In Defense of the Cavs

So the latest thing to do in Cleveland sports is to rag on the Cavaliers. It makes sense on the surface. The Cavs are a horrific 5-22. They’ve lost five games in a row, are 1-9 in their last 10 games, and find themselves sitting comfortably in the second to last spot in the Eastern conference. That’s not good. Actually… that’s pretty awful.

But, should we be mad? Should we be so pissed off about how bad the Cavs are right now that we’re calling for the heads of Dan Gilbert, Chris Grant, and Byron Scott and questioning the picks of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters?

Ummm… no. Hell no! No effing way.

The Cavs are doing exactly what they need to do. They need to build this slowly in order to acquire the best possible pieces to put them into contention in the years to come. I don’t know if everyone’s forgotten already, but free agents don’t come to Cleveland. As much as it pains me to say this, the rest of the country still see it as the mistake on the lake. The only way the Cavs are building a winner is via the draft, more specifically… high draft picks.

The only way you can ensure yourselves a high, top 5 draft pick is to either lose a lot of games or get lucky as hell. Seeing as how the Cavs already got lucky with the Irving pick, they’re going to have to lose a lot of games. It’s time to face facts people. Losing games is good for the Cavs right now.

However, as aggregating as it is to have to try to argue the point for the Cavs to lose games, even more aggrevating is the fact that people actually think this team SHOULD be winning games.

Are you serious?

Take a look at the roster. What makes anyone think that this team should be winning games? Other than Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, and possibly Dion Waiters on a good night, who else on this team is actually worthy of minutes? And we’re not talking two or three minutes, we’re talking upwards of 20-25 minutes for some of these guys. Now please, tell me again how the Cavs should be anything better than their current 5-22 record.

You can’t. It is impossible to make a case for why the Cavs should be anything better than what they are right now unless you’re going to argue how Kyrie Irving should be scoring 45 points a night.

The last thing that needs to be pointed out is just how catastrophically wrong things can go when a team gets too good too soon. You know how I know this? Because I was paying attention during the LeBron era.

When the Cavs got LeBron, they found a legitimate superstar that could lift the team to places they had never been before. It was fun and exciting, but because Lebron was so good, the Cavs really only ever had one high draft pick and with it they took Luke Jackson at #10 in the 2004 Draft.

Luke Jackson… I’ll wait for that one to sink in.

Yes, this was the man chosen to be the Robin to LeBron’s Batman… It’s still baffling.

In 2005 they drafted… Oh wait, they didn’t have a draft pick in 2005. Ya, I’m not kidding. Heading into the third year of the LeBron era the Cavs had no draft picks. Oh, but they did get Martynas Andriuškevičius in a trade with Orlando. That’s laughable. Well played, Jim Paxson.

After that it was a combination of either low draft picks thanks to the LeBron era playoff runs or no draft picks thanks to the horrendous trades of GM’s past. The Cavs were never able to acquire a true Robin to LeBorn’s batman via trade or free agency and well, we all know what happened.

Right now it may not seem like it, but the Cavs are following the plan put in place by the Oklahoma City Thunder. You might not think that because we see where the Thunder are now with Durant and Westbrook, but the paths that both teams took/are taking are eerily similar. Kevin Durant wasn’t always Kevin Durant the way we know him now. In fact, the Sonics/Thunder were awful.

In the year before Seattle/OKC took Durant, they finished 31-51. In Durant’s rookie year, accompanied by fellow lottery pick Jeff Green (#5 overall), The Sonics went 20-62, so they actually got worse. In the next draft, they chose Russell Westbrook and went 23-59 armed with three lottery picks.

Can the Cavs get to where Durant and Westbrook have already been?

Now doesn’t that sound familiar?

The true test will be what happens next year in Kyrie Irving’s third year in the league. In Durant’s third year the Thunder began their ascension to the top of the league. They went 50-32, made the playoffs as an 8 seed, and lost a hard-fought 6 game series to the Lakers. Will the Cavs be able to make that type of leap in 2013-2014?

More than likely they’ll be armed with an additional lottery pick so you have to like their chances. On top of that, you have to think the Cavs will make at least one trade to acquire either additional draft picks or a legitimate NBA caliber wing player to team up with Irving and Waiters. If they can’t find a way to compete for an 8th seed with that then it might be time to re-evaluate what we’re doing here.

Until then, sit back relax and try to find a way to enjoy the ride back to the top regardless of how bumpy it might be along the way.

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