Read any rankings of NBA teams’ future prospects, and there will usually be the Cavaliers near the bottom. Is this because the authors haven’t watched the Cavs to see their full potential? Because they have an underrated young core? Or is it just the hard truth? This article will grade the Cavs on the following three categories: roster, front office, and coaching.
First, the roster.
The Cavaliers have a young core that includes three guards – Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Kevin Porter Jr.
While many scouts and reportedly people within the Cavaliers front office, according to Joe Vardon and Jason Lloyd of the Athletic, believe Collin Sexton is at best a quality sixth man, even being compared to Reggie Jackson by Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo, he’s been proving them wrong since the jump. This past season he averaged 20.8 points, three assists, and three rebounds on 47% shooting from the field and 38% from three-point. Since J.B. Bickerstaff was promoted to head coach, Sexton’s numbers have improved to 26 points, four assists, and three rebounds on 53% from the field and 43% from three.
Darius Garland, on the other hand, has shown flashes of potential but mainly struggled throughout the year. Cavs fans shouldn’t be too nervous, though, since most point guards struggle in their first couple years, like Steve Nash, Kyle Lowry, and James Harden to name a few. Add to that the fact that Garland only played five games total in college, the jury is still out – and maybe for some time.
Kevin Porter Jr., who the Cavs seem to have stolen with the 30th pick in the 2019 draft, has a chance to become the best of the three. He is a lottery talent who fell in the draft due to issues while in college at USC. For the Cavs this season, KPJ averaged ten points, three boards, and two assists in only 23 minutes a game. If Porter Jr. gets the minutes needed to reach his full potential, he could blossom into a star.
Beyond their young core, it is not looking as promising. With soon-to-be-32-year-old Kevin Love’s massive contract, moving him for young pieces may be a challenge. Tristan Thompson and Andre Drummond, the Cavs centers, could both be gone within the next year.
In sum, the Cavs young core could become a solid team with some additions. As it stands today, however, a grade for their core players would have to be a B-, though this grade could improve if they land a top prospect in this year’s draft.
For the front office, a clear grade: D+. Having an inexperienced General Manager and with an owner who has had only one general manager make it past their first contract, while also being way too hands-on, this department could use some work. With Koby Altman’s history of subpar deals like giving Kevin Love a massive extension, not capitalizing on Kyrie Irving’s trade value, surrounding Lebron with a below-average supporting cast at the 2018 trade deadline, trading away picks that became players like Eric Paschall for little to nothing, and adding unneeded salary, Altman could use some improvement.
Then there’s coaching. J.B. Bickerstaff has looked like a quality coach since taking over after the all-star break. The Cavs chemistry, hustle, and overall play improved – and their record showed it. Though they were one game under .500 since Bickerstaff took over, it’s a great improvement from former coach John Beilein. Coaching deserves a B. It would be higher, but Bickerstaff needs a bigger sample size.
As long as the Cavs don’t manage to mess things up, the Cavaliers can become a solid playoff team, and maybe even a contender in the near future.
Mathur, A. (2019, January 24). REPORT: The Brutally Honest Feelings Multiple People Within Cavs Have About Collin Sexton. Retrieved from https://cavsnation.com/cavs-news-multiple-people-within-organization-believe-collin-sexton-is-not-a-long-term-fit-at-pg-better-as-6th-man/
Woo, J. (2018, June 18). 2018 NBA draft: Collin Sexton Scouting Report. Retrieved from https://www.si.com/nba/2018/06/18/collin-sexton-nba-draft-2018-scouting-report-highlights-strengths-mock-draft
Patel, J. (2019). Cavs Team Photo [Digital image]. Retrieved from https://lynqsports.com/2019-2020-cleveland-cavaliers-season-preview/