situation is that the Cavs will have two first-rounders, with the question being where the second one will come from. With the way the Lakers are playing right now, it will likely be the Heat’s pick that will go to Cleveland this summer. As for second-round picks, the Cavs have two of those as well, the other one being from the Orlando Magic.
General Manager Chris Grant truly has done a masterful job in keeping his options open for many seasons to come. The Cavs have vowed to build through the draft, and have been steadfast in that promise. With the recent trade with Memphis, that philosophy is still at the forefront of their plans.
As frustrating as it may be to see good free agents go elsewhere, the idea of building through the draft is one that suits Cleveland perfectly for a number of reasons. It’s also proven to be a blueprint for real success, not just claiming 8-seeds, by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
When LeBron James left Cleveland in 2010, the Cavs were left without a superstar that could make up for other lacking areas of the roster, and in the first season without him it showed. Badly. This doesn’t mean that they were forced into building through the draft, but it was certainly convenient timing that the process was jump-started by receiving the top pick in 2011, Kyrie Irving.
We’ve talked before about the “un-sexyness” and lack of appeal that Cleveland holds for potential free agents. It’s part of the reason LeBron left in the first place. That didn’t make it any smarter for him to leave a team that was the best in the league for two straight seasons, but it is a telling part of the puzzle. No matter how good the team is, superstars flock to cities like Miami, not Cleveland.
Re-enter Oklahoma City for a moment. OKC is another place that isn’t a hot spot for the celebrity lifestyle many NBA players like to lead. When the Thunder built their core by picking extraordinarily well, they took in players the were coming into the league for the first time, eventually won, and took the city and it’s fans by storm in the process. The only prayer that minor markets have in retaining stars is through the love that a city shows to their teams and constantly competing for championships. Oklahoma CIty and the Thunder have embodied both.
As things stand now, the Cavaliers have taken more than their fair share of lumps in sticking to their guns on this style, but it will pay off in the near future. Everyone knows how well Kyrie Irving has progressed, and he was ready for the NBA at the outset of his career. He’s an All-Star caliber player right now, and will hopefully get that honor this year.
One player whose ability to contribute on a regular basis has not always been so clear is making sure he proves that the sky is the limit. Tristan Thompson has been improving in a major way during this season and has used his well-known qualities to do it. Thompson’s athleticism has never been a question, and he’s added some much-improved skills and tenacity to the mix that has his value to the Cavs skyrocketing. Nate Smith of “Cavs: The Blog” wrote an excellent piece on Thompson’s continued ascension, and it is well worth your time.
The formula for long-term success is a painful process, but in a minor market it is the only chance there is at winning championships. Irving, Thompson, and with time Dion Waiters will be big players in that ultimate goal. In the meantime, this year’s squad is still a ton of fun to watch night in and night out, despite the mighty struggles they’ve endured at times.
The addition of Speights and Ellington tomorrow night at The Q will be an interesting twist to an always entertaining plot as the Cavaliers continue to grow.
Before we sign off for the night, the Indians and Browns have one link each, and Believing Since 1999 has a soundtrack.
– Matt LaPorta and five others were invited to Major League camp today by the Indians.
– The Browns announced a pair of coaching hires, adding former University of Colorado head coach Jon Embree as tight ends coach and former Cowboys defensive line coach Brian Baker to coach the outside linebackers.
– Soundtrack check: “Stubborn Love” by The Lumineers. A great song that they performed live recently on SNL.
In an effort of shameless self-promotion… I have joined TheCardinalConnect.com in Louisville as a contributor to do a weekly feature about University of Louisville athletics called Section 111: Perspective from the Student Section. Check it out here.
A more balanced Daily should be on tap for tomorrow.
In Chris Grant we trust.