July 31, 2014

Elyria
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Flunked Finals, tough grades: Cavaliers: 2006-07 report

The Cavaliers went to graduate school this season, advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, so Professor Noland is a bit later than usual with his final report cards.
Shannon Brown
(3.2 points per game,
.378 field-goal percentage)
The No. 25 pick in the draft had five starts, but averaged just 3.4 points in those games. Overall, the Michigan State product appeared in just 23 games due to a combination of injuries and the fact he simply didn’t deserve to play.
He’s strong and athletic, but whether he handles the ball and shoots it well enough to be a consistent contributor at the NBA level remains to be seen. GRADE: D-
Daniel Gibson
(4.6 ppg, .419 fgp)
The No. 42 pick in the draft came on like gangbusters in the playoffs and should be a member of the team’s rotation for years to come.
Gibson isn’t a true point guard, but with LeBron James, he doesn’t have to be. The 21-year-old can shoot and does not lack for confidence, but needs to improve his strength and ballhandling. GRADE: B
Drew Gooden (11.1 ppg,
7.9 rebounds per game)
The 6-foot-10, 242-pounder had nights where he did nothing, but he also had nights where he was very good. He is the team’s best defensive rebounder and actually makes fewer mental mistakes than teammate Anderson Varejao.
Gooden’s numbers were respectable given his lack of involvement in Mike Brown’s offense. They’d be even better if his coach did not inexplicably leave him on the bench for long stretches. GRADE: B
Larry Hughes (14.9 ppg, .400 fgp)
Hughes has some individual talent, but it just doesn’t seem to mesh with the abilities of his teammates. His numbers were OK, but the more you watch him, the more you realize he will never come anywhere close to being to James what Scottie Pippen was to Michael Jordan.
Injuries also figure to be a problem for the final three years of his contract, which will pay him $38 million. GRADE: C-
Zydrunas Ilgauskas (11.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg)
When he’s making face-up jumpers and finishing moves in the low post, Ilgauskas is a very good player. When he’s missing jumpers and trying moves that make him look like a flamingo with a broken leg, you want to cover your eyes.
To the 32-year-old’s credit, he busted his backside on the defensive end, where he is also much more fundamentally solid and reliable than flopping teammate Varejao. GRADE: B
LeBron James (27.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 6.0 assists per game)
The 22-year-old was sensational down the stretch of the regular season and for most of the postseason, but let’s not forget he seemed to coast through early parts of the regular season. Had the Cavs not earned the No. 2 seed on the last night of the regular season, there’s no telling how costly that might have been.
That said, as long as James is in Cleveland, the Cavs have a chance of winning the sad-sack Eastern Conference every year. With a few more additions, they will have a chance of winning more than that. GRADE: A-
Damon Jones (6.6 ppg, .385 3-point fgp)
Jones got off to a great start, slumped just a bit, then inexplicably fell deep into Brown’s dog house.
He resurfaced a bit in the playoffs and quickly showed that his coach should have been using him all along, because the Cavs must surround James with guys who can put the ball in the basket. GRADE: C+
Dwayne Jones (four games, three points)
He’s a nice guy and he’s got some ability, but it’s going to be a long time before he’s able to contribute on a team that expects to challenge for a championship. GRADE: D-
Donyell Marshall (7.0 ppg, .351 3-point fgp)
A season ago, Marshall was a great fit for the Cavs. This season, he showed all his 34 years and a few more.
The guy’s legs are shot and he can’t guard a fence post, but he’s under contract for two more years. At 6-9, he still should be able to stand in the corner and make 3-pointers after James is double-teamed, but he wasn’t even very good at that this season. GRADE: D+
Ira Newble (15 games)
He’s an intelligent and likable guy, but his skills are barely of NBA quality. He’s not going anywhere for one more season, though, because he’s guaranteed of $3.4 million in 2007-08. GRADE: D-
Sasha Pavlovic (9.0 ppg, 28 starts)
The 23-year-old had the best season of his four-year career, but maintaining consistency and constant aggression continue to be problem areas.
The Montenegro native has good athletic ability and can hit the three, but on a legitimate championship-level team, he should be coming off the bench, not starting.
The restricted free agent should draw interest from a lot of teams, but the Cavs are likely to match any offer he receives. GRADE: B
Scot Pollard (24 games)
He was a $2.2 million insurance policy inside that was never needed. The free agent will not be back. GRADE: D-
Eric Snow (4.2 ppg, 4.0 apg)
The veteran lost his starting job midway through the season, a move that was long overdue, but continued to be an important part of the team as a reserve.
The bad news is he’s 34 years old and is guaranteed $14 million over the next two seasons. GRADE: C-
Anderson Varejao (6.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg)
Varejao led the NBA in charges taken and had a great knack for getting under an opponent’s skin, but he made way more mental mistakes than most people, his coach included, realized.
The Brazil native must improve his concentration and offensive skills, but his energy and potential make the restricted free agent a player the Cavs want — and need — to keep. GRADE: C+
David Wesley (35 games, .293 fgp)
It seems like 10 years ago that this 36-year-old actually started five games for the Cavs.
He is owed some guaranteed money for next season, but he won’t be back because his NBA career is over. GRADE: F
Mike Brown
The second-year coach had an underachieving team in a 50-win regular season, but his defensive teachings and preachings really paid dividends in the most successful postseason in franchise history.
Brown’s a good coach, but far from a great one. That makes it paramount that he improves his staff in the offseason, preferably with someone who can really coach offense.
Finding someone to monitor his substitutions would also help. GRADE: B
Danny Ferry
Ferry drafted Shannon Brown and signed Pollard and Wesley, who all did basically nothing. That means his one significant addition was Gibson.
Going back even further, the 2005 signings of Hughes, Ilgauskas, Marshall and Jones don’t look so good, either, though they made sense at the time.
All that being said, Ferry put together a team that reached the finals. He’s an intelligent, hard-working, knowledgeable GM who isn’t going to make a bigger mistake while attempting to correct an earlier miscue.
His patience and ability to see the big picture are invaluable. GRADE: C
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rickn@ohio.net.