The hope has returned to Cleveland, as the King has returned to the Cavaliers. And as the excitement over LeBron James coming home starts to fade into reality, the questions now turn to the make-up of the roster and what to expect as we move forward.
In LeBron’s eloquent letter, which was co-writter with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, expectations should start small and build over time.
I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go.The mere presence of LeBron will be enough to force the Cleveland Cavaliers into relevancy on the NBA landscape, and to at least have their name mentioned in the small list of championship contenders…even if they are just on the outside looking in. He not only brings a talent that is unmatched in the league, but he also brings a veteran presence and a championship pedigree that young players such as Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett could so desperately use.
It’s tough to analyze how LeBron fits on the Cavaliers roster, simply because he is the type of player that can fit on any roster., as he makes the game slow down and look far easier than it actually is.
But the good news is that despite still having some significant roster needs, the Cavaliers already have a fantastic foundation to build upon.
These are the nine players that matter at the moment; whether as players or, for some, trade chips (I’m looking at you Dion!).
The two immediate needs that can be seen are a backup to LeBron, and the absolutely gaping hole at center. Thankfully, despite being viewed by David Griffin as more of a large shooting guard, Wiggins can easily see some minutes at SF due to his 6’9″ and 200-plus pounds frame.
Under the leadership of LeBron, Wiggins would have an opportunity to be more of a offensive focal point for some minutes.
All-in-all, Wiggins may be the biggest winner of LeBron’s decision to return home as he will have the opportunity to enter into the NBA as the first overall pick, while also benefiting from the opportunity to learn from the top player in the league.
Which means, the highest need for Cleveland would be solidifying a very sparse frontcourt that’s only real options at center are the perpetually injured Anderson Varejao and decent backup in Brendan Haywood. But with open roster spots at their disposal, and the recruiting power of the opportunity to pursue a championship with LeBron, there should be plenty of veteran players available for this role.
Free agent centers such as Emeka Okafor, Chris Andersen, Nazr Mohammed, and even Greg Oden could provide the necessary rebounding and defense that is so desperately needed. With offensive players such as LeBron and Kyrie already on the roster, the Cavaliers greatest need is a defensively focused center to quarterback the team on that end of the floor.
(Sidenote: If the Cavaliers sign Greg Oden, they could theoretically put out a lineup entirely made up of first overall picks with Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, LeBron James, Anthony Bennett, and Greg Oden. Has that every been done before?)
Cleveland could also use some additional floor spacing as the Cavaliers were one of the teams that attempted the fewest 3-pointers last season (11th-fewest 3-point attempts in the league, and 13th-worst in 3-point percentage). Griffin is already rumored to have made significant contact with sharp shooters such as Mike Miller (45.9 percent from 3 last season) and Ray Allen (37.5 percent from 3 last season, but a career average of 40 percent).
Cavs’ pursuit of Ray Allen and Mike Miller has intensified within past few hours, sources tell @FOXSportsOH. Interest mutual on all fronts.
— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 11, 2014
To be more precise, I’m told Cavs have spoken to reps of Ray Allen and Mike Miller, talks “serious.” Also told, yes, LeBron helping recruit. — Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 11, 2014
The truth is, these are relatively small problems considering where this team was just a few months ago. No longer are the Cavaliers a team that would be satisfied with simply making the playoffs.
They are now a team that is expected to develop into one that strikes fear into the hearts of their opponent.
The roster will be filled out, veterans and championship chasers will come to Ohio, and the Cavaliers are well positioned for the years to come.
Life is finally good for Cleveland!