Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr. won the hearts of Cavs fans everywhere when the Cavs won their final two games before the all-star break. However, there is still much we haven’t seen from our new acquisitions. Although it was a small sample size, the young Cavaliers showed great energy defensively and explosive offensive ability against two top-10 teams.
So what should we expect from the new Cavs after this all-star break?
First off, let’s look at what the team has in front of them. The Cavs have two early tests against the Wizards and the Spurs. I suspect the Cavs will drop one of these games, but after that, it is easy pickings for the Wine and Gold. 12 of their next 13 games are against bad teams or fringe playoff contenders, including two games against Brooklyn and Phoenix each. Expect the Cavs to rattle off a nice win streak here and get the team in good shape for a Kevin Love return right before playoff time.
What should we expect from our new additions?
From George Hill and Larry Nance Jr., one thing is certain; they are consistent. Nance will always be active on the boards and in the pick and roll game. His ability to guard 1-5 makes him one of the most important cogs in this Cavs machine. George Hill will run steady at the point deferring to LeBron and making the right play with the ball in his hands. His consistent shooting from the outside and rangy defense makes him a perfect PG fit for LeBron. Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson on the other hand, totally different story. At any given moment Hood or Clarkson could be explosive scorers and serve as go-to guys in certain situations taking some of the load off LeBron. However, as the Cavs fans have yet to see, these guys have shown great inconsistency in their young careers.
Clarkson jumper can abandon him at times, rendering his game one dimensional. Rodney Hood lost focus defensively if his shot wasn’t falling with the Jazz. The question remains, can LeBron maximize these guys enough to carry some of the scoring load Kyrie left behind? I suspect LeBron will allow Clarkson to run the point similarly to how he would defer to Kyrie but to a lesser extent. Their greatest source of offense outside of LeBron could come from Rodney Hood off the ball. Similar to the way the Cavs had success with Kyle Korver running off screens, I think Hood could become a dynamic catch and shoot guy. However Hood, unlike Korver, is a legit threat to score off the dribble and is a much more capable defender. Expect Korver’s minutes to be significantly cut because of this possibility and the emergence of Cedi Osman.
Overall, the youth, defense and shooting have made the Cavs without a doubt the favorite in the Eastern Conference once again. They are now one of the deepest and most versatile teams in the NBA, oh. and they have this LeBron guy who I hear is pretty good.
This Cavs team is significantly better than the one they had two weeks ago there is no doubt about that. Is this team better than the one that could only go five games with Warriorsiors last year? In my opinion, it is close. I feel LeBron has more than enough talent to win the Eastern Conference again this year and if they don’t, that is a huge failure on LeBron’s end. However I am not sure Hood and Clarkson can do what Kyrie did and bring 30 points to the table every single night. Defensively, this team is undoubtedly more equipped to defend the Warriors better this year. The only question left is can the Cavs’ depth make up for their lack of superstar firepower? The Warriors’ bench is as thin and old as its been in years and the Cavs’ is better than ever. Sadly I still think the Cavs are one big offseason addition away from taking back the Larry O’Brien trophy.