If you quint your eyes like a J.R. Smith meme, the 2017-2018 Cavaliers look a lot like the 2016-2017 Cavaliers. Blown leads, late wins, impressive wins, embarrassing losses; the team is consistent in its inconsistency. I broke down what we saw in the first week in the video below.
LeBron James is still at the top of his game. I didn’t touch on this much in the video and shame on me because it’s insane to take this man for granted. I even made a whole pre-season hype video about enjoying LeBron James and I forgot within the first week. He’s as good as ever, and appears to be as motivated as ever. Ass long as he is on the Cavaliers, they have a chance to win every game.
The Derrick Rose / Dwyane Wade pairing just doesn’t work. In fact, Dwyane Wade with the starting unit did not appear to work. Wade, to his credit, agreed to come off the bench and run the second units moving forward. This slots J.R. Smith back into the starting unit and gives them some much needed shooting and defense. Wade just didn’t seem to gel with the starters, as his inability to shoot threw off what the offense is used to creating. Whether it was truly Wade’s idea to move to the bench or it was head coach Ty Lue or LeBron James that pushed him to do so, it helps sort through a lot of the Cavalier lineups. The starters can run their style and when LeBron rests, Wade can look to create his own shots and shots for others. I have been impressed with his passing and finding open looks for teammates as the creator. Hopefully that continues.
The blowout against the Magic did allow us to see Cedi Osman and Ante Zizc get some burn. I thought both looked solid on both ends of the floor. Neither projects to be a star or maybe even a starter, but having cheap, young, rotational players is something the Cavs have not had since LeBron returned. These guys can be use to fill in as other players age out or as trade filler when the Cavaliers are looking to shore up any roster holes at the deadline.
The Brooklyn pick the Cavs received from the Celtics is something we’ll all be monitoring all year. It’s incredible fun to cheer for a top pick without having to cheer for your own team to lose to get it. Brooklyn was dealt a blow when their best player, Jeremy Lin, suffered a season-ending injury. This is a major blow to the Nets, who were already thin on talent. They still play hard and are well coached, so this isn’t some guarantee they finish with a bottom record. To that point, the Bulls lost Nicola Mirotic to a face punch from Bobby Portis. What was already one of the worst rosters in the NBA got significantly worse and the Bulls are in the driver’s seat for the worst record. The Phoenix Suns also likely jumped the Nets in the tanking order as they fired head coach Earl Watson three games into the season and then had their best player, point guard Eric Bledsoe, demand a trade. There is still young talent on the Suns, but they have shown the willingness to tank in the past. This being the last season of the current lottery odds, it is likely many teams will go all-out tank mode down the season. Without their pick, the Nets have little incentive to do so, which could end up hurting the Cavs’ position on draft night.
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