NBA 2023-2024 Preview: Are the Cleveland Cavaliers Genuine Contenders?

Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Preview 2023 2024

Who will follow the Nuggets as NBA champions? Over the course of a month, we’re taking a deep dive into all 30 teams of the NBA. Today, we head over to Ohio to discuss the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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2022/2023 Review: Impressive Regular Season, Disappointing Playoffs

With the acquisition of Donovan Mitchell, the Cavaliers could no longer be considered a mid-tier team. This young squad was expected to step up their game and show their prowess. They delivered in the regular season. The Cavaliers had a fiery start and maintained momentum throughout. This young Cavs team has two primary strengths. First, their backcourt duo of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland terrorizes opposing defenses. Mitchell’s 71-point game against the Bulls stands out as a testament to their potential. Next, their interior duo, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, are the league’s top defensive anchors. So much so, the Cavs boast the best defensive rating in the NBA.

What’s keeping the Cavs from truly reaching the peak? Their playoff performance provided a hint. Outside of their star quartet, the Cavs’ lineup seems limited. Their struggle at the small forward position was evident, where Coach JB Bickerstaff had to experiment throughout the season. Whether it was Isaac Okoro, Caris LeVert, or even Dean Wade, none seemed to fit perfectly into the system. The lack of spacing became increasingly noticeable as the season progressed. When the playoffs arrived, the Knicks, their first-round opponents, quickly pinpointed this weakness. Almost the entire Cavs’ system collapsed, and they were ousted in just five games. A massive letdown for such a promising, albeit young, team.

Cleveland Cavaliers 2023-2024 Offseason Moves and Roster Breakdown

Departures

  • Cedi Osman moved to the Spurs.
  • Lamar Stevens was transferred to the Celtics.
  • Dylan Windler found a new home with the Knicks.
  • Robin Lopez returned to the Bucks.
  • Raul Neto took his talents overseas to Fenerbahçe.

Extensions

  • Caris LeVert extended his stay with a 2-year deal.
  • Isaiah Mobley signed a two-way contract.

New Arrivals

  • Max Strus from the Heat.
  • Georges Niang made his way from the Sixers.
  • Damian Jones transferred from the Jazz.
  • Ty Jerome was acquired from the Warriors.
  • Tristan Thompson joined from the Lakers.

Cavaliers’ Starting Five

Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen

Bench Rotation

Point Guards

Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Craig Porter (two-way contract)

Shooting Guards

Caris LeVert, Sam Merill

Small Forwards

Isaac Okoro, Georges Niang, Emoni Bates (two-way contract)

Power Forwards

Dean Wade, Isaiah Mobley (two-way contract)

Centers

Damian Jones, Tristan Thompson

This new-look Cavaliers team, bolstered by offseason moves, hopes to address their previous season’s issues and solidify themselves as genuine contenders in the NBA.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the 2023-2024 Cleveland Cavaliers

Weaknesses: Is JB Bickerstaff the Right Fit?

The most glaring weakness from last season that continues to persist is the leadership of head coach JB Bickerstaff. His coaching capabilities have been put into question, particularly on the tactical front. While he has shown proficiency in nurturing young talent and establishing camaraderie among the team, the Cavaliers have now progressed beyond that developmental stage. For Bickerstaff, he stands at a crossroads this season. He either evolves into a more tactically astute coach or faces the possibility of this being his final season with the Cavaliers.

Strengths: Improved Spacing

Since the departure of LeBron James, the small forward position has been a persistent issue for the Cavs. Although it remains their weakest link, the team now has multiple options that allow them to adapt to various game scenarios. Max Strus and Georges Niang bring reliability from beyond the arc, bolstering the team’s outside shooting. Isaac Okoro, who seemingly improved his shot during the off-season, provides a more defensive-oriented option. Caris LeVert continues to serve as a playmaker. These changes allow the core quartet of the team to play with more freedom, as opposing defenses now need to respect the shooting prowess of the Cavaliers’ new additions, giving the team’s stars more room to operate.

Player to Watch: Evan Mobley

The trajectory of the Cavaliers will be deeply intertwined with the development of Evan Mobley. It seems that head coach JB Bickerstaff recognizes this, as he aims to increase Mobley’s offensive responsibilities this season. While it remains to be seen how these preseason declarations will materialize on the court, one thing is certain: Mobley will continue to grow. Defensively, there’s hardly any room for improvement, given that he was among the top defenders in the league last season. Offensively, however, is where his main developmental journey lies. Can he enhance his mid-range jumper, or even extend his range to the three-point line? Can he further refine his post moves? These are questions waiting to be answered, but there’s optimism regarding his potential.

End-of-Season Prediction: 3rd in the East

The Cavaliers are poised to be a stronger team this season. The core remains intact, and the new additions seem well-calibrated to address last year’s deficiencies. Barring significant injuries, there’s no reason to expect the Cavaliers to underperform. The real questions lie in the team’s mentality: After last season’s playoff disappointment, will the stars rise to the occasion? And can JB Bickerstaff effectively strategize and adjust to opposition game plans? The true measure of this team will be evident in the postseason.

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