A look into the Cleveland Cavaliers' offseason moves, and how their season may unfold.
Cavaliers fans haven’t been this excited for a young player since that guy who took his talents to South Beach played for them.
Kyrie Irving had a lot of question marks after such a short body of work in college, but the Cavaliers believed this was their guy and made him the top pick in 2011.
His shooting form and ball handling improved remarkably as the season went on, but he essentially finished the season on a down note due to a nagging shoulder injury.
Irving joined a few young NBA up and comers on the US select team, which can only help his game as he looks to build on a very solid rookie campaign and the team is ecstatic they have a new franchise player to support.
The Cavaliers heart and soul is undoubtedly Sideshow Bob Varejao, who’s down and dirty work saw him well on his way to a career year before he too was smacked with the injury flyswat, posting career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals and free throw percentage.
Crazy to think this guy’s about to enter his ninth season already, and he’s only started about a quarter of his 444 career games.
After the first two players mentioned, it begins to get murky.
Amongst the high draft picks such as Tristan Thompson last year and Dion Waiters this year, are essentially other team’s spare and unwanted parts: Kelenna Azubuike, Samardo Samuels, Jon Leuer, Alonzo Gee, Omri Casspi, CJ Miles and Donald Sloan.
Hardly a bunch many casual NBA fans can pick out of a police lineup, let alone gauge their talent and abilities.
There’s the odd veteran floating around who could serve as a mentor such as Luke Walton and Daniel Gibson, but basically this is a one horse town, and that horse goes by the name of Kyrie.
Of the aforementioned players, I expect newly re-signed Alonzo Gee to perform the best, repeating his efforts last year as an energetic slasher who can draw fouls and convert once he gets to the line.
CJ Miles may get a look in either at starting shooting guard or small forward, as he’s always tempted coaches with his shooting touch and length on defence, but it’s always the same inconsistencies that ultimately doom his chances for a full time starting gig.
Make no mistake though, whoever starts at shooting guard on opening day is merely keeping the seat warm for Waiters.
His draft comparisons have ranged from Dwyane Wade (ouch, try and live up to that hype) to Tyreke Evans and Rodney Stuckey, all the way down to Smush Parker (again, ouch – but for different reasons).
I personally think he is closer to Stuckey than he is Wade or Evans, but he also reminds me of another Dion: former NBA guard Dion Glover who was another physical, athletic guard built like a tank, but one who had a short and lacklustre career.
Tristan Thompson was also a great find in last year’s draft, while many thought the Cavs reached in selecting him at #4, he proved his worth filling in for the injured Varejao, starting 25 games at center and putting up 10.4 points 7.5 rebounds and almost a block per game.
Not bad for a player they said was undersized for a power forward, let alone a center! He’ll benefit the most from Varejao’s return, as he won’t have to battle foul trouble against much bigger players, and he’ll be able to utilise his speed advantage versus opposing 4s.
Byron Scott takes the coach’s chair for his third year in the hotseat, and he will have a long leash with the youngsters.
After all, if he didn’t get fired during that 26 game losing streak the year before last, I think he’ll basically have to murder someone on the court to get the sack.
Scott did wonders for Chris Paul’s game during his Hornets days, let’s hope he can do the same for Irving as the Cavs look to rebuild again and improve for another season.
Projected record: 30-52, 4th Central Division.
Photo Credit: Chris Chambers/Getty Images North America
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