Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Better Team? Cleveland or Miami

I was reading ESPN's short article on the Luol Deng signing when I noticed a heated argument in the comment section about whether the Heat or the Cavaliers would be the better team next year. Many people were basing their conclusions on the false pretense that the Cavaliers would have Kevon Love. That in itself can not be a basis of which team is better until it is known for sure, so I immediately thought, well the Heat are better, but upon closer examination I realized that may not be the case as the Cavaliers would still have the last two year's number one picks and Dion Waiters, none of which you should be too quick to count out as huge factors towards the team's success.

The Miami Heat 
After playing what I believe to be an underwhelming regular season that didn't quite reflect their abilities, the Heat finished 54-28 (this is coming after a 66-16 season with basically the same team). This is a team that was without Dwyane Wade for 28 games and coasted during most of the season. The reason I point this out is that many people think "a team that won only 54 Games with Lebron will certainly win at least 10 more games than a team that instead has Luol Deng and a Dwyane Wade losing skill by the year." That leaves them at 42-44 wins right there. You also have to imagine that last year's Heat would have won at least 60 games if Dwyane Wade had played even 75 games.
The problem is, Dwyane Wade didn't miss all those games with injuries, he missed them because the Heat thought it was their best bet to let him rest and get him in peak condition for the finals. I don't believe that was what a player as young as Wade needed, he needed less minutes and more games. Dwyane Wade wasn't prepared for the finals and he was watching critics who saw his decline pick him apart, furthering his lack of confidence. He was playing with the best player in the world and he let the critics get into his head, but this was not the player he is. Therefore, you can add two of those games back onto the win side making the Heat a 44-46 win team. Dwyane Wade will also step up in the absence of Lebron James and hopefully he can start finding his "old man game" without the sharp backlash he would get playing on a title contender.
Luol Deng is clearly no Lebron, but he is used to playing 39-40 minutes a game and playing lockdown defense all the while. He brings good veteran leadership and production to replace Lebron. Josh McRoberts also serves as a savvy veteran who can stretch the floor and get Dwyane Wade open looks. 
Accounting for the fact that the Heat should have won somewhere around 60 games last year, rather than 54, you can add 6 more wins to the Heat's season making them a 50-52 win team. 
I already stated in my Cavaliers preview that I believe they will be a 50 win team next season, so I think the Heat will in fact be a better team.

Conclusion: The Heat will be the better team record-wise.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cleveland Cavaliers 2014-15 Season Preview

Kyrie Irving, PG
The 2011 NBA draft's number one pick and the Rookie of the Year from that class has proven he is more than just an average PG in a point guard's league. He may struggle to make good decisions on offense in his passing deficiencies and poor shooting selection, but Lebron's arrival should smooth him out. He is already a two time all star and an all star game MVP despite playing just three seasons in the NBA.
2013-14 Stats: 35.2 MPG, 20.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Andrew Wiggins, SG
He is one of the most hyped picks since Lebron and he is an athletic specimen lacking in the strength Lebron has. He can work on getting stronger and plays very good defense, making him ready to play with Lebron since he won't have to worry about creating his own shots all the time. He is a cross between a guard and a forward and having Lebron on the team allows him to play SG which could be an interesting mismatch for other teams to deal with especially with his athleticism.
2013-14 Stats (College): 32.8 MPG, 17.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.0 BPG

Lebron James, SF
Lebron is the greatest player in this league and has been for the last four years. He leaves Cleveland after four years with four more all star appearances, two MVPs, two rings, and two finals MVPs. He can create for his teammates as well as for himself and draws many double and triple teams, inevitably leaving teammates wid open. He has already played in the city of Cleveland and he knows what it is like to win. His passion for the city and for championships is unrelenting and I predict he will have his first championship in Cleveland in one of the next three seasons.
2013-14 Stats: 37.7 MPG, 27.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Tristan Thompson, PF
Although a bit undersized for his position, Thompson makes up for what he lacks in height with good athleticism and a great nose for the ball. He is a bit of a liability on defense, but like many of the problems befalling the Cavaliers, Lebron can help with that. Lebron will be there to guard the opposing teams best offensive players and he will mentor the young Cleveland players into average or better defensive players.
2013-14 Stats: 31.6 MPG, 11.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Anderson Varejao, C
One of Lebron's favorite teammates from the last time he played in Cleveland. He is a tenacious rebounder and a great leader. He has been riddled with injuries over the last four years without Lebron, but hopefully he can get over that and make a push for the championship. This is a true big man who doesn't let his teammates down on defense.
2013-14 Stats: 27.7 MPG, 8.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.6 BPG


Dion Waiters, SG
There have been many accounts of clashing in the locker room between Waiters and Irving, but with the arrival of the experienced veteran leader named Lebron James, that should be put to an end. he will teach this young group of teammates about what it takes to win championships and hopefully players like Waiters will mature. He is a great scorer (19.3 PPG per 36 this past season) who still has a lot of uncapped potential and he looks to be a great sixth man for next year's Cavaliers.
2013-14 Stats: 29.6 MPG, 15.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Anthony Bennett, PF
As last year's number one pick, there is still much unlocked potential to be seen. Many critics have enjoyed placing him into the infamous "bust" category, despite his being part of a very weak draft that included other high picks that were not very productive. He actually averaged 11.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG per 36 MPG and played fairly well near the end of the season. Cavaliers fans don't have to worry about Bennett being put in a huge role, but hopefully his minutes will increase to around 20 per game next season to help further his development.
2013-14 Stats: 12.8 MPG, 4.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Head Coach David Blatt
He is an esteemed coach who has coached all around the world. He has coached under very different circumstances in Europe where the slightest misstep can leave you without a job (although that also seems to be where the NBA is headed) and he has coached many large personalities. He will find himself over the course of the season and will make a name with the Cavaliers as one of the top Eastern teams.


Interested Players

Kevin Love, PF 
Acquiring Kevin Love may require this year's very highly valued number one pick, Andrew Wiggins, but it may be worth it as Love is a proven superstar in this league. Kevin Love still has yet to play in a playoff series, but he is hungry for that experience. Andrew Wiggins is still young, unexperienced, and unproven. This move could save the Cavs a few developmental years, sending them immediately into championship contention.
2013-14 Stats: 36.3 MPG, 26.1 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 4.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Mike Miller, SF/SG 
2013-14 Stats: 20.8 MPG, 7.1 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.1 BPG

Ray Allen, SG 
2013-14 Stats: 26.5 MPG, 9.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG

James Jones, SF 
2013-14 Stats: 11.8 MPG, 4.9 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG

These three played in Miami and all take pressure off Lebron when he gets the ball as they all require defense due to their sharpshooting abilities. They are all champions and know what it takes to win. They would all likely be willing to take less to play with Lebron for another chance to win as they have done so before. They all bring good veteran leadership and can help develop Cleveland's younger players and at the same time they all have close ties to Lebron.


Expected W-L: 50-32

What will the season be like?
In the beginning it will be shaky and there will be many ups and downs as theses players learn what it is like to play together, develop, and learn each other's pros and cons. In the end, it will all have been worth it as Lebron will accelerate Kyrie Irving's game to the next level and bring the tam to the playoffs for the first time since he left the team.

How will they finish? 
It is still hard to say as free agency still hasn't ended and there are great players still at play, but the Cavaliers will be a top four team in the east in contention for the Eastern Conference Championship. I don't believe they will make the finals in their first year together.

What struggles will they face?
They will face criticism from the media every time they go through adversity and will have to learn to ignore those who doubt. They may struggle to find their places amongst on another when the season begins, but with the veteran leadership of Lebron, they will get through it.