How important is the bench to the Cavs success this season, considering the strength of other playoff benches?
It is and it isn't. The Cavs are a really, really good team when Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and Kevin Love play. When one or more of them don't, the Cavs just aren't nearly as good. Is that an indictment of the depth/bench? Probably. They have seven to nine guys I'm comfortable playing in a playoff series, so any type of injury and you are scraping the bottom of the barrel. At the same time, if you have the Big Three playing and throw a shooter or two around them, or put Timofey Mozgov or Tristan Thompson down low, the Cavs tend to just run teams. In the playoffs if they are all playing 40+ minutes, maybe seven guys is enough.
Who do you think is the Cavaliers' best chance for a major award this season? Curry and Harden appear locked into the MVP race, and Kerr and Budenholzer look like locks for Coach of the Year.
Maybe David Griffin as Executive of the Year. You can argue that LeBron James and Kevin Love just fell into his lap, but I don't totally know that that is the case. The deals for Mozgov, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert look pretty good now. Extending Anderson Varejao looks bad. Tristan Thompson will get some votes for Sixth Man and I think he deserves them. He's been solid for the Cavs all year long. He never misses a game, always plays with energy, and has come a long ways as a defender and offensive finisher. LeBron James with make All-NBA First Team and perhaps Kyrie Irving will make the Third Team.
What has Kendrick Perkins' impact been since joining? Is he getting by on reputation or is he contributing positively?
I think the guys in the locker room like having him. That's as far as I can go. He has a PER of 2.6 in 126 minutes, he's fouling 9.1 times per 36 minutes, and turns the ball over 32.2% of the time he finishes a play. It's been pretty bad.
Why are a lot of Cavaliers fans hating on Matthew Dellavedova? He appears perfect for his role, as a three-point shooter and pesky defender who has a pretty decent assist to turnover ratio. I think he'd be a good fit in Detroit, but that's because we've suffered with John Lucas III as of late.
It's pretty silly. People need to have something to complain about. He's the 10th or 11th guy on your roster and he gets the minutes of an 8th guy. He shouldn't play more that 12 minutes a game in the playoffs. But he hits threes and doesn't turn the ball over and tries pretty hard on defense. He's not a good defender, but he tries. He has trouble with defensive pressure when he brings the ball up, so ideally you'd want to pair him with a player like Irving or James so he can play off-ball. The Cavs have that luxury and fans still get annoyed.
How deep do you think Blatt will go in the playoffs? Shumpert, Dellavedova and Thompson appear the key reserves, with James Jones and/or Mike Miller in situational matchups.
Yeah, that's one of the things I still don't know if we know. It's been such a weird year for the Cavs. I wish Shawn Marion had been a bit more healthy this year, because he was a pretty serviceable defender. I'd like him to get some time, but I don't know if it'll be a consistent thing.
Finally, do you think the whole Kevin Love saga has been overblown? Detroit has a similar situation with Greg Monroe, as someone who has been a consistent performer but still draws criticism, even though there appears to be a consensus that he is leaving. Does Love stay or bolt?
I don't think he leaves after this year. I'd guess he opts into the last year on his contract and then signs a max extension the following summer -- probably in Cleveland, but who knows? I don't think people understand how good Irving's been this year. Maybe Kevin Love should be the second offensive option, but it's hard to knock really anything Irving's done. The offense performs at a crazy high level when Irving's on the floor. In the meantime, Love is the only guy in the NBA averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 1+ three pointer per game. He's providing a lot of value. I think he's been both hurt and great. We will see.