Major League (A Cleveland Cavaliers Team Preview)

Posted on October 19, 2010 by


Arturo Galletti – of Arturo’s Silly Little Stats (which are certainly not silly) – is a wizard when it comes to spreadsheets.  He is also fairly amazing when it comes to blog posts.  And this morning he figured out how to import one of his blog posts into this forum (and this means what Arturo does can now be easily re-posted here). 

What follows is Arturo’s review of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  And this means we only have seven more teams to review – via Wins Produced – before the seasons starts (and Arturo and Andres think we will get this done).

Jake Taylor: I play for the Indians.
Chaire Holloway: Here in Cleveland? I didn’t know they still had a team!
Jake Taylor: Yup, we’ve got uniforms and everything, it’s really great!

-Major League

The opening quote is from one of my favorite movies. For those who are not familiar with it it’s a movie about a plucky Cleveland team of re-treads, has-beens and never was who overcome all the odds to make it to the playoffs and face a hated and historically superior rival. For some weird reason, this seemed like an appropriate movie reference to serve as a narrative frame for my review/preview of the Cleveland Cavaliers. (go here for the Basics if you’re new here)  

The villian of the piece

The Cavaliers in 2009-2010

Harry Doyle: Just a reminder, fans, comin’ up is our “Die-hard Night” here at the stadium. Free admission to anyone who was actually alive the last time the Indians won a pennant. -Major League

“Now, I make fun of Cleveland because everybody makes fun of Cleveland. I mean, every country has one city that people make fun of. In Russia, we used to make fun of Cleveland.”Yakov Smirnoff 

Recently Forbes did a poll of the most miserable cities in the US. Unsurprisingly, Cleveland won but other than that It’s been a long time for Cleveland fans. 1964 and the Browns was the last title but since then it’s been a long and torturous journey. Unlike Cubs fans, Hawks fans and Lions fans whose teams toil away in obscurity and mediocrity, Cleveland get to suffer the ignominy of good to great teams that never,ever get a break and can never vanquish their tormentors. Sometimes it was Elway with the drive, sometimes Jordan with a shot, sometimes it was Art Modell upping the team to Baltimore (and driving Belichek to New England) and once it was Edgar Renteria. But this one probably hurt the most.

Local Boy makes good is an old story. It’s well know that Lebron is an Ohio native. He willed his team to the 2007 finals but management didn’t get him enough help. But this version of the Cavaliers was finally supposed to have all the pieces around LeBron necessary for a championship run. Cleveland won 61 games last season and 66 the year before. To put this in perspective, the Cavaliers are only the second team to win sixty games two years straight and fail to make the NBA finals (the other team was Lew Alcindor’s 1972 & 73 Bucks (63 wins and 60 wins), a team which ran into the 1972 & 73 Lakers (69 wins and 60 wins) and won the 1971 title and lost in seven in the finals in 1974). This team made the finals in 2007 but they can’t point to any banners hanging in their stadium and much like Milwaukee before them they can’t even point to their superstar anymore.

Who were these Cavs? Let’s take a look:

This team lost 7251 of their minutes and 30.39 wins produced . On the surface by that math you would expect this team to drop precipitously in the standings. Lebron was the best player in the regular season and the playoffs according to WP48 and as you might have heard he’s in Miami now. So they lost the best player in the league and now they’re a 27 win team right? Not so fast there cowboy all hope is not yet lost. There’s still players to be added and minutes to be doled out before we come to a final conclusion.

This didn’t help the cause however.

The Cavaliers in 2010-2011

Board Member 1: I’ve never heard of half of these guys and the ones I do know are way past their prime.
Charlie Donovan: Most of these guys never had a prime.
Rachel Phelps: The fact is we lost our two best players to free agency. We haven’t won a pennant in over thirty-five years, we haven’t placed higher than fourth in the last fifteen. Obviously it’s time for some changes.
Board Member 2: This guy here is dead!
Rachel Phelps: Cross him off, then!

-Major League

The Cavs brought in four free agents and two rookies to replace the players they lost and a simple projection shows that their roster as built only gets the to about 31.1 wins. A more complicated projection (see here for detail on how this was done) look like this:

So after I figure in some development for the players and logically allocate the minutes the Cavs look like a 36 win team and the good news is that’s probably good enough for an eight seed in the playoffs. The scrappy team will make a run at the playoffs. Sadly the bad news is that as is Cleveland’s birthright, the villian of the piece, Lebron and his new cohorts, the Heat, await to crush them. Because we all know an eight seed can never beat a one seed.

Right Baron?