You may be thinking that the Cleveland Cavaliers will be taking a step back since trading all-star guard Kyrie Irving to the rival Boston Celtics. You may be impressed with the Celtics and how they built their roster, so most definitely tip your cap to GM Danny Ainge for his patience. Yes, Boston is the biggest threat to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference, and pretty much the only threat. These teams are on a clear collision course to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Despite the subtraction of Irving, this is the best team that Cleveland has ever formed around LeBron James. You may very well be tired of the same show of James reaching the NBA Finals for practically an entire decade, but even you must admit the seasons have been different and we aren’t watching some re-runs. James returned to the Cavs, has taken them to The Finals every season since, and brought home a title in a the trilogy against the Golden State Warriors. Each championship series has provided a new story. Are you not entertained?
Dwyane Wade agreed to a buyout from the Chicago Bulls, who have paid the future Hall of Famer $39 million for last season alone. Wade isn’t lacking in the bank account, so there’s a reason he only signed with the favorites in the East for $2.5 million. To recap, the Cavs have acquired Wade, Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Jeff Green, Jose Calderon and Ante Zizic just this offseason. A team that just played in the past 3 NBA Finals just added some serious firepower: 4 guards, 2 forwards, and a center.
Wade has accomplished nearly everything in the league, aside from a league MVP. The veteran produced 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in 30 minutes per game for the Bulls. He also nabbed a steal and a half while shooting 79% from the line. Wade, although better on the offensive end at this point in his career, is still a capable 2-way player that provides leadership, chemistry with James, is no stranger to big games, and still has the clutch gene in him.
Rose on the other hand, had a very positive season for the mess of a team over in New York. Playing 64 games and dropping 18 points in a triangle offense are some of the things being said about him. The guy is coming off of another knee scare but is currently on track to start in the opener. When you add a former MVP to a pair of future Hall of Famers, to all-stars in Kevin Love and Isaiah Thomas, this is absolutely the best Cavs’ roster they’ve ever put together. Like Wade, he is a Chicago native that posted similar stats with 18-4-4.
We all know that James is a distributor and a scorer. Wade and Rose are both to different extents. The same can be said for Thomas, for when he does come back from a hip injury sometime this winter. We’re talking about a 29-point scorer that passed for 6 assists, shots 38% from downtown and 90% from the stripe. Like the other 3 play-makers, IT4 knows how it feels to lead a team to success.
Kevin Love is coming off of a 19 and 11 season. He’s been very efficient, drilling 37% from deep and 87% shooting free throws. If you thought the Cavaliers’ offense was stagnant before, look at all the talent and play-making ability that they’ve added. Love will continue to get open looks and 1 on 1 plays down low. He is a willing passer if the double-team comes his way. He’s a willing passer after grabbing a rebound, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the guards leaking out all season long. Actually, they can all play receiver to Love’s rebounding and James’ pushing the ball up the floor. Even better, they can all handle the rock, make good decisions, make good passes, and make baskets.
The rest of the supporting:
- Tristan Thompson, congratulations to him and the family he is starting, as they are expecting their first child. As far as hoop goes, his role doesn’t change one bit. Defense, play help defense, step out against pick & rolls, crash the defensive glass, as well as the offense for extra possessions.
- I like Jeff Green a lot, especially as a role player with so many veterans to sponge off of to continue his development. He’s a career 13-point, 4 rebound player.
- For shooting and spacing, they have J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver, and Channing Frye. You can’t leave them open but the distributors are all some of the game’s best penetrators in the league, so they’re bound to make defenses pay.
- Iman Shumpert is there for defense and defense only. Any points you get from him you’ll take, simple as that. Veteran Richard Jefferson did a decent job playing defense in the playoffs. He was the only help that James got at th wing position to defend forwards Kevin Durant and Draymond Green in The Finals. Now, the addition of Jeff Green gives them another forward that will make them work on both ends at the very least.
- Not that the team needs additional ball-handlers, but it’s nice to have more than less of them. They would’ve benefited some to have Jose Calderon last season. He’ll definitely contribute more during the first half of the season while IT4 recovers, and to spell Rose since you don’t want to overwork him early on.
- Like him or not, Ty Lue is still finding his footing as ahead coach in the NBA. It sure seems like he was hand-picked, since I did like the job David Blatt was doing, but the coaching helped to bring Cleveland a title in 2 tries with Lue calling the shots.
Looking back at the trilogy between the Cavs and Warriors, it is more than reasonable to believe that the Cavs are the new favorite to win the title this upcoming season. They have a weaker conference to get through with only one threat on the horizon that is the clear underdog. Warriors might make it out of the West alive, I’m extremely curious to watch the Thunder grow and I’ll root for them, but these 2 teams have been getting revenge on each other and this rivalry continues to get turned up a notch.