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NBA 2016-17 Team Previews – Cleveland Cavaliers: All Hail the King

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Oct 18, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts against Washington Wizards in the first half at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts against Washington Wizards in the first half at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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Oct 18, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts against Washington Wizards in the first half at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts against Washington Wizards in the first half at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 18, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts against Washington Wizards in the first half at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

 NBA 2016-17 Team Previews – Cleveland Cavaliers: All Hail the King.

To prepare our readers for the regular season SCS provides our NBA 2016-17 Team Previews.  Who will return to the playoffs? Which team will fall from grace and who will be the Cinderella team?

Get a complete break down of each team. Included in the profiles are:

  • Where the team finished 2015-16
  • Key 2015-16 stats
  • Future draft pick status
  • Current and future salary rank
  • Off Season Moves
  • 2017 Free Agents
  • Schedule, NBA League Pass and Win Projection Ranking
  • Team Overview entering season (Starting 5, reserves and notable injuries)
  • When each team will play the Houston Rockets
  • Strengths, Weaknesses and Prediction

NBA 2016-17 Team Previews now looks at LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers who prepare for their title defense. Though the Central Division represents the toughest division in East the Cav’s are by far the favorites to win the Conference and return to the finals.

Oct 25, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians fan Brad Olecki poses for a photo in front of a mural of Cleveland Cavaliers player LeBron James before game one of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Still there remains copious questions to answer as the season starts. Will there be a title hangover? Could Ty Lue choose to rest James even more this season. Has Kevin Love finally discovered his niche within the Cavalier’s system.  After copious seasons where either or both of Love and Kyrie Irving have failed to make it healthy through an entire season, could this year break that trend? Most importantly, will JR Smith make it through an entire season with his shirt on?

With that, let’s look at the Central Division breaking down the Cleveland Cavaliers and their chances at repeating as NBA champions.

Cleveland Cavaliers:

2015-16 Record: 57-25

Playoffs: NBA Champions

Points Per Game: 104.3 (8th )

Opponent Points Per Game:  98.3 (4th)

Pace: 93.3 (28th )

Offensive Rank: 110.9 (3rd)

Defensive Rank:  104.5 (10th)

Three Point Rank:  36.2% (7th)

Rebounds: 44.5  (9th)

Assists: 22.7 (13th)

Steals: 6.7 ( 28th)

Blocks: 3.9 (27th)

Turnovers: 13.6 (10th)

Next: Future Positioning - draft, free agents

May 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2), guard J.R. Smith (5) and forward LeBron James (23) celebrates beating the Atlanta Hawks in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
May 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2), guard J.R. Smith (5) and forward LeBron James (23) celebrates beating the Atlanta Hawks in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

May 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2), guard J.R. Smith (5) and forward LeBron James (23) celebrates beating the Atlanta Hawks in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Free Agents

Restricted: 

  • Jordan McCrae

Unrestricted:

Mo Williams: though Williams initially said he was retiring he has subsequently not put in the paper work, therefore remaining on the team’s roster.

Chris Andersen

James Jones

Oct 18, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) against the Washington Wizards at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. The Wizards won 96-91. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Future Draft Picks

See Real GM for full details:

Incoming:

  • 2019 second round draft pick from L.A. Lakers or Minnesota (less favorable)
  • 2020 second round draft pick from Portland

Outgoing:

  • 2017 second round draft pick to Boston Cleveland’s 2017 2nd round pick to Boston [Boston-Cleveland, 9/25/2014]
  • 2018 first round draft pick to Portland
  • 2018 second round draft pick to Philadelphia or Charlotte
  • 2019 second round draft pick to New York or Orlando
  • 2020 second round draft pick to Orlando

Average Age of Team:  30.5 years

Next: Off Season Moves

Oct 5, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; A fan holds a sign of J.R. Smith before the game between the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks

Round 1: N/A

Round 2: Kay Felder (54)

2016 Free Agents prior to July 1, 2016:

Unrestricted:

Restricted:

  • Matthew Dellavedova
  • Jordan McRae

Moves made following July 1, 2016:

Incoming:

Exiting: 

Re-upping:

Next: Schedule, League Pass, Win Projection Rankings

Mar 29, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives on Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) during the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas over-under for wins: 56.5

Schedule strength:

As ranked by ESPN: 22nd with 2.18 extra wins

The Cavs have a lot of favorable schedule factors even though they play in the division with the highest average baseline win forecast. No team will play more than Cleveland’s 28 games with a rest advantage.

Games versus Rockets:

  • Tuesday November 1st at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH, 7PM EST
  • Sunday March 12th in Houston at Toyota Center at 8PM EST

Zach Lowe NBA League Pass Rank: 2nd

We’ll spend eight months watching the next two teams circle each other, so let’s be brief here: The Cavs have LeBron James, one of the five (at worst) greatest players ever, and even when they get lazy during the doldrums, they have the collective talent to find the sublime at any moment.

Next: Team Overview

Oct 18, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (left) talks with his teammates in a huddle after player introductions at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. The Wizards won 96-91. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Committed Salary

2016: $130,736,389 – 1st ranked

2017: $125,214,676 – 2nd ranked

Team Salary Ranking as per Hoops Hype, and team salary overview also via Hoops Hype

Starting 5:

Point Guard: Kyrie Irving -19.6  points, 4.7 assists, 3.0 rebounds

Shooting Guard:  JR Smith -12.4  points,  1.7 assists, 2.8  rebounds

Small Forward:  LeBron James – 25.3  points, 6.8 assists, 7.4  rebounds

Power Forward: Kevin Love – 16.0  points, 9.9  rebounds, 2.4 assists

Center: Tristan Thompson – 7.8  points, 9.0  rebounds, 0.8 assists

Reserves:

Guards: Iman Shumpert, *Kay Felder, Jordan McRae

Wings: Mike Dunleavy, Richard Jefferson, DeAndre Liggins, James Jones

Bigs: Chris Andersen, ChanningFrye

Injury News:

  • *Kay Felder is under going concussion protocol and has been ruled out for opener
  • Mo Williams underwent knee surgery. He initially stated he would be retiring, but has subsequently not submitted his paperwork. In addition, his comments pre surgery threw some shade a the Cavaliers organization as he stated he was led to believe the knee wasn’t as seriously injured as it was.

All injury news as per rotoworld

Next: Strengths, Weaknesses and Prediction

Oct 25, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Championships shirts wait on the seats for fans to arrive prior to the game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Strengths:

  • Championship attitude: there is nothing like winning to bring a player and team confidence.
  • LeBron James: while the debates will rage over Jordan versus James for years to come it’s hard to deny his position in the game.
  • Veteran experience and depth: most of the core is back and further depth was added via Mike Dunleavy who’ll offer another efficient perimeter sharp shooter.

Weaknesses:

  • Depth at the point: with the departure of Matthew Dellavedova the Cavaliers lost Irving’s back-up. Mo Williams has vacillated between saying he’s retired and not, but is unavailable regardless given his knee surgery. Sure LeBron James can man the point dutie, but the loss of Delli specifically could hurt especially on the defensive end of the court.
  • Title complacency: at times last season the Cavaliers acted like they had already won a title. Inevitably this will be James’ most important mission this season – keeping his squad focused on the prize. Factor in the litmus test for 29 teams will be whether they can beat the champs and it will keep the man who represents the current active G.O.A.T. busy.
  • Health: In his 5 previous seasons Kyrie Irving has averaged 61.8 games. Notably this season he played through a full playoffs and for the US at the Olympics. The big question is how Irving’s body will hold up over the course of this season. In addition the Cavaliers are the oldest team in the NBA. While that offers experience aplenty it also means older bodies that break down easier.

Prediction:

A sign the Cavaliers aren’t completely buying into believing they are a lock for the finals occurred shortly after a preseason game versus their Eastern Conference Finals opponent – the Raptors. Kyle Lowry scored over 30 points in less than full game minutes and regularly carved up the Cavaliers defense. Granted LeBron James wasn’t on the floor, but neither was DeMar DeRozan. In addition, the fourth seeded point guard also made easy work on the defensive end against both  Irving and  Shumpert.

Cut to the next day and the Cavaliers ended their cold war with JR Smith signing the enigmatic shooting guard to a 4 year, $57 million dollar deal. Cleveland had been adamant they didn’t want to offer the terms of the amount JR was asking, but ceded in both. From my perspective this points to the Cavs being fully aware of their defensive issues in the back court.

In spite of this move, the Cavaliers hold all the power because they have LeBron James. And until a team figures out how to stop James they won’t pose much of a threat.  The contenders currently appear to be last season’s ECF Raptors who’ll have a healthy DeMarre Carroll this season albeit without Bismack Biyombo. Other challengers are likely to be Brad Stevens Celtics (though Al Horford had little success versus the King while in Atlanta), Paul George’s revamped Pacers. The team in my estimation offering perhaps the greatest challenge (in whichever round) is the Pistons.  Stan Van Gundy  will utilize last year’s first round sweep as motivation for his team, and I’m not sure how the Cavaliers will be able to stop the myriad of bigs SVG can trot out.

Ultimately anything less than defending their championship will be deemed a failure.  Those who like to lean towards the odds should know that no two teams have ever returned to the finals in 3 consecutive years. If you believe those odds the only question left to answer is which of the Cavaliers or Warriors is likely to get usurped.

FanSided Affiliate Site: King James Gospel

Next: K.J. McDaniels 2016-17 Preview

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