'Right medicine' for Cavaliers
Progress, not ping-pong balls should be team's main focus
Published: Monday, January 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 14, 2013 16:01
It takes a strong-willed Cleveland Cavaliers fan to swallow the countless losses they have wracked up in the last three seasons. It takes an even stronger fan to sit through those defeats, shove their hands in their pockets and patiently (and anxiously) await the summer draft — a source of salvation that the Cavs have left to rebuild.
Cleveland's record can surely improve if their ping-pong ball is chosen in the top three picks of the lottery, and if they grab the top prospect with the No. 1 draft pick.
In order to have the greatest chance at this, however, the Cavs must continue to lose to achieve — if you would consider this some sort of feat — the worst record in the NBA. The Cavs are not too far behind. They have not even won a dozen games this year (9-29 as of Sunday afternoon), sitting right in front of the Washington Wizards (5-28 as of Sunday afternoon).
Reaching for the last spot in the NBA standings is something that I have heard countless fans push for, as they're looking at long-term success. This “achievement” is one of the most frustrating things I've heard yet.
Let us be realistic. The Cavs are basically at the halfway point of the season, and at the pace they are winning this year, I will give them 10-12 more wins. They are already at the bottom of the NBA food chain, and fans cannot help but wonder what the draft will bring. This is completely understandable when putting the bigger picture into perspective — Cleveland is not exactly the first place that comes to free agents' minds when their contracts are up. The only way to gain true talent is through the draft, but this is not what they should be aiming for right now.
With 40 or so games left in the season, the Cavs should be focusing on making progress in the present. If you step away from the Cavs' current record, and if you have watched this season's games as closely as I have, you would realize it does not reflect the progress they have made since last year.
It is no secret that they are still searching for the right medicine for their third quarter woes, and nobody can argue that the Cavs' defense needs to be solidified. Rookie point guard Kyrie Irving needs a wing player to complement him on the floor, and forward Tristan Thompson proves to be the make-or-break depending on his performances. But most games have been exhilarating in that they have gone down to the wire, and many of the losses the team has notched have been at a margin of less than 10 points. Last year the Cavs suffered countless blowouts, and the year before that they suffered a 26-game losing streak. This year's losses are still losses at the end of the day, but we actually see some promise, and this progress will translate into wins.
Fans also want to watch some thrilling victories instead of back-to-back losses for the lengthy rest of the season. Witnessing young players develop and Irving clinch game winners led to exhilarating victories reminding me of when Cleveland basketball used to be exciting.
Regardless of whether or not they get the lottery pick in the summer draft, odds are the Cavs will still need time to shape themselves into a playoff-caliber team. Should they just continue to lose and lose until they end up with another player in the draft that is Lebron James-esque? Sorry, but the chance of another player with that kind of talent even being born anytime soon is pretty slim.
Cleveland should focus on the now. The team already has a good chance at making the top three lottery spots, and there is still a chance they can grab No. 1 even if they do not have the most lottery balls, (hello, 2003 draft anyone?). Losing profusely for an extra ping-pong ball — when the entire lottery is based off chance — is not realistic.
The No. 1 draft pick is not promised, even if we have got the most ping-pong balls in the world. But there is one thing that is promised — progression. And this is the true antidote for the Cavs' current and future success.