Saturday, September 03, 2005

Offseason Overview: Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs 2004-2005 season can’t be considered anything but a disappointment. After an extended late-season stumble, which included the firing of coach Paul Silas, the Cavs missed the playoffs despite finishing with their first winning record since the 1997-1998 season. A whole lot has changed as the Cavs have a new owner, a new head coach, a new GM and a whole new supporting cast around King James.

The Stud: LeBron James, SF
Now when we say “The Stud,” we mean “THE Stud.” It’s scary to think what LBJ will do with the rest of his career. He can’t even legally go to bars yet! There’s nothing not to love about LeBron’s game. He does it all, and he will surely be among the league leaders in minutes, which will just make his numbers even better. Might he average 30/10/10? That seems a bit high but you can’t rule out the possibility. This should be the year he surpasses KG as the premier fantasy player. It’s absolutely unthinkable that he would slip past #2 in any draft.

The Support: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, C
That’s three straight healthy years for Big Z, who is one of the top points/rebounds/blocks players in the league, and finished an impressive 23rd on the Player Rater last year. Most of his value is tied up in blocks, as he swatted 2+ per game for the second straight year. His rebounding is solid if unspectacular for a center, but its his game-to-game consistency from a volatile position that is nice. There’s still a bit of risk involved with taking him due to those past foot problems, and with another scorer on board in Hughes, you might be better off letting someone else draft Ilgauskas this season.

The Supporting Support: Larry Hughes, SG
Yes, it’s a bit odd to have the 14th ranked player (by averages) as the supporting support, but whatever. Hughes had a classic contract year last season here in Washington and became a fantasy stud on the strength of his 2.9 steals per game. It’s worth noting that he never averaged more than 1.9 per game before last season, and I fully expect that number to be closer to 2 than 3 this year. Other than steals, he’s simply a solid all-around contributor. His assist and rebound numbers should remain steady, while his scoring should drop slightly. He’s certainly capable of being a key component to a top fantasy team, but those drafting him in the first two rounds will probably be let down.

The Sleeper: Donyell Marshall, F
Again, he’s another player who can’t really be considered a sleeper since he was a Top 20 fantasy player just two years ago. But since he’s the fourth option on Cleveland, he might go underappreciated. Drew Gooden is still around, so it’s still unclear how the PT will shake out, but you have to hope that coach Mike Brown will treat Donyell better than Sam Mitchell did in Toronto last year. What was that about? Marshall is like Dirk Nowitzki-lite, a rare player that can dominate in boards and 3s. Ilgauskas doesn’t grab many boards for a center, so the rebounding opportunities will be there, and you have to think he’ll have the green light to gun it from the outside.

The Slacker: Eric Snow, PG
The point guard situation in Cleveland is still unresolved as of "press time." At least I hope it's still unresolved for Cleveland's sake since Eric Snow is the only point guard on the roster right now. They could still bring in Damon Jones, who would be a perfect fit considering his long-range skills and the fact that LeBron and Hughes are very capable ball handlers. But if that doesn't happen and Snow does end up as the starter, still stay away. His production fell off a cliff last season, and he can't offer anything but a few assists at this point.

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