Cleveland Cavaliers still a couple years away from being NBA playoff contender


kyrie irving cavs

The Sports Bank will be counting down to the opening tip of the 2012-13 NBA season with team by team previews starting with the worst and working our way to the title contenders.  There is no lockout this time around so let’s get going.

Year two of the post-LeBron James makeover in Cleveland is underway.  Led by reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving, the future is getting brighter for the Cavs but they are still a couple of seasons away from being a legitimate playoff contender.

2011-12: 21-45, 13th in Eastern Conference
Predicted EC Finish: 12th

Projected Depth Chart:
C: Anderson Vaejao/Tyler Zeller/Michael Eric
PF: Tristan Thompson/Samardo Samuels/Luke Walton/Luke Harangody/Jon Leuer
SF: Omri Casspi or Alonzo Gee/C.J. Miles/Kelenna Azubuike
SG: Dion Waiters/Daniel Gibson
PG: Kyrie Irving/David Sloan/Jeremy Pargo

Cleveland’s off-season was: a building block.  The Cavs front office did the smart thing by not blowing any of their cap space and spending money on overpriced veterans.  They added a pair of young pieces in Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller.  In case you are new to my writing, I love Waiters and think he has the potential to be a Dwyane Wade-type player in the NBA (although I must admit I was shocked he went fourth overall.)  Zeller will be a serviceable big man in the NBA though I can’t ever see him developing into a starter on a playoff caliber team.  Other than that, Cleveland was fairly quiet this off-season which is not a negative for a team that was ultimately building from scratch last season and not looking to open up their wallets by overpaying free agents.

2012-2013 will be a success if: Kyrie Irving stays healthy, Tristan Thompson develops his offensive game, and Waiters shows flashes of being a star.  Irving proved last year that he has superstar potential and the capability of leading this franchise into the future.  He was hampered by injury including a late season concussion which has some in Cleveland wondering if he is injury proned.  If he can avoid the injury bug, he should become one of the bright young stars in the league.

I was vehemently against Thompson being the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft but when you look back at that draft class, it wasn’t a terrible decision.  Thompson is solid on the glass but needs to become more well rounded on the offensive end to take the next step with his game.  Waiters is in a similar position as he is terrific off the bounce due to his strength and athleticism but is inconsistent with his outside shooting.  These three players are the future of the Cavs’ franchise so their play will bring either optimism or pessimism to the team’s outlook for the next couple of years.

2012-2013 will be a disappointment if: injuries take a toll on the team once again.  One thing the Cavaliers lack is quality depth.  Anderson Varejao missed a significant chunk of last season with a torn tendon on his wrist.  I already mentioned Irving and the team’s top bench scorer Daniel Gibson was also sidelined for nearly half of last season.  (By the way, it’s a sad but true statement that Gibson is the team’s top bench scorer.)  Any injury to one of the starters will tremendously affect what is already a thin crop of reserves that don’t exactly bring a ton of firepower to the floor.

Looking ahead to next summer: A pair of terrible contracts will come off the books in Luke Walton and Daniel Gibson which will open up almost $11 million in cap space and give the Cavs a ton of cap flexibility to possibly pursue a veteran or two.  The most interesting player to watch will be Anderson Varejao.  Right now, he is serving as one of the lone experienced players on the roster but in their youth movement, Cleveland could decide to deal Varejao for some more young talent or assets in future picks, and might actually be moved prior to the trade deadline.  Even if they keep Varejao, the Cavs could also end up with as many as three first round picks which will accelerate their rebuilding effort.

#13 Orlando Magic
#14 Washington Wizards
#15 Charlotte Bobcats

Powered by


  1. The Great Mambino says

    The Cavs are probably in for another losing season, but damn…Kyrie is so freakin good. Is he a top-20 player right now? It’s hard to say considering he’s only been in roughly 40 games. However, he’s already better than John Wall, and his rise and confidence seems really reminiscent of a young Derrick Rose. Incredible. The Cavs will win 20-30 games just on the strength of Kyrie alone. Tristan Thompson has to show SOMETHING this year, and Dion Waiters, controversial as his no. 4 selection may have been, also has to show flashes of greatness for that pick not to be considered a bust.

  2. Hello there, I discovered your web site by way off Google while looking for a
    comparable topic, yokur web site got here up, it seems great.
    I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
    Hello there, simply was alert to your blog through Google, and located that it
    is really informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels.
    I’ll appreciate when you procsed this in future.

    A lot of other folks shall be benefited from your writing.

  3. How long do you look at each result when you use a search engine.

    It makes sense to make profit through your website, since thousands of people search for information about products and services on the Internet all the time.
    The last of the search engines discussed here is Flight –
    Search ( a bare-bones, no-frills interface that specializes on one thing: helping travelers
    by helping them find cheap airline flights.

  4. Even with out competition, an on the internet business
    can still have an edge by developing excellent and sound on the internet visibility.
    Focus on keeping each page’s keyword content well under 20 percent.
    Build backlinks to each page from related websites while using related keywords.

  5. great issues altogether, you simply received a brand new reader.
    What might you suggest about your put up that you made some days
    in the past? Any positive?

  6. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you, However I am experiencing problems with your RSS.
    I don’t understand why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody
    else having identical RSS problems? Anybody who knows the solution will you kindly respond?

Speak Your Mind