Originally written on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 3/2/13
It’s now officially been 39 days since Chris Grant’s latest act of wizardry, rounding out an actually complete bench for the Cleveland Cavaliers thanks to the help of the Memphis Grizzlies. Over these 39 days, the narrative has changed drastically for the 2012-13 Cavs season: Instead of a distraught and meaningless season ruined by Anderson Varejao’s injury, the youngins are playing their best basketball of the season. Optimism for the future is high and that is because of the significantly improved play of Dion Waiters/Tristan Thompson, the fan-friendly energy and success of the bench guys, and, of course, some occasional heroics from Kyrie Irving. To gain a better understanding of what exactly the team has looked like during this 9-7 record and 16-game stretch, I present to you a table of statistics for the 13 players to log at least 1 minute in a Cavaliers uniform since Jan. 25: Name GP MPG FGA/G efg% RPG APG PPG NetRTG Kyrie Irving 13 34.0 17.5 52.0% 3.8 5.5 22.5 -3.8 Tristan Thompson 16 30.2 10.9 48.6% 9.0 1.6 13.2 -6.2 Dion Waiters 16 28.1 12.0 52.3% 2.3 3.4 15.4 -0.7 Alonzo Gee 16 27.7 6.7 49.5% 2.9 1.3 7.9 -4.5 Tyler Zeller 16 25.9 6.4 47.6% 5.6 1.8 7.8 1.7 Shaun Livingston 16 22.0 5.1 56.1% 2.2 4.1 7.2 4.6 Wayne Ellington 16 21.8 6.9 58.2% 2.4 1.3 9.6 11.9 Marreese Speights 16 21.3 10.0 44.1% 6.1 0.8 12.0 1.9 CJ Miles 14 18.5 8.4 59.3% 2.7 1.2 11.2 8.4 Luke Walton 12 17.8 2.8 45.5% 2.8 4.1 2.8 16.0 Daniel Gibson 4 10.4 2.8 40.9% 0.8 0.5 2.5 19.0 Kevin Jones 4 8.9 3.5 35.7% 2.8 0.3 2.8 18.5 Omri Casspi 3 4.4 1.3 0.0% 0.3 0.0 0.0 -23.2   And here are some quick-hit notes on what I see in that table and elsewhere: – Dion Waiters‘ efficiency has been the story of the stretch. In the 21-year-old rookie’s first 35 games of the season, he only had a 42.6% efficiency field goal percentage. So yeah, that’s a 10-percent jump. Is that enough proof yet? He could be really good. – One of the knocks on Tristan Thompson‘s ceiling was that many doubted whether he could consistently average a double-double. Well, he’s at 14.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per 36 minutes overall since Andy has been out. He’s proving it too. – As I mentioned before, one of the most notable aspects of the Cavs’ improvements when it comes to the noted Four Factors is their significant upgrade in turnover rate. Overall, here’s the A/TO breakdown: 1.33 before the trade (29th in the NBA), 1.85 since the trade (tied for best in the NBA). – This shouldn’t be too surprising considering my stat about his Paul Millsap-esque splits prior to his arrival, but Marresse Speights has a very high usage rate in Cleveland. He only trails Irving with 16.9 FGA per 36 mins. He’s getting all the chances — and performing quite well. – Net Rating, the final statistic in the table above, might be the one that’s not clear. It is the estimated +/- per 100 possessions for each player on the team. Obviously, one can quickly tell the large numbers for the bench — notably Ellington, Miles, Walton and Livingston. Again to clarify, +/- is not a perfect tool at all. It’s not that meaningful. But, just for fun, here are some +/- stats I noted after Tuesday’s game at Chicago: Ellington is a +64 in his last 9 games Walton is a +50 in his last 11 games Miles is a +49 in his last 12 games Livingston is a +43 in his last 14 games [Related: Cool, calm and collected, Luke Walton leads Cavaliers’ crafty reserves]
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