The Cavs have less expectations this year then almost any other team in the league. They lost their team leader/ MVP/ and local hero in Lebron James. They lost their heart in Big Z. The national media is writing them off as a wounded squad that could challenge for the Eastern Conference's basement.
So, what can we actually expect from the Cavs? Who will emerge as the leader of the team? Will Byron Scott's offense ignite the Cavs to a surprise playoff birth.
Here are 10 expectations about the Cavaliers for the coming season.
Who should start for the Cavaliers?
C- Anderson Varejao
PF- J.J. Hickson
SF- Jamario Moon
SG- Anthony Parker
PG- Mo Williams
The C and PG positions seem to be the most obvious of the 5. Why J.J., Jamario, and Parker, though?
PF- Hickson is obviously the player that inspires the most hope for fans of the Cavs, and a year in the starting lineup will certainly benefit him in the long term. He's athletic and can rebound with power. However, his offensive game is very, very raw, and it is perhaps a bit optimistic of Cavs fans to see him as a future all-star.
Further, it is best for Antawn to come off the bench for the Cavs, as he will be the only player in the second unit that can create his own shot. If Hickson came off the bench, there would be no one that could consistently create for the reserves.
SF- Jamario has the athleticism to be an effective defender, and he knocks down the open shot when it is available to him. 10 points from the SF position is all that the Cavs will be calling for, and if Jamario gets 30-35 minutes that's exactly where the Cavs can expect him to be at. He has the ability to excel in the Byron Scott offense.
Joey Graham can certainly rebound well for his size, but he simply does not have the ability to score enough to make it as a starter. He's nearing 30 and is not a player that can be counted on as a core-member of the Cavs in the future.
SG- Last year, Anthony Parker was perhaps the most pleasant surprise on the Cavs. He uses his strength as a defensive asset and as a way to overpower smaller defenders. He's certainly one of the smartest players the Cavs have: You rarely see him take a bad shot.
Gibson does not have the decision making ability to be a starter in the NBA. He can shoot the 3 well, but his defense is still suspect and he rarely goes to the basket. There is a hope that the new offense will reinvigorate his game by having him more involved in the fast break, and scoring on the second unit will be at a premium. He is a natural bench player for the Cavaliers.
Ramon Sessions will see time as the point guard for the second unit. He has had quite a few highlight assists over his career and has the best ball handling on the team besides Mo. He can score as well but will be more significant for his influence on some of the younger point guards.
Who is the best player on the Cavs? It's probably Anderson Varejao. But, who's the leader of the Cavaliers? It's with out a doubt Mo Williams. He was the second scorer to Lebron the last two years and is probably the only Cavalier who is currently capable of scoring 20 a game. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is certainly one of the most vocal members of the team. Most importantly, he will be the player that has the ability to successfully transmit Byron Scott's offense into reality. He is fast and is easily the best pull up shorter on the team: Two aspects that are crucial to the new offense.
What kind of numbers will the Cavs young star put up this season? Obviously, they will be better than a year ago, but not so fast. Lebron created a large amount if not a majority of the scoring opportunities a year ago for Hickson, and J.J.'s jumper is about as reliable as Andy's. However, he does have Amare Stoudemire like athleticism and will be one of the Cavs best players this year. What can we expect?
13 PPG, 7 rebounds
Ramon Sessions is easily the number 1 pick up of the off season. His game is very much like his former/new teammate Mo Williams, although he is probably a slightly worse shooter and a slightly better driver to the basket. His role is going to be quite different with the Cavs than it has been for any other team. I expect him to earn more PG duties than he has before and he will be expected to run the floor under the leadership of Byron Scott. In an off season that saw Lebron leaving, part of the slack will be picked up by Sessions.
What does Byron bring to the Lebronless Cavs? He brings a new offensive philosophy, experience turning bad teams to good ones, and a winning attitude. The offense will take a year to really take hold, and he is taking the reigns of a team that is being picked to go nowhere fast. So, the tendency for fans of the Cavs will be to have a level of disappointment with the head coach after the year, but it is important for them to keep in mind Byron's past success and the situation he came into. He will be successful, but it will take time.
The central division this year will not go to the Cavaliers. That honor will go to the Chicago Bulls who had the significant addition of Carlos Boozer to an already solid core. None of the other teams should run away for second place, and with a little luck the Cavs can compete for second.
The favorite for second is no doubt the Milwaukee Bucks, as they had their first taste of success in a long time a year ago. They have the young talent of Jennings to combine with the leadership of Bogut and Salmons. Corey Maggette can score in bunches. Most importantly, the Bucks became an elite defensive team and will not give up a lot of points this year.
Third is harder to predict, but the favorite for that particular position is the Pacers. They have the borderline superstar of Danny Granger. Jeff Foster is aging but is still a solid C. T.J. Ford is still one of the fastest players in the league despite his on again, off again injuries. Tyler Hansbrough will continue to develop into a talented NBA rotation player.
Fourth, we finally find the Cavs. They have a number of players who have the ability to score in Sessions, Mo, Hickson, and Jamison. This should keep them from falling off the cliff of the Eastern Conference.
Fifth is the Pistons. Ben Gordon can shoot, but not much else. Prince is clearly their best all around player as he can both defend and score. Villanueva is vastly over compensated, and Ben Wallace is very, very old.
How many minutes will each player get?
Anderson Varejao- 30 minutes
Mo Williams- 30 minutes
J.J. Hickson- 25 minutes
Jamario Moon- 25 minutes
Anthony Parker- 25 minutes
Ramon Sessions- 25 minutes
Antawan Jamison- 20 minutes
Daniel Gibson- 20 minutes
Jawad Williams- 10 minutes
Ryan Hollins- 10 minutes
Joey Graham- 10 minutes
Leon Powe- 10 minutes
Mo Williams- 16 PPG
Antawan Jamison- 13 PPG
J. J. Hickson- 12 PPG
Ramon Sessions- 10 PPG
Anderson Varejao- 9 PPG
Anthony Parker- 9 PPG
Jamario Moon- 9 PPG
Daniel Gibson- 9 PPG
Jawad Williams- 4 PPG
Joey Graham- 3 PPG
Leon Powe- 3 PPG
Ryan Hollins- 2 PPG
Some people will be shocked by the number of players that put up good, but not great stats this year for the Cavs. They have a number of players who are capable, solid NBA players, but obviously lack a superstar. However, there are many core players on the team for the future, including Mo, Andy, J.J., and Sessions. It is simplistic to say that the loss of Lebron will simply be the end of the franchise, as Dan Gilbert and the front office of the Cavs have moved on and have the players on the team to give Cavs' fans hope.
The Cavs will finish between 30 and 35 wins and miss out on the playoffs by 5 to 7 games. However, hope is around the corner.