Skip to main content

See also:

The Not-So-Cavalier Overhaul of the Cleveland Cavaliers

James points to the sky in Akron, Ohio in symbol of the future of his Cavs
James points to the sky in Akron, Ohio in symbol of the future of his Cavs
Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers have completed one of, if not the most, unbelievable turnarounds from one season to the next in sports history. Albeit the team has yet to play a pre-season game they have compiled a roster of players that will have an impact on the NBA for as long as they are playing in the same city.
Only six months ago the Cav’s locker room was described as being “a mess” and their All-Star MVP point guard Kyrie Irving was contemplating his departure from the franchise as soon as his contract could end. (This at the time was not soon enough.) A report surfaced stating that Irving “acts like he doesn’t care” and that the communication between then head coach Mike Brown and his staff were “not too hot.” The cure at that time was to trade one of Dion Waiters or Kyrie Irving and build from there.
Fast forward to the present and find that they both are staying and they both are likely to start alongside the real cure to the Cleveland Cavaliers; LeBron James. The Cavs have failed to make the playoffs in each of the past four seasons since James left the team and were able to accumulate three number one overall picks, Irving, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins. Two of the three will prove to be very helpful in the roster overhaul and the overall build of the franchise going forth.
James made his decision to come back home to “North East Ohio” is a beautifully worded letter published by Sports Illustrated that thanked just about everyone from his teammates to the janitors that clean the Cav’s jerseys. Everyone except the Cavs most recent number one overall pick Andrew Wiggins. Perhaps James forgot that the most coveted collegiate player in the country was joining the Cavs in the same season that he would make his return, or perhaps he had known all along that Wiggins would be the center piece in a deal that would eventually land one of the NBA’s best power forwards, Kevin Love.
Cleveland has very little playoff experienced players and with James joining the team and the playoffs a part of their certain future having experience under pressure would come in the form of Mike Miller, James Jones and Shawn Marion. All three decided to come to the Cavs over plenty of contending suitors with the lure of LeBron and title hopes ahead.
The Cavs also fired head coach Mike Brown and hired David Blatt. Blatt is a Stanford graduate that has thrived as a head coach overseas. His system is compared to that of Gregg Popovich where teamwork and unity allows each individual to play a role and thrive together. His resume includes four Israeli League Coach of the Year honors, six Israeli Cup Championships, five Israeli League Championships, FIBA Euro Title, Russian Super League Coach of the Year honor, Italian League and Cup champion, Adriatic League Champion, Euroleague Champion, Euroleague Coach of the Year and aslo led the Russian National team to bronze in the 2012 London Olympics.
Blatt will be heavily scrutinized much like James’ former Miami Heat head coach, Erik Spoelstra was. However, the true test will be in forming a team from all the new talent coming in, minute managing and drawing up plays late in games to close out and get wins.
Blatt added Larry Drew as his top assistant, former Milwaukee Bucks head coach, who was ran out of town by Jason Kidd and his personal friend also Bucks owner. He has been an assistant in the league since 1992 and was a two time head coach with the Hawks and the Bucks. Drew is an exceptionally talented coach and will bring added value to Blatt and his staff.
Joe Harris was their second round pick this summer who led Virginia with an ACC tournament MVP honor. Harris thrives off screen and showed during the NBA combine that his best asset is his long range, sinking 16 of 25 NBA spot-up three pointers as well as shooting 40% from three in his senior season. Harris will come off the bench and with Mike Miller and James Jones in town as well the Cavs now have the ability to space the floor and force defenders to guard the perimeter or when James, Irving or Love are being doubled they will have proven options to knock down the three.
Kyrie Irving extended his contract for another five seasons and Kevin Love is expected to do the same in the summer ahead. Love and James were both in the top 3, only behind Kevin Durant, for player efficiency rating and Irving cracked the top 20 as well. The Cavs went from Luol Deng being their top options to LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irvin all being threats.
James came out and made it very clear how happy he is that Anderson Varejao will again be his teammate, stating that he is one of James’ favorite all-time teammates he has ever played with. Varejao has had a hard time his entire career staying healthy, but with Tristian Thompson, Kevin Love, Brendon Haywood and even Alex Kirk paired down low he will have less pressure and hopefully be able to remain healthy.
Waiters, Irving and Love will all start for the Cavs and all three have a combined zero playoff experience. They are very talented players but the pressure of the post season will be very new to them. New GM David Griffin did an excellent job in trying to counter act this stat by adding players like James Jones, Shawn Marion and Mike Miller. As well as James who has played seemingly more playoff minutes than anyone in the NBA the Cavs will be ready for their destined playoff run.
The overhaul has been eccentric, from head coach to attaining the world’s best basketball player to adding role players that hopefully will fit the mold. As well as trading the previous two number one overall picks for only one player, Kevin Love who is a 25-year-old top 10 NBA player. There have been teams in the past to create super teams and failed and then there have been those who have succeeded.
James is back home, where he wants to be and where his family wants to be. He wants nothing more than to make good of his promise he made all those years ago to bring the city of Cleveland a title. The powder will fly once again in North East Ohio before every game and James will play with a passion that we have yet to see form him.
The question mark really comes with his supporting cast, all talented and all strategically placed to fill roles to reach the mountain top. But they must first all mold together, as a unit and as a team they will succeed, #23 needs support to carry them to a title.
Cleveland fan should look back to the wise words of Miyagi, “Never put passion above principle, even if win, you lose.” Their franchise has come a long way in a short period of time. All things take time to become great, LeBron James will expedite this process for Cleveland and seem to be the top team in the Eastern Conference. But remember where you have come form in order to enjoy the fruits of your future to the fullest.