"You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." - Obi-Wan Kenobi
Jed Bartlet - "Doesn't it matter that I'm not as sure?"
Leo McGarry - "Nah. Act as ye have faith and faith shall be given to you. Put another way: Fake it 'til you make it."
How you feel about where the Cavaliers are in the rebuild process is purely a matter of interpretation. In the summer, when we have to wade through vague reports about what players are working on mentally and physically, it can be especially challenging to try and determine what's really going on. But I am here to tell you that the Cleveland Cavaliers future is really bright. All the questions and doubts? Throw them away. Your weapons? You will not need them. The Cavaliers are not in good position heading into this upcoming season; they are in great position. Here is why
We have Kyrie Irving
And he isn't going anywhere. Whether it's him telling Spike Lee that Cleveland is home, or responding to rumors on the internet on twitter by making it clear he is happy in the buckeye state, all indications are that Kyrie Irving will sign a max contract next summer to stay with the Wine & Gold. Many Lakers fans thought they had a chance at John Wall, who has played for a few bad Wizards teams the last few years. No way he would want to stay in Washington, right? Wrong. He signed a max contract. You know how many players have turned down max contracts off of their rookie deals? The answer is zero. Kyrie Irving will sign a max contract with Cleveland next summer. The only question is whether he gets extra money via the Derrick Rose exception for being an amazing basketball player.
Which is a point worth driving home: Kyrie Irving is an amazing basketball player. Worried about his defense or leadership? So is he, and he is working on both this summer. He looks absolutely ripped, has been working out in Florida, North Carolina with the Duke program, and has set up workouts in Las Vegas with fellow Cavaliers. He is now with Team USA where most people think he is a shoe-in to play for the Stars & Stripes at next year's World Championships.
Just heard on NBATV: "I think Kyrie Irving would have to be dead to not make next year's USA team"— Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) July 23, 2013
He has no offensive deficiencies outside of some turnover issues, has all the ability in the world to be a solid defender, is working at it, and is taking steps to become a leader. Awesome.
Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett still haven't played their Age 22 seasons
Do we know exactly what we are going to get with any of these guys? No. Thompson is already a serviceable big who can guard multiple positions. He has been called a hard worker by anyone who has ever been within 500 feet of him. His new coach Mike Brown loves him. He is willing to experiment to improve his game, even something as fundamental as which hand to shoot jump shots with. Kyrie Irving says he looks forward to running the pick and pop with him, with a straight face. The Cavaliers drafted a guy who plays his position with the 1st overall pick, so naturally Thompson has taken him under his wing and shown him around Cleveland.
Waiters is turning heads at the Team USA camp, and working hard to develop a 3 point shot that all the research says is necessary for an efficient offense. He showed up to Summer League in great spirits, worked hard and got better as the week went on. He can get to the rim at will and his potential in the open court and defensively seems to be endless. He has proven that he can be coached at every level, so his bad habits should be manageable. Bennett can be an offensive dynamo who shoots, passes (in time), and runs the floor. He will learn to use his size to bully defenders, his range to draw out slower bigs, and his explosiveness to finish in traffic. His defense will be a work in process but he has an NBA body with the requisite length. When he learns defensive concepts, he should be an adequate defender of NBA power forwards. Now who might teach him those defensive concepts.
The Cavaliers have Mike Brown
Mike Brown is known as a player's coach, a tireless worker, and a great teacher. A great teacher of team defense. He has won 60 games multiple times, managed difficult personalities, and spent a lot of time growing up on the job. Upset about his rotations? His in game management? His time in Cleveland was a long time ago. This is new Mike Brown. Confident Mike Brown. This Mike Brown is smooth, hilarious, and knows exactly what he wants. My guess is that he knows how to get it. Do I think the Cavaliers are going to have a top 10 defense next season? Probably not. The roster is young, and it will take time to learn. But the core of the Cavaliers aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and Mike Brown has time. Brown also has the credibility around the league with players to help draw them to Cleveland, noted free agent destination. And he has already put that credibility to good use.
The Cavaliers made some solid moves in free agency that could be phenomenal
Think the Cavaliers needed a steady hand in the backcourt to balance some of the youth of Irving and Waiters? Enter Jarrett Jack, last seen helping the Warriors knock off the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs. This guy can shoot, handle the ball, allow Kyrie Irving to shoulder less of the burden offensively, and play both backcourt positions. With Irving, Waiters, and Jack, opposing guards will not get a break. The pressure will be constant. Think the Cavs needed perimeter defense? How about someone with the length of Earl Clark who made the Lakers a decidedly better team when he played 20-29 minutes a game last season. Someone who represents a shooting upgrade from Alonzo Gee, especially from the corners. Someone who will allow Alonzo Gee to get less minutes and less responsibility, thereby saving his legs a bit.
And what of Andrew Bynum. We are one short year removed from this guy tearing up the NBA and having enough value that the 76ers gave up Andre Iguodala, Maurice Harkless, and Nikola Vucevic for a guy they weren't guaranteed to have the ability to re-sign. This is an all-star center who played his best season for Mike Brown. This is a guy who seems thrilled to be out of Los Angeles, and in a place that he chose to be. Is he crazy? Do we know about those knees? Maybe, and no. But for $6 million finding out is going to be really fun, and he should be motivated. He thinks he can play a full season. If you can possibly get an all star center for such a low amount of risk, you have to do it.
The Cavaliers have a pretty great backup plan if Bynum doesn't work out.
His name is Anderson Varejao. You might remember him playing at an all star level last season, rebounding like a maniac and flashing a new and improved jump shot. The Cavs starting five was pretty fantastic for a good while there. So this is where you say, "But David, he is so injury prone!" Look, I get that he has played 81 games in the last three seasons, and that looks bad, but what are the chances that Varejao was going to develop a blood clot? All kinds of bigs miss time due to bumps and bruises and strains and twists. Not many bigs miss time because they develop a life-threatening issue while in treatment for those injuries. Varejao just got unlucky, and frankly it's just nice that he is healthy and doing well. But I actually expect him to put together a good season for Cleveland. And can you imagine a frontcourt with Varejao, Bynum, Thompson and Bennett all healthy?
All in all, Cleveland fans have a lot to be excited for. If none of this works out, next year's draft is loaded, we have multiple first round picks owed to us, Kyrie Irving, and max cap space next summer. Whenever I get bummed or down, I watch this video. And I imagine it's happening in Miami. In the playoffs.