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Cleveland Cavaliers 2008-09 Season Preview

Last Years Record: 45-37
Key Losses: Joe Smith, Damon Jones
Key Additions: Mo Williams, J.J. Hickson

1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?

This one is easy.  The Cavaliers finally made a move to get a premier point guard when they traded Joe Smith and Damon Jones in a three team deal to get Williams.  What Larry Hughes wasn't, the Cavaliers hope Mo Williams will be - a good compliment to LeBron James on the floor.  Unlike Hughes, Williams is a point guard and wants to bring the ball up the floor.  More importantly, Williams can also create his own shot and hit the open J, something that is extremely important with a player like James who demands so much attention from the defense.  Not to be understated is Williams' ability to hit free throws.  A career 85% shooter from the line, the Cavaliers have long been one of the worst teams in the NBA from the stripe and adding Williams should improve that statisitc.

One move that shouldn't get overlooked was the Cavaliers' ability to get their Restricted Free Agents signed.  Last season got of to a tumultuous start when Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao held out most of training camp.  Neither seemed to get into the flow and the team struggled a bit because of it.  This season, the Cavaliers were able to get deals done with Daniel 'Boobie' Gibson and Delonte West before the start of camp allowing the team to have it's full contingent of players right from the start.

2. What are the team's biggest strengths?

LeBron James.  Is there a bigger strength than that?  LeBron is still only 23 years old.  That means he will likely get better.  Scary.  Put James down for 30/7/7 every night and go from there.

If I had to look another direction, defense would be a strength as well.  Perhaps Mike Brown's greatest acheivement as coach of the Cavaliers has been getting James and Co. to buy into a defense-first philosophy.  Part of the reason was the Cavaliers just didn't have the talent to compete with better teams without playing strong defense.  Now with a roster that seems on the brink of greatness it will likely be a challenge to keep up the defensive intensity.  It all starts with James, however, and if he puts forth effort on the defensive end the rest of the team should follow.

3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?

The Cavaliers are still a reletively young basketball team still trying to learn how to win, and win big.  People forget that GM Danny Ferry overturned over half the roster at the trade deadline last season and the Cavaliers were still able to push Boston to the brink.  With a full summer and training camp to get better, the sky is the limit.  That said, the Cavaliers need to show that they possess the tenacity of a champion, to put forth 100% effort, on a Wednesday Night, on the second night of a back-to-back, regardless of the opponent.  Much of that falls on James, who haas been known to take quarters, or complete games, off.  With more talent around him, and coming off a "Golden" performance in the Olympics I expect renewed leadership from James.

4. What are the goals for this team?

A Divisional Title, a top-2 seed in the playoffs and a trip back to the Finals.  The Cavaliers have the best player in the game and a decent set of pieces around him to make that happen.  The Cavaliers also possess a $13.5 million bullet in the form of Wally Szczerbiak's expiring contract.  Should the need arise come February for the Cavaliers to make a move to bring in an impact player, Danny Ferry has the tools at his disposal to make that happen.  There is no reason to think a trip to the Finals is out of reach for this team, and who has the stones to ever bet against Lebron James in a 7-game series?  Yea, me neither. 

Predicted Record: 53-29

Feel free to give your own answers to the questions posed to me above in the comments!