Cleveland Cavaliers: A new era
The Q was a magical place when LeBron was there. Every night, the fans would know that they were going to witness something special, something unique because LeBron was playing. In LeBron James they trusted. For 7 seasons, night after night, they rejoiced because they knew James would lead them to that elusive championship title in the end. For 7 seasons they hoped until one day, James decided he had had enough and decided to take his talents to the South Beach, where he joined Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in a title bid.
After James left, the Cavs crumbled. They set numerous “worst ever” records not just in the NBA, but in American Professional Sports history. They played one crappy game after another. The stands slowly emptied out and the fans were dejected.
In 2010-11, the Cavs had the second worst record in the league. Aided by the first round pick they received through their Mo Williams trade, the Cavaliers drafted the 1st pick of the 2011 draft class, Kyrie Irving. And a new era was born.
Irving is a legit superstar, one who has all the potential in the world to develop into the next Chris Paul type Point Guard. But what he was missing last season was a good back-up crew. One young superstar isn’t enough to lead a whole franchise into the playoffs, especially when he was in his first two years.
This season, however, the Cavaliers have assembled a team with Irving at it’s focal point. Is this revamped team going to usher in a new era at The Q?
They have a talented roster led by the inside out duo of Kyrie Irving and Andrew Bynum. They signed Jarrett Jack who is a veteran and brings in some much needed experience to this team.
They found the ideal man to complement Irving in Dion Waiters. Waiters sported decent numbers for a rookie: 14.7 PPG, 3 APG, 2.4 RPG and 1 SPG. While he’s no Irving, he did show flashes (more like streaks) of brilliance last season. He carried the offence when Irving was injured. He has speed, a good vertical, solid shooting skills and is pretty dangerous when he drives to the rim. He reminds me of a young J.R. Smith.
Bynum showed us how much he has developed during his last season at Los Angeles. With a good point guard who understands his game, Bynum will be a key cog in any team’s roster. He’s backed by Anderson Varejao, a vastly underrated power forward, and Anthony Bennett, a talented youngster. When healthy, they form one of the league’s most physical frontcourts.
The Cavs leaked points last season. It was a free-for-all for the opposing team every time they faced Cleveland. This season, their acquisition of Bynum will go a long way in tightening up their paint.
Bynum is one of the top 3 shot-blockers in the league, when healthy. And he is healthy now. Although he’s coming back from injury, there’s a strong possibility he’ll want to get into the groove as soon as possible, having missed a year. His low post defensive skills will come in handy as the Cavs are sorely lacking in that aspect.
Anderson Varejao is a good defensive presence too. Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson, while no great shakes at defence, will provide ample support to Bynum and Varejao.
Once again, it all comes down to fitness. If Bynum stays healthy, the Cavs have a solid, albeit not airtight, defence.
Competition in the Conference
The Cavaliers have had a successful offseason. They have plugged the holes in their ship, deepened their bench with their acquisitions of C.J. Miles and Jarrett Jack. On paper, they are a solid team and will perform better than last season, no doubt.
But as we very well know, to make it to the playoffs, it’s not their performance alone that matters. The competition matters too. In the East, there are five teams which will perform better than the Cavaliers: Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. This means that the Cavaliers will fighting for the last 3 seeds if they want to make it to the post season.
They will be battling Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors. While the Cavaliers are better than the Pistons and Raptors, again on paper, they’re on an even keel when compared to the Wizards.
So this means that they will be facing some competition,although it won’t be that tough, if they want to make it to the playoffs.
So far, the Cavs look solid. They have a well balanced team, they have a good coach in Mike Brown and it’s about time that they got back into the playoffs.
However, for that to happen, they need to be completely healthy (something which we know is just not possible) and they need to take a huge leap in terms of wins in a season.
The Cavaliers won 24 games last season. They need to win 17 more games, just to make it to the .500 mark. That’s a huge leap. Even if they do achieve the .500 mark, they’ll be cutting it a little too close for comfort.
In my opinion, the Cavaliers will make it to the playoffs this season, but don’t expect them to make a deep playoff run. But irrespective of whether they make a deep playoff run or not, one thing remains clear. The Cavaliers have completed their rebuilding process and have come out a stronger team. And they have something which they haven’t had since LeBron left them: HOPE.