2015-16 NBA Record: 57-25
Additions: Mike Dunleavy Jr (traded from Chicago Bulls), Chris Andersen (Memphis Grizzlies), Kay Felder (draft)
Subtractions: Matthew Dellavedova (traded to Milwaukee Bucks), Timofey Mozgov (Los Angeles Lakers)
Projected Starting Line-up:
PG – Kyrie Irving
SG – JR Smith
SF – LeBron James
PF – Kevin Love
C – Tristan Thompson
The Cavs ended Cleveland’s 52 year championship drought in spectacular fashion, coming back from 3-1 down to defeat the Golden State Warriors in 7 games. This year, most of their squad are back, but their rivals won the offseason by signing Kevin Durant. Cleveland will be hoping they can take down the Warriors if the two meet again in the Finals. Although teams like the Celtics and Raptors are growing, it’s tough to see anyone compete with the Cavs in the Eastern Conference, especially if everyone stays healthy.
Lebron James reclaimed his crown last season in one of the best individual performances of the NBA Finals. He averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.3 blocks while shooting 49.4% from the field and 37.1% from three. He led all players in the Finals in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks – the first player in NBA history to do so. He can score at will, has great court vision and basketball IQ and can be a defensive monster as shown in last year’s playoffs. He’s still the best player on the planet and will be looking to continue his dominance despite hitting into his 30s. Kyrie Irving also had an excellent Finals performance, averaging 27.1 points, 3.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals while shooting 46.8% from the field, 40.5% from three and 93.9% from the charity stripe, outperforming unanimous MVP Stephen Curry in the process. Kyrie is one of the best in the clutch and none was more evident than in Game 7, when he hit the crucial three over Curry in the final minute. What’s amazing is that he’s still only 24 years old, so his best basketball is still ahead of him. Kevin Love will have to be huge if Cleveland are gonna compete with Golden State, but we know that he’s one of the best offensive big men and rebounders when at his best. Tristan Thompson is one of the best offensive rebounders in the league and his energy will spark the starting side. JR Smith had a career year last year, averaging 12.4 points and shooting 40% from downtown as the Cavs’ starting shooting guard. He recently re-signed with the team, so will be an integral figure as a part of Cleveland’s supporting cast. Channing Frye is the glue guy for Cleveland both on and off the court. On the court, he’s a stretch forward who provides depth in the forwards and can space the floor. Off the court, he was a key figure in developing team chemistry and is one of the leaders in the locker room other than Lebron. Mike Dunleavy is a shooter who will also space the floor, but will need to stay healthy. Chris Andersen reunites with his former Heat teammate Lebron to provide some interior defense, while rookie Kay Felder is one to watch and can bring energy and excitement off the bench.
Cleveland can make the Finals again with their line-up, as all the veterans and role players know what it takes to win a title. They have an efficient and effective offense and defense, ranking as the NBA’s 4th best offense and 10th best defense. However, a lot of their veterans of getting older and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love tend to be injury-prone, which is what hurt the Cavs in the first meeting between themselves and the Warriors back in 2014-15. I have a feeling that we’ll see a Cavs-Warriors finals series for the third straight time, it’s whether Cleveland can stop this scary line-up Golden State will put on the court.
Prediction: 1st in Central Division