Last Season: 24-58 (Finished 13th in the Eastern Conference)
Key Losses: None
Notable Free Agent Signings: PG Jarret Jack, C Andrew Bynum, and PF Earl Clark
Notable Draft Picks: SF Anthony Bennett
The Cleveland Cavaliers will make the biggest jump in the “W” column this upcoming season. And I expect them to win 39 games, 15 up from the 24 they won last year.
The Cavaliers have had a tremendous off-season, having the number one pick in the draft, as well as signing sixth man of the year candidate Jarret Jack and two-time champion Andrew Bynum. These are excellent pick-ups (something we’ve learned not to expect from the Cleveland front office), and in addition to these signings, the Cavaliers haven’t lost anyone of major significance.
Franchise point guard Kyrie Irving has only improved since being drafted by Cleveland in 2011. Despite struggling with injury problems since his entrance in the league, Irving has put up huge numbers, averaging 22.5 points and 6 assists a game last season. He’s an absolute joy to watch, as many believe he has the best handles in the league right now and is an excellent jump shooter.
If he can remain healthy during the 2013-2014 campaign, he could be in contention for top point guard in the league. With new additions Bynum, Jack, and Bennett, a lot of the defensive pressure will be taken off Irving as he is usually subjected to double teams due to the lack of offensive power on the Cavs this past season.
The arrival of Bynum should be seen as a big plus for the Cavs. Bynum’s salary is only partially guaranteed and the rest is incentive-based. He has to meet certain requirements for him to receive the full $24 million.
Critics have often labelled the seven-footer from Philadelphia as lazy, so he’ll have to disprove those critics and work hard to earn his pay check this year, which is certainly doable. When Bynum was a Laker, it was clear that he was the best centre in the league.
The potential is certainly there and now that Dwight Howard is in the Western Conference, there won’t be much competition for him in the Eastern conference. With a quick point guard and excellent passer in Irving (something he didn’t have on the Lakers), the two could make quite the 1-2 punch this year.
The addition of Jack will also have remarkable upside for the Cavaliers. Jack, a crafty veteran who last played for the Golden State Warriors, is known for his mid-range jumper and excellent vision of the court, as well as his ridiculous moustache.
He will provide vital mentoring for Irving, who is still new to the league, while serving as an excellent back-up at the point guard position, something the Cavs didn’t have last season. He will be the second-oldest Cav (after Anderson Varejao, who is 30) and exhibit a calming presence within the Cleveland locker room.
And let’s not forget Anthony Bennett. This year’s number one pick in the 2013 draft, while surprising, is as versatile as they get. The 6’6 forward out of UNLV can score, rebound, and shoot from beyond the arc (16.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 37.5% three-point shooting- in under 30 minutes a game). While there are concerns about his conditioning, if Bennett can get that under control, he will be able to help the Cavs right away this season.
As it stands now, the projected starting five of the Cleveland Cavaliers is Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, Andrew Bynum, Dion Waiters and Alonzo Gee. Jarret Jack, Anthony Bennett and C.J. Miles will anchor the bench. Watch out for the Cavs this year, Eastern Conference, they are without a doubt the real deal.