The NBA is an insane place. If you’re even just a casual fan, you should understand this.As soon as it was known that LeBron James would be heading back to his hometown to play for (presumably) the rest of his career, the odds of the team to win the 2015 NBA title changed dramatically. Suddenly, Cleveland took the top spot at 4-1 odds, while James’ former club, the Miami Heat, fell to a staggering 50-1.
If that number isn’t insane enough by itself, it means that the Heat are below the New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies in odds.
So it’s no surprise after seeing things such as this that everything should be taken with a grain of salt. That’s why while it’s fun and exciting to welcome The King back to his old stomping grounds, it’s also important that one doesn’t become blinded by a pair of wine and gold coloured glasses.
The Cavaliers were a 33-49 win team last season. They weren’t good.
Even in one of the worst Eastern Conferences of all time. They missed the playoffs, some people thought Kyrie Irving was becoming a bit of a ball hog, Anderson Varejao dealt with more injuries and the lack of a true leader on the team sent the youngsters spiraling into failure.
Enter LeBron. All right, now you have all of the attention–4-1 odds to win the championship kind of attention.
With the best player on the planet leading the way, it is impossible to count the Cavs out of anything. Certainly they are now contenders in the East. He’ll provide a lot of things that were missing last season, most notably leadership.
But James’ arrival hasn’t changed much else with the squad. Sure, Mike Miller and James Jones came scrambling after him when James called to let them know he wanted them on the team, but other than that, this team is very much still one looking for improvement.
The starting lineup is fine. Perhaps even better than people imagine. Right now it (potentially) looks like this: Kyrie Irving (PG), LeBron James (SF), Andrew Wiggins (SG), Tristan Thompson (PF), and Anderson Varejao (C).
It is important to note here that we are examining this current Cavs team as is. Shawn Marion, though reportedly interested in signing with the Cavs, has not yet done so and is still being sought after by other teams.
As for Kevin Love … a trade for him could serve in actually making the bench worse.
Last season, only one of these aforementioned guys averaged double-digit points. That was none other than the streaky Waiters, who averaged 15.9 ppg in his second season.
However, he started 24 games as the team flipped-flopped through lineup changes, and jacked up 14.2 FGA per game while shooting just 43.3 percent from the field.
If the Cavs’ best bench player is a chucker who new head coach David Blatt can’t count on to be consistent, then how are we supposed to feel about the rest of the players on the pine?
This offseason, the Cavs lost a few valuable bench contributors in guys like Jarrett Jack, Spencer Hawes and C.J. Miles, not to mention a strong starter in Luol Deng. Each of these players averaged either just less than or more than 10 ppg.
There are injuries to consider as well. Irving has not been able to stay consistently healthy for long stretches during his short career, often dealing with smaller, nagging injuries. Varejao, at 31-years old, has had many of his own issues. Now say one of those two gets hurt or the starters are gassed during a stretch of five games in six nights?
Who will Blatt be able to call upon? Matthew Dellavedova? Brendan Haywood?
It became painfully obvious last season that the seemingly inhuman LeBron cannot carry an entire team all the way anymore. He lifted the Heat through the regular season, the playoffs and made it to The Finals, but all the while was growing increasingly tired from all the wear and tear on his body.
He can’t be expected to do such a thing again. But he might have to, if he wants to take this Cavs club as far as possible.
James will turn 30 next season. The window for the Cavs isn’t as long as they think it is. They need to start looking for more serviceable bench players and soon, before those 1-50 odds that are so easily tossed around land on them.
All one can do for now is re-watch Bennett’s Summer League highlights and pray that his coming out party will be during one of the most relevant Cavaliers seasons in team history.
Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers