Each year the fine folks at Celtics Blog head up a Season Preview of each team, written by team bloggers. They then present these previews one division at a time. So far, we have seen previews for the Atlantic Division and the Southwest Division. Now comes the Central's turn - due to be released tomorrow. Before that, however, I needed to give my thoughts on the buring questions surrounding the Wine and Gold heading into the season. Check it out!
1. What significant moves were made during the off-season?
I guess it is safe to say the Cavaliers made the biggest move of the off-season - literally. Shaquille O'Neal is a big man and a big personality. The question will be if there is enough room on the floor and shots in a game to keep Shaq, LeBron, Mo Williams and others happy. I believe this team has the character for it not to become a problem - and seeing a few Pre-Season games it appears everyone is going to be completely happy. Should the Cavaliers start losing, well, then there could be problems. I, for one, think the Shaq acquisition was the perfect move for the Cavaliers to make. There is something to having a lot of talent, but that expereince is a huge positive as well. Shaw will also take some of the spotlight off LeBron which isn't a bad thing.
There were other moves, though none got all the attention that Shaq did. Orlando exposed a huge weakness the Cavaliers roster had - length on the perimeter. Mo Williams and Delonte West are both undersized. This, of course, can be camouflaged during the season because, A) most teams don't have the players to expose the Cavs, and B) LeBron makes up for most vulnerabilities. Orlando, on the other hand, did have the players and LeBron could make up for Hedo, and Rashard Lewis, and Pietrus. The Magic simply had too much length.
In steps Anthony Parker(6-6) and Jemario Moon(6-8). Both guys add significant length to the defense and more spot-up jump-shooting from the outside. Now the Cavaliers can matchup much better in the post with Shaq and on the outside with LeBron, Parker and Moon.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
LeBron James. Seriously. The reigning MVP would be the strength to any team he plays on so we have to start there. It isn't the only strength, however. The Cavaliers are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA< and that was when they were undersized in the back-court. Now that they can matchup with bigger, 'longer' teams they could be even better defensively this season than they were a year ago.
The Cavs are also a deep unit, especially up front with Shaq, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao. Darnell Jackson provides some muscle, while J.J. Hickson is on his way to being a premier low-post scoring threat.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
Back-court depth. What was considered a strength just a few weeks ago must be considered a weakness with the uncertainty surrounding Delonte West. In a perfect world, West would be the starting SG, with Moon, Parker, LeBron et al shuffling around the 2 and 3 spots. The Cavaliers could go small, with James at the 4, or go big with James at the 2 and Moon at the 3. West is also the Cavaliers best option at PG behind Mo Williams.
Without West, the team has been forced to start Anthony Parker. He can do the job, no doubt, but it significantly weakens the bench. It also means that Daniel Gibson is once again forced to play the point, a position he isn't very comfortable with. There isn't any real timetable on West's return, but the hope is still he comes back full strength, both physically and mentally.
4. What are the goals for this team?
Easy - Win the NBA Championship. Anything else for this group would be considered a letdown. I don't know if winning the title, or not winning it, will have any affect on what LeBron James does next summer, but this group was put together to win this season.
5. Things a non-Cavs fan might not know.
At one point last season, the Cavaliers had both of Utah's 2003 Draft picks - Sasha Pavlovic(1st Round) and Mo Williams(2nd Round)
Predicted Record: 63-19, Win the NBA Championship. If I don't believe, who will, right?