Dribbles: Cavs on Way to Another Crack at Finding The Next Giannis
Random dribbles following the Cavaliers' 125-108 road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
1. Back in 2013, the Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo with the No. 15 overall pick in the draft.
2. The Cavs selected Anthony Bennett at No. 1.
3. Antetokounmpo scored 29 points Saturday and the Bucks won their 18th straight.
4. Bennett didn't play.
5. In fact, Bennett hasn't appeared in an NBA game since the 2016-17 season. He carries the measly career averages of 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds. He is currently not playing professionally ... anywhere.
5. Compare that to Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP who looks even better this season. The Bucks (24-3) are two consecutive wins away from tying the franchise mark of 20, set in the 1970-71 season. Antetokounmpo is the main reason why.
6. The Cavs (6-20) are in total rebuild mode. Today's roster is highly likely to look different when the teams meet again in mid-April.
7. Mentioning Antetokounmpo and Bennett isn't intended to pick on the Cavs. Current Cavs general manager Koby Altman had nothing to do with the Bennett pick. And 13 other teams passed on Antetokounmpo, too.
8. A lot has happened since that draft. LeBron James returned to Cleveland ... and left again. The Cavs reached the Finals four straight times. They won the title in 2016. So the Cavs and their fans will take it.
9. As good as Antetokounmpo is, the Bucks of the modern era have yet to reach the Finals. Meanwhile, Bennett was part of the trade for Kevin Love, an integral part of the Cavs' title-winning team.
10. So what's the point? Well, it just goes to show that the draft is a very inexact science. You need to be good at evaluating talent, but you also need to be really lucky. Anyone who sees Antetokounmpo today understands that. Not one scout or GM envisioned he would ever be this good.
11. This is where I'll get emails telling me, "I watched a lot of YouTube videos before the 2013 draft, and I knew Antetokounmpo was destined to be a star!" That may be true. Maybe you really did. But I still won't believe you.
12. The Cavs will be playing the lottery again after the season. They will be crossing their fingers and maybe putting Nick Gilbert and his bow tie back on center stage. All in hopes of landing a player like Antetokounmpo -- superbly athletic, especially long, able to handle the ball and score at will.
13. Two years ago, the Cavs used a lottery pick on Collin Sexton, a 6-foot-1 guard. This past draft, they used a lottery pick on Darius Garland, a 6-1 guard. I doubt they use the next one on a 6-1 guard.
14. Don't misunderstand, the Cavs like Sexton and Garland. No one in the organization is ready to give up on them starting in the backcourt. It's much too early to make any firm judgments. Maybe it won't work. Now is not the time to reach that decision.
15. But the Bucks are getting it done with outstanding play at the wing positions. As the Cavs saw Saturday, the Bucks' length, athleticism and speed allows them to swarm and suffocate opponents defensively. They can make you miserable.
16. The Cavs actually led briefly in the first half. They were able to keep things close for a while. Eventually, though, the Bucks will wear you down. It has nothing to do with brute force. It just becomes a major pain to try to pass over or around them. Once you do, you rarely get a decent look at the basket.
17. Rookie Kevin Porter Jr. led the Cavs in scoring for the second time in three games. Still, his 15 points were barely noticeable. Jordan Clarkson added 13. Love and Tristan Thompson scored 12 apiece. Nobody could get in a zone offensively. That had more to do with what the Bucks did right than with what the Cavs did wrong.
18. Despite all the reports and rumors, the Cavs have looked OK lately. This has been a good week in terms of them returning to their gritty mindset. They aren't letting off-the-court noise get in the way of playing hard and trying to stick to the plan. Give coach John Beilein and his staff some real credit for that.
20. USA Today reported, "Cleveland’s practice facility and front-office headquarters might as well have a 'Players Available' sign out front. The Cavs are open for business, and that’s no surprise. They have seven players with expiring contracts, and they’re trying to recoup assets they lost during the LeBron James-era title chases. If you've paid attention, they did the same last season."
21. If a trade does happen, I doubt it will come quickly. Finding the right deal for Love won't be easy. He has three years and $90 million left on his contract. He has an injury history. And it's not like he has requested a trade. So the Cavs may as well take their time.
22. Then again, as former Cavs GM Chris Grant once said, trades are a hard thing to predict. There are just too many variables involved.
23. For now, Beilein and the Cavs are clearly just trying to control what they can control. Beilein is trying to get the most out of the men in uniform. Altman is working on a building a core that can be developed today and win big down the road.
24. For more on the actual game, check out the SI.com recap, Cavaliers can't hang with surging Bucks.
25. Next up: The Cavs conclude their three-game swing with a visit to defending champion Toronto on Monday. After that, it's three straight back at home.
- BOX SCORE: Bucks 125, Cavaliers 108