2016/17 Season Recap: 51-31, the second seed in the Eastern Conference, lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals within five games.
Key Offseason Losses: Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, Derrick Williams, James Jones, Dahntay Jones
Projected Starting Lineup: PG Derrick Rose (until Isaiah Thomas returns), SG Dwyane Wade, SF Jae Crowder, PF LeBron James, C Kevin Love
2017/18 Season Outlook: The Cleveland Cavaliers have undergone many changes since last year’s Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors. Cleveland took the opposite approach from their rivals by adding depth rather than an additional superstar. The Cavaliers’ improved depth should spark a willingness to win it all this season. Following this year, Cleveland has the Brooklyn Nets’ draft pick to look forward to in the long-term.
Without Kyrie Irving, this Cleveland team looks very different. Their second option is now a little weaker, but the majority of their problems have now been solved. Their lack of an adequate backup point guard was probably their biggest issue last season, but they hope to have resolved it with the additions of both Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon. Calderon can run the offense, space the floor, and pass the ball, whereas Rose can put up points off the dribble very well, both things that were necessities for this team. Cleveland was also often scrutinized for inconsistent bench productivity; this year that shouldn’t be a concern.
Crispy ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/9TUcuDo2q1
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) September 29, 2017
The Cavaliers revamped their entire bench unit this offseason and it has the potential to be the best in the league. As previously stated they have two new point guards that are a huge improvement over the prior year. The shooting guard position is absolutely loaded as well with Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert, J.R Smith, as well as Dwyane Wade. It seems as though J.R. will be the one coming off the bench, but Cleveland has yet to officially make a statement regarding the starting role.
LeBron James is now entering his 15th season in the NBA. Although he is still the best player in the league, there have been questions as to how much longer he can remain “The King”. If LeBron can play around 30 minutes a game and consistently win, we could be in for multiple years of his dominance. With less wear and tear on his body and having to worry even less about the regular season, LeBron will be ready for another Finals appearance not only this year but a few more to come.
Report: Kevin Love may start at center, due to Jae Crowder’s ability to play power forward.
— Leading Sports Media (@LeadingSports_) September 30, 2017
The Cleveland Cavaliers should not have a problem this regular season based solely on the fact that they are in the Eastern Conference. With that being said, when matching up with some of the better teams, their biggest issue is still rim protection. Management has stated that they would like to start Kevin Love at center and as that gives them more spacing on offense, it also shatters their interior defense. Cleveland will subsequently have Tristan Thompson as a part of their bench now as a viable option whenever they need him.
Projected Strengths: Ball movement, ball penetration, transition offense.
Projected Weaknesses: Three-point shooting, defense.
Projected Win Total: 58.