Amazingly enough, the defending World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers seem to be flying under the radar just a bit.
Yes, the banner raising and ring ceremony, which basically put a cap on the 2015-16 season received a lot of attention and emotion from the northeast Ohio faithful, but as for the games, it doesn’t seem like the wine and gold are under a lot of scrutiny.
That’s probably due to the faith that winning a title gives the fans. Our bet is if there is anything troubling basketball fans here, they are very confident that GM David Griffin, coach Tyronn Lue, and resident best player in the sport LeBron James will get it fixed.
To date, it appears the 2016-17 version of the Cavs is resembling what basketball fans thought they would be when James returned to the franchise and the wine and gold traded for Kevin Love to go with Kyrie Irving.
The North Coast edition of the “Big Three” is currently all averaging over 20.0 point per game: Irving at 24.5, James at 23.4, and Love at 21.0.
The Cavaliers are also showing everyone the benefit of having Lue in charge during training camp too. Lue talked about playing at a faster tempo when he took over in mid-season last year, and this year, he is putting that in place from day one.
Cleveland is the second highest scoring team in the NBA right now, and despite playing faster, they still rank right in the middle of the league in terms of allowing the opponents to score.
The wine and gold also continue to shoot a lot of three point shots (second in the league to Houston) and have the 5th best shooting percentage from distance.
This of course is due to the ability of both James and Irving being able to get to the hoop at will, which creates wide open opportunities for the like of JR Smith, Love, Channing Frye, and Mike Dunleavy, who to date has not converted as many as most have thought.
And Lue’s squad has defended the three point ball well this year, ranking 11th in defensive field goal percentage, despite opponents taking the third most shots.
Dunleavy has been one of the few disappointments to date, which there shouldn’t be many on a team that has started out the year 7-1. He’s making just slightly over 30% of his long range shots, down from his career mark of 38%.
It may be a slump, it may be his teammates getting used to where he wants the ball, but when a player is 36 years old, and something in his game has declined, you have to wonder. However, any decision shouldn’t be made after eight games.
Tristan Thompson isn’t on the floor for his offensive ability, but he is down to 5.1 points per game, his career average is 9.6.
You have to wonder if the lob pass he received regularly from Matthew Dellavedova is missed in his offensive arsenal.
The Cavs have had an easy schedule early on, with a lot of days off in between games. This has allowed James to play 36.6 minutes per night without stress. That average will drop as the season goes, so the bench will have to give Lue more production.
This means quality minutes from rookie Kay Felder and perhaps Jordan McRae, who we thought might be in the rotation after Dellavedova’s departure.
Both players will have to provide defense if they want to get on the floor.
The Indians’ march to the World Series and the Browns’ march to perhaps an 0-16 campaign have put the wine and gold a bit on the back burner. That’s probably the biggest result of winning the NBA title.
No one is worried if the Cavs can do it. We know they can.