Opening night is less than a week away and I couldn't be more excited about these young Cavaliers. It looks like they should be a fun, young team to follow. For the first time post-LeBron, there's young players at every position and there's almost no dead weight on the roster (*waves at Luke Walton*). So without further ado, here's twenty predictions for this upcoming Cavalier season:
1. Kyrie Irving will be an All-Star. Easy prediction, right? It seems like Kyrie certainly has the skill set to become an All-Star at the NBA level, but the Eastern Conference point guard position is pretty stacked. Last season, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams all made the squad. I expect big years from both Rondo (now The Guy in Boston) and Williams (now caring for the first time in three years). And if Rose were healthy, I'm not so sure there's spot on the roster for Irving. But with Rose recovering from ACL surgery, there should be enough room for Kyrie.
2. Dion Waiters will be more good than bad. I fully expect Dion to drive me nuts with some of his shot selection but I think he'll make enough plays that I'll forgive him. The Cavs are going to want Waiters to be aggressive and an aggressive rookie guard is going to make mistakes. It's the nature of the beast. But asides form Irving, Cleveland is devoid of playmakers and they're going to need Waiters shot creating ability.
3. Dion Waiters will have at least one Twitter-related controversy. I don't know if he's going to tweet at halftime or yell at some obnoxious Cavs fan giving him crap or post something inappropriate, but at some point this season, he's going to break Cleveland sports twitter. I can't wait. It's gonna be awesome.
4. Announcers will call Tyler Zeller 'smart'. And scrappy. And 'heady'. Fundamentally sound. Well spoken. Etc.
5. Anderson Varejao will be traded. Where? No idea. For what? No idea. But Andy is the Cavs' biggest trade piece and if he can stay healthy (and if Tyler Zeller proves he can rebound and defend at the NBA level), I fully expect Varejao's name being mentioned in trade rumors.
6. Anderson Varejao will get hurt. Just hedging my bets. The guy has missed large chunks of games in each of the last two years (and he wasn't healthy for the 2010 playoff run either). I hope I'm wrong, but his style of play isn't exactly conducive to good health.
8. The "LeBron Conversation" is going to happen. A lot. It only makes sense. The Cavs' cap position is pretty enviable, they have some young talent in Kryie and Waiters (and Zeller and Thompson!) and a gaping hole at the small forward spot. You're going to have the "what if LeBron came back?" conversation. It's going to be a talk radio segment. It'll be the topic whenever Miami comes to town. (I like to say that I wouldn't welcome LeBron back. But the minute there's a fast break and Kyrie throws him an oop... I'd be totally in. Sorry).
9. I'm going to eventually sour on CJ Miles. I have no real basis for this. Just a hunch that I'm going to like him more at the start of the season than I will at end of it.
10. I'm going to get sick of the "Tristan Thompson conversation". We get it, you think the number four pick should be able to shoot. Me too. But asides from Jonas Valanciunas, there's no really good answer to the "well, who would've you taken with the 4th overall pick instead?" question. Thompson has shown me enough that I think he'll be able to play at this level. Will he be an All-Star? Doubtful. But if he can become an elite defender/rebounder, that should be quite alright. Those guys are still important.
11. Alonzo Gee will keep his starting job all year. The Cavs started Kyrie-Waiters-Gee-Varejao-Zeller for the final preseason game and I really like that lineup. They should be athletic enough to push the ball and big enough to defend and rebound (but I expect the backcourt defense will be sub par). I'm not a huge Gee fan, but I think Scott needs to keep Miles coming off the bench, for scoring if nothing else.
12. Austin Carr will have a new catchphrase. And it'll be awful. I also predict that Fred McLeod will be the top Waiters Apologist. Every shot Waiters will miss will have "looked good as it left his hand" and Fred will have an excuse ready for every mistake. Which is fine, homer announcers are homer announcers. But still.
13. At some point this year, I will actually miss Antawn Jamison. There's going to be stretches where these young Cavs will have trouble scoring. It's going to be ugly. The good news is, there are shots to be had for Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and the other young guys. The bad news is, I'm not sure how often I want some of these guys shooting that often.
14. At no point this year, will I actually miss Anthony Parker. The Cavs might miss his veteran leadership. But I doubt it.
15. Samardo Samuels will overcome his addiction and have a really strong season. He lost some weight, he's entering his third season and he's in a contract year. If can stay focused and bring the same energy every night, he'd be a very solid piece to this squad.
16. Luke Walton will win the Cavs a game this year. Assuming he makes the team. And I hope he does, if only for the possibility of Bill Walton joining Austin and Fred in the booth as a guest announcer. We need Walton and Austin to share airtime together Please make this happen. But Luke Walton is going to have at least one game where he makes enough shots that it gives the Cavs a shot. But it won't be very often. Or very pretty.
17. Cavs fans will poop their pants at the awesomeness that is Cavs Zine III. Seriously, Cavs Zine III is going to kick major ass. If you're reading this site and enjoy Cleveland Cavalier basketball, you're going to want to get your hands on this DIY beauty.
18. The Cavs will get nothing out of Omri Casspi. Ah, the rare 'both teams lose' trade. I think Casspi will be better than he was last season, but I don't think "better than last year" necessarily equals "good". I hope I'm wrong. If Casspi gives them anything (like say, shooting to stretch the floor), that's huge bonus
19. At some point, the Cavs will suffer some kind of historic loss. In his first year, Byron Scott team tied the record for longest losing streak in the history of North American professional sports. Last season, Scott's Cavs suffered the worst home loss in franchise history - to a Bulls team missing Derrick Rose, no less. With all the young players and the lack of legit offensive weapons, I can totally see the Cavs having an off night that's really off. Remember, they had trouble getting the ball across half court this preseason.
20. Cavs will contend for the 8th seed. Assuming everyone stays healthy (lookin at you, Kyrie and Andy), the Cavs should be in the hunt for that final playoff spot. Best-case scenario, Cavs will win somewhere between 35-42 games. That's probably good for 9th in the East (Miami, Boston, New York, Brooklyn, Chicago, Indiana, and Philly in some order with Atlanta, Washington, Cleveland, Toronto and Detroit fighting for right to get crushed by Miami). Actually, scratch that. Best case scenario is the Cavs play well but barely miss out on the playoffs, only to jump up in the draft lottery.