Cleveland Cavaliers: 30 Team Previews In 30 Days
Finished 61-21, first in Central Division, first in Eastern Conference
First Round: Defeated Chicago Bulls 4-1
Second Round: Lost to Boston Celtics 4-2
Additions and Re-Signings
Ramon Sessions via trade, Ryan Hollins via trade and Joey Graham via free agency.
LeBron James via free agency, Zydrunas Ilgauskas via free agency, Delonte West via trade, Shaquille O'Neal via free agency, and Sebastian Telfair via trade.
It's safe to admit that the Cleveland Cavaliers have had an awful summer. Of the four seasons in a year, this one will probably be more forgettable than the fall, winter, and spring that they'll have to play through without their superstar LeBron James for the first time in eight years.
Prior to James joining to the team, the Cavs were suffering through losing season after losing season including the rock bottom year that gave them the first pick in the 2003 draft when they won 17 games. Cleveland continued to improve thanks to James and saw their first NBA Finals appearance and their highest win output in a season with 66 in 2008-2009.
How many games will the Cavaliers win?
With no LeBron, the Cavaliers are going to have to look elsewhere for it's leader and are going to need to make some big time pickups soon if they want to fill the black hole sized void that is now present in Cleveland's roster. LeBron's legacy is gone, but certainly not forgotten by the Cleveland faithful who have quickly forgotten who their hero was only a month prior.
Unlike Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant who were surrounded by talent during their postseason runs, LeBron never had a legitimate second scorer that could step up when needed. Mo Williams was a security blanket throughout the past two regular season's, but come postseason time Williams fizzled shooting less than 41% and it was up to James to take over every game.
This free agency was no different as it appeared that the Cavs were going to stand pat with their team. Their bid for a sign and trade with Chris Bosh failed as Bosh stated he didn't want to play in Cleveland. When Bosh left for Miami, James quickly followed to join Bosh and Wade and create the three-headed monster that currently resides in South Beach.
The current leaders on this team are Williams and Antawn Jamison who both averaged 16 points last season. Williams has been a quality shooting point guard netting a career high 18 points two seasons ago, but seeing his scoring output drop to 16 last season. His assists have never been exceptional either with his highest total being five per game last season.
Williams has impressed with his three-point shooting and has had his two best shooting performances over the past two seasons. He shot 43% from beyond the arc last season, while making at least two three-pointers per game. In the postseason though, he shot 32%, a considerable drop off from what he was hitting in the regular season raising the issue even higher of why LeBron left this team.
Jamison has always proved to be a reliable scorer and rebounder, but at 34 years old, he doesn't have much left in the tank and it showed last season when he averaged a near career low 16 points in the 23 games he played with the Cavs. His rebounding total was considerably low as well averaging only eight per game. Even though his retirement could be coming soon, the Cavs actually have something to look forward to with the emergence of J.J. Hickson.
Hickson thrived off of open looks thanks to James, but it was his considerable size and athletic ability that has allowed him to thrive in the NBA. In his second season, he averaged nine points and five rebounds while starting 73 out of 81 games. J.J. has the brightest future out of anyone on the Cavs and can be the future leader of this team if he continues to develop, but the organization must begin to surround him with young talent as well.
The Cavs now have to build from the ground up and a late July trade to bring in Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins from Minnesota was a good start. At 24 years old, Sessions has established himself as an unheralded young talent in this league. He has averaged 10 points and five assists mostly off the bench over the past three seasons and will take over the point guard spot when Williams departs.
The other acquistion in Hollins is a lanky, powerful seven footer who has the capability to become a decent center if he can put on muscle to compete with the Dwight Howard's and Andrew Bogut's of the league. He played in a career high 73 games last season and averaged six points and three rebounds over 17 minutes per game. No doubt he will get more playing time with Cleveland's lack of depth at the center position.
Jamario Moon will be taking over the small forward spot for James and while the two have similar athletic ability, their games are completely different. Moon averaged five points and four rebounds over 17 minutes per game with the Cavs and will see his stats double now that he is the starter with no reliable backup aside from Danny Green and Joey Graham.
This Cavaliers team has had a rough past few weeks and it's going to be a rough next few years for the team as well. They'll need to build from the ground up and bringing in Hollins and Sessions was the best deal they could have made this season. Losing their hometown hero under the circumstances of how he left hurts and there's a slim chance the next few lottery picks will carry a piece like LeBron James, but there is room to grow for this Cavaliers team and they can learn from past mistakes and be a successful team in the future.
Projected Starting Lineup
This is Pt. 5 of a 30-day series of 2010-11 season previews of each NBA team. My profile will contain every other team that has been previewed before.
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