Stepping on to my college campus sporting Cavaliers shirts, I was often asked, "You're a Cavaliers fan? Even after LeBron left?" As those of you who follow the blog on a regular basis, all two of you, know that I cover Jamario Moon. But thinking in the minds of Cavaliers fans, I know that looking deep into this season will be relatively tough. I'm here to assure you that the situation is not as bad as it looks.
No, the Cavaliers will not finish first in the East, and no they will not finish on top of the Central Division. That doesn't rule them out of the playoffs though. My prediction for the East will go as follows.
- Miami Heat
- Boston Celtics
- Orlando Magic
- Chicago Bulls
- Atlanta Hawks
- Milwaukee Bucks
- New York Knicks
- Cleveland Cavaliers
That may not look promising, but the eighth and seventh spot to me right now could be interchangeable. As as we've all seen in the past, the Knicks could crumble even with a good team.
Choosing the Cavaliers eighth in the East does have some conditions. Mo Williams will have to play at the level he has been for the past two years. One thing Mo will have to work on is being more of a point guard. He shared that role with LeBron and now without the King, Mo will need to be a good distributor.
Anthony Parker will need to step up big time for Cleveland to assure a place in the playoffs. The way he played last season will simply not cut it. Playing on arguably the best team in the league last year lessened the level that he needed to play at. Honestly, Parker seemed to be absent in a lot of the games last season. He will need to put up double digits in points and play solid defense for the Cavaliers to succeed this season.
Possibly the biggest disappointment last season was the play of Antawn Jamison in the playoffs. As a fan, I was content with his play during the season, but was extremely discouraged with how he handled the playoffs. We all know he's past his prime, but Jamison has the ability to put up 20 points and eight or nine rebounds. This needs to be a frequent occurrence with Jamison this season, and continue into the playoffs if the Cavs make it that far.
Cleveland still has a solid starting five, depending on how Coach Scott decides to arrange it. The expected starters are Mo at the 1, Anthony Parker at shooting guard, and J.J. at the 4 spot. As much as I want to say Jamario will start at small forward, it appears that Coach Scott might open the floor and base the job on momentum. Whoever is performing the best at the time will more than likely earn the spot. Moon started in Toronto and Miami and saw some time in the lineup when LeBron was sitting. His defensive ability will be intriguing to Coach Scott, but Moon doesn't produce much on offense. If he can show the coaching staff that he can drive to the hoop more, his minutes will certainly increase.
What can we expect in the win column? Optimistically, the Cavaliers can reach the mid- to low-40-win mark if all goes well. Realistically, I don't think the Cavaliers reach the 40-win mark and if they don't, they won't reach the playoffs. I know I predicted the Cavaliers to secure the eight seed but it will be determined on the win count. If they push past 40 wins, the eighth spot should be theirs. Anything under 40 wins and the Cavaliers will miss the playoffs for the first time in a long time.