Author: Brian (aka The Cavalier)
Last Year’s Record: 50-32
Key Losses: Flip Murray? Does that count? How about the remainder of the light blue seats in the Q?
Key Additions: Shannon Brown (R), David Wesley, Scot Pollard, Larry Hughes’s finger
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
The Cavaliers kept things to a minimum in terms of player movement, which is fine. With all of the coaching changes and rotating cast members over the first three season’s of LeBron’s career, some continuity will do wonders, especially considering the experience gained in last season’s playoffs.
That said, David Wesley and Scot Pollard are nice 10-12 minute guys for this team, who should add some positive locker room crap the smart people talk about so much.
My biggest personal hope is that between rookies Shannon Brown and Daniel Gibson, the Cavaliers have solved the PG issue at last. Brown is a big, strong, athletic 2-guard who can handle the ball and D up opposing point guards. Gibson is more of a traditional point, but skinnier and not as skilled. With Eric Snow and Wesley playing tutor, hopefully these guys are playing significant minutes by years end. (More likely Brown than Gibson.)
I’ve long said this Cavaliers edition, with the passing of LeBron and Hughes, doesn’t need a traditional point. Based on his comments so far this preseason, it sounds like coach Mike Brown has decided to listen to me at last.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
LeBron James, owner Dan Gilbert, the writing skill and support found at YAYsports! NBA, and some nice depth inside.
LeBron (a year older and wiser, no less) speaks for himself. Gilbert is pouring money and infectious enthusiasm into every area of the franchise, top to bottom. My site is quite simply awesome and ignorant all in one, and will be even moreso in a post Who Shot Mamba? world. Z, Gooden, Varejao, and a slimmed down and inspired Donyell Marshall make for a nice front line.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
Offensive movement and consistent effort.
Our offense went into stagnant mode so often last year, it was often painful to watch. I swear if they ran a high school motion offense last year, they would’ve won 5 more games. The fact that this team won 50 games is a miracle to anyone who watched every one of their games last season. It’s a testament to how good LeBron really is. Additional movement with and especially without the ball will work miracles here – cut to the hole and LeBron will find you.
As to the effort, it starts with LeBron, and you could see his growth and understanding increase game by game against Detroit and Washington in the postseason. He finally “got it” in terms of playing every minute on both ends, and the team followed him. I expect it carries over.
We could also use better outside shooting, but I think Marshall and Damon Jones will come around this year, provided the offensive movement this is addressed. It’s no coincidence they both had bad years last year after being two of the top 3-point shooters in the NBA the previous year. They simply weren’t getting open looks.
4. What are the goals for this team?
I don’t want to get ahead of myself and to the playoffs, but anything less than a great showing in the East Finals will be a disappointment.
I expect them to get the #1 seed, but not necessarily be favored in the playoffs. I think LeBron will feel he has something to prove about “what he’s learned” and also have an eye on an MVP award. That’ll translate into a lot of regular season wins, while Detroit adjusts to their Nazr in the middle and Miami coast through the regular season. Chicago is a 41-41 team that added something they didn’t need – more defense. (NJ is merely okay btw – don’t be fooled.)
I think all four teams (CLE, CHI, DET, MIA) will be there with a shot at going to the Finals, but as far as the regular season goes, things are lined up nicely for Cleveland to get the most wins in the Conference.
Predicted Record: 58-24
League Awards: LeBron James, MVP
Best Feature Film Based on an NBA Blog: Who Shot Mamba?