I’m not interested in celebrating the simple fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers are playing meaningful games in April for the first time in four years. But I’m also not opposed that simple fact, either.
I understand this moment in Cavs history has arrived almost entirely by default. The Eastern Conference is historically bad and a .400 record heading into Wednesday’s clash with the Orlando Magic is enough to remain in play for the 8th and final playoff spot. The same .400 record that would qualify for 13th in the Western Conference and 15 games out of the playoff picture right now.
At the same time, however, it’s been a long four years. I really wouldn’t mind watching a playoff game in Cleveland if the Cavs can somehow do the impossible. But before we get too carried away with all that, securing win No. 31 in Orlando is essential. The last time the Cavaliers won their 31st game of season was on Jan. 16, 2010. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters were seniors in high school and Matthew Dellavedova was a freshman at Saint Mary’s.
As of Tuesday, the Cavs are currently three games back of the Atlanta Hawks and two behind the New York Knicks after Philadelphia and Utah failed to spring their respective upsets on Monday.
With Kyrie Irving sidelined (and hopefully returning to game action soon) Matthew Dellavedova has had a major impact. Over the last 10 games, specifically, Dellavedova is averaging 8.9 points, 5.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds. He’s also shooting 50.8 percent from the floor and has reached double-figures four times to go along with posting a double-double.
On April 1, after not being expected to even make the Cavaliers roster this season, here is where the rookie from Australia ranks among his peers.
Dellavedova Rookie Rankings:
3rd in 3-P Field Goal Percentage 37.1%
10th in 3-P FGs Made (49)
7th in assists per game (2.4)
7th in total assists (154)
11th in Games Played (65)
14th in Minutes Per Game (17.1)
16th in Field Goals Made (107)
19th in Points Per Game (4.6)
1 of only 14 rookies to record a double-double this season
Keep in mind, there were 60 players taken in the NBA Draft this past summer and Dellavedova was not one of them. There are also 76 rookies who have appeared in at least one NBA game this season.
Cavs Sign Scotty Hopson
Scotty Hopson is now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He had been a member of Anadolu Efes in Turkey this season and a teammate of former Cavs big man Semih Erden. But now he’s in Cleveland after the team announced his signing on Monday.
During Turkish League competition, Hopson averaged 7.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per night over 12 games. The former Tennessee Volunteer elevated his production in Euroleague competition, however, averaging 15.5 points and 4.2 rebounds over 11 games.
Maybe that spike in Euroleague production is what helped get Hopson signed. Or maybe it has something to do with collecting a bunch of non-guaranteed contracts in the form of Anderson Varejao, Alonzo Gee and now Hopson to total roughly $15M in order to make a trade in July for a player who is worth $15M per season.
We’ll see on all that, I suppose. What I do wonder is why the Cavaliers decided to invest in a player who never appeared in an NBA game before, even if the intention is to simply trade his non-guaranteed contract in a few months. There’s a lot of guys like Lester Hudson, Delonte West and Darnell Jackson walking around who have NBA experience and would accept a similarly structured non-guaranteed contract. But I guess we’ll find out about all that too just as soon as the Hopson Era begins.
Remembering the 26-game losing streak with Martin Rickman
Martin Rickman is killing it at Sports Illustrated these days. He was also nice enough to ask a bunch of Cavs writers to look back on the Cavaliers 26-game losing streak in an article yesterday at the Point Forward.
Here is what I wrote in the piece. You should definitely click the link to read what everyone else wrote though because it’s much better.
Christian Eyenga made his NBA debut during the Cleveland Cavaliers 26-game losing streak. He’d also work past Jamario Moon, Joey Graham and Alonzo Gee to make his first of 18 career starts. On February 11, 2011, the high-flier from the Congo would measure his freakish athleticism against Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers.
I had successfully distracted myself from the very real pain of a 26-game losing streak by chronicling Eyenga’s every basket that season. I remember when he scored 12 points against the Indiana Pacers to move past Jay Guidinger on the Cavaliers all-time scoring list. I also watched the previous game against the Detroit Pistons knowing Eyenga would need all eight of the points he scored to continue past Jason Kapono.
Before that historic clash with the Clippers, I told Christian he had moved into the top-200 on the Cavs all-time scoring list. In 17 games, he had scored more points than Kapono did in 41. Now he just needed a win. I openly rooted for Skyenga that night from my seat on press row. He logged 19 minutes of brilliance, totaling six points to go along with four demonstrative rebounds. When the game ended, the losing streak was finally over. Skyenga had done the impossible. The rest is all a blur.
Thanks again to Martin for the invite.
Photo: Duane Burleson/AP