Heading into this season, I thought it was possible for the Cavs to make the eight seed in the playoffs. I’ll be the first to admit I was very wrong with this prediction. I’m a fan like everyone else. I’ll always assume Cleveland teams will be better than what their roster actually indicates. I didn’t think they were a lock to make the playoffs or anything like that, but I did not think the Cavs would be the worst team in the NBA.
Before you call me a complete and utter moron for thinking this, I really believe all of the injuries have played a big part in the team’s struggles this season. Would they be fighting for a playoff spot if everyone stayed healthy? Probably not, but they would’ve been much more competitive.
Despite how awful the team looks on a nightly basis, losing like this isn’t entirely a bad thing. Since the playoffs are completely out of the question now, the organization has fully embraced tanking this season away. They moved on from Ty Lue, traded away most of the players with value, loaded up on draft picks, added expiring contracts and are in prime position to make even more moves before Thursday’s trade deadline. These are all positive steps towards building a successful team in the future.
The problem with tanking, though, is just because you have the draft picks, doesn’t mean they’ll turn out. With the new NBA draft lottery rules, it’s even harder for a team to land the number one overall pick. The bottom three teams now hold only a 14% chance of earning the number one overall pick. Plus, besides the two outliers, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Cavs’ organization has been rather poor with their player development. There are way more draft misses than successes in their recent history.
Luckily, this years draft is absolutely loaded with talent. Duke has three can’t miss prospects on their roster alone. If you’re picking in the top give, you have about as much of a guarantee at landing a franchise star as you could ever want. Even for a team with a draft history like the Cavs, it would be hard to take the wrong guy.
As for the current young players on the roster, all their future potential is somewhat murky.
Sexton will forever under perform if he’s unable to improve his jump shooting. Jordan Clarkson is an excellent scorer, but is best served as a 6th man and might even be moved before the trade deadline. Cedi Osman is currently on a tear and has vastly improved his 3-point shooting this season, though it’s hard to picture him as much more than a decent wing player with his current skillset. Larry Nance Jr. is a supreme athlete with a lot of holes in his game. Ante Zizic and Jaron Blossomgame have been mildly successful in the small doses they’ve played, but neither has done anything that makes you believe they’re more than a rotation player.
Essentially, the Cavs’ draft success in the next few seasons will determine the immediate future of the franchise. They’re not landing a marquee free agent anytime soon, they couldn’t even do that with LeBron. The first step towards regaining their supremacy in the Eastern Conference is winning the lottery in the upcoming draft. As of today, they’re currently sitting with the 3rd best odds, behind New York and Phoenix.
So, let’s keep losing! #TankingSZN