Here's a chart of the Cavs winning percentage during the 2013/14 season (starting with game 10 to leave off the wide fluctuations in the beginning).
The solid line is the winning percentage. The dashed line is the trend line.
A few things to point out.
First is that the trend line indeed is going up. Not surprising as the Cavs definitely improved over the course of the year. But it is comforting, since it often didn't really feel like they were improving with any kind of consistency.
Speaking of consistency: wow, what a streaky season this was! Especially losing streaks. The Cavs had five losing streaks of four or more games. Seven losing streaks of at least three games.
Also on the chart are four key events that potentially could have keyed big improvements for the team: (1) Bynum getting suspended and ending his horrific and distracting tenure, (2) Deng joining the team and filling the small forward black hole, (3) Grant getting canned, apparently and amazingly turning out to have been a bad influence on the psyche of the team, and (4) the Hawes trade, giving the Cavs a veteran player whose style of play, hey, actually blended well with the rest of the team.
What is interesting about these events is that three of them didn't give the Cavs any easily apparent bottom-line increase in their winning percentage. Bynum leaves and the winning percentage doesn't do much. Deng comes in and there is brief upturn (great west coast road trip) but soon followed by the most dismal slump of the season including the Knicks national TV embarrassment and the Lakers four-men-left-loss straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back. And after Hawes joined, the winning percentage pretty much went sideways-though the Cavs were hit with a lot of injuries at this point in the year, such as when Andy, Miles, and Dion were all out at the same time.
And the fourth event. Grant is fired. Interesting that this is the event that coincides with the most easily identified change of course. After the firing, the Cavs finish the year going 17-16. Before that the Cavs were 16-33.
One more thing to note, the Cavs final winning percentage in the 2012/13 season was .293. So even at the season low points (Bynum suspended, Grant fired) the Cavs were still playing better than they had the prior season.
Now here is my conclusion.
Looking at this chart, it is encouraging that progress indeed has been made. However slight it may have been. However smaller than pre-season aspirations may have had it. There was improvement compared to last year, and improvement over the course of this year.
The Cavs are still a very young team. Lots can still go wrong. But it is too early to conclude that we need to blow it up.