- NBA Rank: 2
Conference Rank: 1
- Cleveland Cavaliers
In the decades to come, I wonder if they will put an asterisk next to the Executive of the Year awards that LeBron James was responsible for. Pat Riley was the happy general manager of a town where LeBron wanted to play in 2010, and this season's likely recipient, David Griffin, was lucky enough to be in charge of LeBron's hometown team.
This year, we can expect the Cav's to pull the old "Boston Switcheroo". They won't improve by 42 games like the '08 Celtics, but 30 isn't out of the question.
There isn't a lot to say about the Cavs that you haven't already read elsewhere. Last year, the Cavs were a struggling team trying desperately to convert a team full of young players into a contender, and were struggling mightily because of some poor draft choices (Waiters, Bennett) and some disappointing progression (Irving). In the offseason, LeBron came back to town, and with him, instant playoff contention, even if the roster needed some more moves for championship contention.
|Jarrett Jack ||2252.0||30||.042||2.0|
|Luol Deng ||1353.0||29||.081||2.3|
|Tyler Zeller ||1049.0||24||.125||2.7|
|Alonzo Gee ||1020.0||27||.061||1.3|
|C.J. Miles ||984.0||27||.112||2.3|
|Spencer Hawes ||804.0||26||.079||1.3|
|Earl Clark ||698.0||26||.001||0|
|Anthony Bennett ||663.0||21||-.126||-1.7|
|Andrew Bynum ||480.0||26||-.008||-.1|
|Henry Sims ||168.0||24||.035||.1|
|Sergey Karasev ||156.0||20||-.109||-.4|
|Carrick Felix ||38.0||23||.046||0|
|Seth Curry ||9.0||23||.365||.1|
|Arinze Onuaku ||5.0||27||-.266||0|
Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.
Irving's performance last year was really disappointing. He didn't make the third-year leap that many hoped he would. Instead, even though his turnovers were down (a great sign), his shooting regressed a bit, especially from beyond the arc, and his overall productivity suffered.
Waiters continued to be awful, Bennett was famously the worst #1 pick rookie of all time (yes, shockingly, he was worse than Bargnani). One of the few bright spots was that Varajao dominated while playing the center position early, but he had trouble staying healthy. Late season trades for Deng and Hawes were too little, too late to bump the team into playoff contention.
|LeBron James ||3.0||2279.4||30||.274||13.0|
|Kevin Love ||4.0||2018.9||26||.259||10.9|
|Shawn Marion ||3.0||1306.2||37||.135||3.7|
|Brendan Haywood ||5.0||1216.3||35||.047||1.2|
|James Jones ||2.0||1160.8||34||.121||2.9|
|Mike Miller ||2.5||916.6||35||.123||2.3|
|Joe Harris ||2.0||675.0||0||.026||.4|
|Chris Crawford ||2.0||507.8||29||.017||.2|
|Alex Kirk ||5.0||436.1||0||.032||.3|
Indicates that the player is new to the team.
What a difference a year makes. LeBron James will make a huge and obvious difference, but his presense also attracted a totally different type of veteran to the team. Shawn Marion, James Jones, and Mike Miller give the team a huge amount of depth on the wing. Kevin Love is in a two-way tie for best power forward in the NBA. LeBron James has a huge number of targets to pass to beyond the arc, even more than when he was in Miami.
The one thing this team will lack is rim protection, but it has the ability to make up for it with smart wing defense. Furthermore, between Love, James, Marion, Thompson and Varajao, they are likely to be far and away the best defensive rebounding team in the league, so opposing offenses will need to shoot very efficiently to do damage. Even at shooting guard they have a fantastic defensive rebounder in Mike Miller.
Dion Waiters is also a factor. In most franchises, one would expect a guy taken with the 4th overall pick to keep getting minutes, regardless of whether he's earned them; management will try desperately to recoup that sunk cost. On this team, I don't think that will be a factor. The coach isn't going to have to fight any political battles with the GM as long as LeBron James is on his side, so if Dion Waiters continues to stink, I would not be surprised to see him land at the end of the bench.
We're conservative with a projection of 55 wins for this team, but that is mostly based on the idea that LeBron won't want to go 3000 minutes again. The thinking here is that David Blatt will want to take advantage of his very deep roster for the regular season. If, instead, we see LeBron and Love flirting with 2800+ minutes, 60 wins is far more realistic.