As the 2013 Free Agency period has slowed to a crawl, with most major moves being made, Factory of Sadness is excited to compare the roster the Cavaliers have put together with last year’s playoff teams. There are still many moves that may be made prior to the start of the season and the possibility of injuries and information on how rookies are doing learning the NBA game. We will address many of these issues closer to the start of the season, during training camp. For now, especially for Cavalier fans, the excitement over the off-season and the hope of the future makes this a fun exercise. Each evaluation will have the same structure even as written by the different Cavalier writers here on FoS. All of these evaluations assume health of all players involved including Andrew Bynum and Anderson Varejao. While health concerns will be noted as appropriate, this is the off-season and best case scenarios are what we have to work with. For this piece we will assume a Cavalier starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Earl Clark, Tristan Thompson and Andrew Bynum. All stats were taken from ESPN.com.
Off-season additions: Coach Mike Brown, 1st round draft picks, Anthony Bennett and Sergey Karasev, 2nd round pick, Carrick Felix, Earl Clark, Jarrett Jack and Andrew Bynum
Off-season subtractions: Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Shaun Livingston
Possible subtractions: Daniel Gibson and Luke Walton
Off-season additions: Coach Brad Stevens, 1st round draft pick Kelly Olynyk, 2nd round pick Colton Iverson, Keith Bogans, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks
Off-season subtractions: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry
Possible Additons and Subtractions: Rajon Rondo (-), Vitor Faverani (+)
Point Guard: Kyrie Irving vs Rajon Rondo
Even though there have been reports that Rajon Rondo may be heading to the Mavericks, for now he is still a Celtic. Rondo has proven himself to be one of the top point guards in the league. Last season he averaged 13.7 PPg, 11.1 APG and 5.6 RPG. Those are outstanding numbers. When Rondo went down with a torn acl, that ended his season, the Celtics struggled in the playoffs. They were knocked out in the first round by the Indiana Pacers. I anticipate that Rondo will come back stronger than ever from his torn acl, and try to help a team that is full rebuilding mode.
Irving also played greatly last season. He averaged 22.5 PPG, 5.9 APG and 1.5 SPG. These numbers highlighted a great season for Irving, but for a second year in a row, Irving struggled with various injuries. Irving will need to fix this problem and be in better condition for next season and future seasons too. If Irving stays healthy, the Cavs could easily beat out the rebuilding Celtics for a playoff spot.
Advantage: Celtics. Even though everyone in Cleveland is going to hate me for this, I still feel Rondo is the better guard. Rondo has proven himself to be a better guard because he has led the league in assists for the past two years. Rondo looks more for his teammates even if his team is struggling. However he also knows when to look for his own shot. The guy is a triple double machine, having the most triple doubles in the playoffs by an active player of 20. This is something Irving hasn’t done. I have seen him in games where he would try to take over too much and not involve his teammates. Even though, the Cavaliers are capable of beating the Celtics, I still have to go with Rondo being the better point guard because he does what every point guard should be able to do: orchestrate the offense effectively, but also know when to look for his own shot.
Shooting Guard: Dion Waiters vs Jordan Crawford
Crawford came to the Celtics mid-season through a trade with the Wizards where the Celtics got Crawford and the Wizards in return, received Leandro Barbosa. Believe it or not, Crawford has the potential to be a top ten shooting guard in the NBA. Crawford can shoot the three well, he averaged 33 % from the three point line. Crawford is also good at driving to the basket. With the new roster the Celtics have, Crawford could be the leading scorer for them.
Waiters had a great rookie season. He averaged 14.7 PPG, 3.0 APG and shot 31 % from the three point line. Waiters showed that he could be like Dwayne Wade with his shooting ability and his innate ability to drive to the basket. Waiters is the Cavs shooting guard of the future, and he, just like Crawford, could be a top shooting guard in the NBA someday.
Advantage: There isn’t one. Both of these players are still very young. Crawford and Waiters have very similar games, so when the Celtics come to Cleveland, this should be a matchup to watch.
Small Forward: Earl Clark vs Gerald Wallace
Wallace was part of the blockbuster trade that sent Garnett, Pierce and Terry to the Nets. Wallace is getting up there in age, but he still has a lot to give to a team like the Celtics. With the Nets, Wallace averaged 7.7 PPG and 4.6 RPG. Those numbers may seems to not do Wallace justice, but Wallace is a player that will give a head coach his very best every night. Wallace is a player that will go after loose balls, defend the best player on the opposing team and overall just play hard. Next season, Wallace could be defined as the Celtics’ x-factor.
Earl Clark played some of the best basketball of his career so far with the Lakers last season. He averaged 7.3 PPG and 5.5 RPG. Again those numbers may not do what Clark did last season justice. When Clark came into the game, he would do similar to what Wallace did for the Nets. He would go after loose balls, hit the boards. But a difference between Clark and Wallace is that Clark can shoot better. Clark is the definition of a stretch 4, a guy that can shoot but also crash the boards for you. Next season Clark should be in a more significant role, a starting role , and he should be able to excel because of his versatility between playing the 3 and 4.
Advantage: Cleveland. Even though Wallace and Clark have similar games, Clark can shoot better. With this Clark should be able to stretch the floor for the Cavs and bring the Q to their feet with long bomb three pointers.
Power Forward: Tristan Thompson vs Jeff Green
If there was a comeback player of the year award for the NBA, Green would’ve won it last year. Green was coming back from surgery that fixed an aortic aneurysm in his heart. This injury sidelined Green for a whole season. But when he came back last season, he was at the top of his game. Green averaged 12.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG and a field goal percentage of 46%. Green would also help out on the boards a lot. Even though he averaged 3.9 RPG, in past seasons, we have seen Green average around 8-10 rebounds a game, which is very good.
Even though there is a most improved player award, and Paul George won it rightfully so, Thompson still was one of the most improved players in the league last season. Thompson turned into a double machine where he would average around a 15-10. He improved on his offensive game last season and was a essentially a third option for scoring behind Irving and Waiters. Last season was a season to remember for Thompson.
Advantage: Boston. Yes I know Thompson had one of the best seasons he could possibly have last season, but overall Green is still the better player. Green has showed that he is the top young power forward in the league. This was almost a push for me to Thompson because anyone could make a case for him to be the #2 behind Green for the top young power forwards in the league. But my decision lies with Green, because he has more experience and has solidified his spot as one of the best young players in the NBA.
Center: Andrew Bynum vs Kelly Olynyk
If there was an mvp for the Orlando NBA Summer League, Olynyk would win. He has shined in Orlando and is so far averaging 19.5 PPG and 8.0 RPG. Those numbers are outstanding for the rookie and it shows he has huge potential on offense. He could almost be like Tim Duncan down low hitting the boards, but also getting buckets on the offensive end. A good addition the Celtics have in Olynyk.
Even though Bynum is currently injured, you can’t ignore his talent. When Bynum is healthy, he is argubaly the best center in basketball. He can hit the boards, but also score at a very high rate. Bynum is a great addition for the Cavs if healthy.
Advantage: Cleveland. Like I said, you can’t ignore Bynum’s talent. Bynum can be a guy that could average a 25-15 for the Cavs. Even though Olynyk is a budding star, I have to go with Bynum because of his evident talent on both ends of the floor.
Bench: Anderson Varejao, Tyler Zeller, Jarrett Jack, Anthony Bennett, Carrick Felix, Sergey Karasev and Alonzo Gee vs Brandon Bass, Keith Bogans, Avery Bradley, Shavlik Randolph, Fab Melo, Courtney Lee, Colton Iverson, Marshon Brooks and Kris Humphries
Currently the Celtics have a lot of players on their roster. I anticipate them cutting Randolph and Kris Joseph. Last season, the Celtics had one of the best benches in the NBA with Bass giving great minutes and the same with Courtney Lee. With the new additions of Brooks, Humphries and Bogans, there bench should be stronger than ever.
With the Cavs having one of the worst benches in the NBA last season, they now have one of the best. They have great big men of Varejao and Zeller coming in for Thompson and Bynum, Felix, Gee and Karasev giving great minutes and of course you have Jack. Jack is argubaly the best back up point guard in the league and should do great backing up Kyrie Irving.
Advantage: Cleveland. The Cavaliers now have possibly the best bench in basketball next to the Heat and their bench should be a good asset for them next season.
Coaching: Mike Brown vs Brad Stevens
Stevens is the youngest head coach in the NBA of 36. Stevens was great at Butler and I anticipate him doing well in Boston. He will become probably the best young coach in basketball next to guys like Erik Spoelstra and Frank Vogel.
Brown has proven that he has credibility in the NBA. He is a defensive oriented coach and that should get the Cavs in shape to be one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. There have been questions pertaining to if he is good at coaching offense, but the offense should come along , especially with the young team he possesses.
Advantage: Cleveland. I love Brad Stevens as a coach, and think he will succeed in the NBA, but Brown has more experience. He knows how to manage a team and lead them to victories, as he did this in his first go around in Cleveland.
Overall: The Cavaliers have advantages at the SF, C, the bench and coaching. The Celtics have advantages at the PG and PF. The Cavaliers strong bench should be able to help them beat out the Celtics for a playoff spot along with their great coach in Mike Brown.