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Cavaliers listed as “biggest riser” in ESPN forecast

Despite all of the work put in by other lottery teams this past offseason, the Cleveland Cavaliers are given top billing among the league’s “risers” by Bradford Doolittle of ESPN. Using scoring margin as a basis for determining who made the best moves this offseason, Doolittle gives the Cavaliers a 5.7-point increase of the 2012-13 team which managed to win just 24 games.

With so many quality young players on hand, the Cavaliers would have been poised for improvement even if they had brought back the exact same roster as last season. Instead, Cleveland buoyed its talent with the No. 1 draft pick in Anthony Bennett, one of the top incoming rookie shooters in Sergey Karasev, one of the league’s top reserve guards in Jarrett Jack and the ultimate low-risk, high-reward free agent in Andrew Bynum. Anderson Varejao is due back from injury, and up-and-coming combo forward Earl Clark was signed to further bolster the Cavs’ depth.

Although Cleveland might not have the same realistic shot at a title as some other upgraded teams, such as Houston, Brooklyn and Chicago, the Cavaliers are nevertheless in a strong position to become this season’s most-improved team. In 2012-13, Cleveland finished 22nd in offensive efficiency and 27th on the defensive end. I have the Cavaliers climbing five spots on the offensive end and a whopping 18 spots on defense. Part of that is Varejao’s return; part of it is a projected half-season from Bynum. A whole lot of it is the return of Mike Brown, who coached four straight top-10 defenses in his first Cleveland stint and even got the aging Lakers up to 13th in his only full season in L.A.

Though rife with question marks, Doolittle puts the Cavaliers above the Detroit Pistons who added fringe All-Stars in point guard Brandon Jennings and forward Josh Smith to an already budding roster that includes center Andre Drummond and forward Greg Monroe.

This corroborates a recent forecast put out by ESPN which has the Cavaliers as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs for 2013-14, pitting them against the Miami Heat in the first round; this, with the caveat that a sixth or seventh seed is attainable in the event that Andrew Bynum can produce at his previous All-Star caliber levels. The Pistons, per ESPN’s forecast, will be on the outside looking in.

In a vacuum, a 5.7-point increase off of last season’s results would have resulted in 17 additional wins for the Cavaliers.

[Related: Behold: Tristan Thompson 2.0]

  • Brady B

    FYI — Brandon Knight is on the Bucks now and not part of the Pistons.

  • boomhauertjs

    Cavs/Heat playoff series would destroy the internet.

  • Dan

    Yep Brandon Knight was traded in the Jennings deal.

  • Steve

    While not mentioning Drummond. Methinks that Scott doesn’t follow Detroit too much despite his insistence on comparing the Cavs to them.

  • Patrick Elder

    Also, Greg Monroe is a PF. Andre Drummond is their C.

  • Harv 21

    ESPN predictions may be of some importance, but where are the Cavs in their preseason Power Rankings? That’s the only way we can make sure they like us, they really really like us.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Now you are just splitting hairs.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    If Bradford Doolittle says so it must be true!

  • Ben Frambaugh

    In this particular case, his name adds a little bit of validity to the story. He’s one of the better advanced stats guys out there.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    LOL – the endless Lebron storylines are going to be bad enough…but if we face the Heat in the playoffs…it’ll just get uglier.

  • Fixed. Thanks for the heads up—a product of time constraints.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Like I said it must be true but no wonder I don’t know who he is he’s a “stats guy.” Won’t be long before he has his own show I’m sure.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    He is one of the main contributors to Basketball Prospectus. It’s basically the God-Tool for advanced stats guys at both the NBA and NCAA level.

    Him and a few others very recently started working for ESPN and provides the “insider” coverage.

  • Lunch

    And just think how much the Internet would become a weapon of mass destruction if the Cavs won over the Heat in the playoffs. Boom!! Dynamite!!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    C’mon man!

  • Steve

    I think there is a big difference between what Stein does with the Power Rankings and what Doolitte does with his projections. The latter is a lot more objective. Obviously that doesn’t mean they will be guaranteed correct (I won’t believe anyone who can tell me they can predict how many games we’ll get out of Irving, Varejao and Bynum) but there’s a lot more thought put in here.

    Also, another insider article at ESPN, written by a former scout puts the Cavaliers at 4th in talent under 25.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Okay okay okay…I will not bend to this statistical wizardry but seriously, I smell another ESPN show coming. Or maybe FoxSports1. Ugh!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Also, another insider article at ESPN, written by a former scout puts the Cavaliers at 4th in talent under 25.

    YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!

  • Steve

    This place gets all cranky when Peter King say something not so nice about a beloved former Brown, but when people who actually know what they’re talking about write something, there is just a lot of derision.

    This is why we can’t have nice things. People care more about an idiot’s commentary on something tangentially related to sports than actual analysis.

  • Lunch

    Hey, I’m just saying that it’s possible. And at this point, I’m expecting the Cavs to surprise me and perform better than what the “experts” are saying.

    Examples: The 76ers did it in the 2011-12 season:
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_2012.html

    The Grizzlies did it in the 2010-11 season:
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_2012.html

    So why can’t the Cavs accomplish the same thing in 2013-14?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    “Anything is possible” is the other Cleveland mantra I know but lets keep it even keeled it’s only August lets not be talking playoffs for another team. A team that doesn’t start until November.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Oh Steve I’m just poking fun at you stats guys a little c’mon man!

    But seriously you say another word about my Bernie Kosar and it’s on like Donkey Kong. I’m serious, I’ll cut ya, deep and hard!

  • Lunch

    Ok! 😉

  • Ben Frambaugh

    If you watch ESPN, he’ll probably be a guest or co-host on a few of their NBA programs during the season. There might be some potential for a show similar to what Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge do. He most definitely won’t be part of FoxSports1. They’re a rival to ESPN.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Ah well I avoid ESPN anymore other then actual games unless those games are basketball and then I pretty much avoid that network all together.

  • Harv 21

    oh, that’s why we can’t have nice things. Because fans in other cities believe preseason predictions are important. Got it.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Yeah, I’m more or less the same. However, when I have to travel for the Army and am holed up in a hotel…I tend to turn towards ESPN, especially during the football season just to see if I can get further insight from guys like Jaws. Once I retire from the military I want to be a teacher and coach. I figure the more I can learn now, the better off I’ll be then.

  • Steve

    Harv, you really have to do some gymnastics to twist around what I said to get that interpretation. I know, I know, you can’t be bothered to even try to understand what those stat guys are saying. Then just stay out of the discussion instead of being snarky for the sake of being snarky.

  • The Other Tim

    You can destroy the internet in 4 games?

  • Patrick Elder

    I don’t think it’s splitting hairs to note the exclusion of, arguably, the Pistons’ best player. He certainly has the most potential. Not like he’s just some no-name, random guy.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The splitting of hairs reference was to the positions listed for Monroe and Drummond sorry that wasn’t clear.

  • Patrick Elder

    Oh, then yeah I was kinda splitting hairs. I minded more about Drummond’s exclusion than Monroe’s not-really-that-wrong position.

  • Eric Davy

    Brandon Jennings is what said in the article not Brandon Knight

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • disqus_29LqpwbGxP

    With all these alternative unis “designed to celebrate the pride and character of ___”, what cuteness should the Cavs plaster on the front of theirs?

    “CTOWN”? “WFNY”? I vote for “Not Detroit”. That’s how you rekindle a rivalry.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    “LEBRONALIERS”

  • Calvin Sparks

    neither is an all star

  • Calvin Sparks

    Lets no become delusional

  • Patrick Elder

    Yes, and…?

  • Lunch

    Being optimistic on the Cavs’s future is considered delusional?

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Is the new symbol for Detroit going to be a $ sign surrounded by the circle slash (as in no cash)?

  • Untouchable_06

    It might sound weird but cavs/heat first round matchup might blow up rating. I mean the “abandoned team” vs their former star in a playoff series is a pretty good storyline.