It’s (almost) time for Cavs to take next step
Five Cavaliers thoughts:
1. The Cavs are fading fast, with the losses mounting and the injuries piling up. They’ve struggled so much lately, in fact, it’s hard to remember they were still in the playoff race a few weeks back. Now, they‘re 17-35 — and only three teams (Washington, New Orleans and Charlotte) have fewer wins.
2. Things aren’t likely to get much better, with games against San Antonio, Milwaukee and Toronto on the horizon. The Cavs haven’t played the Spurs yet, but they can’t seem to beat the Bucks or Raptors even when completely healthy. Right now, it would be hard to pick the Cavs against anyone.
3. So this means the Cavs will get another great draft pick — perhaps even in the top three. So, hey, there is some good news in all this, right? Well, maybe in late June (but more on that in a minute). The bad news: Even the most die-hard of fans are having a hard time watching this team get blown out at home time and time again.
4. I’m OK with following the approach taken by Oklahoma City, which played the NBA draft lottery for a few seasons before becoming a Western Conference power. But let me tell you, folks, that is flat-out risky. Sacramento and Golden State (and a few others) have followed that model for years … and years … and more years. And they’ve gotten nowhere. People will say it’s because of bad management and scouting, but that’s only partially true. The reality is, playing the NBA lottery is almost like playing the Ohio lottery. You pick your numbers (or players) and hope to strike gold. But there is a certain degree of luck involved (think Portland and Greg Oden).
5. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for seeing Kyrie Irving teamed up in the backcourt with someone like Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Florida’s Bradley Beal. All I’m saying is the Cavs can’t keep finishing with one of the top five or six worst records in the league. The majority of fans in every sport are of the casual variety. All they care about in the end is winning. You lose those fans, you lose immediate support and lots of money. Just as important is the culture you build among your own franchise. You don’t want your mission statement to go from “Building Like the Thunder” to “Turning Into The Warriors of the East.”
Bonus thought: Since I know Cavs GM Chris Grant is sitting around and saying, “Well, I’d better wait to hear from Amico,” I would make the most of the two first-round picks this summer, land a couple of veterans either via free agency or trade, and aim for anywhere from 33-37 wins next year. Yes, that’s the middle of the pack. Yes, it might mean getting swept in the first round of the playoffs. Yes, it will mean a draft pick in the 11-14 range in 2013. But so what? It’s time.
Double Bonus thought: The Supersonics/Thunder went from 20 wins to 23 to 50. That is highly unlikely to ever happen again. Next year, it is more important for the Cavs to get out of the 50-loss column, limit the blowout defeats and start giving fans a reason to see progress — and not just assume another high draft pick will fix everything. Because that’s not always the case. In fact, it’s too often NOT the case. Just ask the Kings, Warriors and a handful of others.
Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO