Cavs the Blog, part of ESPN's TrueHoop Network, is one of the best places to go for fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers. And just like Cavs the Basketball Team, Cavs the Blog subscribes to the notion that a child shall lead them.
OK, OK. Truth be told, LeBron James is no child basketballer and similarly John Krolik is no child blogger. At 20 years old, Krolik has just completed his sophomore year studying creative writing at USC, but as Aaliyah once sang, "Age ain't nothin' but a number." In addition to covering the team he loves at Cavs the Blog since December 2008, Krolik also writes for SLAM Online and is an occasional contributor to FreeDarko.com.
Whether you view the NBA Drafft as the end of the season or the start of the long offseason, it's right around the corner, and it definitely has implications for both the Cavaliers and BayHawks. Krolik was nice enough to lend his Cavalier perspective to answer a few questions I had about the draft and the Cavs-BayHawks relationship.
Many expected the Cavs to win the title this year. Is the team, as its currently composed, capable of improving to championship level next year. If not, what or who are the missing pieces they need to put around LeBron?
I definitely think the Cavaliers were at the championship level this year—sometimes it just comes down to winning those few games, and the Cavs weren't able to pull that off against the Magic. If they can re-sign Varejao and keep the fountain of youth going for Z, I think they could win a championship with their current roster. That's not to say there aren't areas they could improve in—a big man who can create shots and make plays, a post defender, and a bona fide playmaker in the backcourt spring to mind, as well as another swingman off the bench.
Are there any current Cavaliers that could benefit by spending part of next season fine-tuning their game in the D-League?
I thought Tarence Kinsey was a better player than Wally Z and Sasha Pavlovic, and even Boobie Gibson, in the limited minutes I saw from him this season. He could use some time in the D-League to streamline his offensive game a little bit, and Hickson could use the time to develop some post moves, but ultimately I feel like the D-league is a double-edged sword when you're talking about a team as good as the Cavs are and how strict the roles have to be. Letting J.J. go to work on the block might be a good idea in a D-League game, but on the big club he should be focusing on getting energy baskets and playing pick-and-roll basketball, things like that.
The Cavs have picks #30 and #46 in the upcoming NBA Draft. What should Cavs fans expect out of these selections?
I would say guards. Hickson's going to be treated like a first-round pick in the frontcourt, Jackson's going to get run, and that's a fairly crowded situation as is. You're just not going to find a starting-quality big man at #30, and the Cavs have enough rotation bigs. They'd love a true point guard to back up Mo because Boobie and Delonte aren't really born PGs, but they'll see what's there, I'd imagine.
Is there a rookie on the board who might fall to number 30 that you would really like to see in a Cavs uniform next season? If so, who?
Darren Collison would probably be the best-case scenario for me. DraftExpress has him at 24, but he's my pipe dream because he's a pure point who can flat-out shoot. After seeing Patrick Mills go toe-to-toe with Team USA this past summer, it's hard not to get excited about him. He's not a pure point and his shooting percentages have been iffy, but as a change-of-pace guard off the bench, he can push the ball as well as anyone in this draft and create his own shot. Ever since LeBron came aboard, people have waited on a true transition point, and Mills just might be able to be that guy for 20 minutes a game.
And I could sell myself on this French kid, Rodrigue Beaubois. He's a point guard with a 6-10 wingspan who was third in the entire combine on his agility drill. He can handle the ball and could definitely be effective in a French Rondo-type way: he doesn't have Rondo's point guard skills, but his defensive ability alone could make him invaluable, and the reports say he does the little things. And he shoots 65% on two-pointers—Rondo's ability to finish around the basket is one of the things that makes him so special. Still, he's a guard who can't shoot 65% from the line, so my optimism would definitely be cautious.
In the second round, I think Greivis Vasquez can really play but hasn't put it together yet, A.J. Price would be a Boobie-like steal with less shooting but more playmaking, and Danny Green is from the type of program you want when you're drafting onto an elite team.
BayHawks guard Maureece Rice will play for the Cavs summer league team, and BayHawks players Ivan Harris and Jarvis Gunter have been invited to Cleveland's June minicamp. Do you see any of these players catching on with the Cavaliers next season?
I think Mike Brown will have an open mind, but with Jackson, Hickson, and Kinsey all really already on the squad, talented enough to play, and waiting for their crack at the rotation, I would say it's unlikely that new blood is going to get called up over those guys. But MB's surprised me before.
Darnell Jackson was sent down to Erie to play a couple of games last season. Do you think either he or J.J. Hickson has what it takes to become an impact power forward?
I think J.J. Hickson is the most offensively talented big man LeBron has ever played with. He's an absolute freak athlete who runs the court like a deer and has quick and authoritative springs. He's quick laterally, and he can stroke it out to 18 feet. He even shows nice moves around the basket. He just needs to learn how to play off the ball a little better, and, more than anything, show that he can make his defensive rotations consistently and not be a liability on that end. With DJ, I think everyone sees him as a Joe Smith-type for many years to come. If he can get that 18-footer he likes going, he'll give you good minutes.
As a Cavs fan, and someone who writes for an audience that certainly includes a lot of Cavs fans, I'm interested to hear your perception of the D-League. What do you see as strengths and weaknesses of the BayHawks-Cavaliers affiliation heading into year two?
Like I said earlier, I'm not sure if the D-League is meant to develop players for a team as good as the Cavs—MB's defensive system has a steep learning curve, playing offense with LeBron James is a system you're not going to learn in the D-League, and the team really can't afford young guys coming up who don't know their roles. But I'm ultimately a huge D-League supporter, and think it's going to do a ton of good for guys that get drafted in the long run. I think it was a forward-thinking move of [Cavs Owner Dan] Gilbert to get the share in the BayHawks.