How good are the Cleveland Cavaliers? Did they get better this offseason? Where do you expect them to finish in the Eastern Conference?
Added: Donovan Mitchell, Ricky Rubio, Robin Lopez, Raul Neto
Lost: Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, tons of draft picks
I definitely respect the move to go all in with this group. It isn’t often that you can add an All Star to your young, developing group and have them all be relatively along the same timeline. How it all works on the floor is the next big question. I think it could work beautifully and the linchpin holding it all together is Evan Mobley. He and Jarrett Allen supply the frontcourt defense that should make up for some deficiencies the undersized backcourt could have. Then Evan’s continued development on the offensive end should unlock a lot for Mitchell and Darius Garland. This group may need another year of seasoning to figure it all out, but they’ll be dangerous for years to come.
This group is a real sleeper in the east. Darius Garland is an offensive engine and it’s hard to imagine a better running mate offensively than Donovan Mitchell. Both should relieve the enormous scoring and creation burdens each player carried for their respective teams. Mitchell shot 42.9% on catch-and-shoot opportunities in 2020-21. Garland buried 43.2% playing next to Collin Sexton that season. They’ll need to figure out how to work around starting a pair of 6-1 guards without great wing depth. The Mitchell trade left them with a pair of future first-rounders to offer, as well as Kevin Love and Caris LeVert’s expiring contracts to match almost any deal in the league.
Isaac Okoro and LeVert and leave plenty to be desired in that most important position in the sport, though Okoro is only 22 and has great physical tools. They need a wing to emerge and at least provide some three-point shooting. They’ll miss Ochai Agbaji and Lauri Markkanen. Evan Mobley should’ve won rookie of the year for as good of a rookie defensive season as you could imagine. Jarrett Allen might be the second best rim protector in basketball behind Rudy Gobert and can score too. The Ricky Rubio return is huge. He orchestrated this group’s best play last year and his return and their lack of a playoff berth last year allowed them to effectively acquire LeVert for a second-round pick. If the offense takes a step forward, they’ll be a challenging team to defeat in the playoffs and finish as high as fourth in the east.
Well, that trade sure changed a lot, didn’t it? The Cavaliers already had a very compelling – but very young – core trio of Evan Mobley, Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen, and now with their blockbuster deal with the Utah Jazz, they’ve added 25-year-old, three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell to the mix. These Cavs now feature four guys who should garner All-Star buzz this season, and Mitchell adds an element of playoff seasoning that they otherwise lacked (beyond the ever-reliable Kevin Love, now a Sixth Man of the Year candidate). The very-small backcourt of Garland and Mitchell will be put to the test defensively, but if any team could ever compensate for such a weakness, it would be the one with Mobley and Allen patrolling the paint. This should be, at worst, a mid-tier Eastern Conference playoff team; I’d be shocked if they ended up in the Play-In Tournament. (edited)
Before the Donovan Mitchell trade, the Cavaliers were going to be fighting for a playoff spot. But now, they’re going to be fighting... for a playoff spot? The trade definitely made them better, but it only put them on the same tier as the Raptors and Heat. The Celtics, Bucks, 76ers, and Nets should still be above them, and that means one of those seven teams will be in the Play-In. (Side note: Is Mitchell really Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, three firsts, and two swaps better than Collin Sexton? I don’t think so.)
The Donovan Mitchell trade pushes the Cavs into the rare territory of having three All-Stars on their roster — and that’s not counting Evan Mobley! There’s a great deal of talent here, and many of the pieces mesh well together. The Cavs snuck into the play-in last year after a poor finish to the season; injuries really hindered them down the stretch. How good the Cavs will be depends on the leap that Mobley takes. The Cavs are still young within their core, so it feels like they’re a year away. I feel like they’re in the mix to be a 6-7 seed in the East.
I’m surprised the Donovan Mitchell trade was so universally applauded, because I don’t think it guarantees them 50 wins or a top-6 seed. Levert, Mitchell, and Garland are all gonna need their shots, and I’m skeptical whether they’ll adhere to an offensive system that allows for them to coexist. Kevin Love was a good sport about coming off the bench on last year’s young roster, but now that they’re in win-now mode, maybe he believes he should start. Because of this, I think JB Bickerstaff will start Mobley at the three with Love and Allen as the bigs. Sure, Mobley has the outside shooting and perimeter defense to hold his own, but aren’t those skills more valuable when playing the five? Because of their lack of veteran wings, Dean Wade and Cedi Osman must embrace 3-and-D roles and allow their talented guards to dominate the ball on offense.
Does Donovan Mitchell make the Cavs a top 4 team in the East this season?
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