Here at The Jumper Network we like to carry optimism with us wherever we go, sometimes it’s a little misguided and sometimes it pays off. In this case I’ll leave that decision up to you, but without any further ado…
My name is James, and I’m a Cavs fan…
Coming off what can only be described as a painful 2018/19 campaign, the Cleveland Cavaliers have indulged in an uncharacteristically quiet offseason compared to those in recent memory. The departure of Lebron James obviously no longer makes Cleveland a desirable Free Agent destination, their record (19-63) not lending a hand in that department either.
The Cavs in my opinion, conducted themselves rather well at the 2019 NBA draft, picking up Darius Garland with the 5th pick. Garland projects as a premier modern point guard with his blend of shot creating and passing. While Garland may not be physically imposing, he passes the eye test with flying colours. He projects as Damian Lillard Lite (I told you we’re optimistic) and in John Beilein’s combo guard system he could thrive next to 2nd year guard Collin Sexton who looks ready to improve on his solid rookie campaign. The Cavs also welcomed the 6ft6 sharpshooter out of Belmont, Dylan Windler with the 26th pick and traded for the 30th pick (via Detroit) Kevin Porter Jr.
Windler impressed in Summer League, showing his shooting stroke whilst also flashing the ability to create on the ball and provide some value on the defensive end. Neither Porter Jr or Garland participated in summer league, making the projected future of the Cavs a little harder to predict.
Heading into a fresh season the Cavs project as one of the worst teams in the league, their league worst defence in 2018/19 doesn’t look likely to improve without the addition of any key talent on that end. In spite of a phenomenal rookie coaching showing by Beilein and his staff, the Cavs will likely be in the business of asset development and showcasing. Look for Garland, Sexton, Osman, Nance and Windler to draw heavy minutes at the expense of veterans like Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova.
This combination of veterans and youth could result in a surprising number of wins for the Cavs, but with injury prone veterans like Love and Thompson, it’s likely that this season will result in another lost season and another lottery pick in the 2020 draft (please don’t take another point guard). That being said, the win total should climb with the improvement of Osman and Nance as well as the hopeful emergence of Garland and Sexton as a formidable offensive backcourt.
My Win/Loss Prediction: 27 – 55
Best Player: Often the question with rebuilding teams like the Cavaliers is, who the hell is their best player? The obvious answer here is Kevin Love, simply in terms of talent and his raw box score numbers. But with Love missing 60 games in his most recent campaign, coupled with Collin Sexton’s (hopeful) improvement, it isn’t as clear cut.
Because of Love’s absence, I’m passing the mantle of “Best Player” to the Young Bull (sheesh).
Sexton averaged 17 points / 3 rebounds / 3 assists while shooting 40% from the 3 point line. On another team or in a rookie class that didn’t include Luka Doncic and Trae Young, those would have been great numbers. Sexton’s ability to control tempo was often lacking because of his all-or-nothing style of play and his distribution skills leave much to be desired. But his ability to score the ball consistently in a variety of ways impressed me. Sexton showed a knack for finding seams in the defence out of pick and roll and often created opportunities at the bucket without any shooting threat to space the floor for him. He’s an exciting athlete with a dogged defensive mindset, though that mindset hasn’t translated into effectiveness on the defensive end, I maintain that attitude is 60% of defence (along with 10% luck, 15% skill, 5% concentrated power of will).
If Sexton’s shooting can stay steady and his passing game can develop, he projects as a steady contributor on a team with no pressures. The introduction of Garland could result in some growing pains but the Cavs new system allows for multiple ball handlers and the addition of wing shooters in Windler and Porter Jr should all result in a more rounded sophomore campaign from the Cavs new “best player”.
Head Coach: John Beilein was introduced as the Cavaliers new Head Coach earlier this offseason, marking his transition from College Basketball where he led the Michigan Wolverines for 12 years. Beilein has an impressive coaching pedigree:
- 1 of 6 college coaches with 700 or more wins
- 5 times Conference Coach of the Year
- Only active coach to have four 20 win seasons at 4 different levels of collegiate basketball
Beilein is best known for his offensive approach to the game, his Wolverine’s team often ran a multiple point guard alignment in which he encourages his players to create off the dribble out of motion and a free-flowing position-less style. This projects well for his young Cavaliers who should be able to get out and run in transition, something they looked to do under ex head coach Larry Drew. Nance and Sexton proved to be a lethal transition pairing and with Love remaining healthy and Garland holding his own at the point guard spot, this could be a fun team to watch. Beilein will look to utilise the passing of Love and Nance from the high and low posts in actions involving handoffs and constant cutting with both flex and zipper actions occurring naturally.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t expect much from the Cavs this year, but the good things we do see could surprise you.