As the Cleveland Cavaliers continue to prepare for the second year of the franchise’s rebuilding effort, the hope is that they can show improvement from their miserable 19-63 campaign in 2018-19.
However, a new report indicates that such hopes should be tamped down, with perhaps just a few more victories the likely outcome.
Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com answered questions from fans and responded to a query about what people should expect from the Cavaliers during the upcoming season.
“The roster is dotted with question marks. Las Vegas oddsmakers see the Cavs as one of the league’s worst teams,” wrote Fedor. “But if there’s hope that Cleveland can surpass the 19-win total from last season it’s [Kevin] Love.
“He played just 22 games — a season wrecked by a toe injury suffered in preseason. The Cavs were 7-15 in those contests. Yes, that means without Love, the Cavs won just 12 games in 60 tries. He’s a difference-maker for them, their most important player.
“Still, Cleveland’s ceiling, even with a healthy Love, isn’t very high. There’s not enough high-level talent, a dearth of outside shooting and the Cavs did little to improve a putrid defense, which puts immense pressure on the other end. Plus, there will be plenty of growing pains because of the combination of youngsters getting significant playing time and [John] Beilein adjusting to the NBA. Growth and development will be at the forefront, which means experimentation with combinations and lineups will be vital. Getting to 25 wins will be quite a challenge. Anything more than that would be a pleasant surprise.
“Don’t forget, while the Cavs won’t need help being one of the Eastern Conference bottom-feeders, there’s plenty of incentive for them to solidify a spot in the bottom 10 and keep their draft pick from going to the New Orleans Pelicans. The top 10 protected pick did belong to Atlanta, but the Hawks sent it to New Orleans in a draft night trade.”
Given the prospect of losing their first-round pick, there’s not a great deal of incentive for the Cavaliers to pick up more wins this season. The return of Love will help, but Beilein still has to begin developing the team’s three first-round picks and also help Collin Sexton in moving forward after an up-and-down rookie season.
Another aspect about the 2019-20 roster that should be considered is the possibility of seeing Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson traded away before February’s deadline. Both will be unrestricted free agents next year, with the Cavs most likely dispatching them elsewhere if they can’t work out new deals.
The decline for the Cavaliers from perennial conference champions to a rebuilding team isn’t quite as brutal as their previous efforts that began in 2010. That’s due in part to some of the assets they already possess and have acquired over the past year. Still, it’s a painful process that isn’t likely to get much better in the near future.