Many came into the current season with the hope of maybe winning 25 games, but with the Cavaliers only eight games into the season, optimism looks to be on an upward slope.
The Cavalier Decision
Cleveland started this season with a smart business decision when they locked up small forward Cedi Osman for the foreseeable future, four years to be exact. Compared to what his peers make, Jaylen Brown was selected in the same round and has produced almost identical career numbers and will make 20+ million per year over the next four seasons. Osman took a “hometown discount.”
Taking the Back Seat
Cleveland has been boosted by increased effort and talent around the rim from Tristan Thompson. Thompson has cooled off a bit after a thunderous start to the season, but came out the gates hot and has shown an actual set of post moves for the first time in his career. Thompson showcased these in the home opener against Indiana where the Texas product dropped 25 points and snagged 13 rebounds.
Cleveland has had its fair share of success this season, at least compared to last season. Cleveland was among the bottom of the bottom and failed to secure a top pick in the 2019 draft due to the reworked draft lottery. Cleveland opted with selecting Darius Garland with the fifth pick and did not make a splash in the draft in order to move up and select a player such as Ja Morant.
Taking a back seat helped Cleveland, who will be vying for a possible spot in the playoffs if the high level of play against the lower talent in the NBA continues. Play from rookie Kevin Porter Jr. will be important as the only other depth at the position is from starter Cedi Osman who has appeared to, at times, disappear on the court with the increased presence of talent on the court.
Achy Achy Growing Pains
Cleveland has exhibited signs of a young team already this season and has shown signs of the troubles that plagued the team last season. In the 2018-2019 season, the Cavaliers finished with an ugly 6-43 record in games decided by more than 15 points. Cleveland simply struggled to keep games close, with the second half being the Achilles Heel of the team.
Cleveland exhibited these pains in their contest against the Dallas Mavericks earlier this month when the team took a beating in the fourth quarter, getting outscored by 16.
The Cavaliers have rallied around the coaching style of John Beilein and he looks to have full control of the team. Beilein has made a career of coaching at the collegiate level and has shown to be able to corral the egos of the younger talent in the game.
It All Might be a Mirage
Cleveland has a 3-5 record early in the season. The Wine and Gold finished with 12 wins before the All-Star Game last season, so they’re out the gate hotter this season already. The only problem is that the three wins are against teams that are either clearly rebuilding or teams that are not at full strength. Obviously, you play who is in front of you, but Cleveland’s fast start might just be a mirage.
Keep an eye on the team and how they play against the mid-level talent in the association. Cleveland managed only seven wins before January 1 last year, with games against teams like New York and Miami, look for Cleveland to test double-digit wins before Christmas.