With seven days left until our Cavaliers officially tip-off the 2010-11 season, the team is sitting at 5-2 through the first seven games of the preseason. With Anderson Varejao and Mo Williams are back on the floor after sitting out most of camp with nagging injuries and/or personal issues, the Wine & Gold are getting more and more familiar with the run-and-gun system brought to the city by Coach Byron Scott.
Through seven meaningless preseason games, the Cavaliers have five guys averaging eight points or more – not including Varejao and Williams. Similar to the Contender v. Pretender analysis they do on ESPN, I want to spend the next five days exploring which of these five players I am buying as legitimate options on this team and which guys I’m not quite sold on.
If nothing else, it’ll be a nice way to pass the time as we all get antsy for the season tip-off on October 27.
Ryan Hollins – (22.5 mpg, 8.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg)
When Ryan Hollins was acquired from the T’Wolves back in July, he was brought in with the understanding that he was going to come off the bench to provide length and athleticism to a thin front court. In his first five appearances with the team, however, Hollins was moved into the starting rotation as Anderson Varejao recovered from an ailing ankle injury and other personal issues.
Hollins embraced the opportunity to start with his new team and his seven feet, 230-pound frame established himself as a steady role player and a force under the basket for the Cavaliers. He has played exceptionally well on the offense end, having his best performances in the past two games against the Russians and then the 76ers on Monday evening.
His 17-point performance against the Russians on October 16 was particularly impressive as he canned all seven of his free throw attempts and finished on five of eight attempts around the basket. The Cavs’ October 7 loss to the Washington Wizards served as a notable performance from Hollins as well; his fourteen rebounds – four of which were offensive boards – to go along with a steal and two blocked shots revealed the true identity of the Ryan Hollins I believe we are going to see this season.
Throughout the first four years of his young career, Hollins has been somewhat of a journeyman. Passed up by Charlotte, Dallas and Minnesota in the previous four seasons, Hollins may have found himself a home in Cleveland, Ohio. Coach Scott has a knack for helping young professionals reach their full potential and the Cavaliers are in need of a young, long, athletic presence to fill the void at center. (I think Varejao is better suited as a power forward).
Before season’s end, I’m expecting Hollins to claim a starting spot on Scott’s roster and push Varejao back to bench to fill the role of sixth man, a role Varejao excelled in last season. I’m buying him as a real asset to the franchise for not only this season, but for many seasons to come. I can see him as a legitimate 8 point-8 rebound per night guy this season.