Ireland’s biggest Cleveland Cavaliers fan checks in on Cavs off-season

David O’Leary is a long-time friend and contributor here at Stepien Rules. He follows the NBA from his native Ireland, and embraces the Cleveland Cavaliers as his own. He checks back in with us here on the additions of Waiters and Zeller, along with the prospects of finishing 10th out East.

So I’m sitting there on the night of the Draft pondering if, when, and why we’ll make a move from our number four spot. Could we move even as high as one, and actually try and nab Davis by offering all our picks to New Orleans; a trade we actually tried to make it turns out. That was a pipe-dream, and something that may have only been possible if David Kahn or Michael Jordan were running New Orleans, but the second and third overall slots were more intriguing. I genuinely thought Charlotte or Washington would have at least thought about an offer consisting of the following… 

The numbers 4, 24, 33 and 34 picks in this draft, all our second round picks for the next X-amount- of-years-they-wanted, plus an expiring contract of say a Luke Walton or Boobie Gibson. I’d of even thrown in a first round pick that was only lottery protected through 2015.

Cleveland Cavaliers' Dion Waiters looks for an open man during an NBA Summer League basketball game against the Charlotte Bobcats at the Thomas & Mack Center on Sunday, July 15, 2012 in Las Vegas.Not to be. I would have very strongly considered offering Tristan or Andy along with our picks also let it be noted, but it was never going to materialize. Thus we stood pat at the four spot. Then this happened.

“With the fourth pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select…..”

Cut to me thinking all of the following: we’re nabbing Harrison Barnes about ten spots too high just cause he may or may not be a Brandon Roy type scorer; we’re actually gonna take a flyer on Drummond and his HUGE ceiling; oh my God Thomas Robinson and Andy together would be impressive; holy crap we really are going to draft Jeremy Lamb because after all, he is going to eventually be the best scorer in this Draft; Meyers Leonard?; maybe we’ll even take a…

“….Dion Waiters, from Syracuse”

Holy crap.

Holy crap.

Holy crap.

I didn’t see this coming, even though Adrian Wojnahoweveryouspellhisname from Yahoo! had said it, I still didn’t think it would happen. After all, Waiters was a guy who in his freshman year at Syracuse struggled a lot to find a role on the team and didn’t put up impressive numbers by any means. His numbers weren’t exactly eye popping the season just gone, but I can see why he was so appealing to Coach Scott who apparently endorsed this pick STRONGLY.

Waiters has got a terrific ability to get out and run the floor and is very intelligent at picking out teammates on the break. He gets a lot of his offense in transition (28% of his total shots came on the break last season) which is encouraging when you have a guy like Kyrie running your team. Waiters is a deceptively gifted athlete also, and will have no problem twisting and contorting his body at the rim to finish a layup, or going a few feet above the trim to throw down a highlight reel dunk.

Despite talk of him transferring, and the fact he and Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim didn’t really see eye-to-eye that often, he stuck around for a second season. With enhanced minutes came enhanced statistics. His second season numbers jumped up – considerably – across the board. He was a key component of the vaunted Syracuse 2-3 zone, using his length, speed and motor to disrupt any opposing guard while being able to track his man well beyond the arc. While his shooting is prone to bouts of inconsistency, when he’s hot he’s hot. Just look up clips of his effort in a loss to Cincinnati when he racked up 28 points including 7-10 shooting on three’s.

Summer League performance aside, Dion stands a chance to part of a dynamic backcourt for a really long time. I’m not concerned about reports of him being overweight or being lazy this summer, simply because he’s 20. He hasn’t been in a professional environment yet, so give him time. Byron Scott is a very talented coach and is known for getting the very best out of his players, especially ones he personally chooses which seems to be the case here. We could have ourselves a real player on our hands in Waiters.

Tyler Zeller, center for University of North Carolina's basketball team poses on arrival for the 27th annual Sports Spectacular in Los Angeles on May 20, 2012 in California. The event was established in 1986 in response to the promise of genetic research leading to the understanding of numerous genetic diseases found in children and adults, and since then raising more than $21 million to benefit the life-saving work of the Ceders-Sinai Medical Genetics Institute.Our other rookie is former North Carolina standout Tyler Zeller. I gotta be honest, when I heard we acquired this sublimely skilled big I was giddy. He can/will/hopefully play a big part in our offense, here’s why:

For a guy who stands seven feet tall, he can run the floor very well. He’s probably already one of the top five quickest centers in the NBA right now. He’s also a very capable shooter, be it from the elbow or in pick and pop situations, scenarios he should see aplenty with Kyrie. Zeller also possesses a very soft touch around the rim and is more than able to get position down low and work his man inside. His passing is an added bonus, and will be especially dangerous if a certain Daniel Gibson can get his shooting stroke back. Look for Zeller to see a lot of minutes this upcoming season, not many rebounds will be left available with him and The Wild Thing on the court together.

ESPN has us coming tenth in the East, seven wins behind the Hawks who they’ve forecasted as the eight seed, simply because of the Josh Smith/Al Horford duo one would assume. Now don’t get mad Cavs fans, but I’d rather come last in the East then tenth. Tenth is no man’s land. We don’t wanna be turning into a Phoenix or Milwaukee. By that I mean a club who just slides into the playoffs every season only to get bowled out in round one, thus missing out on a Lottery pick in the process. I think we’re just one more season, and a few tweaks away, from truly being a top six team (minimum) in the East.

Who have we got to fear? Miami, Chicago (whom will struggle A LOT this year) and Brooklyn will be good. Do you fear the Knicks? How about the 76ers? The Celtics are there, likewise Indiana but once again I’ll ask you this: How much do you really fear either of them?

I’m all for being competitive again next season, I just don’t want us coming tenth and depriving ourselves of a high Lottery pick. Being able to say we improved our win total by 12 on the previous year is pretty awesome, and something every team would kill for, it’s just not our time for that kind of a leap just yet. I don’t want us Cavs fans to be turning around in twelve months’ time and saying, “Boy, we came tenth last year, 8th is surely ours now!” I’d much rather us saying this, “Holy crap, we’ve got Kyrie, Dion, Tristan, Tyler and now we’ve just added James Bob McAdoo with the fourth pick in the draft? Now we’re really set.”

It’s all about patience and luck, we’ve had the latter (and yes we’ve preached the previous for YEARS, but you know what I mean) now just a little more patience and it will be worth it, trust me…

Oh by the way, for what it’s worth, I totally think we’re making the playoffs this year. A healthy Kyrie? Who now has a running mate in Dion? You guys do realize that Tyler Zeller is basically a seven foot puppet Kyrie will have in motion all year round, right? Andy and Boobie are both healthy? Wait, Tristan has gotten how much better over the summer? We’ll see you, the artist formerly known as 23, in the playoffs.

Go Cavs!

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.

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