2014-15 NBA SEASON PREVIEW CONTENT LIST
Atlantic: Celtics | Nets | Knicks | 76ers | Raptors |Division Preview
Central: Bulls | Cavaliers | Pistons | Pacers | Bucks | Division Preview
Southeast: Hawks | Hornets | Heat | Magic | Wizards | Division Preview
Pacific: Warriors | Clippers | Lakers | Suns | Kings | Division Preview
Northwest: Nuggets | Timberwolves | Thunder | Trail Blazers | Jazz | Division Preview
Southwest: Mavericks | Rockets | Grizzlies | Pelicans | Spurs | Division Preview
Articles: Assessing the Cavaliers Trio | Important Season for James Harden | Return of Paul George? | Trading Rajon Rondo | Are the Nuggets This Season’s Suns? | NBA’s Best Starting Five | NBA’s Worst Starting Five | Now or Never for Durant and Thunder After Injury
Fantasy Basketball: Top 10 PGs | Top 10 SGs | Top 10 SFs | Top 10 PFs | Top 10 Cs | Sleepers, Studs, and Sinkholes | Analyzing the Schedule | BMF Mock Draft | Cavs and Cav-Nots | Like A Bosh | Rajon Injury Impact
Things are a little different for the Cleveland Cavaliers this year. One man’s homecoming will change the city and the landscape of professional basketball.
Most Important Player: Kevin Love
It goes without saying that LeBron James is not only the best player on this team, but in the entire NBA. But NBA fans have seen him struggle when he is the one constantly being relied on to make the big plays. He needs another star around him, like a healthy Dwyane Wade, to ultimately win a championship. Kevin Love is that star. (One could make a case for Kyrie Irving too, but Love is more established in that role.)
Kevin Love made a great decision by coming to Cleveland because he is not the sole focus on offense. LeBron and Kyrie will demand a great deal of attention, so if Love can still match his career averages of 19 points and 12 rebounds, he will make the Cavs the top threat in the East.
X-Factor: Anderson Varejao
Can Anderson Varejao stay healthy all season? That is a question that must be asked after seeing Varejao injured yearly after promising starts to the season. Even if he only plays around 20 minutes a game, his energy when healthy is that of Joakim Noah, which is tough for opponents to handle each time up and down the floor.
He already has great chemistry with LeBron and will certainly see an increase in his numbers with LeBron and Kevin Love throwing assists to him to break out of double-teams. But he must stay healthy because Brendan Haywood won’t be able to hold down the center position alone.
The only maybe in this lineup is Dion Waiters. He has certainly proven that he is capable of being a starter, but for some reason coaches like to have him come off the bench. There are many important bench players around the league who can start, but it makes sense for Dion to start on this team. Mike Miller is another guard on the roster, but starting him would create a situation where Waiters subs in for him midway through the first quarter. Coach David Blatt should allow Dion to start. The starting lineup is so stacked that he could eventually be slid onto the bench in a sixth man role, but not until there comes a need for adjustments.
The rest who will see time: Matthew Dellavedova, Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood, Mike Miller, James Jones, and Tristan Thompson. John Lucas III and rookie Joe Harris may see some playing time, but not in any consistent rotations. Shawn Marion and Tristan Thompson should be the two biggest impact players off the bench as they’ve both featured before, given that this version of the Cavs is a complete overhaul from last year.
What Needs to Go Right: This newly pieced together group needs to mesh. Big threes are great on paper but LeBron, Love, and Kyrie must play well together and do it at the start of the season. It sounds obvious but there are always questions about how teams will perform when bringing in several new players, especially when two of them are top stars in the league.
Injuries also must be avoided, which is true for any team in the NBA.
It’s Really Bad If: Kevin Love suffers a major injury. It is bad if any of the top players get injured, but Kevin Love is the one with a history of injuries. He was brought in to be the other star LeBron never had when he was in Cleveland previously. If he goes out, LeBron will once again have to carry the load into the playoffs. If the Cavs are to make it out of the East, they will need their big three to be healthy all season long.
Bold Prediction: Although many analysts do not see the Cavs winning the East, they will earn the top seed in the conference and make it to the NBA Finals. They will go into the Finals with great hype but will ultimately lose to the San Antonio Spurs.
Matthew Dellavedova, PG
Strengths: Pesky defender. Low expectations backing up Kyrie.
Weaknesses: Lack of playing time and limited athletically.
Season Prediction: Will fit into the rotation early in the season but will not see time in the fourth quarter as he has in the past.
Joe Harris, SG
Strengths: Size and three-point shot.
Weaknesses: Rookie on a team with high expectations and star veterans. Lack of playing time.
Season Prediction: Will only see time in blowouts.
Brendan Haywood, C
Strengths: Experience and size.
Weaknesses: Age and associated loss of ability.
Season Prediction: Haywood will play about 12-18 minutes a game and will primarily be out there for rebounds. Will not be a factor late in games.
Kyrie Irving, PG
Strengths: Unbelievable ball-handling and a constantly improving shot.
Weaknesses: Has gone through shooting slumps in the past.
Season Prediction: Kyrie will serve as a natural fit to LeBron and will only improve on his performance from last year.
LeBron James, SF
Weaknesses: May start to break down if workload becomes too much.
Season Prediction: LeBron will finally be able to play fewer minutes and still be greatly successful with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving around him.
James Jones, SF
Strengths: Three-point shot. History with LeBron.
Weaknesses: May fall out of the rotation.
Season Prediction: Will see some time early on in the season when Coach Blatt is figuring out his rotations, but may fall out as time goes on.
Kevin Love, PF
Strengths: Rebounding. Shooting. Outlet passes. Most statistical categories.
Weaknesses: Prone to injuries.
Season Prediction: If he can stay healthy, Love will flourish with LeBron and will average 20 and 12.
John Lucas III, PG
Strengths: A reliable guard with experience in the league.
Weaknesses: Not going to fill up the stat sheet.
Season Prediction: Will rarely see the floor if ever.
Shawn Marion, SF
Strengths: Rebounding and three-point shot. An understanding of being the veteran on a team.
Weaknesses: Entering his 16th season in the NBA.
Season Prediction: Will be the teams’ sixth man and will provide an outside presence for a team that will be hammering the paint with LeBron and Kevin Love.
Mike Miller, SF
Strengths: Outside shot and experience with LeBron.
Weaknesses: Age and injury-prone.
Season Prediction: Will play limited minutes, about 10-15 per game, in order to remain healthy for the playoffs.
Tristan Thompson, PF
Strengths: Has been a starter throughout his career so he should be confident coming off the bench.
Weaknesses: His shot and a possibility of trying to overperform in more limited minutes than he is used to playing.
Season Prediction: Will provide a paint presence off the bench when Love exits the game.
Anderson Varejao, C
Strengths: Will do anything to get a loose ball and has improved his shooting.
Weaknesses: Very injury-prone.
Season Prediction: Will have his best season since LeBron left and will stay healthy due to more limited minutes.
Dion Waiters, SG
Strengths: Outside shot. Extremely confident.
Weaknesses: Attitude due to coming off the bench.
Season Prediction: Will finally be a starter this season and will outperform every other guard besides Kyrie Irving.