What Cleveland Cavaliers Are Telling Us About Upcoming Season
"Win every game."
When asked his expectations for the upcoming season, new Cleveland Cavaliers' guard Jarrett Jack didn't blink an eye.
In an interview with Cavaliers radio announcer John Michael during the Cleveland Cavaliers' media day on Monday, Jack was completely serious when announcing his lofty goal.
While an 82-0 record probably isn't going to happen, Jack's answer is the perfect example of how expectations have begun to change for the rebuilding Cavaliers.
No longer competing just to get young players experience while collecting a high draft pick after the season, Cleveland enters 2013-14 with serious playoff aspirations.
Here's what a busy offseason and the Cavaliers' media day are preparing us for this year.
We already know what Jack expects to do this season, but what about other members of the Cavaliers?
General manager Chris Grant didn't set a hard goal for what he expects of his team, but had this to say to Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico:
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"We’ve talked about this in the past. With this group of players, and some of the younger players in the third year of their careers, when you see guys take a nice bump, we have high expectations."
In classic Chris Grant fashion, he remained very vague but optimistic when discussing the Cavs.
"...we’re going to look at this on a day-to-day basis. We need to get better every single day, and every game we go into, we need to try to win that game. I think with this group of players, we have that ability."
Point guard and All-Star Kyrie Irving made headlines when he talked about his expectations for himself as he enters his third professional season.
Kyrie Irving says goal this year is to be "best player in the league." #Cavs— M.S. Boyer/J. Valade (@PDcavsinsider) September 30, 2013
Dion Waiters had previously talked about becoming the best shooting guard in the NBA, but it appears Irving has taken his own goals to a whole new level.
Realistically speaking, however, the playoffs should be the Cavaliers' minimum goal.
The Eastern Conference is pretty wide open after the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. Cleveland should be able to grab one of the three remaining playoff spots—if the Cavaliers stay healthy.
Health has been a hot topic surrounding the Cavaliers heading into this season.
With players like Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving all having had health problems in the past, the Cavs' biggest challenge this season may come from their own players.
So what's the latest on the Cavs' big free-agent signing in Bynum? Grant told Amico:
He’s in the midst of his rehabilitation process. We’re not gonna put any hard timelines on things. You saw him (at media day), his body looks great. He’s been working like crazy, he’s progressed.
Bynum did look to be in great shape at media day, and an interview with Amico helped remind us of his massive size.
Grant went into more details about Bynum to Amico:
He is out on the court, getting up and down, full-court, full speed. He hasn’t played any five-on-five. But it’s still in the beginning of that process. There’s been no setbacks and he takes steps every day. But there’s no hard timeline on any type of drop-dead date for him.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer offered further insight into Bynum's rehab:
Andrew Bynum says he began basketball activities in just last 2 weeks. Still unsure if he'll be ready for season opener.— M.S. Boyer/J. Valade (@PDcavsinsider) September 30, 2013
Bynum began jumping and explosive activities recently. Says he's lost 18 pounds, now 290. Wants to be 280-285. #Cavs— M.S. Boyer/J. Valade (@PDcavsinsider) September 30, 2013
Kyrie Irving looked strong and in the best shape he's been in since coming to Cleveland. Anderson Varejao, fresh off getting married this summer, is expected to be a full go at training camp after playing just 25 games last season.
Health will be an issue all season long for the Cavaliers, but for now, Cleveland looks to be in a good position to begin the season.
Cavs players and fans alike are both excited about this season, having felt that way since winning the first overall draft pick back in May.
Kyrie Irving is reason enough to watch a Cavaliers game. Throw in other young talent like Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Tyler Zeller to go with veterans Bynum, Jack and Varejao, and Cleveland possesses the most overall talent it has had in years.
The incoming draft class of Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev and Carrick Felix brings a nice blend of athleticism, outside shooting and defense as well, all qualities needed on a winning basketball team.
Irving did a great job this offseason of bringing guys together to work out and build some early chemistry.
Kyrie on teammates working out this offseason: "We built a brotherhood this summer." "Feel like we have the pieces to do something special."— Joe Gabriele (@CavsJoeG) September 30, 2013
Yes, Cleveland has a real chance at the playoffs, which would be a very special time in this city.
Said Grant to Amico, "(Cleveland) is a pretty amazing place when you play deep into the playoffs. It’d be great to have the guys feel that energy.”
Indeed it would be.
For Cleveland, the rebuilding period is officially over. The expectations are now playoffs or bust.
Unless your Jarrett Jack, that is.
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