For the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James, the Time to Win Is Now
Ah, what's better than a controversial article on the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James, and the fate of the organization?
To be quite honest, not much.
Cleveland enters the season with a newly designed team composed of two versatile wing-men in Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker, that can defend the go-to-guy on any roster and offensively hit the open three and slash towards the basket.
They also added a dominate center in Shaquille O'Neal, who at the age of 36, still has enough gas left in the tank to clog up the paint and defend opponents big men.
After winning a league-high 66 games last season, the Cavaliers rank amongst the elite in the entire NBA and as one of the top three teams in the East.
While Cavs fans head into the season with high expectations and yet again another opportunity to surpass the Eastern Conference Finals and capture their first NBA Finals trophy, many obstacles stand in the way of their supreme dreams.
The Cavaliers Front-court
After averaging 14.1 PPG and 9.3 RPG in 30.4 MPG throughout 73 games during the '07-'08 season, the Cavaliers starting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas experienced a decline in his career, posting the least amount of MPG and playing in the least amount of games during last season since the '01-'02 season.
Once the Cavaliers ended their postseason journey against the Orlando Magic in six games, it was blatantly obvious that Cleveland needed to go out and sign a stronger, more dominate big man to contain Orlando's Dwight Howard.
With the acquiring of Shaq, No. 34 will now assume the starting center role for Cleveland this season, but much like Big Z, O'Neal is on the decline at this point in his 17 year career.
Many questions are up in the air on whether or not O'Neal will be able to remain durable throughout the entire season (as he was benched periodically during last season with the Phoenix Suns due to fatigue).
Aside from durability being a major factor, O'Neal's presence in the paint will inevitably abstain Clevelands slashers, such as LeBron James, from attacking the hoop as easily as to that of a year ago.
Instead of going out and signing a free-agent forward for the long run such as David Lee, Charlie Villanueva, or Brandon Bass, GM Danny Ferry believed it was best to re-sign the mediocre and defensive-minded Anderson Varejao to a hefty five year contract worth up to $50 million.
Varejao will be forced to prevent elite forwards, like Kevin Garnett, from attacking the hoop and crashing the boards, something that was a big problem for Varejao last season.
With the Celtics and Magic bulking up on big men during the offseason, Cleveland will encounter a sure problem with containing these athletes from having their way on the court.
When taking a look at LA, Boston, and Orlando's roster, it is easily recognized that these teams have additional go-to-guys aside from their Kobe Bryants, Kevin Garnetts, and Vince Carters. They do not rely on specifically one player to simply do it all for them.
Los Angeles has big men such as Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, and Lamar Odom who have established themselves as primetime players in the league.
Boston has Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Rasheed Wallace who can each step into a game and knock down the big shot when needed to.
And lastly, Orlando, who has Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Jameer Nelson who can each undoubtedly lead their team to victory.
When you compare Cleveland to each of these elite teams, they're the only organization that separates themselves from the three for the main reason that aside from LeBron James, they have no go-to-guy to bring their team to a W.
With too much reliance and expectancy on James, how could this Cleveland team expect to make a trip to the Finals when they still have not obtained the go-to-guy that James has been asking for?
If you watched the Eastern Conference Finals last season you noticed that during the last two minutes of every game throughout the series, James literally had the ball in his hands for the remainder of the game, playing one on one against his opponent.
Instead of having any such impact in the closing minutes of the game, LJ's teammates simply surrounded the three-point line basically expecting The King to do all the work.
Was this due to Mike Brown's coaching or due to the lack of a go-to-guy?
With no go-to-guy aside from James, the Cavaliers will ultimately crumble during the postseason, yet again.
For the Cleveland Cavaliers, the time to win is now and if they do indeed end up falling short, LeBron James's fate will remain up in the air, causing instant panic for the entire organization and fans world-wide.
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