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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rick Kamla Fails Logic 101

The L.A. Lakers routed the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-57 on Tuesday night, prompting NBA TV's Rick Kamla to comment that this shows just how good LeBron James really is. Maybe Kamla simply meant that as an offhand remark/joke but since his statement represents what many people really do think about the impact that James' departure has had on the Cavaliers it is worth doing a little side by side comparison.

Here is a list of the Cavaliers who played versus the Lakers last night:

Manny Harris (41:17 minutes played)
Samardo Samuels (32:54)
Antawn Jamison (30:32)
Alonzo Gee (29:34)
Mo Williams (25:52)
Ramon Sessions (25:45)
J.J. Hickson (17:07)
Ryan Hollins (16:25)
Jamario Moon (13:49)
Christian Eyenga (6:45)

Here is a list of the Cavaliers who played versus the Lakers on December 25, 2009 (which is the last time that the Cavs visited L.A. to face the Lakers, defeating the reigning NBA champions 102-87):

LeBron James (40:44 minutes played)
Mo Williams (39:14)
Anderson Varejao (32:39)
Zydrunas Ilgauskas (29:31)
Anthony Parker (24:48)
Jamario Moon (23:56)
Shaquille O'Neal (21:56)
Delonte West (16:45)
J.J. Hickson (9:48)
Jawad Williams (0:21)
Darnell Jackson (0:11)
Daniel Gibson (0:07)

Seven Cavs players played at least 20 minutes versus the Lakers in L.A. last season; just ONE of those players (Mo Williams) played at least 20 minutes versus the Lakers last night. Saying that yesterday's game shows how valuable James is makes about as much sense as saying that the Sixers' struggles this season show how valuable Julius Erving was.

James' value is actually demonstrated by how well his current team is performing. Unless something drastically changes, James should win his third straight regular season MVP--not because the Cavaliers are doing poorly but because the Miami Heat are playing very well, with James leading the way.

In case it is not glaringly obvious, I would not have picked the Cavs to win 35-40 games and capture the eighth playoff spot in the East if I had known that less than halfway through the season Manny Harris, Samardo Samuels and Alonzo Gee would be key rotation players--and if anyone based his prediction for the Cavs' record this season on knowing that information (as opposed to other, less realistic reasons) then that person should be playing the lottery!

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posted by David Friedman @ 3:09 PM



At Wednesday, January 12, 2011 5:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


While I'd contest that saying Lebron's relevance to the current Cavalier's struggles is slightly more relevant than Julius Erving's effect on this year's Sixers struggles (considering that seven of the current Sixers weren't even born when Dr. J hung up his sneakers), your point is well received.

This is NOT the same Cavs team, minus Lebron James. There are a lot of different pieces in play here.

Kamla is definitely clueless, though.

At Wednesday, January 12, 2011 5:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you!

At Wednesday, January 12, 2011 10:30:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Mentioning Erving is simply hyperbole, with the idea of demonstrating the absurdity of comparing two teams with vastly different rosters (and a different front office with a new coaching staff).

At Wednesday, January 12, 2011 10:30:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


You're welcome.

At Thursday, January 13, 2011 2:36:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


yea this team would be 30-35 win team if healthy and had same team san lebron. no excuse for going 1-21 last 22 and getting beat by 55 points in a game they are very very terrible team. its not all lebron but alot of it is. his tweet was more about dan gilbert than anything else. he should of took care of team better, cavs is goin for long long rebuilding trip.

At Thursday, January 13, 2011 2:55:00 PM, Anonymous warsaw said...

Their prime line-up

D. Gibson ▪ A. Jamison ▪ A. Parker ▪ A. Varejao ▪ M. Williams

was 1 win 9 losses in december, effectively killing all play-off options by themselves by then.

If they are putting the D-leaguers in now is only because the starters weren't doing a good job before, and there was no chance of building a good team with the current roster. As anyone could objetively see at the beggining of the season.

They had a decent run at first, but so did Sacramento last year, and, except Boston, the Cavs only won against bad teams.

They lacked talent even if healthy. Having a few useful role players and two scorers is the basic level of talent tha any NBA team (no matter how bad it is) has. From Memphis to the Clippers.

I agree the last Lakers-Cavs game was irrelevant for any Lebron related discussion.
But it is not the fact that Williams had more open 3s last year, and is failing again as a go to guy and a play maker. Or that Hickson's fg % has plummeted this season without easy buckets from P&Rs with Lebron.

At Thursday, January 13, 2011 7:50:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Kamla did not make any of the points that you just did; he simply said that the Lakers-Cavs game showed how great LeBron is because, paraphrasing Kamla, LeBron went into L.A. last season with the same guys Cleveland has now and beat the Lakers. Obviously, as I just demonstrated, that is not true; LeBron went into L.A. last season with almost a completely different team and beat the Lakers.

You mentioned the Cavs' "prime lineup" this season but you buried the lead: the Cavs have used 14 different starting lineups in just 38 games this season! Injuries to key players plus inconsistent (or just poor) performance by several players has forced Coach Scott to constantly tinker with his rotation. At the start of the season, Scott tried to bolster his bench by using Jamison as a reserve and that experiment provided a great example of how misleading stats can be at times: the Cavs' bench regularly outscored their counterparts but this was only because Scott had weakened his starting lineup to artificially bolster his reserves. The departure of LeBron, Shaq, Z and West represented not just an incredible loss of talent and size but also the depletion of one of Cleveland's greatest assets: depth. This year's Cavs have no depth and that is why the injuries to Varejao, Jamison, Williams, Parker and Gibson have been so damaging.

Even with the coaching change, the shifting lineups and the early season injuries to Jamison and Williams, the Cavs were competitive (7-9) for the first fifth of the season. I expected them to be slightly below .500 for most of the season, but rally a bit at the end to grab the last playoff spot in the weak East with 35-40 wins. The first Miami loss clearly had a much greater effect on the Cavs' psyche than it should have, losses piled up and then Varejao's season-ending injury provided the final nail in the coffin--the last half of this season is obviously going to be brutal for the Cavs but the worst part of this situation is that it will seemingly justify the superficial "analysis" that LeBron's departure by itself destroyed the Cavs. I've got news for LeBron, Kamla and a certain yahoo: history is not going to judge LeBron's career by how badly the Cavs do this season but rather by how well the Heat do. The measure of LeBron's greatness will largely be determined by how many championships he wins; he has once again shown that he is the best regular season performer in the NBA but that will mean little if his team is again eliminated in the playoffs.


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