by Sandy Dover / @SandSeven
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been one of the most intriguing subjects in sports for the past eight years, and especially topic-torrid in the past two years. Founder, managing editor, and lead writer of StepienRules.com, Brendan Bowers (who also contributes occasionally to SLAMonline), is a wealth of information when it comes to being in the know with the Cavs and their interests in improving their ball club, as he follows the team religiously as a Cavs insider. With great enthusiasm, I reached out to Brendan to get his opinion on where Cleveland has been, where they are now, and where they seem to be going.
He continues his projections of the Cavaliers in Part 2 of this interview. Part 1 can be found here.
SLAM: Do you trust that the Cleveland Cavaliers ownership will be able to build a young, winning team in the way that the Oklahoma City Thunder are currently doing? Is the front office competent enough to achieve those sorts of results?
Brendan Bowers: In general, I question the idea that the Oklahoma City Thunder model is able to be duplicated by any organization that doesn’t employ Kevin Durant. If LeBron re-upped as early in his career as Durant did last summer, everyone would be calling it the Cavaliers Model. Danny Ferry would be a genius instead of unemployed, and the Lakers wouldn’t have Mike Brown. So competency or not, you need things like the team ahead of you to pass on a guy like Durant and draft guys like Greg Oden sometimes.
With that said, Chris Grant has done nothing to indicate that he isn’t competent in building a winning organization through drafting effectively. He hasn’t done anything to indicate that he is, however, and that’s why [the Draft was as telling as it was]. My overall impressions of Grant have been good though, and they’ll be better after [having drafted] Kyrie Irving number one. Hopefully he gets lucky with a move or two after that.
SLAM: Concerning the Draft, who were you looking for the Cavs to pick? Why?
BB: After Kyrie Irving at one, I [was hoping] they simply took the best player available for the rest of the way out over the course of their selections. Irving alone made the draft a success, and whatever they did after that at four was a bonus. There was a lot of talk of the Cavs looking hard at Derrick Williams with that first pick, but that was all a smokescreen in my opinion. I think they’d loved [the idea of walking out] with Irving and Williams.
SLAM: What do you think of the Cavs’ draft decisions regarding Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson?
BB: The Cavaliers’ selection of Kyrie Irving represents their commitment to adding the best talent available in this rebuilding effort. You could make an argument that PG was not a position of need, when talking about Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions, but the Cavs demonstrated their commitment to the future with the selection of Kyrie.
The pick of Tristan represents, in some ways, the confidence of the Cavaliers’ front office in their ability to rebuild this thing. There wasn’t anybody – in Cleveland or anywhere else – that thought Tristan Thompson was the pick at four. Chris Grant and company paid no mind to that, however, and took a kid they claim to have had higher than 4th on their board. I appreciate the fact that they felt strongly enough to do that, and hope they are right about him. Turns out they’re willing to deal JJ Hickson (who has since been traded to the Sacramento Kings for swingman/combo forward Omri Casspi) to free up some space for Tristan, and if he ends up being better than JJ, it’s a great pick. So hopefully, he is, I suppose.
SLAM: Last question: where do you think Cleveland will stack up in the East for the 2011-2012 season, based on what you project the roster looking like going into the next season?
BB: I’d like to see them be in the same position for next June’s Draft as they are right now to be honest. That class is going to be loaded, and I’d have taken Harrison Barnes at four overall right now if he was in this year’s draft; the Cavs really need a SF. However, on paper, it’s sort of hard to think that a team who rolls out a healthy Baron Davis, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao, Kyrie Irving, Daniel Gibson, and Christian Eyenga is going to be horrible. If everyone’s healthy, I’d say they finish 8th out East. Injuries would have them lower than that though, and maybe that would be better long-term.
(Sandman, as always, I appreciate the time in the Speak-Easy. The pleasure is all mine, buddy, keep doing your thing!)
Sandy Dover is a author, fitness enthusiast, and SLAM web columnist and print contributor whose work has been featured and published by US News, Yahoo!, Robert Atwan’s “America Now,“ and now in Buckets and Playmaker magazines. You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline and at Twitter and Facebook as well.