Lance Allred – The Cavaliers signed him to a couple of 10-day contracts and then eventually brought him in for the remainder of the season. However, Allred only saw action in three games and I’d be incredibly surprised to see him out there. Having said that Allred is a lot more interesting than many end of the bench guys because he had an unorthodox childhood (huge understatement), has 80% hearing loss and should probably hate Rick Majerus. Hat tip to Hardwood Paroxysm for the previous link. Also check out HP for an interview with Allred. Seriously the brief poker game anecdote is awesome.
Devin Brown – Since entering the league in 2003 he has played in Utah, Denver, San Antonio (twice), New Orleans and now Cleveland. That journeyman persona was only enhanced when Brown joined the squad shortly before training camp. Every team in the league has a guy like Brown. He is the player that does a lot of little things to help the team win, is appreciated by the coaches and is not well known beyond the home fans. You think he was a part of Will Malice’s Unsung Player Day? Of course he was. Embarrassing aside. Occasionally I’ll watch a Cavs game and for a split second I’ll think Brown is LeBron James. The same thing happens with Adonal Foyle and Dwight Howard. We’re talking a split second here and I’m definitely not proud of it. I should probably keep that to myself actually.
Daniel Gibson – The former Texas Longhorn came to prominence when he caught fire in game 6 of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals against the Pistons. Gibson finished the game with 31 points and five 3-pointers. That shooting prowess was on display again at the Rookie/Sophomore game over All Star Weekend in New Orleans. Gibson did battle injuries this season, is more of a 2 than a 1 and will probably hate the Cavaliers during the off season, as is the custom with Cleveland’s recent restricted free agents.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas – Big Z averaged 14 and 7 and put forth a huge effort – 21 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks - against the C’s back in February. While I respect his game I also like his slow, deliberate place. That’s how Boston prefers to play. Finally I’m always amazed by how much he towers over everyone else on the floor.
LeBron James – He rose to prominence in the era of AAU, high school stars jumping straight to the pros, blogs, ESPN News, a zillion magazines and an oppressive amount of hype. And yet starting sometime after last year's All Star Break you could make the case that the hype has not been enough. Does that ever happen? Seriously he averaged 29.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.7 assists and was an afterthought in the MVP race. That’s outrageous. On top of that he may be the strongest guy in the league. I don’t need to write too much more because he will be a huge topic of conversation throughout the series. But I’ll close with this. If you watch a few James interviews, post game press conferences or really anytime he speaks you'll notice that he references his role as the leader of the Cavs a seemingly disproportionate amount. Watch for it.
Damon Jones – He played 13 minutes against the Wizards and it’s safe to say that he is no longer a big part of Cleveland’s rotation. There are some serious Eddie House parallels here.
Dwayne Jones – Jones arrived in Boston in the deal that saw Mark Blount leave town. Not long after Jones was sent to Cleveland for Luke Jackson. I was surprised to see that he played around 8 minutes a game this season. That’s not a lot, but I figured he played less. And his game log screams inconsistency, which makes sense given the injuries the Cavaliers had to contend with this season. He was not much of a factor in the Washington series where 12 of his 14 minutes occurred in games that featured a 30-point differential in the final scores. Much like the other Jones, don’t expect much.
Aleksandar “Sasha” Pavlovic – He was the other restricted free agent that did not see eye-to-eye with the Cavs over the summer. And like several other Cavs he did battle injuries this season. For reasons that don’t make any sense I always associate him with Thabo Sefolosha. And yes I recognize that Sefolosha is Swiss and the Pavlovic is Serbian. When it comes down to I just don’t have much to say about Pavlovic. Although he played 2 minutes against the Wizards, so it will be interesting to see if he is a factor at all.
Joe Smith – There are several aspects of Smith’s career that are either forgotten or not stressed enough:
- He was a big deal coming out of Maryland. So much so that he was drafted over Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett and everybody else in the 1995 draft.
- People remember the shady deal the Minnesota made with Smith and know that it hurt the Timberwolves. But it seems like that fiasco gets lost a bit when people discuss KG’s struggles in Minnesota. That was a really big deal.
- He was one of the few players that actually played well for Chicago this season. I desperately wish Jack McCallum had been embedded with the Bulls so that we could get a better picture of their dysfunction.
- No really he was the #1 pick in the 1995 draft.
It seems like Smith has morphed into what PJ Brown was four seasons ago. A veteran guy with a pretty good mid range shot that everyone likes. Although I don’t believe Smith’s defense is comparable to Brown’s in his day. Either way Smith is 20-22 minutes per game guy right now.
Eric Snow – The idea of the Rajon Rondo blowing by Snow or the Celtics defense daring him to shoot made my downright giddy. Unfortunately Snow has not played since February and last time I checked the “R” word was flying around. Next.
Wally Szczerbiak - I’m terrified of Szczerbiak making it further in the playoffs than the guy (Ray Allen) he was traded for last draft night. Meanwhile, out of all of the players* that were shipped out of Boston this past summer he’s the one that I’m the most neutral about. I’d attribute that to the variety of injuries that kept him out of the lineup in Boston. Since landing in Cleveland he has struggled from the field and beyond the arc but been money from the line. The shots will be there simply because of LeBron. I’d hate to see them start dropping for Szczerbiak.
Billy Thomas – Yet another D Leaguer to make the leap to the Cavs this season. He played 8 minutes in the Wizards series. That coupled with his age (30) and number of years in the Association (2) probably means he does not have a bright future in the NBA. Nor do I expect him to be much of a factor against the Celtics. But I love the D League guys. They bust in a difficult situation and then make the most of it. Gerald Green could learn a thing or two from them. Yeah Green spent some time in the D League but he was never a D League guy. And by that I mean I don’t think he’d fight for a NBA job. Can you tell that I’m not quite over the Gerald Green era?
Anderson Varejao – Between his holdout and injury Varejao only played in 48 games this season. However, in those games he saw a 3-minute increase in his mpg from 2007. Those minutes were down significantly in the playoffs but I can’t tell if that was due to performance, foul trouble or the fact that several of those games were blow outs. I can be sure of a few things.
1. Celtics fans are going to hate him. He does so many little things well and annoys opponents. Though their games are different in a number of ways he is essentially Cleveland’s James Posey.
2. It would be awesome if he shot 30% from the floor like he did against Washington.
3. Someone is going to make a Sideshow Bob reference and be proud of it. Not cool.
Ben Wallace – I had a lot more respect for him two years ago before headband gate and everything else that went wrong in Chicago. Still no other player on the Cavs, outside of LeBron of course, fascinates me more. I just want to know if Wallace has anything left in the tank. I envision at least one staring contest between Big Ben and Perk. And I’d bet money on an announcer uttering “playoff basketball” in reference to something Wallace does. More importantly what do you think of when you read the following: “The way I dunk on you is gonna look unortodoxed”? If it’s this that just confirms Green Bandwagon is the place for you. If not, no big deal. Although you really should know “Everyday I do.”
Delonte West – He figured out two things very quickly in Cleveland. Find LeBron for ally oops whenever possible and be ready for open shots. I’ll be honest it was a little surreal when West hit that game winner because he’s still one of my favorite players in the league. By now Celtics fans should know what to expect. A lot of hustle, decent numbers across the board, excellent foul shooting and a few good sound bytes if given the chance. I can remember him struggling from the field and at other times enjoying an excellent shooting percentage. When it comes to knocking down shots I'm never entirely sure how he'll do.
* Obviously I don’t count Jeff Green because he never played a game for the Celtics even if they did draft him.