Complete Cleveland Cavaliers Power Rankings After Season's First Month
An 11-4 start to the season for the Cleveland Cavaliers has been good enough to lead the Eastern Conference, even with a roster still riddled with injuries.
Guards Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert have yet to play a game, while Timofey Mozgov, Mo Williams, J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova have also missed contests.
Even with a rash of bumps and bruises, Cleveland has posted an impressive record, thanks to their home dominance. The Cavs are 8-0 to begin the year inside the friendly confines of Quicken Loans Arena.
LeBron James continues to set the tone on both ends of the floor, and Kevin Love has looked much more comfortable this season. A few pleasant surprises have found their way at the top of the player power rankings, while a pair of starters have dropped out of the first five.
Irving and Shumpert will not make an appearance in this edition, as only players who have taken part in at least one game will be ranked.
Nos. 10-13: Kaun, Harris, Cunningham, Varejao
No. 13: Sasha Kaun, C
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 0.0 points, 0.5 rebounds, 0.3 blocks, 2.5 minutes, 8.6 PER
Kaun was brought over from Russia to be the Cavaliers' insurance plan at the center position. With Anderson Varejao even fighting to see the court some nights, Kaun has appeared in just four games and shouldn't expect to get much run anytime soon.
No. 12: Joe Harris, SG
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 0.6 points, 0.6 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 3.0 minutes, 3.6 PER
Harris has been back and forth between Cleveland the the Cavs' D-League affiliate Canton Charge. In just his second pro season, Harris is stuck behind a veteran backcourt, and has yet to crack the rotation even with a plethora of injured bodies in front of him.
No. 11: Jared Cunningham, G
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 3.9 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 13.5 minutes, 5.4 PER
A 6'4" combo guard, Cunningham has been called on to play a bigger role as of late with Williams and Dellavedova missing games. This may be his best chance to prove he belongs on the Cavaliers, who can waive his non-guaranteed contract in January.
No. 10: Anderson Varejao, PF/C
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 2.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 9.2 minutes, 12.1 PER
A new, minute-friendly role has helped keep Varejao on the court this season. That is, when coach David Blatt has even required his services. The 33-year-old has already registered a pair of DNP-coach's decisions, even though he's been productive when called upon.
Nos. 6-9: Smith, Mozgov, Jefferson, Jones
No. 9: James Jones, F
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 3.4 points, 1.0 rebounds, 45.2 3P%, 8.6 minutes, 11.7 PER
Jones has long been known for his ability to space the floor, so it should come as no surprise that he's been the Cavs' best three-point shooter thus far.
After losing veterans like Mike Miller, Kendrick Perkins, Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood this offseason, Jones continues to be a respected and powerful voice in the Cavaliers' locker room.
No. 8: Richard Jefferson, SF
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 7.3 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 23.5 minutes, 7.9 PER
At 35, Jefferson is the Cavaliers' eldest player, even if he still moves like someone 10 years younger.
Able to play three different positions at 6'7", Jefferson is a great backup for James and has even started games at shooting guard when needed this season.
No. 7: Timofey Mozgov, C
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 7.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 20.8 minutes, 15.0 PER
Arguably the Cavs' fourth-best player following a trade from the Denver Nuggest last season, Mozgov has struggled out of the gate.
Offseason knee surgery has limited his mobility and minutes, while a recent shoulder injury now has the 7'1" center sidelined for up to two weeks. The anchor of Cleveland's defense and their best rim protector, the Cavs need a healthy Mozgov to return to an elite defensive team.
No. 6: J.R. Smith, SG
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 11.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 31.5 minutes, 11.0 PER
Following a poor NBA Finals performance, Smith struggled out of the gate this season as well.
After averaging a lowly 6.3 points on 30 percent shooting from the field in the Cavs' first seven games, Smith has heated up. Over the past five contests, he's up to 17.8 points while connecting on sizzling 48.8 percent of his three-point shots.
No. 5: Mo Williams, PG
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 15.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 31.3 minutes, 18.0 PER
An argument could be made for Williams as the third-best Cav this season, and if simply talking offense, they wouldn't be wrong.
Cleveland's starting point guard until Irving returns, the 33-year-old has filled in admirably. He's third on the Cavs in both scoring and overall efficiency while constantly providing a calming presence on the court. Defensively, however, Cleveland has been better with him out of the game, as opponent scoring drops by 4.1 points per 100 possessions.
Despite this dip in defense, Williams has easily been the Cavaliers' best offseason addition, and should continue to play a large role even when Irving returns.
No. 4: Matthew Dellavedova, G
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 7.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 26.8 minutes, 14.4 PER
Dellavedova as the Cavaliers' fourth-best player this season? You bet, and he's only getting better.
Now in his third season after going undrafted out of St. Mary's, Dellavedova has molded himself into a hustling, defending, ultra-efficient point guard.
Far from the most talented player on the roster, Delly plays his role perfectly and with 100 percent effort every minute. He not only leads the Cavaliers in both defensive (93.7) and net rating (plus-16.0), but is first in the NBA with a 4.37 assist-to-turnover ratio.
On a team with score-first guards like Irving and Williams, Dellavedova is the perfect complement. He doesn't need the ball in his hands to make an impact on the game, and thrives on setting up teammates and doing all the dirty work necessary for a winning team.
Only James has made a bigger difference on the Cavaliers both offensively and defensively than Dellavedova's plus-23.6 on/off rating this season.
No. 3: Tristan Thompson, PF
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 7.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, 27.3 minutes, 16.5 PER
The final Cavalier to sign this offseason, skipping training camp hasn't slowed Thompson down at all.
Instead, the 24-year-old is playing the best basketball of his young career, making huge impacts on both ends of the court.
Despite serving as a reserve for most of the season, Thompson is seventh in the NBA with his 10.1 boards per game. His total rebound percentage of 20.9 ranks fourth overall.
Cleveland relies on Thompson not just for rebounding, but his excellent pick-and-roll defense, shot-altering and screen-setting as well. He's holding opponents to just 43.3 percent shooting from within 10 feet, a drop of 8.2 percent from their season average, per NBA.com.
In three games as a starter for the injured Mozgov, Thompson's averages have jumped to 8.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 blocks.
No. 2: Kevin Love, PF
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 19.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 34.5 minutes, 21.8 PER
Love's stats and efficiency are up across the board this season, thanks to an added comfort level and higher rate of usage.
He's shown no ill-effects from April shoulder surgery, instead flourishing from all areas of the court offensively. Over his past six games, Love is up to 24.2 points on 52.7 percent shooting from the field and 50.0 percent from deep.
After leading the Cavaliers with 9.7 boards a game last season, his 11.8 now are good for third in the league behind Andre Drummond (17.8) and DeAndre Jordan (12.7).
Cleveland scores 115.4 points per 100 possessions with Love in the game, compared to just 99.3 when he sits.
A healthy, happy and productive Love can carry an offense, and he and James appear to be doing just that.
No. 1: LeBron James, SF
2015-16 Stats Per Game: 25.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 36.4 minutes, 27.2 PER
James remains the Cavs' best player now just a month shy of turning 31.
His combination of size, speed and skill are well-documented, but it's James' mental toughness and leadership abilities that have really taken off the past few years.
While most would be happy with an 11-4 start, James hasn't been shy about calling out teammates and ordering players-only meetings already this season.
Cleveland is remarkably better on both ends with James. The Cavs score 21.1 more points per 100 possessions and allow 13.1 fewer with him in the game. This 34.3 point total difference is nearly twice that of Love.
Staying healthy now becomes priority No. 1 for James, who looks far better now than he did a year ago at the same time.
Stats via Basketball-Reference.com and are current as of Nov. 26.