There’s always next year.
It’s a phrase that Clevelanders have become all too familiar with in relation to their sports teams.
They are constantly waiting for the Browns to snap out of a rebuild that has been going on since the team came back into the league in 1999. While also waiting for the Dolans to sell the Indians and give the fans an ownership group worry of the team’s history.
Waiting for the Cavaliers, however, has not been something Cleveland fans have had to do since before the 2003 season, better known as the Pre-LeBron era.
Cavaliers fans came into the 2010-2011 season with hope that their team would be much better than the 12 wins that many analysts were predicting them to win (we won 19 games so take that Yahoo!).
Now, these same fans will find themselves debating who the Cavaliers should draft with their two lottery picks in the 2011 draft while the NBA Playoffs are going on.
For those of you who actually watched, the Cavaliers did provide fans with some hope for the 2011-2012 season in their 100-93 victory over the Washington Wizards in the final game of the season.
The first piece of hope was the continuous improved play of Ramon Sessions at the point guard.
Sessions put up 27 points on 8-13 shooting from the field, doing what he does best: attacking the basket.
Many people feel that the Cavaliers should draft point guard Kyrie Irving from Duke with their first pick in the 2011 draft, but the duo of Sessions and newly acquired Baron Davis has made a case for the Cavaliers to address other needs with their play during the final stretch of the season.
The second piece of hope came from the centerpiece of the franchise at this time: J.J. Hickson.
Hickson gave the Cavaliers yet another double-double, putting up 15 points and 13 rebounds.
That put Hickson’s double-double total up to 10 in his last 12 games, which is a positive sign that the Cavaliers desperately needed to see out of their starting power forward.
People have to remember that he is only 22 years old, and will enter next see as a much more mature player than he has entered any of the previous seasons.
The third piece of hope came from the group of Ryan Hollins, Christian Eyenga, and even Luke Harangody.
Hollins has developed into a tougher (never thought I would say that) player with the arrival of Baron Davis to the Cavaliers, and should be at least the backup center for the Cavaliers going into next season.
Eyenga continued to improve on his jump shot all season, while showing off his amazing jumping and defensive abilities all season.
Harangody arrived in Cleveland without many expectations from the fans, and showed that he could be a solid contributor off the bench who can provide a scoring spark at any given time.
The final piece of hope came from the defensive commitment of the Cavaliers toward the end of the season.
At one point during their historic losing streak, the Cavaliers were giving up a league-worst 111 points per game. While ending the season at 104.6 points per game is nothing to brag about, it just goes to show that the players bought into Coach Byron Scott’s system.
So while Cavalier fans are waiting for next year, just remember that this team is not that same team that lost 26 games in a row during the first half of the season.
The group of players that enters the offseason played with a purpose down the stretch and embraced coach Scott’s philosophy after realizing that they could win by working hard as a team.
The Cavaliers have an opportunity to add two franchise pieces to the puzzle in the lottery of the draft, and despite the fact that many people feel this draft is incredibly weak: those players will be impact players for the team next season.
So enjoy watching the playoffs, Cavs fans, because with the progression that the team made the second half of the season and two lottery picks it may not be long until your team is back in the postseason.
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