Cleveland is projected to earn the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference by ESPN’s panel.
Here’s how the panel sees the top six seeds in the East panning out in the 2023-24 season:
1. Boston Celtics: 55-27
2. Milwaukee Bucks: 54-28
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: 50-32
4. Philadelphia 76ers: 47-35
5. Miami Heat: 46-36
6. New York Knicks: 46-36
The panel offered some words on the Cavs.
“Our panel is high on the young Cavaliers, despite a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of the Knicks,” ESPN’s panel wrote. “With a young core of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, we project a No. 3 seed.”
The panel is actually projecting the Cavs to win one fewer game than they did in the 2022-23 campaign (51-31).
Cleveland took a massive leap in Mitchell’s first season with the team, earning the No. 4 seed in the East last season. Mitchell made an All-NBA team in the process, averaging 28.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc.
The Cavs made some major additions to the roster this offseason, bringing in two knockdown 3-point shooters in Max Strus (sign-and-trade with Miami) and Georges Niang (free agent signing).
Not only did the team add those players, but it also poached them from Miami and Philly, two teams that are hoping to compete for top spots in the East alongside Cleveland.
The Cavs also brought back wing Caris LeVert, who was one of the team’s best shooters in the 2022-23 season. LeVert appeared in 74 games last season, making 30 starts. He averaged 12.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game while shooting 43.1 percent from the field and an impressive 39.2 percent from the 3-point line.
The Eastern Conference is loaded for the 2023-24 season, but the Sixers could end up losing guard James Harden, who wants to leave the organization, and Miami lost two key role players in Gabe Vincent and Strus in the offseason.
There is plenty of room for the Cavs to continue to develop with youngsters like Garland and Mobley just scratching the surface of what they can be in the NBA. Garland, a one-time All-Star, has really come into his own over the last two seasons.
If Cleveland’s young core continues to improve, there’s no doubt that the team can take another leap.