Cleveland Cavaliers: Fact or Fictionby Kole Emplit September 25, 2021 0 comments
The Cleveland Cavaliers started the 2020-2021 season 3-0 including a 118-94 blowout win versus conference contenders, the Philadelphia 76ers. That three-game win streak which would be the second-highest of their season would be short-lived. The Cavaliers endured an 11 game losing streak spanning from April 23-May 10. They also finished the season on a two-game skid.
The Cavaliers finished with a 22-50 record while finishing last in the NBA in points per game. The young backcourt duo of Collin Sexton (24.3 points per game) and Darius Garland (17.4 points per game) led the way on the offensive end. Cleveland was involved in the James Harden mega trade as they acquired center Jarrett Allen from Brooklyn and only had to give up Dante Exum, who was on an expiring contract, along with a future first-rounder (2022 unprotected) from Milwaukee. The Cavaliers extended Allen to a five-year $100 million contract, locking in the foreseeable future with the 6’11″ center.
Cleveland used their No. 3 pick in this year’s NBA draft to select USC center, Evan Mobley. Just like his pro comparison to Chris Bosh, Mobley works on the glass and spreads the floor to knock down a distant two-pointer. Along with the two newly acquired bigs, Cleveland traded for former No. 7 pick, Lauri Markkanen, offloading forward Larry Nance, and a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick in a three-trade deal. The future of Cleveland is young but bright, the Cavaliers will look to find their identity as the 2021-2022 NBA season begins.
The Cavaliers will Make the Playoffs
Cleveland is still searching for who they want to be. Ever since LeBron James left the team in 2018, the Cavaliers have had five first-round picks, with Mobley being the highest of the five with the No. 3 pick. With depth at the four and five positions, Cleveland has bench depth along with a solid starting five that could elevate them to a seven or eight seed. However, the Cavaliers are building up their future as Eastern Conference contenders are getting stronger.
NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, along with the Brooklyn Nets will likely contend for a title next season. Philadelphia along with Boston will make up for higher seeds in the conference. Miami signs veteran Kyle Lowry, along with re-signing Victor Oladipo. Chicago added playmaking guard Lonzo Ball, along with a two-way star in DeMar DeRozan. The playoff spots in the east will be tight and will take experienced players to get there.
Verdict: False, the Cleveland Cavaliers will not make the playoffs
Collin Sexton will be Traded Before the Deadline
Despite being one of the better young guards in the league and leading the team in scoring, it hasn’t been enough for Sexton to cement his place in Cleveland. The Cavaliers have been adamant that they don’t want to extend Sexton due to the likely payday coming his way. While Cleveland selected their franchise cornerstone in Mobley this summer, the team didn’t make any considerable moves involving Sexton in the offseason.
For now, nothing is set in stone. Sexton could play out the season and be offered a contract that Cleveland could match, or decide to trade away in hopes of getting assets back. With the trading of veteran guard Ricky Rubio, Cleveland could look to groom Garland and offload Sexton for the right price.
Verdict: True, Sexton will be traded before the deadline
Evan Mobley will win Rookie of the Year
This year’s draft class has been rumored to be one of the bests in a long time, even making comparisons to the 2003 draft class which including the likings of James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade. There is an argument to be made that the first three picks (Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Mobley) could have all been the No. 1 pick. Cunningham will be given the keys to a rebuilding Detroit team. He will be the primary ball-handler and will lead the team ins scoring along with Jerami Grant and Killian Hayes. No. 2 pick, Green will be teamed up in the backcourt with former Cavalier Kevin Porter Jr. This run and gun duo will be the primary scorers and ball handlers on the young Houston team.
Between re-signing Allen and trading for Markkanen, Mobley’s touches will be limited, at least to start the season. The Cavaliers will have to figure out how to handle the three on the court, especially with spacing on the offensive end, along with managing minutes with veteran Kevin Love. Mobley is the future of Cleveland going forward but won’t have the keys to the team this season.
Verdict: False, Mobley will not win rookie of the year.
Follow Kole Emplit on Twitter @KoleEmplit
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