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Preview: The Bigs

October 1, 2009

Cavs camp has begun and I am going to begin previewing the Cavs. Today I am going to take a look at the Cavs bigs. What do I think about them, what do I expect from them, I'll cover all of that for the four loyal members of my fan club and all of the other readers...

Shaquille O'Neal: May as well start off with the off season's biggest splash. The Big Sidekick is now the Cavs starting center. As I mentioned in my initial observations, I love the Shaq deal. Even at 37, O'Neal is still an All-Star caliber player. With another legitimate big center on the roster, the Cavs can monitor Shaq's minutes keeping him fresh for key regular season games and the playoffs.

Shaq said he doesn't need 30 touches. That's true. He's still going to score and clean the glass. His numbers will not be an accurate measure of his productivity because he will play fewer minutes to rest his body. With Z behind him and the Cavs ability to go small, Shaq need not play more than 25-28 minutes per game. I still see some good numbers for him, something like 16.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. It should also be fun to watch Shaq and Z go up against Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Tim Duncan, etc. Shaq's going to be good for the Cavs. It's going to be pretty cool to see the NBA's two biggest "forces of nature" players (Shaq and LeBron) on the same team. Fun times for Cleveland fans.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas: Big Z is a two-time All Star, and probably should have made at least one if not two more All Star games. He has been starting in Cleveland longer than many Johnny-Come-Latelies have been fans of the team. Now he moves to the bench. He has the perfect personality to do it. Z will do what needs to be done to win. He's going to provide some excellent offensive punch and size off the bench. In 20-24 minutes per game, Z should still be good for around 11 points and 7.5 rebounds or so. You're going to love have a player of Z's size and skill coming off the bench. I even like writing that, Z coming off the bench. It shows how potent the Cavs can really be.

Anderson Varejao: Resigning Andy to a big contract gives him big expectations, but he doesn't need to live up to all of them this season. With Shaq and Z providing front court scoring, Andy can focus on his hustle game. He needs to keep extending possessions with his rebounds, frustrating opponents with his defense, and finishing off the touches he gets around the rim. I think he threatens to average double figures in points, but doesn't do it this year. I think somewhere around 9.4-9.8 ppg is what we will see. Also, he could end up with around 9 rebounds per game. He's a good guy on this team because he will do the dirty work. I would totally hate him if he played for anyone but the Cavs. As a Cavalier, I love him.

J.J. Hickson: He's in a good place. The Cavs aren't expecting a ton from him this year, but I think he's going to get a chance. He should be in the rotation getting about 10-12 minutes per night, at least until Leon Powe is healthy. J.J. showed flashes last year. He can jump and score. He really has a knack for getting the ball in the hoop when he is near the basket. His leaping and physical skills help him to be a good rebounder. He seems to have the right attitude to succeed in this league long term. 5 points 3 rebounds per game? I think we could see that. He's going to have a few highlight dunks and blocks to with his jumping ability. Remember, this would be his junior year in college.

Darnell Jackson: Sort of the opposite of Hickson. He has limited physical ability but is more polished. You know what you're going to get with Jackson. He's going to play hard and physical, score a few garbage points, grab a few boards, play solid defense. He is not more than a fourth big in the NBA, but he's solid. I like having him on the team. He won't have a consistent spot in the rotation unless J.J. fails to produce or even earn regular minutes. However, he should play well enough in his spots.

Stay tuned for more preview articles in the coming week or so...

Jack Bacevice


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