Cavaliers are the real deal


Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2005 at 2:40 p.m.
It was just a couple of days ago that I wrote my weekly NBA column and pointed out that the Cleveland Cavaliers should be thanking their lucky stars for the presence of general manager, Danny Ferry.
The former Cavaliers player has transformed the Cavs from "Cav-nots" (sorry, I couldn't resist the play on words) to real Cavs in just one off-season.
Not only did Ferry acquire immensely talented shooting guard Larry Hughes, but he followed that up by acquiring two more talented sharp-shooting veteran players in swingman Donyell Marshall and point guard Damon Jones.
Those transactions combined with the re-signing of center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and reemergence of enigmatic power forward Drew Gooden, have the Cavs looking like contenders for the eastern conference crown.
Oh, by the way, did I mention that the Cavs still have the best young player on the planet in LeBron James? Ferry obviously knew what he was doing by making the shrewd moves that he did and recognized that he was assembling a recipe for success.
I can just see the wheels in Ferry's head turning right now.
Hmmmm. Let's see. One large dose of James with a healthy heaping of Hughes added in and two tablespoons each of Marshall, Ilgauskas, Jones and Gooden and poof-instant success.
James, who is one part MJ and one part Magic, has already learned a valuable lesson that it took Jordan years to learn - and one that Kobe Bryant is just learning - you need to have competent teammates (not outstanding) that you can trust to help make certain plays during the course of any game. Of course, James, like MJ, can take over at any time he wants but that is beside the point.
What he is learning before our very eyes is when to take over and when to rely on his teammates.
Another ingenious move that Ferry made - and the one that received the least amount of attention - was to hire first-time head coach Mike Brown, whose reputation throughout the league as a defensive genius who relates well to his players is well-documented.
Of course, it's still very early in the season and anything is possible, but barring an earth-shattering injury to either James or Hughes, this team should not just make the playoffs this year, but win a series or two at the very least.
The Cavs are a young team who seemingly have all the right pieces in place. A more than competent center in Ilgauskas, outside snipers in Jones and Marshall, an athletic young power forward in Gooden and the still-improving James, who drew a huge compliment from one of the best basketball minds in the world after a recent dominating performance against the Philadelphia 76ers.
"I haven't said this very much in my lifetime, but tonight, that young man reminded me of Oscar Robertson," said Sonny Hill, a former professional player in the old Eastern Basketball League and consultant with the Sixers who is also the founder of the immensely popular Sonny Hill Summer League - Philadelphia's version of the New York Ruckers Playground Summer League.
"Look at what he did," Hill added. "He spent the better part of the game letting the game come to him, setting other guys up, being a facilitator, a distributor. Then he noticed no one was getting anything done in the fourth quarter and just took over. Nobody - and I mean nobody - has ever done that better than Oscar Robertson. That's how LeBron looked in this game."
The amazing thing about James, is that he is a "new school" player with an "old school" mentality and professionalism. One that is reminiscent of stars like Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic, who continually worked to improve their respective games during the offseason.
"The thing I'm most proud of is that the things I've worked so hard on throughout this off-season seem to be paying dividends," James said. "All off-season, I worked on my lateral movement for defensive purposes, my ballhandling - because I knew people would try to test that - and my perimeter shooting. Everything seems to be going well now. All I'm saying is that I'm not trying to watch another postseason. I'm trying to be in it."
If that doesn't tell you enough about James and the direction the Cavs are headed in, then just wait until the postseason because I can guarantee that the Cavs will not only make the playoffs, but will win at least one series and possibly two. Until then, just sit back and enjoy the aerial acrobatics of the game's best young player and his vastly improved team.
Eric Williams is a sports columnist for the Philadelphia Sunday Sun and senior staff writer for basketball.com and nbawire.com.
I can guarantee that the Cavs will not only make the playoffs, but will win at least one series and possibly two.

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