Mo Williams' Absence Affords Cavs Chance To Grow

Dan DelagrangeCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2010

DENVER - JANUARY 08:  Mo Williams #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during a break in the action against the Denver Nuggets during NBA action at Pepsi Center on January 8, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Cavaliers 99-97. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Today, it was announced that Cavaliers guard Mo Williams' shoulder injury is graver than first thought. MRI tests at the Cleveland Clinic confirmed the severity of the injury, which will cause Cleveland's starting point guard to be sidelined four to six weeks.

Williams injured his shoulder during Tuesday's win over the Toronto Raptors. After heading to the locker room following the injury, Williams returned to action and appeared to not be hampered from the damage his shoulder sustained.

This leaves the Cavs without their second leading scorer (16.9 points) and a major offensive threat for at least the next month.

As big a setback as this is, Williams' time in street clothes gives the Cavaliers just as a big an opportunity to develop into the true championship contender many think them to be this season.

In almost every season in almost any sport, a championship team is defined by a few endearing cliches (toughness, togetherness, resolve, depth, experience, etc.). If the Cavaliers hope to reach championship heights in June, a display of the resolve and depth required of title-worthy teams at times like these needs to be seen.

If Cleveland seeks any motivation in doing so, looking back only a year is necessary. After losing starting starting point guard and All-Star Jameer Nelson at almost the same point in the season (Feb. 2, 2009) to a similar injury (torn labrum), the Orlando Magic managed to continue their '08-'09 success on their way to the third seed in the Eastern Conference and a berth in the NBA Finals.

On the way to the Finals, Orlando received huge lifts from reserve guards Rafer Alston and Anthony Johnson (especially down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs), who both repeatedly burned the Cavs in the '09 Eastern Conference Finals.

To maintain their place among the league's elite, the Cavaliers will need to take a similar course of action.

The backcourt triumvirate of Delonte West, Anthony Parker, and Daniel Gibson will need to make its presence known to opposing defenses. Emulating Williams' ability to stretch the defense and draw attention from LeBron James will be paramount for the Cleveland guards.

The rotations that head coach Mike Brown uses in Williams' absence should prove very interesting. While Gibson and Parker are the league's best three-point shooters (both at 47 percent from beyond the line), West's ability off the dribble should add a nice change of rhythm to a Cleveland offense that tends to "LeBron watch" (this stagnancy isn't helped by how efficient Parker and Gibson have been from three).

The fact that James will be running even more of Cleveland's offense from a point guard role definitely does not ameliorate an offense that tends to go sluggish for chunks of time.

While Williams' shoulder affliction won't (rather, it shouldn't: You can never speak too soon or assume anything concerning Cleveland sports) keep him out of action as long as Nelson's did, it carries just as much potential for the team involved to develop the resolute resolve and ability to ride out rough patches by which so many championship squads are defined.

If the Cavaliers are to bring the city of Cleveland the major title that has avoided it for decades, a bit of immediate steadfastness is in order.