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Randoms from the Brain of Bauch

  • The jury is still out on the Varejao contract. I was against it from the beginning. Paying $45 million for an average rebounder, slightly above-average defender and below-average scorer was a bit expensive. He does fill an important scrappy role, but unless he switched bodies with Stretch Armstrong in the offseason (not the case, as demonstrated by Dwyane Wade tonight), he will not get enough loose balls to justify that contract. Eight million a year is a lot of money for someone who starts games on the bench.
  • Z has not been able to find his stroke so far this year; apparently the Cavs sent it to Phoenix with Sasha Pavlovic and Ben Wallace for Shaq. Fortunately, the Suns also bought out Z's stroke, so Cleveland may elect to re-sign it during the season. If not, Zydrunas Ilgauskas will soon have two more words attached to his long name: "Expiring Contract." I'd hate to see him go as much as the next person, but failing to make a move for the sake of "chemistry" killed the team last year and Danny Ferry can't make the same mistake twice.
  • Most underrated difference between Shaq and Z: outlet passing. Shaq gets the ball out to streaking guards, giving the Cavs a chance to run. Z holds the ball until everyone has moved upcourt except his guard. This is the difference between watching a 25" standard TV and a 50" plasma TV.
  • Mo Williams is not a spot up shooter. Never was that more evident than the first half against Orlando (9-9 shooting, none assisted) when he was taking shots off the dribble and creating for others. Daniel Gibson, on the other hand, is a spot up shooter. Never was that more evident than in his last solid shooting performance (7-9 shooting, 5-5 3pt, Game 6 Eastern Conference Finals, 2007). Each has done a relatively good job of recognizing this so far, I hope they continue to understand their limits.
  • Shaquille O'Neal no longer gets the shots he used to. Instead of 5-7 foot baby hooks, he is being forced out to 9-11 feet. His spin move is not nearly what it was 3-5 years ago, so he has to use brute strength to get to the rim. Shaq has plenty of strength, but just like a defensive end would not use a power rush on every play of a football game, Shaq can't bull his way to the hoop every time he gets the ball in the post. This is a big reason why his shooting percentage has suffered.
  • It is nice to have Shaq on the defensive end to challenge shots. By contrast, Z does little else but get in the way of shooters. Unfortunately, Shaq removes himself from rebouding position while he's going for blocks.
  • Mike Brown has not been using the Shaq/Z twin towers lineup much in the past couple games. Those two will not be able to coexist on the court together. Advocates of the idea will point to Duncan/Robinson in San Antonio and Sampson/Olajuwon in Houston. I would point to the face that the four players in those examples moved gracefully. Shaq and Z, on the other hand, move glacially (I don't know if that's a word, nor do I care).
  • LeBron continues to rely on his jump shot too much. It has become much more consisten in recent years, but with his size and speed he could create more mismatches in the post. In the high post he will be able to get to the rim easier and use his passing ability to wreak havoc hitting cutters.
  • JJ Hickson is an extremely talented player but needs to gain lots of experience this season. Defensively, he has been more turrible than Barkley ever was, even at the tail end of his career. Fortunately, that should improve with some seasoning. If not, some of his mental errors could end up killing this team in the playoffs.
  • Random Fact of the Night: Quentin Richardson was a member of four different teams this offseason. The real bombshell was that he had ballooned up to 260. Apparently his offseason trainers are Oliver Miller and Shawn Kemp.

-Pat Bauch


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