It’s basketball time once again at the Q. After a tough loss in the NBA Finals last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers are set to start the 2015-2016 season in four days against the Chicago Bulls. Lebron James and company may still feel the sting of that loss to the Golden State Warriors but they’re focused on bringing a world championship to the city of Cleveland. An active offseason saw the re-signings of their young core of talent as well as some veteran signings including a familiar face to Cavs fans who should help in their quest for a ring.
Additions: Mo Williams, Richard Jefferson, Sasha Kaun.
Subtractions: Shawn Marion (retirement), Kendrick Perkins (New Orleans), Brendan Haywood, Mike Miller
The Cavaliers were active right from the start of the offseason. Re-signing Iman Shumpert and Kevin Love to long term contracts. J.R. Smith eventually re-signed to a two year deal and Matthew Dellavedova signed a one year contract. Mo Williams took less money to make his return to Cleveland and veteran Richard Jefferson joined the squad as well. Tristan Thompson held out throughout training camp hoping he’d get a max contract but eventually signed a five year contract worth 82 million dollars. Russian big man Sasha Kaun, who the Cavs owned his draft rights too since 2008 will also join the Wine and Gold this season.
Season preview and prediction
Lebron James is in his second season since his return to the Cavaliers will lead the team in his 12th season in the NBA. The miles are starting to wear on Lebron, Coach David Blatt will need to limit James’ regular season minutes to keep him healthy and ready for the postseason. James had to receive an injection in his back last week but he said he should be okay for the season. The other 2/3rds of the “Big 3” Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are coming off surgeries in the offseason. Kevin Love suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first round of the playoffs and Kyrie Irving fractured his kneecap in game 1 of the NBA Finals. Love will be ready for the season opener but it is unknown when Irving will be ready as the Cavaliers are bringing him back slowly. Iman Shumpert was more than likely going to be the Cavs starting shooting guard but he had surgery on his wrist on the first day of training camp and will be out till January. J.R. Smith will take his place in the starting lineup. Smith struggled in the NBA Finals but hopefully he’ll bounce back when we get to this year’s postseason. Centers Timofey Mozgov and Anderson Varejao are also coming off injuries. Mozgov had his knee scoped in the offseason and Varejao is coming off a serious Achilles injury. Both are ready for the season but Mozgov told the media earlier this week his knee is still bothering him. Sasha Kaun can hopefully help take the load off Varejao and Mozgov but it is unknown how quick Kaun will transition to the NBA style of play coming over from Europe. Tristan Thompson finally ended his holdout on Wednesday, the iron man of the Cavaliers hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2011. I expect Thompson to have a slow start as he gets back into game shape since he missed all of training camp. The Cavaliers needed to add depth to the bench this offseason after the Golden State Warriors showed they can go ten players deep during their championship run. Veterans Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson will help add to the Cavaliers depth. James Jones is also on the Cavaliers bench who hit some shots when needed and given the opportunity during the postseason. Second year guard Joe Harris will more than likely spend most of the season alternating between Cleveland and Canton with the Cavaliers developmental team as he continues to develop.
I except the Cavaliers to have a slow start again to the season. With five players either injured or recovering from injuries, you won’t see the full potential of the team until about midseason. I still expect them to win over 50 games and be the top team in the Eastern Conference. And I’m predicting that the championship drought will end as the Cleveland Cavaliers will be the 2015-2016 NBA champions.