Last season: 33-49, 3rd Central Division (10th Eastern Conference), Missed Playoffs
Notable Acquisitions: F LeBron James (free agent, Miami), F Kevin Love (via 3-way trade w/ Minnesota & Philly), G/F Mike Miller (free agent, Memphis), F Shawn Marion (free agent, Dallas), F James Jones (free agent, Miami)
Draft Picks: F Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, 1st overall; traded to Minnesota for Kevin Love), G Joe Harris (Virginia, 33rd overall)
Notable Losses: F Luol Deng (MIA), G/F C.J. Miles (IND), F/C Tyler Zeller (BOS), F Anthony Bennett (MIN), G Jarrett Jack (BKN), C Spencer Hawes (LAC)
Burning Question: How quickly can Cleveland’s new big three gel together?
Kyrie Irving will have to adjust playing second-fiddle to LeBron James and Kevin Love will have to adjust from being the first option to the third option. Also, the Cavaliers will have a lot of pressure this season with great expectations to win a championship.
“I’m coming home.” With that short, bold statement (featured in a beautiful, personal letter), LeBron James instantly redeemed himself in the hearts of all Cleveland sports fans. He’s ready to reclaim his throne as King and make an ultimate fairytale into a reality. But what will it take for his Cavs to succeed on the court in 2015?
Last year the Cavs were quite a disappointment although their initial expectations weren’t that high to begin with. Although Kyrie Irving struggled throughout the season with a dip in scoring production (largely due to shooting a poor percentage), you could tell the reason was he needed more weapons to play with.
First, throwing LeBron James into the mix is going to take the pressure off of anyone, no matter who the player. Kyrie can focus less on creating shots for himself and more on creating shots for others; the true role of a point guard.
Secondly, putting Kevin Love in the fold will enhance the team’s rebounding and three points shooting. So far so good on the offensive front. As long as Cleveland’s players find a way to even out the shot distribution, their offense should be firing on all cylinders.
The wrench in all of this? Defense. Starting with interior defense, the combo of Love and Varejao doesn’t have a track-record of altering shots at the rim. Together they’ll make a terrific rebounding tandem but interior defense will certainly be suspect.
No one is necessarily worried about James’ defense but a common thing with his career is that he can’t do it all. And certainly the defensive side of the ball is a communicative, rotational effort that relies a lot on interior defenders to plug up the holes/mistakes that the perimeter players make.
Irving and Waiters definitely aren’t the first two guards you think of when you’re talking defense so head coach David Blatt will have his work cut out trying to develop a defensive philosophy.
Projected Starting 5:
Emergence to the Spotlight:
After this season, the entire basketball world will really know who Dion Waiters is. The 4th overall pick of the 2012 draft is in an ideal position for a 3rd year guard in the NBA. He spent the last two seasons getting acclimated to the NBA and shooting as many shots as he pleased with no real expectations placed upon him.
Now with the arrival of Love and James also comes the arrival of a multitude of nationally televised games. Waiters will be given the opportunity to thrive in his new role; knock down open threes, and create for himself only when he absolutely needs to.
The framework of championship aspirations will reveal whether Waiters is serious about winning or more interested in personal achievement.
F Tristan Thompson- Thompson is the name not often brought up when hearing about the 2014-2015 version of the Cleveland Cavaliers but he is also primed for some solid fantasy numbers. There is an outside chance he starts over Varejao, so stay tuned to that storyline in the coming days.
Like stated before, the addition of LeBron will take away attention away from others, especially in the paint. Look for lots of easy baskets from Thompson, as well a steady diet of rebounds and hustle stats.
Best Case: Championship. Cleveland makes it past the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals and defeats their Western Conference opponent to deliver the first ever championship in Cleveland basketball history.
Worst Case: Conference Finals exit. It’s hard to see this team losing anywhere before the Conference Finals, especially with a whole season to figure out the identity of the team.
However, the Bulls are just as scary (if not scarier) than the Cavs and have the same amount of potential to make it to the Finals as well.
2nd, Central Division (2nd Eastern Conference), Lose in Eastern Conference Finals
“I’m LeBron James from Akron, Ohio. The inner city. I’m not even supposed to be here”- LeBron James