The Cleveland Cavaliers missed the playoffs for their third straight season. In the 2020-2021 NBA season, the Cavaliers finished the season with a 22-50 record for 13th in the eastern conference. The former number eight pick Collin Sexton led the team with 24.3 points, which was seventh most of point guard’s last season. Cleveland has been a young and growing team, and it looks like nothing will change this season.
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Cleveland was very active in the offseason. They started off the summer with the number three pick and drafted Evan Mobley, the seven-foot center from USC. Finally, they get the franchise cornerstone they’ve been desperately trying to obtain. The Cavaliers also extended center Jarrett Allen to a five-year $100 million to pair with Mobley. Allen was originally traded to Cleveland as part of the James Harden trade back in January.
In late August, Cleveland was involved in a three-team trade in which they dealt Larry Nance Jr. to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Cavaliers got back Lauri Markkanen from the Chicago Bulls, who comes on a four-year $67 million deal. The question for Cleveland will be how to use these three in the rotation this season. The Cavaliers also dealt Taurean Prince, a 2022 second-round pick, and cash considerations for Ricky Rubio.
The Starting Five
PG- Collin Sexton
SG- Darius Garland
SF- Isaac Okoro
PF- Evan Mobley
C- Jarrett Allen
Sexton and Garland will carry the scoring load again for this Cleveland team. They will also be the primary ball handlers and playmakers in the offense. Mobley and Allen will co-operate down low in the paint. With the height and athleticism between the two, the Cavaliers will be a tough team to score on in the paint. Okoro’s second year will bring the defensive presence like year one.
Rubio was a great acquisition for Cleveland. The veteran point guard gives good depth for the bench. He will be able to come in with the second unit and distribute the ball on the wing to forward Kevin Love or get it down low to newly acquired Markkanen.
Love enters the season after giving no interest in a buyout. Love has two years left on his $60 million deal. Cleveland will struggle in finding a trade for the veteran forward, as his play has diminished in recent years. Markkanan averaged 13.6 points per game last season with the Bulls, the lowest scoring average in his first four years. Cleveland will look to the forward to bring inside scoring off the bench.
One Potential Move to Make
The Cavaliers have been rumored to either trade away Love or Sexton. Trading away Love gives Cleveland financial stability by offloading his massive contract. Offloading Sexton would clear Cleveland to extend Love for the most likely huge payday. While both ideas are on the table, Cleveland will have Love and Sexton for the foreseeable future.
The Cavaliers are a young and talented team. Sexton and Garland will continue growing their elite games. Mobley will get his first experience as an NBA player. Cleveland will look to these three to provide the scoring bulk for the team.
Finishing as a play-in team is the ceiling for this young team. While making moves in the off-season along with drafting their franchise cornerstone, Cleveland will have a more competitive season. They have the pieces to make a push, but experience could lead to their downfall.
Season Prediction: 37-45, Fourth place in the Central Division.
Follow Kole Emplit on Twitter @KoleEmplit
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