On October 25th the Cleveland Cavaliers open their 2023 season in Brooklyn New York to play the Nets. Last season they ended with a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the New York Knicks. That season was the first playoff season for this team without Lebron James since 1998. And that year was a first-round elimination by the Indiana Pacers. The last time the Cavs won a playoff series minus Lebron was in 1993 in the first round against the New Jersey Nets. They lost in the second round against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Success for this franchise without Lebron James has been hard to achieve. But, in the last few years, the Cavaliers organization has made solid strategic moves for future success.
The building block to any NBA team’s strategy for the future is hitting on draft picks. Recently the picks of center Evan Mobley 2022 Draft, guard Darius Garland 2019 Draft, shooting guard / small forward Isaac Okoro 2020 Draft, and the potential of forward Emoni Bates- in the 2023 Draft show the Cavs have put together a solid young core of players. Also, the recent trades for center Jarrett Allen, guards Donavan Mitchel, Caris LeVert, and forward Max Strus have the Cleveland Cavaliers positioned to be not only a playoff team. But a top-three team in the Eastern Conference. This seems to have been done quietly by general manager Kobe Altman. Life after Lebron James for Cleveland Cavaliers fans can continue with winning basketball in Cleveland.
Along with this promising core of players head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has done an outstanding job of not only coaching this team, but he has also managed the young players as well. The NBA regular season is an 82-game grind and workload management has become more common in the recent era in the NBA. Since 2020 when he took over head coaching duties he has a 122-125 record including last year’s NBA playoffs. The record doesn’t necessarily reflect the job he has done. Unlike the 2016 championship team, Cavs fans watched this team organically develop into a conference contender under coach Bickerstaff. And anticipation for this season is high among Cavs fans. In the last three years, Cavs fans have watched this team grow up in real-time. It has been five years since Lebron James last wore a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform. The Cavaliers organization had to move on from his exit to Los Angeles. Now the Cavs fans can see the fulfillment of this transition.