NBA Offseason 2013: Have the Cavaliers Done Enough to Be Contenders in the East?

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
NBA Offseason 2013: Have the Cavaliers Done Enough to Be Contenders in the East?
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

After failing to win more than 24 games in each of the three seasons following LeBron James' unceremonious departure, the Cleveland Cavaliers finally look poised to return to the playoffs next season after adding several key pieces this offseason.

Following their selection of UNLV forward Anthony Bennett with the first pick in the draft, the Cavs have added point guard Jarrett Jack, forward Earl Clark and center Andrew Bynum.

The Jack signing, CBS' Matt Moore said, "works out for everyone", and the move to add Bynum has been lauded too, as the Cavs gave an incentive-laden deal to the oft-injured big man. Add in the acquisitions of Bennett and Clark, and that’s quite an offseason.

These additions come to a team that already had all-star point guard Kyrie Irving and top-five picks, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters.

The team's starting five will feature Irving, Waiters and some combination of Anderson Varejao, Bennett, Thompson and Bynum at center and the two forward spots.

With one of those four players coming off the bench along with Jack, Clark and solid backup big man Tyler Zeller, the Cavs should have one of the deepest benches in the league.

The team also brought back former coach Mike Brown, who led the team to the best record in the NBA in 2008 and 2009. Of course, in those years, Brown had the help of LeBron James. Still, this year's Cavs team might have even more depth than any team Brown coached in Cleveland in the past.

The Heat are still undeniably the best team in the Eastern Conference and the Bulls should return to prominence as they get Derrick Rose back this season.

Beyond those teams, though, there are a lot of question marks.

The Brooklyn Nets made one of the offseason's biggest splashes in adding Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but it still remains to be seen how they will mesh with the rest of the team. A lack of depth might hurt the Nets, too.

The New York Knicks have had a relatively quiet offseason, and defense remains a major question mark for a team that couldn't make it out of the second round of the playoffs last season.

The Indiana Pacers might be the best of these teams, but they, too, have question marks as they ranked in the bottom third of the league in points scored last season.

All this adds up to a golden opportunity for the Cavaliers.

The biggest concern for the team is its ability to stay healthy.

Bynum missed all of last season with balky knees, Varejao played in just 81 games over the past three years and Irving missed 23 games last season.

If this team can stay healthy, though, the rest of the Eastern Conference should be put on notice.

When healthy, the Cavs have the size to match up with the Pacers and Bulls and the scorers to hang with the Knicks and the Nets.

The Heat and LeBron James provide a tougher challenge, but unlike recent years, the Cavs will at the very least be able to play them tough for a full 48 minutes.

Bynum, who's signing was endorsed by ESPN's Chris Broussard, can be an impact player for Cleveland as he is one of the best big men in the league when on his game.

Waiters, Irving and Thompson all are under 22 years old and should make improvements on their game from last season, and Bennett will come in as an already dangerous force on the pick-and-roll.

The additions of Jack and Clark have flown under the radar with the Cavs' bevy of moves, but with depth separating the good teams from the rest of the pack, they should not be overlooked.

If the young guys step up as is expected of them, and Varejao and Bynum stay healthy for the majority of this season, don't be surprised if they end up finishing behind only the Heat and Bulls in the East.

Those are two big ifs, but even so, there is no doubting the Cavs' improvement from the last several years of the post-Lebron era.

No NBA team has had a better offseason than the Cleveland Cavaliers and that will pay off in a big way in the 2013-14 season.

Load More Stories

Follow Cleveland Cavaliers from B/R on Facebook

Follow Cleveland Cavaliers from B/R on Facebook and get the latest updates straight to your newsfeed!

Out of Bounds

Cleveland Cavaliers

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.