The Cleveland Cavaliers certainly underperformed in last year’s regular season, going 51-31 while struggling with injuries, continuity problems, and of course, incredibly inconsistent effort.
Well, Kevin Pelton’s model is not painting a very rosy picture for the Cavs next season.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected wins: 49.2
For now, Cleveland's projection includes Kyrie Irving. Nonetheless, the Cavaliers are projected to decline slightly from last season's 51 wins, in large part due to aging. Weighted by projected minutes played, Cleveland's roster is the oldest in the league, more than a half-year older on average than the second-place Warriors.
It’s not surprising that Pelton’s models have the Celtics ahead of the Cavaliers ever-so-slightly (his model has Boston at 49.4 wins). What is surprising is that the number is even lower than last year.
The Cavaliers had some pretty major injury issues, with Kevin Love and JR Smith both missing significant periods of time.
Pelton’s models still include Kyrie Irving on the team, so that’s not the culprit, but apparently their collective age is the issue. That makes sense.
We joked that if the Cavaliers rolled to the Finals this past season after the regular season they had, then they’d probably try to make it as the No. 8 seed in 2018. They, uh, might actually do that.