This past summer, once our super team came to fruition, we all were a little guilty of expecting the Cavaliers to be one of the best teams in NBA history…instantly. We ignored obvious flaws such as a lack of defense and few capable bench players. We also were quickly greeted with the fact that this team, for some reason, wasn’t motivated to win.

Just over 35 games into the season, the Cavaliers stand at a record of 19-17. However, for me at least, it’s 0-0. With GM David Griffin’s trading wizardry continuing into the season, the Cavs made two big moves. One, a three team deal that sent Dion Waiters to Oklahoma City. New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, along with forward JR Smith and an OKC draft pick to Cleveland. And Cavs center Alex Kirk, plus forward Lou Amundson to New York where they were quickly waived by the Knicks (that could quite possibly could be beaten by a D-League team, but that’s not the point).

Following that, Griffin used the OKC draft pick and a priorly obtained Memphis pick in an exchange for Denver center Timofey Mozgov, who can warm up from those bitter Denver temperatures here in Cleveland. I kid.

Every morning, I wake up and I’m so thankful that the Cavaliers are in the Eastern Conference. And that fact, quite frankly, is a the main reason why a “reset” is perfectly reasonable here in January. In our conference, the Cavs maintain a 1/2 game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks for the 5th playoff seed. Say the Cavs were in the Western Conference. With that same record we’d find ourselves in 9th place, out of the playoffs if they started today, two games back of the Phoenix Suns.

Everything that’s gone wrong or has been an obstacle thus far:

  • New head coach
  • New style of offense
  • Only five returning players. (Now four after the Waiters trade)
  • Ten new players on the roster
  • Injuries to LeBron James, Andy Varejao and Kyrie Irving
  • A team full of players that haven’t won, don’t know how win
  • Championship-or-bust expectations
  • A LeBron James that is starting to look human (Chill mode)
  • No true center
  • No true backup point guard (Delly can’t shoot twos)

Well, after this week you can throw all of that out the window.

With the three new additions (and losing Waiters), this team is totally revamped for the better.

First, Iman Shumpert is that perimeter defender that Dion Waiters never was. A concern might be that he only averages 9.3 points a night but that’s exactly what the Cavs wanted. With our big three out there, another player, such as Waiters, that constantly demands the ball is a cancer to the offense. Shumpert just needs to score timely baskets when needed, while shutting down his counterpart on the other end of the floor.

Next, Timofey Mozgov is that rim-protecting center we’ve been so desperate for this whole season. He averages 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds. Before this acquisition, both big men and guards could just waltz into the lane for a weakly contested layup. Now, it’s not going to be so easy to score around the basket. Mozgov brings that presence down low that this team needed, and can also replace Andy Varejao’s production on the offensive end of the floor.

Finally, JR Smith is the wild card of this trade. See, he’s truthfully Dion Waiters on steroids. His motto of, “When in doubt..shoot.” makes me a little nervous. That being said, he’s a proven veteran that’s gotten it done before. Averaging 10.4 points a night, he has the ability to get hot and single-handedly double that number, helping to win games for the Cavaliers.

There’s always been tension between Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving. Now that it’s not an issue, this Cavaliers team can finally gel as a cohesive unit. Getting rid of Waiters was almost as big a move as receiving these other three players. I believe that no one on the Cavs truly liked Dion. He was quite the selfish “me first” type of player.

Once LeBron James and Iman Shumpert return from their respective injuries, this team has the opportunity to accomplish something special. Throw the first portion of this season out the window, because in this conference we’re hanging in there as is.

No matter what seed, a hot team that’s clicking on all cylinders has the ability to do some serious damage in the playoffs, especially when we have LeBron James on our side.

Out with the old, in with the new. Now let’s make it happen!

Go Cavs!

-Zach Shafron

 

 

 

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