The Cavs enter 2020 in a place that I continue to have trouble evaluating. They have been competitive in games against teams with records under .500, and generally not competitive in games against teams with records above .500. So on one hand it’s relatively simple: they’re not a good team, perhaps even a bad one, but they are trying hard.
Sure, okay. Points to John Beilein thus far. Collin Sexton, Kevin Porter Jr. and Darius Garland have all done good things and as of right now are probably the most important players to the team’s future. The Cavs don’t appear to be in serious danger of missing out on adding another lottery pick to the fold this summer. Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman, and Tristan Thompson all seem worth keeping around, even if they aren’t true difference-makers.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment, if you want to call it that, is the relative lack of assists or playmaking from either of the young guards, be it Garland or Sexton.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (10-23) vs. Charlotte Hornets (13-23)
When? 7:00 p.m. EST
Where? Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse — Cleveland, Ohio
Where can I watch? Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
The last time these two teams played the Cavs nearly squandered a big lead as Terry Rozier went nuts in the second half. He couldn’t quite complete the comeback, and the Cavs hung on. Neither team should miss anyone due to injury, though Dylan Windler continues to miss time. Perhaps he’s been one of the bigger disappointments of the Cavs season, as many thought he would be a bit more “NBA-ready” as an older prospect. Still, there’s continuity for each team.
A similar type of prospect will be found on the Hornets in Devonte’ Graham. He’s a multi-faceted point guard that was selected in the second round in 2018. He’s already 24 years old, but it’s the sort of find that rebuilding teams need to get competitive. Even if Graham has maxed out his talent, he’s now worth a lot more in trade value or in competent minutes than the Hornets could have expected a second round pick to pay off in. The Cavs have gone that route with Windler, but they’ve also bet big on young talent like Porter Jr. in hopes of cashing in a lottery ticket.
I’m probably going to be spending most of the rest of the season looking for playmaking from Garland. He’s on the ball more, Jordan Clarkson’s been moved, and it’s probably not even guaranteed Sexton lasts through the trade deadline. He’s shown the ability to keep the ball moving and throw lobs, but it’s not nearly consistent enough. At some point the flashes have to translate to sustained results. Yes, I know, he’s 19. It can be next year. But I’ll watch now all the same.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction: It’s sort of a game the Cavs should win, and they’ve been pretty good in those games. So I’ll say 111 for the Cavs, and 101 for the Hornets.