When LeBron James left the city of Cleveland for the Miami Heat in the recent off season, he put a dagger in the hearts of everything Cleveland Cavaliers. The Team, the Fans, the City, everything was affected.
The King tore his kingdom apart to the point where his followers displayed their frustrations and high emotions every which way they could. From trash-talking to burning their LeBron gear, the fans held nothing back.
Neither did owner Dan Gilbert whose comments are almost as famous as LeBron's choice to leave. James talked all the time about bring a championship to Cleveland and Gilbert did everything in his power to help that to happen, as well as the rest of the front office.
Now, without their two-time reigning MVP, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been written off as at best the eighth seed. All there is to think about that is the league couldn't be more wrong.
Mike Brown was relieved of his duties and replaced by fast-paced coach Byron Scott. He helped the New Orleans Hornets come back to contention, and now he is in Cleveland to keep them in contention.
With a faster-paced offense and a group of new and old players, the Cavaliers are set for success, even if it doesn't match the success of the last two seasons.
Point Guard: Mo Williams, Ramon Sessions, Daniel Gibson
In the 2009-2010 season, Mo Williams was the Cavaliers' starting point guard. He was their second scoring option behind James. He has averaged around 17 points a game in his two years with the Cavaliers. With more chances likely to come his way, he could score somewhere to around 20 points a game.
Ramon Sessions, the Cavaliers' key offseason acquisition via trade from the Timberwolves, is set to have a breakout season with the team. In his three seasons in the NBA, Sessions hasn't had much success. He never fit any teams' style of play, but he is expected to fit coach Scott's very smoothly.
The Cavaliers haven't had a true point guard in awhile, one who passes first and is aggressive to the basket. In the 2008-2009 season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Sessions averaged 12.4 points a game and 5.7 assists per game. If he can duplicate those numbers, he will be considered a success.
Then comes Daniel "Boobie," Gibson, a fan favorite in Cleveland. Gibson, is a very physical defender, who can be lights out from three-point range once he hits his grove. He never got that with ex-coach Brown's unorthodox lineups. Coach Scott should use Boobie to his advantage.
Summary: The Cavaliers have some dynamic options at point guard. Ability to score and aggressiveness shouldn't be a concern here. The defense might not be lights out but they will be able to get the job done.
Shooting Guard: Anthony Parker, Manny Harris, Daniel Green
Anthony Parker was brought to the Cavaliers to offer some kind of stability to the team's shooting guard position. Though many would disagree, he did just that. He is a solid defender, and lights out from beyond the arc. If he gets his touches this season, he could average somewhere around 15 points a game.
The undrafted rookie free agent (no longer) Manny Harris is turning some heads in the organization this preseason. In five games this preseason (no starts) he is averaging 19.6 minutes per game. In those minutes, he is averaging 9.8 points per game, 2.4 assists per game, 1.2 steals per game and 3.4 rebounds per game.
All of this while shooting .500 from the floor, .571 from beyond the arc, and he is making 85 percent of his foul shots. He is quick, aggressive and a scorer, something the team has lacked behind James and Williams in the past.
It's pretty impressive considering he went undrafted. To put it in a simple way the man can get things done and at the end of every day he is going to get his points. AP isn't amazing so if Harris keeps it up he will definitely get his minutes behind Parker. With an expanded role, who knows what kind of numbers he is capable of.
And then there was Daniel Green. Drafted by the Cavaliers with the last pick of the draft last year, Green didn't exactly impress during the 09-10 season. Not to say he was horrible, but he didn't open up anyone's eyes in any sense. He should look to get a small amount of minutes, if any at all.
Summary: With a solid veteran starting and a energy-filled rookie manning the position, the Cavaliers should get some success from the position. Nothing too special, but not too shabby, unless of course Manny Harris gets significant playing time and decides to play rookie of the year basketball.
Small Forward: Jamario Moon, Christian Eyenga, Jawad Williams, Joey Graham, (Antawn Jamison)
The Cavaliers small forward position is interesting. The only player we should know what to expect from is Jamario Moon. He is tall, athletic, is a solid defender, and can drive to the basket. I personally think his three-ball is underrated also.
From there we have Christian Eyenga. He was the Cavaliers' first-round draft choice a year ago, and the team should play him often. He is young and the Cavaliers have to see what he is capable of. Jawad Williams and Joey Graham are OK, but they are old.
Give Eyenga the playing time and only use Williams or Graham when necessary.
An interesting player here is Antawn Jamison. Coach Scott has declared Jamison will come off the bench but if the Cavaliers want to win games, Jamison has to get as much playing time as possible. Although he is older now, he is athletic and quick enough to play small forward.
Summary: It may be tough but with the right rotation and lineups, Moon, Eyenga and Jamison will all be able to get minutes at this position. If utilized right, the Cavaliers small forward position could be one of successes in the upcoming season.
Power Forward: J.J. Hickson, Antawn Jamison, Leon Powe, Samardo Samuels (Anderson Varejao)
During last season, J.J. Hickson was talked about in many trade rumors with the Cavaliers but Cleveland's answer was always NO! They have big expectations of J.J. and many think he is ready for a breakout season. Coach Scott has declared him the starter.
Antawn Jamison, possibly the team's best overall player, looks to come off the bench here as well as at small forward. While Hickson is an aggressive inside scorer, Jamison can mix it up with his excellent outside and mid-range shooting.
Leon Powe, who didn't quite live up to the fans' expectations last year, looks to prove himself this year. If he is healthy, he could be a solid rotation player for the Cavaliers.
Nobody should expect much from Samardo Samuels, as he is looking to be a reserve this season.
Varejao, looking to play center for the Cavaliers, will also get some minutes at power forward. If the team is looking for a taller lineup or some players need rest, look for Varejao to step in here.
Summary: The Cavaliers have great versatility here, combining youth and experience. If Hickson steps up like expected, the Cavaliers' power forward position will be an area their opponents have to build their gameplan around.
Center: Ryan Hollins, Anderson Varejao
Ryan Hollins, acquired in the trade that also landed the Cavaliers Ramon Sessions, is a tall athletic center who comes to Cleveland expecting his biggest role with a team ever. The man has never averaged more than 17 minutes a game in his career.
He has always been a bench player. On a team where the center position is thin, he should get an expanded role so he can finally show his true colors, whether they be good or bad.
Varejao, the Cavaliers key bench player last season and a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, should get an even bigger role this year. Whether he starts or not isn't for sure yet, but man he is a great bench player so it wouldn't be surprising if he came off the bench and Hollins started.
Varejao should definitely get most of the minutes at center, whether he starts or not.
Summary: Neither players here should be a focal point of the team but both can make their contributions. Their mindset should be to get as many rebounds as possible to help out the rest of the team, and score when given the opportunity.
Overall Summary: The Cavaliers' roster should rely on their athleticism and seek to win their games. Never quit coming and never let the opposing team catch a breather.
The team is full of athletic players, and I for one think it is no coincidence. If the Cavaliers' defense can rise up to the challenge, they can be a scary team.
The thing that should be a concern is mismatches. The Cavaliers don't have an answer for players like Dwight Howard or LeBron James. The only thing they can hope to do is play suffocating defense and keep their players fresh.
Overall Team Grade: B-
The new team slogan is "All for one, one for all." No one player should win or lose ball games for us. Every player will make his contributions. If we lose, it will be because of a failed team effort. That's much better than a one man effort resulting in failure.
Projected starting lineup:
PG Mo Williams
SG Anthony Parker
SF Jamario Moon
PF J.J. Hickson
C Anderson Varejao
G Ramon Sessions
G Daniel Gibson
G Manny Harris
F Christian Eyenga
F Antawn Jamison
F Leon Powe
C Ryan Hollins
G Daniel Green
F Jawad Williams
F Samardo Samuels/Joey Graham
Side Note: I personally think that Mo Williams and Varejao should come off the bench and let Sessions and Hollins start. Sessions is better at running an offense, and Varejao is much better off of the bench.
Nonetheless, look for the Cavaliers to contend this season, turning some heads in the process.
GO 2010-2011 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS!!! GET THAT WEAK STUFF OUTA HERE!