Cleveland Cavaliers 2022/23 Season Preview
For years, you could count on it that I would drag the Cavaliers name through the mud whenever I could. Whether it be complaining of the lack of good jersey design, their incompetent head office or their overall boring brand of basketball, I would be a critic.
This has all changed.
The last few seasons have seen draft picks blossom into stars (Evan Mobley, Darius Garland) and intelligent trades (Ricky Rubio, Jarrett Allen) all combining into a team that finally looks to become competitive, without a guy named Lebron on the roster.
Now it seems that I've become somewhat of a convert, I may even be rooting for their success this year.
Without a doubt the Cleveland machine is fuelled by Darius Garland and oiled with his playmaking. Sexton's injuries left Garland as the primary to steer the Cavs through the 2021-22 Season. We saw a huge surge in his activity, becoming a weapon on the offensive end. Tight handles, an innate shooting instinct and the willingness to pass the ball elevated a young core to an impressive run to the play-in.
The defensive armament of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley creates a torture chamber for anyone who dares enter the painted area. Both towering over 7 feet and more impressively having great mobility on the court, these two are able to impose their presence on other teams and will be the key to anchoring a solid defence.
The biggest downside to the 2021 squad was that opposition coaches were able to utilise smart double teams and traps to stall Garland, effectively quashing Cleveland's motion. If you shut down Garland's ability to be aggressive, move the defence and create options, it hamstrings the ability of the big men to act as threats. In turn the overall effectiveness of the Cavaliers trends down.
Adding Donovan Mitchell to the mix alleviates this problem. A threat too big for the defence to ignore, teams who previously planned to shut down Garland now have to face the reality of 3-time all star menace Donovan Mitchell playing the two guard. An elite scorer and competent passer, Mitchell will diversify the Cavs line-ups and his shooting will open more driving lanes and space for all.
Now boasting a super young core consisting of 3 All-Stars players and a pillar of versatility in Mobley, the Cavaliers look primed for their first contending season since 2017.
Their starting line-up is very exciting, it is easy to believe this squad could confidently steal a win from any other team in the league.
We should expect the Cavs to avoid the play-in this year and skip ahead to the playoffs.
I found it difficult to place this team in the standings this year. On potential alone my optimistic side wants to believe they could run deep into the playoffs; the steep reality then follows that most top 8 seeds from each conference have also improved this off-season.
Regardless of overall success, the underdog Cavaliers will certainly take teams by surprise.
There might finally be some watchable basketball coming out of Cleveland and I could be eating my hat for the last 3 years of slander.
CEILING: 4th Seed
FLOOR: 7th Seed