UA-59049186-1 NBA Team Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers - Good if it Goes

NBA Team Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers

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Offseason

Draft Picks: 24. PG. Kay Felder

Key Acquisitions: SG. Mike Dunleavy, C. Chris Anderson

Key Losses: SG. J.R. Smith (could be resigned), C. Timothy Mozgov, PG. Matthew Dellavedova

Player Profiles

Projected Lineup

PG. Kyrie Irving: 6’3, 193

  • Budding offensive superstar that is just starting to scratch the surface of what he can become.
  • Not a true PG: Has average at best vision combined with tunnel vision and very suspect shot selection that can cause the offense to break down and come to a complete halt when he isn’t on.
  • Inconsistent defender: Has a reputation for being a poor defender and there is evidence to support that but he has also shown ability to defend well when he actually decides to try.

SG. J.R. Smith : 6’6, 225

  • Scoring wing that loves to launch 3s.
  • Offensively he’s capable of doing more but has spent his career chucking 3s at a high rate. He’s a good shooter and has games where he can just get red hot. He has a shaky handle and questionable shot selection.
  • Improved defender who simply gives more effort than he used to. He’s still a minus defender but he’s proven he can turn it up in certain moments and isn’t nearly the liability he once was.

SF. Lebron James: 6’9, 250

  • Once in a lifetime, living legend that is every position rolled into 1.
  • All-around offensive player that shows elite scoring and passing ability.
  • Elite defender capable of guarding all 5 positions on the court.

PF. Kevin Love: 6’10, 251

  • Big body stretch 4 that also has some ability to go bang down low and dominate the glass.
  • Defensive liability: too slow and laterally challenged to defend on the perimeter, lacks the length to protect the rim and lacks the toughness to defend on the block.
  • Has been miscast as a primary spot up shooter which has dragged down his shooting %. Capable of scoring in the post and is very good scoring as a face-up player.

C. Tristan Thompson: 6’10, 238

  • Glass-cleaning specialist that can change games with his work on the offensive boards alone.
  • Limited overall offensively, but very effective in his role. Sets good screens, crashes the boards, finishes around the basket.
  • Very good defender that put on a clinic in the finals for how the modern NBA big can impact a game defensively on the perimeter.

Bench

SG. Mike Dunleavy: 6’9, 220

  • Huge veteran wing that lacks athleticism but makes up for it with his high basketball IQ.
  • Offensively he’s become a guy that either shoots 3s or at the rim. He has very little in between game but he’s good at what he does which is being an off the ball 3 point shooter.
  • Below average defender that does have size to fall back on but the athletic ability just isn’t there to make much of a difference on that end.

PG. Mo Williams: 6’1, 198

  • Scoring combo guard that can come off the bench and provide an offensive spark.
  • Offensively at his best in the mid-range area. He’s been one of the best mid-range shooters in the NBA for years now and has a good enough handle to get space to get it off. He’s also a good 3 point shooter as well.
  • Poor defender that doesn’t move well laterally and doesn’t have great size or length.

PF. Channing Frye: 6’11, 255

  • Stretch big man that can really shoot it from all over the court.
  • Offensively he’s a very good shooter from 3 and mid-range. He doesn’t take a lot of shots around the basket but he makes a good percentage of the ones he does take.
  •  Below average defender that isn’t physical or very mobile.

SG. Iman Shumpert: 6’5, 220

  • Very good defensive player that is struggling offensively.
  • Offensively he’s always been a inconsistent shooter, but man last year was pretty bad as he shot under 30% from 3 for the 1st time in his career. He’s a decent finisher and shot well on long 2s but overall he was a liability on offense at times.
  • Tough pesky on-ball defender that can get into people and make life very tough.

SF. Richard Jefferson: 6’7, 233

  • Older combo forward at the end of his career who can still contribute in small spurts.
  • Offensively he’s strictly a spot up player at this point who can still attack close outs with his veteran savvy.
  • Just too old to be an effective defender on a consistent basis anymore but he will at least be focused and be where he’s supposed to be on defense.

C. Chris Anderson: 6’10, 245

  • Older big man that is still pretty spry for his age.
  • Offensively he contributes as a dive man and rim runner who can finish and still get up a little. He’s also a good offensive rebounder.
  • Above average defender who can move. He’s not the shot blocker he used to be but overall he’s still hanging on as a plus defender.

PG. Toney Douglas: 6’2, 195

  • Offensive minded combo guard that likes to launch jumpers.
  • Offensively he’s a jump shooter off the dribble that likes to shoot 3s and long 2s. Can’t really get to the rim much and isn’t a great playmaker but he’s a capable passer at times.
  • Career minus defender that doesn’t have the athletic ability to succeed as a combo guard defensively.

PG. Kay Felder: 5’10, 177

  • Rookie undersized PG with elite athleticism.
  • Was a big time scorer in college with nice ball handling ability and the athletic ability to help overcome his size limitations. He’s also more than just a scorer as he was also a very good distributor at the college level flashing the potential to be an all-around player.
  •   Played good defensively in college but it will be much more difficult at the NBA level at his size.

SF. James Jones: 6’8, 218

  • Older wing that does nothing but shoot spot up 3s at this point in his career.
  • On offense he’s used exclusively to help space the floor by just standing on the 3 point line and waiting for defenders to help off him so that he can launch 3s.
  • Too old and slow to defend on the NBA wing.

 

Breakdown

The Cavs starting 5 is back intact after the team reached a last minute 4 year deal with J.R. Smith who will join PG Kyrie Irving in the backcourt as the starting SG. He provides good 3 point shooting and the ability to get crazy hot in a flash to the offense. Irving spent most of the regular season last year trying regain form after recovering from injury. This season he’s fully healthy and we should see him play much better this season from the start after a slow start last year. If he plays like he did against the Warriors all year I don’t know how opposing teams can deal with the Cavs. The frontcourt is led by the game’s best player Lebron James who at this point in his career has solidified himself as the greatest SF in NBA history. The question for him will be how much longer can he play at this high of a level? We know he’s going to slow it down and sort of pace himself during the regular season so there’s really no longer a reason to judge him during that time of the year. Kevin Love is back as the starting PF after many pundits speculated he’d be traded during the offseason. That was until the Cavs actually pulled off the upset over the Warriors. Love is still a good fit as a stretch 4 for this team helping open things up for LeBron and the rest of his teammates and bringing solid rebounding to the table. Tristan Thompson is the starting center and really proved he was worth every penny of the contract he got during the NBA finals where his defense away from the rim was simply fantastic. They don’t need him to score a bunch of points just continue to dominate the offensive glass and defend at a high level.

The Cavs quietly have a very deep bench that got even deeper when they resigned J.R. Smith. That means that Shumpert can come off the bench where he’s much better suited to play. Last season he was such a significant downgrade from Smith on the offensive end. We know the value he brings on defense but he has the talent to play a lot better on offense and with Mike Dunleavy now in town he better start or his minutes are going to be very low. If Shump can just start hitting close to 35% of his 3s again he’s actually of more value in crunch moments than Smith is.  As I stated the team went out and got Dunleavy who is yet another valuable shooter for them. Mo Williams will be the back up PG and is capable of coming in and really providing a scoring punch with the 2nd unit. Channing Frye is 1 of the best stretch bigs in the game and now they have Chris Anderson to pair with him to help protect the rim some and bring athleticism to the front line. Richard Jefferson and James Jones are veteran SFs still hanging around that really shoot open 3s and help space the floor. And then there’s Toney Douglas who’s a veteran combo guard that can score and Kay Felder is a rookie who has been really impressive.

Expectations

My expectations for the Cavs is for them to breeze through the regular season. Whether or not they’re the 1 seed will ultimately depend on how hard this team wants to play in the regular season. I think they ultimately will be the number 1 seed in the East because I think Kyrie will play like he did in the playoffs all during the regular season which will take pressure off of Lebron James. I also expect Kevin Love to have more impact and get more touches during the regular season in an effort to keep him happy. I expect Shumpert to play better on offense and I expect their bench to be good. And whether they’re the 1 seed or not all I know is once the playoffs start LeBron is going to turn into Super Bron again and dominate the entire Eastern Conference. But the big question with this team is whether or not they can beat the Warriors 4 times out of 7 and I just don’t think they can, but boy do I hope I’m wrong.

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