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.
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
2017 Free Agents
- Jordan McCrae
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.
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
- 2019 second round draft pick from L.A. Lakers or Minnesota (less favorable)
- 2020 second round draft pick from Portland
- 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
Round 1: N/A
Round 2: Kay Felder (54)
2016 Free Agents prior to July 1, 2016:
- Matthew Dellavedova
- Jordan McRae
Moves made following July 1, 2016:
- Chris Andersen 1 year veteran minimum deal
- Mike Dunleavy traded from Bulls to make room for Wade signing
- Timofey Mozgov 4-years $64M with Lakers
- Joe Harris who leaves for Nets on a 2-year deal
- Matthew Dellavedova 4-year, $38.5M Bucks offer (Cavs didn’t match)
- Sasha Kaun to the 76ers in trade
- LeBron James signs 3-year $100M deal
- James Jones signs 1-year $1.5M deal
- Jordan McRae (Cavs exercised option)
- Mo Williams Exorcised Option
- Richard Jefferson 2-years, $5M
- J.R. Smith 4-year $57M deal
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
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
2016: $130,736,389 – 1st ranked
2017: $125,214,676 – 2nd ranked
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
Guards: Iman Shumpert, *Kay Felder, Jordan McRae
Wings: Mike Dunleavy, Richard Jefferson, DeAndre Liggins, James Jones
Bigs: Chris Andersen, ChanningFrye
- *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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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