The 2012 NBA season will go down as a meaningless, yet successful season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2011, the first year without LeBron James, the Cavaliers skidded to a 19-63 record, the worst mark in the NBA. In the shortened 2012 season, under head coach Byron Scott, the Cavaliers were playing a much improved game that saw them surpass the previous season's win total, even with injuries to their two best players.
After the 2011 season, the Cavaliers were fortunate enough to win the first and fourth overall selections in the NBA draft. They used those picks on Rookie of the Year lock Kyrie Irving and athletic big man Tristan Thompson.
Irving and Thompson both turned heads during their rookie seasons. Irving was the total package that Dan Gilbert, Chris Grant and Byron Scott envisioned. Thompson showed flashed of defensive brilliance while continuously improving his raw offensive skills.
One of the old faces of the Cavaliers, Anderson Varejao was having a brilliant start to the 2011-12 campaign. Over the first 25 games of the season, the "Wild Thing" was averaging 10.8 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He did all this while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and a career-high 67 percent from the free-throw line.
Varejao was truly establishing himself as a versatile and dependable big man for the Cavaliers before a broken wrist ended his season early.
One of the main reasons the Cavaliers remained respectable was Chris Grant's ability to find talent from seemingly nowhere. When Kyrie Irving and Daniel Gibson went down with injuries, and Ramon Sessions was traded, the Cavaliers were up a creek without a paddle as far as the point guard position was concerned.
Then, Grant found Donald Sloan and gave him a chance. Sloan was able to step in, play the majority of minutes at point guard for the Cavaliers, and help them to remain competitive through all of the injuries and growing pains.
So the Cavaliers definitely made strides this season, even though they will again finish with a bad record and a high draft pick. This offseason will be crucial for Grant and crew. the Cavaliers have some expiring contracts, and four draft picks in the first 35 picks of the draft. It is truly an opportunity for the Cavaliers to improve quickly.
The following seven slides describe what the Cavaliers need to do to get back into the playoffs in 2013.