Could Cavs Be Playoff Bound in ’12?

All you have to do is look at the Eastern Conference standings in the NBA. 

Currently, Indiana, Milwaukee, and Charlotte are battling for the 8th seed and the right to take on the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. 

Detroit and New Jersey, with 23 and 22 wins respectively, are less than six games out of the last spot in the top-heavy East. 

Which is pretty sad for the sake of the league.

However, if you are still paying attention to the fortunes of the Cavaliers, that with two likely top ten picks, and the return of at least one very important injured player, this team could be in the playoff hunt as early as next season.

Not to get carried away, this is not to say the wine and gold would be a factor in the post-season, or be able to be anything more than fodder for the elite of the East (Boston, Chicago, Miami, and Orlando).

But they don’t have to take a great leap in order to get back in the playoffs based on the weakness of the East as a whole.

The biggest factor that Byron Scott has is he will get one of the better rebounders and defenders in the NBA back for the start of next season in Varejao. 

For a team that is short on size, that is a huge factor. 

GM Chris Grant will also have the expiring contract of Antawn Jamison, which will be a more tradeable chip next season because it is now a one season commitment. 

And there is little doubt Grant will try to move Baron Davis before the deadline.  Hopefully, Davis understands that his ticket out of Cleveland and on to a title contender is to be in shape and play very well at the beginning of the season. 

Based on the brief glimpses we’ve seen of the veteran point guard, there is no question he can be a dynamic player when he wants to be.  At 32 years old, Davis should realize his days of having a chance at playing for a good team are drawing to an end.

Those are pieces that Grant has at his disposal to improve a basketball team that also a chance to get two pretty good players in this year’s draft.

Let’s say the Cavs win the draft lottery and get the first overall pick this June.  It is said that because Byron Scott has had great success with point guards (Jason Kidd and Chris Paul), the team covets Duke freshman guard Kyrie Irving.

As the college season has played out, it has been shown that there are several very good players who will enter the draft this summer.  If Grant can make the correct decision with the pick obtained from the Clippers, the wine and gold could have two new starters when the season opens next fall.

Of course, people thought the same thing with the New Jersey Nets after they picked Derrick Favors to add to a good collection of young talent.  They still are on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs go.

But you cannot discount the Jamison piece of the puzzle.  Moving the veteran for more young talent could cut even more time off the rebuilding process. 

It is very possible the Cavaliers could have as many as three new starters to open the 2011-12 season, and perhaps four if you count Varejao, with perhaps only J.J. Hickson as a holdover.

The point here is the weakness of the Eastern Conference also speeds up the time needed to make the Cavs a playoff team.  Dan Gilbert, Chris Grant, and Scott are dedicated to turning over the roster as quickly as possible.

A 15 game increase in wins next year could put this franchise back in the post-season.  Believe it or not?

JK

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