The Cavaliers have been a bright spot for Cleveland this season.
I know it seems silly to say that about a team that is below .500 but really they have been. Watching Kyrie Irving emerge as a superstar and a leader has been the best sporting event to happen since LeBron took his talents to South Beach.
Multiple times throughout the season it has looked like the Cavs may be able to back their way into the playoffs as an eight seed. How awesome would it be if the Cavs did make it, were matched against the Heat and were able to send LeBron and his cronies home with a first round exit? Sweet thought isn’t it?
So now that we had that little fantasy thought we have to snap back to reality.
Chances are the Cavs would not be able to put up a competitive series against either Chicago or Miami in the first, and would be fairly easily sent home packing early. This would be about the worst thing that could happen to the Cavs for a couple reasons.
First off, fans may enjoy the taste of the playoffs, but with a first round exit many would go right back to complaining about how awful the team is and how inadequate they are to compete against big time competition.
Well that last thought is quite correct, the Cavs are not ready for that level of competition yet. It would be nice for players like Kyrie and TT to get a taste of postseason action, but with a loss, it could compel the thoughts of being just another Cleveland team unable to advance when it mattered.
Secondly, by making the playoffs, the Cavs would lose any chance at a potential lottery spot. This would be the most devastating thing to the team. Cleveland is still a few players away from thoroughly being able to compete, and the best way they have shown to bring in talent is through the draft.
Without a top-tier pick in the lottery, the team would flutter around mediocrity for quite some time. This is the case because, for one, the team would be out of reach of top prospects, and as has been shown in previous offseasons, many free agents do not want to come to Cleveland. Furthermore, even if they somehow did, the team would be forced to overpay for them, which would not do them any favors either.
I hate to be just another negative Cleveland fan, but I think the best thing this team could do is to continue to lose down the stretch. Even if the team is only able to move up one or two spots in the lottery selection that could be the difference between a capable franchise player lining up next to Kyrie versus an average role player.
We are on the fringe of being able to draft the kind of players that could be able to make a potential team like Oklahoma City lay just outside our reach at the moment (i.e. Kidd Gilchrist, Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes). Any of those players combined with the current set of players we have would be excellent additions.
With moving up just a few spots we would solidify ourselves a choice at a few of these players. If the Cavs are able to inch their way up to the top and snag one of those players to pair with Kyrie, then this team will be a legitimate playoff threat in the future, and maybe even as soon as next season.
No not just a threat to make the playoffs, but a threat to go deep in the playoffs and make a meaningful run at a title. That is what Cleveland is thirsty for and what the city deserves. This team is being built the right way, and with one more solid offseason of high lottery drafting, and a few role playing free agents, the Cavs will be set up to make some noise in the Eastern conference come next season, and likewise, many seasons to come.