After LeBron James left for Los Angeles following the 2017-18 NBA season, no one figured the Cavaliers were going to be at the same level they reached over the past four seasons, meaning The NBA Finals.
There were a few of us who thought the Cavs could still be competitive, like contending for a low playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but when you lose the team’s best player, Kevin Love, to injury, any thoughts of that went out the window.
Love has played just three of the squad’s 30 contests to date, and won’t be back until mid-January, so he will likely play just half of the Cavs’ schedule in 2018-19.
Since then, the wine and gold’s second best player, Tristan Thompson recently went out with a foot injury, and he will miss two to four weeks.
Despite these injuries and a coaching change six games into the regular season, the Cavaliers continue to play hard, and since Larry Drew took over, the shorthanded Cavs have been a pretty competitive basketball team, meaning they aren’t getting blown out on a nightly basis.
The team’s front office has taken a ton of criticism over the years about how the team was built around James, the trade of Kyrie Irving and the return they received, and their attitude toward this year’s roster.
But one thing they should be commended on is stressing character on the players they’ve given both Drew and Tyronn Lue to coach.
We are sure everyone has heard about the issues with the Chicago Bulls, who by the way, have the same record as the Cavs. The team fired Fred Hoiberg because they weren’t winning and when new coach Jim Boylen took over, he started implementing longer and tougher practices, which irritated some of the players.
Our guess is that Bulls’ management will be looking to move the players who are feuding with the new boss as soon as possible. There is an entitlement felt by some players, who have been coddled since it was determined they were good at basketball, and some players don’t do everything they can to win games.
That hasn’t been the case with the Cavs. Since Drew has taken over, he has changed the roles of several players, and no one has said a thing.
Which is something, because the players like Love and Thompson, who both have made four straight Finals appearances, could be upset that the Cavaliers have one of the worst records in the NBA. Instead, Thompson in particular (because of Love’s injury), has established through his work ethic, how to conduct yourself as an NBA player.
The lone dissenter was JR Smith, and once again, the front office and coaching staff did the correct thing by telling the player to stay home until a potential trade can be worked out.
Bringing back Matthew Dellavedova, a player with a excellent work ethic, was another good move by GM Koby Altman, although not as good as getting a first round pick in the deal with Milwaukee.
The players the Cavs have on the roster are coachable and willing to do what the coaching staff is asking. That should not be minimized.
The work ethic James put in place here still exists. That should help the Cavaliers going forward.