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Charting preseason progress

By admin Published: October 12, 2007

Sorry I have not been more active here over the last week, I am coming off a nasty illness that really zapped me. I will not give details for all of your sake.
I will be back over the weekend later following tonight's game with the Sonics, but let me just go over a few things from the first two preseason games. You can also read about the Pistons game.
--I am withholding most commentary about the new offense -- Mike Brown doesn't call it a new offense but, really, it is -- because it is too early to make conclusions. Mike got a lot of it from Ettore Messina, the CSKA Moscow coach that I wrote about for ESPN this week. I will go into more detail later, but for now, know that he is trying to get the players to drive the ball and move more. In short, he is trying to avoid "the stand around and watch LeBron" offense. That includes the Larry Hughes "wait for an open jumper" on the wing option, too. Understand, this relies on LeBron's willingness to drive and kick himself, and part of the reason the ball always stopped before is because LeBron stopped it. So we'll see and I'll write more about it.
--One more thing, if you thought last year's offense eliminated Zydrunas Ilgauskas, just wait. Since Z isn't a driver and isn't a kicker, I don't see where he fits unless it's the old fashioned side pick-and-roll or the occasional iso play in the post. Again, it is still in infant stages, so I reserve judgment.
--As I also wrote about for ESPN, LeBron is in great shape and working harder than ever. I am not sure his jumper has improved technically but he's worked on it and it seems to be better. The difference between this training camp and last, when I am convinced he was tired, is dramatic and I am expecting a fast start.
--Daniel Gibson's jumper is working nicely and he's showing more willingness in going to the basket. However, his ball handling still needs work. He is the starting point guard for now, Larry Hughes is playing the 2. The Cavs players and coaches all like to say they don't have a point guard, that the 1, 2, and 3 are interchangeable. That's fine, but it is sort of like having a two-quarterback system, you do it because you don't have one.
--Devin Brown is a junk player, he doesn't do anything all that well but he'll surprise you every now and then. He'll sneak up on you and get to the hoop and hit an open jumper. Plus he is versatile on the defense. Overall, he's looking like a nice pickup, but don't expect anything great. He's also not in great shape, Mike Brown is hoping he'll be better when drops a few pounds.
--Drew Gooden's jumper was working nicely in the playoffs last year. He's going to it way too much in the preseason, which is why he's 3-for-17. He is at his best scoring with his back to the basket and off offensive rebounds.
--I am hearing nothing about the Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao holdouts. This is a very key time for the franchise, how this plays out will very likely affect the roster management over the next two seasons. There is a lot at stake, not just from a basketball perspective but also from a perception perspective. I wrote about this earlier this week. There are a lot of factors in play here, which is why this is so complicated.

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