The worst thing that can happen to this Cavs team is for them to win more games than we think they will this season because guys like Antawn Jamison, Baron Davis, and Anthony Parker play like All Stars. Think about that for a minute, and then credit Bill Nagel for coming up with that line because he told it to me on the phone a couple nights ago. He's right too.
Progress is good, wins are welcomed, but for this rebuild to take shape effectively the Cavaliers need that step forward to be driven by the young players this organization is now looking to build around. Guys like Baron Davis and Antawn Jamison can help in that process immensely by passing along the experience and wisdom they've gathered in about twenty-five years worth of combined seasons in the Association. Careers that started similarly to those of Tristan Thompson's and Kyrie Irving's.
Like Tristan, Antawn Jamison was a PF picked 4th overall way back in 1998. As a PG out of UCLA, Baron Davis was picked just two spots behind where Irving went this summer, going 3rd to Charlotte back in '99. But for those veteran's worth as Cavaliers to be truly realized this season, those guys do have to want to be leaders. They have to want to be teachers. They need to be willing to sacrifice shots and minutes, and truly embrace that type of role.
If they do, there could be a very impactful learning structure shaping up down at Cleveland Clinics courts this season. Antawn Jamison down at one end of the floor offering knowledge and support to young bigs Tristan Thompson, Samardo Samuels, and even Omri Casspi. Then at the other end Baron is in the ear of a young Kyrie Irving, helping him grow into the NBA superstar most hope he can be.
It all sounds terrific, but how much of this can actually be expected in the real life of NBA basketball and business?
Baron Davis I'm not too worried about. We've seen that Davis is specifically interested in assisting that youth movement. He demonstrated that last season, and it is reasonable to believe that he'd put ego aside and reach out to guys like Kyrie, and even Ramon Sesssions or Daniel Gibson for that matter, and help them develop.
But we've never really seen Antawn Jamison do things like that since he's been here. At least I've never noticed it.
He says he's interested in doing so this year however, while also admitting that the he didn't totally do so last season after JJ Hickson took his starting spot.
This from a conversation with Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer:
"I look at it as, 'If I didn't go anywhere last year, I'm not going anywhere this year,'" Jamison said. "My value now is even greater than it was last year with Tristan and Samardo [Samuels] being here. These guys can learn a lot from me."
Jamison led the Cavaliers in scoring last season, averaging 18 points and 6.7 rebounds, but lost his starting spot to J.J. Hickson. The 13-year-veteran said he regrets grumbling about the demotion and believes the humbling experience hardened him mentally.
"Last year was a tough time," he said. "The coaching staff and me have a better understanding. I was disappointed with myself how I handled the beginning of the season. I love the organization."
Jamison is likely to start, but will be pushed for playing time by the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Thompson. He welcomes the chance to mentor the fourth overall draft pick. "Working out with Tristan today, I was telling him certain things that I saw," Jamison said. "I think it benefits those guys knowing Coach Scott's system.
"The young fella is good. He's going to be tough. I like what he brings to the table. You know me, I'm not going down without a fight, but I will help out when I'm in there."
I really hope he does help out when he's here. It's increasingly difficult to argue what actual value he brings to this team moving forward if he doesn't. If he leaves having made those young bigs at least a little better, the Cavaliers future will look back and appreciate what Antawn Jamison was able to do while he was here. If not, he'll just be remembered as that missing piece that didn't end up fitting.