STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
The Cavaliers had yet another great regular season, only to be followed by an equally disappointing playoff run, in 2009-10. They finished the regular season with a record of 61-21 but were knocked out by the Celtics in the second round. The Cavs feared that their failure to succeed in the playoffs last year would result in the loss of LeBron James to free agency, and that is exactly what happened. With James now in Miami, the Cavaliers are a shell of what they were last season. They also saw Shaquille OíNeal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Delonte West depart to other teams during the summer. While they still have Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams, and the rising J.J. Hickson, they are destined to not only take a significant step backwards this season, but also to finish with one of the worst records in the NBA.
PLAYING TIME DISTRIBUTION
Considering the amount of roster turnover this offseason, many players will enter the preseason with a chance to let their play determine not only how much playing time they will get, but whether or not they open the season in the starting lineup. Mo Williams will be the teamís starting point guard and play 35-40 minutes a game. He will be backed up by Ramon Sessions, who came over from Minnesota in the offseason. Sessions will likely play 20-25 minutes a game, some of which will be spent playing shooting guard. The starting shooting guard will be Anthony Parker, who should play 30-35 minutes a game. Daniel Gibson will serve as a backup at both the point and the two, playing a total of 10-15 minutes a game. Jamario Moon appears to be the front-runner for the starting small forward spot and would likely play 20-25 minutes a game if that is the case. Antawn Jamison will start at power forward and play 35-40 minutes a game, but 10-15 minutes of that time could be spent playing small forward. J.J. Hickson is slated to be a backup to start the season and will likely see time at both power forward and center, resulting in a total of about 25-30 minutes of playing time per game. Jawad Williams will serve as a backup small/power forward, and play about 10-15 minutes a game. Joey Graham is also likely to play 10-15 minutes as a backup small forward and shooting guard. Also serving limited roles off of the bench will be Danny Green, at small forward, and Leon Powe, at power forward. Rookie Christian Eyenga could see time as a small forward and/or shooting guard if he makes the team and Samardo Samuels also has a chance of making the team as a backup power forward. Anderson Varejao will be the teamís starting center and play 25-30 minutes a game. Ryan Hollins will provide depth at the center position and likely play around 10-15 minutes a game.
Anderson Varejao: With Shaq and Ilgauskas gone, Varejao is going to have a chance to establish himself as more than just a high energy player off of the bench. His offensive game needs to improve, but he is a good rebounder and decent shot blocker. For his career, he averages 0.7 blocks in about 24 minutes per game. If he gets extended playing time, look for that average to increase. However, there is also the chance that Cleveland feels they are better off bringing Varejao coming off of the bench and starting Hickson at center. Even if that is the case, Varejao is still going to get some run. He has fantasy value, but remember to factor in his lack of offense before selecting him.
Ryan Hollins: At seven feet tall, Hollins provides the Cavs with some size down low. However, he doesnít rebound particularly well considering his size. Hollins averaged only 2.9 rebounds in 16.8 minutes per game last season. Donít look for him to have much of a fantasy impact this season.
Jamario Moon: While Moon is slated to be the teamís starting small forward, he is certainly not a guarantee to end up with the job. No one can argue with his athleticism, but his overall offensive game does leave something to be desired. Moon is a decent three-point shooter (he hit 32 percent from beyond the arch last season); however, he is not a scorer by any stretch of the imagination and is not ever going to become one. It would be best to remain cautious when it comes to drafting Moon, so donít start considering him until the mid-to-later rounds.
Antawn Jamison: Jamison finds himself on yet another team that is going to struggle. He is clearly the Cavsí best offensive threat, so shots wonít be hard to come by. He is going to log heavy minutes, whether it is as a small forward or power forward. While Clevelandís best lineup would likely include Jamison at the three and Hickson at the four, Jamison appeared to be more comfortable as a power forward last season. Regardless of what position he plays the majority of his minutes at, Jamison will be a valuable fantasy option this season.
J.J. Hickson: The Cavs donít have a lot of promising young talent, so Hickson is someone they are very excited to watch develop. He is a good rebounder and has a nice offensive game overall. It would be nice to see him improve at the free throw line though considering he has only hit 67.8 percent of his shots from the charity stripe in his career. Hickson is going to see time at the four and the five and could even find a way into the starting lineup. If Moon struggles and the Cavs move Jamison to small forward, or if they decide Varejao is better suited for a bench roler, Hickson could be looking at significant minutes.
Jawad Williams: Williams is another young player the Cavs are hoping could develop into a quality player, but he doesnít have nearly the ceiling Hickson does. Williams shot only 39.3 percent from the field last season, so his shooting has a long way to go. Donít expect him to be a fantasy contributor this season.
Joey Graham: Graham was highly touted when he was drafted 16th overall by the Raptors in 2005, but he has never been able to put things together. He is a good shooter from the field and from the free throw line, posting career averages of 48.5 percent and 81.5 percent, respectively. However, heís not a scorer and it doesnít appear that he will develop into one. Graham will be a backup at the two and three this season, but he doesnít hold much fantasy value.
Leon Powe: Powe is one of those players who is much more valuable with a limited role on a contending team than he is with a bigger role on a losing one. Even on a bad Cleveland team, he wonít be relied on to play significant minutes.
Danny Green: Green will likely be on the end of the bench this season, leaving him with little playing time.
Christian Eyenga: While Eyenga has talent, he will likely have to play very well in the preseason, or someone will have to get hurt, to make the Cavs roster. Look for him to spend some time in the D-League this year.
Samardo Samuels: If Samuels can make the Cavs roster to start the season, donít look for him to see much time on the court. At this time, he is essentially a player that provides the Cavs with depth.
Mo Williams: Williams regressed last season, averaging 15.8 points per game - his lowest average since the 2005-06 season where he averaged 12.1 points per game. Williams is going to be relied upon heavily this year to not only improve offensively, but to distribute the ball with James out of the picture. Defenses will pay more attention to Williams than they did when he had James on the court with him, but he should still be able to perform well enough to be a top-25 fantasy guard.
Anthony Parker: Parker is another one of those pieces that were brought in to try and get the Cavs a title, but he is now left in an unfavorable position on a losing team. Parker is a solid shooter, but his averages on the glass and in the assists department arenít very impressive. If the Cavs are going to make any moves during the season, look for Parker to be traded to a contender. His fantasy value is higher this year due to his increased role in the offense, but it would take a hit if he gets traded to a contending team and becomes a bench player.
Ramon Sessions: Sessions could be a valuable player for the Cavs this season. He is a very good passer and showed promise in his first two seasons with the Bucks. His playing time was cut in Minnesota last season, but he should see more minutes again with his new squad. If Parker gets traded, Sessionsí value would increase as a result.
Daniel Gibson: Gibson was excellent from beyond the arc again last season, shooting 47.7 percent. Unfortunately, he doesnít provide much more than that, so his fantasy value is pretty limited.
J.J. Hickson: Since they are looking at a losing season, the Cavs are going to give Hickson every opportunity to earn more playing time. Donít be surprised to see him play well from the start and earn a starting role. If he ends up playing around 30 minutes a game, heíll put up numbers that result in him being a valuable fantasy option.
Anderson Varejao: Varejao always plays hard, but sometimes that just isnít enough. Donít forget that he is injury prone, largely because of his all-out playing style. Heís been a good energy guy off of the bench throughout his career, but he has yet to prove he can start and log heavy minutes. Varejao will have to improve a lot offensively if he is going to start and have significant fantasy value. It would be wise to look for other options at the five on draft day.