Each year, CelticsBlog hosts a NBA Blogger Preview and the time has come for the Cavaliers update. While optimism is not nearly as high as it was, say, last year at this time, it is still an exciting time to be a Cavaliers fan. Let's break it down a bit....
Last Year’s Record: 61-21
1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
Does is get any bigger than the loss of LeBron James? While the off-season was spent focusing on the circus around the 'Decision', little time was paid to how this will affect the Cavaliers on the floor. James' loss is obviously a huge hit, and the Cavaliers will likely struggle early on trying to find a new identity. It wasn't the only change made, however.
Gone is Head Coach Mike Brown
. In many ways Brown was made the scapegoat in Cleveland. A defense-first coach, Danny Ferry surrounded Brown with offensive players that were well past their defensive prime - if they ever had one. A starting-5 of LeBron, Mo Williams
, Shaq, Antawn Jamison
and Anthony Parker
will not scare anyone defensively. That loss of defensive focus was one of the many reasons the Cavaliers unraveled. It became apparent that Brown was ill-equipped to handle the massive egos in the locker room, though I find it hard to place all the blame with Brown. He thought he had a strong team leader in LeBron James, which we all know now just wasn't the case.
Enter Byron Scott
. In some ways I wish the Cavaliers had made this move a year earlier. Scott runs the exact type of run-and-gun offense that LeBron would have excelled in and the Cavaliers desperately needed against teams like Boston. Scott knows the trials of rebuilding all too well having done it with two teams already. He calls this Cavaliers team much father along than the group he took over in New Orleans and new Jersey. Only time will tell.
The Cavaliers also traded for G Ramon Sessions. Sessions is a good fit for the Scott-offense and he could step right in if the Cavaliers decide to trade Mo Williams.
Those decisions will fall to GM Chris Grant who takes over for Danny Ferry. While not perfect, Ferry's performance was as good as to be expected given the situation he walked into. Grant knows how to build a team the right way but time will tell if the aggressive ownership of Dan Gilbert will allow him to do it.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
Byron Scott might be the best thing this team has going for it now. No team in NBA history has experienced what the Cavaliers did this off-season. Many of the players are still trying to come to terms with LeBron's departure. From Day 1, Scott has come in and shown the confidence necessary to lead a team with a fragile psyche. His history of success, both as a player and coach, add instant credibility. Scott is the perfect coach to lead the Cavaliers through the tough times ahead and there will certainly be tough times.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
On the floor, one has to wonder where the team will find consistent scoring on a nightly basis. No team will be as fit as the Cavaliers, but if the team can't score it may not matter. It will be important for the Cavaliers to maintain some of the defensive principles that were so important during the Mike Brown-era or they risk bringing a knife to a gun-fight.
4. What are the goals for this team?
The Cavaliers need to be sure not to knee-jerk to LeBron's departure. Yes, it hurts, but the best thing the Cavaliers can do is collect as many assets and draft picks as possible - rebuilding in the same way the Okalahoma City Thunder did. The absolute worst thing that can happen in the Cavaliers become a perpetual 40 win team, making it hard to collect the talent needed to become a contender again. Cleveland will never be a free agent destination meaning the team needs to build through the Draft. That might be painful for fans, but I believe Dan Gilbert has earned our patience and the Cavaliers deserve our support.