Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview

8 10 2008

My NBA Central Division preview begins with the Cleveland Cavaliers:

Cleveland Cavaliers

2007-08 Standings 45 – 37, 4th Eastern Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 52 – 30, 1st Central Division, 2nd Eastern Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace, LeBron James, Wally Szczerbiak, Mo Williams

Sixth Man:  Delonte West

LeBron James is the present and future of the NBA. Will he win the MVP this year?

LeBron James is the present and future of the NBA. Will he win the MVP this year?

The Cleveland Cavaliers must be anxiety proof. How else can they deal with the ongoing expectation that superstar LeBron James is going to bolt Cleveland for the New Jersey Nets in 2010? The best thing they can do is get on with playing the game and surrounding LeBron with classy players.

The Cavs attempted to do just that this past offseason by acquiring Maurice Williams from the Milwaukee Bucks. Williams is an upgrade at the point guard position and gives the Cavs another legitimate scorer. However he has missed 54 games in the past 3 seasons and that kind of absence will hurt the Cavs. Luckily in Delonte West they have a more than adequate backup and it wouldn’t surprise to see West and Williams sharing time in the backcourt.

Ultimately this team is all about LeBron. King James is the best player in the NBA with the potential to be the greatest of all time. He is unstoppable on offence, big and strong and he is coming off the high of an Olympic Gold Medal. His defence has improved each season and if he can continue developing his outside shot he will win the MVP trophy for the first time.

Upfront the Cav’s are seemingly well served. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a giant handful for most teams, bigger than most players with a reliable midrange jumper while off the bench Anderson Varejao is a bustling and bruising forward/centre. The starting power forward is the ghost of Ben Wallace. Once upon a time Wallace was the best post defender in the NBA. Those days are long gone. He is capable of a big game every two weeks but any more than that is a stretch.

With the addition of Williams the Cavs will be better this season and if LeBron can continue to develop his game the Cavs should finish second in the East. However there is a feeling that LeBron still doesn’t have a true sidekick like Michael Jordan had with Scottie Pippen. To start the season they have Wally Szczerbiak plugged in at starting shooting guard but it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Wally and his expiring contract moved for another player.

Coach:

Mike Brown is the Cleveland Cavalier coach and for the most part he has done an admirable job. The Cavaliers are an above average defensive team and have advanced well into the playoffs the past two years. However there is a suggestion that Brown needs to be more creative in maximising LeBron’s talents. 

Bench:

The Cavs have a very solid bench. They have energy players such as Varejao and Aleksander Pavlovic as well as solid Delonte West. Daniel Gibson provides some sharp shooting off the pine as well. They will also be hoping that draft pick JJ Hickson develops into a solid player. The Cavs starting front court (LeBron aside) is positively geriatric and they will need Hickson sooner rather than later.

Star Player:

Kobe Bryant might, might, be a bigger star than LeBron James but it’s only by a sliver. LeBron is the present and the future of not only the Cavs but also the NBA. He will win an MVP trophy sooner rather than later but whether he wins an NBA title in Cleveland or New Jersey remains a big question. The best the Cavs can do is convince LeBron he has a legitimate chance to win in Cleveland.

Team MVP:

We all know about the sustained brilliance of LeBron James but how Maurice Williams develops as his primary sidekick will dictate how far the Cavs go.

Final Prognosis:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are blessed with the best player in the game. If LeBron stays healthy they should finish second in the East and have a legitimate shot at challenging the Celtics and whoever comes out of the West but if the unthinkable happens and LeBron gets injured they will seriously struggle. Will 2008/09 mark the beginning of King James reign?

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.

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3 responses

8 10 2008
Jacob Rosen

Second might be a push.. I am from the Cleveland area, but I firmly believe that until we do something with Wally Szczerbiak and his contract we will not be second in the East. Boston is certainly the best, Orlando certainly looked great during the regular season last year, and Detroit did not lose any of their key players like had been rumored this summer. After those three, who were all ahead of Cleveland last season, Philadelphia with Elton Brand and all of their booming stars could take a giant leap forward in the conference. The Cavaliers look pretty good with Mo Williams, but their lack of a dominating post presence on offense could seriously hurt them down the road.

8 10 2008
Rob

Second place in the East is based on more of a sense how the rest of the conference is going to pan out. When i sat down and figured out how i thought each team would go, Philadelphia and Cleveland were the two teams most likely to improve. I expect LeBron to be on an absolute mission this year and that should be worthy of a 7 win jump.

I think the 76ers will crack 50 wins but in many ways they are still really young and will stutter at some point.

I think Orlando have hit their peak and Howard is showing some worrying signs of not developing in the right areas.

Detroit was the hardest team to project but while i pick them to still cross 50 wins they’re due for a drop. They looked blase and due for a makeover last year.

I agree that the Cavs need to ship Wally though.

9 10 2008
Dave

I regard the Cavs as a poor regular season team (by contender’s status), but an extremely dangerous playoff team. I think they’ll be doing well to hit 50 wins, but they’re much much better than their regular season record will indicate. I think they’ll be anywhere from 4-6th in the East during the regular season … after Boston they could very well have the next best chance of winning the East.

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