It was the dream off season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They saw LeBron James return home and last night they added the best power forward in the NBA Kevin Love to the fold. So, heading into the 2014-2015 NBA season Cleveland are the favorites to win the Eastern Conference title and advance to the finals. Anything less would be a huge disappointment for this team.
New Cavaliers head coach David Blatt will have the best starting line-up of any team in the NBA East.
Kyrie Irving, point guard, 22 years old, 2013-14 stats: 35.2 minutes, 20.8 points, 43 percent field goal, 35 percent three point, 86 percent free throws, 3.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.7 turnovers.
Dion Waiters, shooting guard, 22, 2013-14 stats: 29.2 minutes, 15.9 points, 43 percent field goal, 37 percent three point, 68 percent free throws, 2.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 2.2 turnovers.
LeBron James, small forward, 29, 2013-14 stats: 37.7 minutes, 27.1 points, 56 percent field goal, 38 percent three point, 75 percent free throws, 6.9 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 3.5 turnovers.
Kevin Love, power forward, 25, 2013-14 stats: 36.3 minutes, 26.1 points, 45 percent field goal, 37 percent three point, 82 percent free throws, 12.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 0.5 blocks, 2.5 turnovers.
Anderson Varejao, center, 31, 2013-14 stats: 27.7 minutes, 8.4 points, 49 percent field goal, 68 percent free throws, 9.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.1 steals, 1.1 turnovers.
On paper this is the by far the best team in the Eastern Conference capable of winning as may as 60 games or more. But they remain behind the team that James and his Miami Heat were un able to beat.
The title crown currently belongs to San Antonio. It was earned after the Spurs had their way with the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals this past season. The best coach in the NBA, Gregg Popovich, is on their side. You must consider the Spurs as the team to beat in the West and also the best team in the NBA until proved otherwise.
Oklahoma City, Chicago and the Los Angeles Clippers are easy to spot contenders for the NBA crown. For Cleveland you could make a case that this newly constructed team is actually better that the Miami squad that won the East last season.
With Love, James and Irving, the Cavs possess three of the Top 15 scorers in the NBA. No other team has a roster with two. It’s the best Big 3 in the league. It’s better than San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Chicago, Golden State, Washington or anyone else.
Thanks the hard work of Cleveland’s front office and the recruiting of James, the Cavs’ potential starting five is as daunting as the league has seen. The five players combined to average 98.3 points, which was more than the Cavs averaged as a team during a disappointing 2013-14 season. It was also more than Eastern Conference playoff teams Charlotte, Indiana and Chicago – which played the season with Derrick Rose on the sidelines.
The Cavs’ talent goes beyond the starting lineup.
A bolstered bench includes Mike Miller, James Jones and Shawn Marion, who has agreed to a deal, while not yet being made official. Tristan Thompson, who has been a starter the last two seasons, will likely accept a new role as one of the stabilizers of head coach David Blatt’s second unit. And sharpshooter Ray Allen could also be on the way, provided he holds off on retirement for one last title run.
Thanks to biggest transformation the league has seen in one off-season, the Cavs, winners of 97 games the last four years, have gone from Eastern Conference doormat to the upper echelon of the NBA, and there’s no reason for them to not win the title this season.
Getting to the playoffs is not enough. Neither is getting to the Finals. The talent has been acquired. The pieces fit perfectly. Now there’s one thing left, and it’s something the franchise has never done before: win the NBA championship. Anything less would be a disappointment.