5. 2017-18 Cleveland Cavaliers
That the 2017-18 Cavaliers appeared in the NBA Finals speaks volumes to the greatness of LeBron James, who put together one of the greatest playoff runs in NBA history to get them there. Across 22 games, the three-time Finals MVP averaged 34.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game on 53.9 percent shooting.
The run through the Finals included eight 40-point performances and two game-winning buzzer-beaters. It was a level of greatness not seen before, a result of James’ extraordinary abilities on the basketball court coupled with unfortunate circumstances that developed throughout the regular season.
Cleveland was forced to undergo a Hail Mary procedure at the trade deadline after its offseason restructuring failed to hold up. The Cavs owned the day in trying to re-route their slow death march, trading away six players in exchange for four — a quartet of Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., George Hill and Jordan Clarkson.
All would have their moments at times, but ultimately fell short of expectations. Neither Hood nor Clarkson brought any sense of consistency to their role, being erratic at times with their shot selection. There were stretches for Nance that showed real promise as a high-energy big man, but they were normally followed up with stretches of near total absence.
Having spent three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, Hill was entrusted with the starting point guard position, a role he filled admirably in the mold of a 3-and-D player. Still, the team lacked a true co-star next to James, one capable of creating shots to provide just the slightest of breathers.
Kevin Love was a multiple-time All-Star, but his preferred low-post style of play did little to alleviate the already heavily burdened LeBron.
In the Finals, the talent deficiency was evident. James and Love were the only two players to crack double-figure scoring averages over the four games. Those assigned to space the floor failed to do so, leading to a 29.5 3-point percentage for Cleveland. Against a Warriors team with four All-Stars, it was not a recipe capable of stealing even a single game.