Top 5 Mistakes Cleveland Cavaliers Have Made During Rebuilding Process
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in year three of their rebuilding project and so far have laid a great foundation for future success.
Many of the draft picks and trades they've pulled off have been right on the money, with head coach Byron Scott and general manager Chris Grant doing a fantastic job.
That being said, not every decision has turned out to be a wise one for the Cavs.
While it's true hindsight is 20/20, we can now begin to see some of the mistakes Cleveland has made in the past three years.
The Cavs haven't made too many blunders thus far, but here are five scenarios they definitely should have handled differently.
Playing Ryan Hollins, Anytime, Ever
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Hollins is seven feet tall, which misleads many into thinking he is skilled at the game of basketball.
Playing in 94 games for the Cavaliers from 2010 to 2012, Hollins was just awful even when receiving meaningful minutes.
The clanging sound Cavs fans heard while watching the game was likely a pin-point pass being delivered to a wide-open Hollins in the paint, only for it to go crashing off his hands and out of bounds.
Hollins had no post game whatsoever, and forget about hitting any kind of a jumper.
It's true the Cavs have been starved for depth at center the past few years, but surely there had to have been someone better in the D-League or local YMCA that could have stepped in and done a better job.
A poor defender, Hollins couldn't grab a rebound if it was covered in Elmer's glue and duct taped to his hands. In 2011-12 with the Cavs, Hollins averaged just 5.6 rebounds per 36 minutes of play. To put that number into contrast, Tristan Thompson is averaging 10.6 rebounds this season in the same amount of time.
Even on a rebuilding team that desperately needed size, Hollins didn't deserve a spot on the Cavs.
Passing on Chandler Parsons in 2011 Draft
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The 2011 NBA draft will forever be viewed as a successful one for the Cavaliers, as they went in owning four picks, including the first overall selection.
The Cavs obviously made the right choice with Kyrie Irving first overall, and Tristan Thompson looks to have been the right choice at No. 4.
Looking into the second round, however, the Cavs may have made a big mistake.
With the 32nd overall pick the Cavs selected Justin Harper, a power forward out of Richmond who they then traded to the Orlando Magic for 2013 and 2014 second-round picks.
While those picks could yield big dividends, it meant passing on Chandler Parsons, who went 38th overall to the Houston Rockets.
Parsons was a senior from Florida who at 6'9" plays small forward, the Cavs' biggest position of need.
Despite being a second-round pick, the second-year player is putting up big production for the Rockets.
As Houston's starting small forward, Parsons is averaging 14.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. A talented shooter from anywhere on the floor, Parsons has been one of the best prospects to emerge from the entire 2011 draft, much less the second round.
The Cavs haven't gotten those kind of numbers from a small forward since you-know-who, and they should have done a little more homework on the former Florida Gator.
Trading for Omri Casspi
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Right before the NBA went into full lockout mode back in 2011, the Cavs swung a deal with the Sacramento Kings.
In the trade, Cleveland sent power forward J.J. Hickson to the Kings for small forward Omri Casspi and a protected first-round draft pick.
On the surface it seemed like a solid trade. The Cavs had just drafted Tristan Thompson to play the same position as Hickson and also had Antawn Jamison taking up minutes. One of them had to be moved. Casspi was young, played a position of need and was on his rookie deal an extra year longer than Hickson.
What seemed like a good idea at the time has turned out to be a major bust.
Casspi began last season as the Cavs' starting small forward. This didn't last long.
Sent to the bench about halfway into the season, Casspi has now fallen out of the rotation almost entirely.
His scoring and rebounding numbers have gone down every single year since his rookie season, and so has his field-goal percentage.
Hickson didn't fare much better for the Kings and was eventually cut, but is enjoying a solid season with the Portland Trail Blazers this year.
It's clear the Cavs won't bring Casspi back after this season, and will only have the draft pick to cling on to as future compensation from the trade.
Given Chris Grant's other deals, including the one that netted them Kyrie Irving in the form of a first-round pick, this appears to have been a rare miss.
Overusing Anderson Varejao This Season
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Anderson Varejao was enjoying a career year this season before going down with a split muscle in his leg back on December 18th.
Varejao was leading the NBA in rebounding at 14.4 per game, while also averaging 14.1 points, 3.4 assists and 1.5 steals a contest.
His production was at an all-time high, but unfortunately so were his minutes.
Logging a career-high 36 minutes per night was a bit alarming for the 30-year-old, especially given his injury history and style of play.
The day before Varejao was hurt, I expressed my concern that the Cavs may have been overworking him and that his minutes needed to go down to help avoid injury.
Sure enough, the next day Varejao played 39 minutes against the Toronto Raptors, a game that would prove to be his last of the 2012-13 season.
Whether the Cavs' plan was to keep or trade Varejao this season, playing him 36 minutes a night on a 5-20 team just didn't make any sense.
Release of Danny Green
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In the fall of 2010 the Cavs' first roster of their rebuilding phase began to take place.
On it were some veteran holdovers like Antawn Jamison, Anthony Parker and Anderson Varejao. There were also promising young players like J.J. Hickson, Ramon Sessions and Mo Williams.
The third level of players were the prospects who had yet to prove themselves in the NBA. This list included Christian Eyenga, Jawad Williams, Samardo Samuels, Manny Harris and Danny Green.
Unfortunately, the Cavs had a cut to make to trim their roster down to the required 15-player maximum.
The ultimate decision came down to Harris or Green, with the Cavs opting for the undrafted rookie out of Michigan in Harris.
Fast-forwarding to today, Harris and Green have taken very different career paths.
Green has started every game this season for the San Antonio Spurs, who at 45-13 have the NBA's best record.
Harris currently plays for Azovmash of the Ukrainian League, unable to land another NBA job after the Cavs waived the 23-year-old back in July 2012.
Green would have been a great young talent to keep around on the Cavaliers. He can play either wing position and is a good athlete who benefited from his years at North Carolina.
This season alone Green has become one of the NBA's best three-point shooters, connecting on 43.1 percent of his attempts from downtown. He averages 10.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game while making 2.3 three-pointers per game.
Green wasn't even close to the player he is now when the Cavs cut him back in 2010, but looking at some of the names the Cavs kept over him makes it very clear that they made a mistake in letting the former Tar Heel go.