Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On the Kevin Love-Andrew Wiggins issue: To trade or not to trade

This appears on

To trade or not to trade
by rick olivares

If you were the General Manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers, would you trade top draft pick Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love?

In an ESPN Poll of (at this count) 490,113 respondents, 56% said yes while 44% said no.

If you were the GM of the Minnesota Timberwolves, would you trade Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins?

From a total of 71,274 respondents, 81% voted, YES while 19% turned it down.

For the record, in the first poll, I voted, YES and in the second, I voted, NO.

Before I explain my vote, let’s take a look at some pertinent stats between the two players:

Kevin Love, 25 years of age
Six seasons playing the four or five spot with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Out of a possible 490 games, he played in 364 that translates into 74% of possible matches for Minnesota. He has never played an entire season.

However, he has averaged 32.8 minutes, 19.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game.

Love has made three All-Star teams and has a gold medal from the FIBA World Championships and the Olympics (London).

Love probably has four to five more good years.

Andrew Wiggins, 19 years of age
The 6’8 shooting guard, in his one year at Kansas, averaged 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.0 blocks, and 2.3 turnovers in 35 outings. For the Jayhawks.

Here’s the current depth chart of the Cleveland Cavaliers:
Center: Anderson Varejao, Brendan Haywood
Power Forward: Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett
Small Forward: LeBron James, Mike Miller, James Jones, and Carrick Felix
Shooting Guard: Dion Waiters, Andrew Wiggins
Point Guard: Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova

If this is the final roster for Cleveland, is this possibly the first time ever where four former number one overall draft picks – LeBron James (2003), Kyrie Irving (2011), Anthony Bennett (2013), and Wiggins (2014) -- played for the same team?

The starting five is good. Tristan Thompson will hold his own but isn’t great at the four-spot. Varejao, as much as he hustles for the ball didn’t even place in the Top 20 total rebounds (although Thompson was 13th).

The biggest learning from the recent NBA Finals is a team is greater than any Big Three. For the San Antonio Spurs, there was depth and quality in every position.

Looking at that Cavs lineup, there isn’t much depth. With Wiggins in the line-up, Cleveland looks like OKC East.

James = Durant
Irving = Westbrook

So does that mean:
Wiggins = Reggie Jackson
Thompson = Serge Ibaka
Varejao = Kendrick Perkins

If LeBron committed longer to Cleveland, I would have voted for the GM to keep Wiggins because they could another quality big the next season while retaining their top draft pick.

But since James didn’t, there’s a little urgency to putting a team that can compete NOW. I voted for Cleveland to bring in Love because he is a stud up front and can help the Cavs battle the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, and Brooklyn Nets who all have pretty good frontlines. Love might even be like Chris Bosh for the Cavs – someone who can shoot from the outside but doesn’t shirk from rebounding. He will give depth to the center slot because Haywood hasn’t really been the answer to all his teams’ woes.

Wiggins looks good. Tall, athletic, and with a tremendous upside. But at this point, it’s all potential. Love is a proven one.

LeBron James will turn 30 by December and is arguably at his peak with at least four to five highly productive seasons ahead of him. He has a two-year contract and there’s a possibility he might not end his career in Cleveland.

If Wiggins is in the lineup then even if James leaves, he along with Irving can possibly now really be OKC East.

How have rebuilding NBA teams fared?
Chicago has been in perpetual rebuild mode since 1999.

After their 2000 Finals appearance where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Indiana Pacers rebuilt and put up another good team that 2003-04 season that featured four holdovers from 2000. They were good until the Malice at the Palace undid them. Then in the past few years, the Pacers under Frank Vogel has had a solid team (that unraveled the past campaign).

The Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, and Portland Trailblazers have been rebuilding for years now and they are nowhere near competing for a NBA title.

It would be interesting to see where the Cleveland Cavaliers – who will undoubtedly be one of the most followed teams -- go this coming NBA season.

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