Here is a quick list of recent events out of Cleveland in recent months:
. Lose in the Finals to Golden State 4-1
. Let your GM walk because of money disputes (right when he was close to pulling off a deal to acquire Paul George AND Jimmy Butler)
. Star guard Kyrie Irving demands a trade.
. Back -up defensive oriented guard Iman Shumpert demands a trade (Still on team however)
. Your best offseason acquisitions before the end of free agency was Jeff Green and Derrick Rose
. You trade Kyrie for an injured Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and the potential first overall pick next year
. Dwayne Wade is in negotiations on joining the team.
. LeBron James still has not committed long term
WHAT A SUMMER!!!!
A lot is riding on this season for the Cavs. Not only is this possibly the last year LeBron could suit up in their new Nike uniforms, but other teams in the association have gotten increasingly better, making the road to another championship that much tougher.
When Kyrie was traded to Boston, Cleveland lost one of the greatest finishers in NBA history. His ability to close the game with big shots alongside the greatness of LeBron late in the game gave Cleveland a lethal one\two punch at the end of games. While Thomas is a solid replacement after his record setting year last season, he will be sidelined until Christmas at the earliest due to a hip injury (suffered last year against the Cavs in the Conference Finals.) Derrick Rose could steady the ship until Thomas returns, but this leads to a major problem Cleveland will face this year, Defense!
While defense was their Achilles heel last year, it might be worse in the backcourt this year. Rose is nowhere close to a stopper. Thomas was ranked dead last in the ENTIRE NBA in defensive efficiency. And if (when) Cleveland gets Dwyane Wade, he is not considered a defensive threat either. So as it stands now, J.R. Smith and Shumpert might be their best defenders in the backcourt, and neither are created a shot for you. With guards like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and now Kyrie Irving coming to town on any given night, this will be a major problem for Cleveland (along with age and injury risks of course.)
But LeBron James is the ultimate steer on a other wise shaky boat. Being the best player on the planet, LeBron will be motivated more than ever to possibly finish his tenured in Cleveland with another Championship (his fourth and teams second.) One move that will do wonders for the Cavs is acquiring Jae Crowder. Going against Kevin Durant in the Finals was taxing on LeBron on both ends of the floor. With Crowder their, he could help with some of the defensive problems the Cavs face outside of LeBron.
Cleveland is deeper than any team in the NBA. With former MVP’s, Finals MVP’s, and several line-up options at Cleveland’s disposal, the team has more than enough to make their fourth consecutive trip to the finals. Expect the team to coast through the entire regular season, testing new line-ups and seeing what works and what does not. But come the playoffs, this team will be (hopefully) firing on all cylinders. But will it be enough to dethrone the Warriors and their Big 4 (who also got better this offseason), We will have to wait and see.
Regular Season Predictions: 52-30