After stunning the sports world with the greatest comeback in the history of comebacks, the Cleveland Cavaliers are back and ready to defend the NBA crow. The core group are back with their supporting cast to defend Cleveland’s glory. I’m not going to write about what our opponents are doing. I don’t care that Kevin Durant went to Golden State, that Dwyane Wade is now in Chicago, whatever. I will think about our opponents one game a time. What I will focus on is how the Cavaliers will go about in trying to repeat the NBA championship.
Front and center is our leader, LeBron James. Still very much dominant at 31 years of age, LeBron has now made the NBA finals six times in a row and is looking to make it at least six more in a row. There is nothing the man can’t do and he will put his heart and soul into each minute he is on the court. He can shoot, he can pass, he can dominate the paint, he can defend, etc. I don’t think I can even write enough about what LeBron can do. He’s been in the league for 13 years now; I think you guys get the picture. He is joined by the hero of Game seven. After sinking the dagger to end the Golden State Warriors, Kyrie Irving is back and better than ever. One of the premier offensive threats in the NBA, he’s only going to get even better. The former first overall pick is the perfect man to help lead the offensive charge because of his high basketball IQ and ridiculous crossover abilities.
There was some drama this summer with the fact that we didn’t think J.R. Smith would return. After it seemed like we were going to lose him to another team, the two parties finally agreed to a contract. And I truly couldn’t be happier. J.R. is so paramount to our success with his lethal three-point shooting. It’s amazing to watch his career resurge here in Cleveland. After New York had enough of his shenanigans and begged the Cavaliers to take him, he has completely turned his career around for the better. We are so much stronger with him than without him.
The main supporting cast is back as well. I’m really excited to have a full season of Channing Frye on the roster. If you’ll remember, he was a trade deadline deal last season and he pay dividends from the getgo. Similar to Kevin Love’s style but a little bit more defensive, Channing Frye is the perfect reservist because he can sub in for just about anybody. He can lob three’s from the point, he can play at center for a little bit, whatever you need. Also returning is Iman Shumpert. Part-time rapper, full-time defensive specialist, Iman is the premier defensive presence on the team, getting in would-be shooters’ faces and stopping them dead in their tracks. He can rain down the occasional triple as well, which makes him extra valuable.
Now come the distinguished gentlemen on the squad, James Jones and Richard Jefferson. Jefferson announced his retirement after winning the title, but during the parade in Cleveland, the passion of the Cavaliers fans convinced him to return. And why not? He still can put up buckets and clown on the younger players who try and stop his paint presence. Then there’s James Jones, who literally never misses from the arch. I mean it, his shooting accuracy is still absurd at the ripe age of 36. When the Cavaliers need guaranteed points off the bench, both of these guys are still very much able to produce.
Reinforcements have arrived! Let me say that I was really happy that the Cavaliers drafted Kay Felder. We were kind of in this purgatory state the past few years when it came to developing, or even drafting, talent. Now, we snagged a pretty decent guard whom we can develop and turn into a productive player for the team long term! And, while he did play some games for us last year, we have Jordan McRae on the team still. While he did not play a ton of minutes last year, he has shown to be a capable shooter and I am looking forward to seeing him progress even further. We also signed DeAndre Liggins (we had to waive Dahntay Jones for him. Sorry Dahntay) and, while DeAndre is certainly not a rookie, he still not quite old enough to be a “veteran”. We will see how he fits into the Cavaliers system, but with so much depth on this team, it makes sense to take a flyer on a project player.
The Cavaliers had some pretty stealth signings during free agency that were overshadowed by some of the big names changing teams. I’m talking of course, about Mike Dunleavy and Chris Andersen. Andersen brings much needed depth to the center position and is former teammates with LeBron James in Miami. Part of his game is distracting opponents with his infinite tattoos and crazy style of play, but even at 38 years old he can still log some minutes. Then there’s Mike Dunleavy, who is just proof that there is no such thing as too much offense. This dude gave us problems when he shot buckets for the Chicago Bulls. Now, he’s going to be shooting buckets for us and is the perfect guard to come off the bench.
When I look at the Cavaliers team, I see a team even STRONGER than last year’s. Our depth was at times a problem last season and I think we addressed that with free agent signings. While we are defending our title, we also have some young players that will be mentored by the veteran players on the team. All around, the squad is a well-oiled machine with virtually no weakness anywhere. There is no reason why we can’t repeat as NBA champions in 2017.