Cleveland Cavaliers NBA draft

Cleveland needs to keep the Brooklyn pick

It is safe to say that the Cleveland Cavaliers have silenced all their haters after tying a franchise record with 13 straight wins. That puts the Cavs at 18-7 and second place in the Eastern Conference.

It definitely took a while for the Cavs to get things figured out. Their struggles early in the season were linked to poor defense and chemistry. This should have been expected considering the Cavs are the oldest team in the NBA and have so many new faces.

Through the first 12 games of the season, Cleveland was allowing an atrocious 114.2 points per game. During this winning streak, they have allowed 101.5. Overall, the team is averaging 107.6 per game, which ranks 21st in the league. It is not the best, but it is an improvement from where they started.

Oh, and the Cavs have accomplished all this without Isaiah Thomas and Tristan Thompson. Imagine how good this team will be once they return to the court.

There is not much doubt that the Cavs will be back in the Finals for their fourth straight season. However, there is also not much doubt that they will be facing the Golden State Warriors for the fourth straight time, and losing to them once again.

The Cavs aren’t getting any younger either. There have also been trade talks about the Cavs bringing in DeMarcus Cousins or DeAndre Jordan. But in order to do that, the Cavs would most definitely have to part ways with their first round pick they acquired from the Brooklyn Nets. Cousins and Jordan also are both free agents next season with Cousins being unrestricted and Jordan with a player option.

Sending off a potential No. 1 pick and possibly players like Thompson and Iman Shumpert for a player they might not be able to keep is not a smart move for a team like the Cavs. They need to start preparing for the future. Players like Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Channing Frye, Jeff Green, Derrick Rose, Jose Calderon and Iman Shumpert all could be gone next season.

Now not all of those players are really considered losses, but this team needs to add some young talent for the future. That is why instead of using the Brooklyn pick as a trade asset, the Cavs need to actually use it.

NBA Draft lottery

The NBA will have a new lottery system in place for the 2018 NBA draft. The new system has leveled the playing field for the league’s worst teams.

Cleveland Cavaliers NBA draft

The Cavs are not getting any younger. (Photo by STACY REVERE/GETTY)

Previously, the worst team had the greatest odds at the first overall pick. Now the worst three teams have the same odds at receiving the first pick.

As it stands right now, there are nine teams worse than the Brooklyn Nets. However, a handful of those teams should finish ahead of the Nets by the end of the season. Even if the Nets don’t finish as one of the three worst teams, the Nets could still end up with a high pick. Even with the previous lottery system, there were always teams winning higher picks than teams that were worse than them. The new system makes it even easier for those teams to get higher picks.

This class of rookies is stacked with talent with names like Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Lauri Markkanen and Dennis Smith Jr. already looking great. This next class of rookies is going to be pretty good as well.

Top prospects

If you have not heard, Marvin Bagley is very good. The Duke freshman is the undisputed first overall pick for the 2018 NBA draft, and rightfully so. Bagley is averaging 21.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He is first in the NCAA in total points, second in total rebounds, second in double-doubles and is showing range with a 3-point percentage of 35. Bagley is going to be a beast in the NBA.

Even if the Cavs cannot get Bagley, there is still plenty of other talent. Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. was going to be battling Bagley as the NCAA’s top player, but an injury in his first game this season has sidelined him for the season. We all know how good Porter can be based on his film. His injury has not hurt him much in the latest mock drafts either.

Arizona freshman big Deandre Ayton is also looking like a stud early on. Ayton is averaging 19.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He has size at 7-foot-1 and 250 pounds and freakish offensive ability.

There is also Mohamed Bamba from Texas. He is not known for his offense yet, but his defense is amazing. The 7-footer has a 7-foot-9 wingspan and is averaging four blocks per game. He game is much like Tristan Thompson, also a former defensive stud at Texas.

Don’t forget about Miles Bridges either. Many expected the Michigan State sophomore to be in this year’s draft, but he returned to the Spartans instead for another big season. Bridges has been picking up where he left off so far. His season averages are not as high, but it is still early and from watching him you know he can be an NBA stud.

Keep the pick

The the current age of the Cavs, some may argue they should focus on winning now. However, with some of the team’s top players like Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Jae Crowder, Tristan Thompson and most likely LeBron James returning to the team next season, why would they need to plan a massive rebuild?

The fact is, most of the Cavs’ stars are not that old. They can make the Finals in the next two seasons at least with their current roster. But if they don’t want to be left behind once all these players are finished, they need to start preparing for the future.

Yes, there is no guarantee Cleveland gets the top pick, or even a top three pick. But there is also no guarantee DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan would stay either. What you can guarantee is that this next draft class is going to be loaded with talent, and the Cavs will have a top 10 pick to get one of those players.

This offseason, the Cavs need to focus on getting younger and keeping Isaiah Thomas on the roster. They can start by getting him anther great teammate to work with.

 

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change it up

“Alright change it up…Mendoza, Robinson” – Coach O’Ryan

There comes a time near the 20 some odd games into the season mark where we fans hit a lull. Games are not as intense as they were the first month. Points are either in the bank positively or not as much as other teams. Nevertheless, we like to talk hockey just because of the fact that it’s hockey season, and that’s what we do. Let’s maybe change it up.

An outlook on the rest of the season is almost clear. We have a good indication of who is going to be at the top of the standings as well as the cellar for the most part. There are teams that will be near the Wild Card spots who do not know their playoff fate. Regardless, most teams have something to play for more or less at this stage of the regular season.

Knowing that my team will almost certainly be in the playoffs, just having to improve every day in preparation for the postseason, my mind wonders. I brush up on the other leagues to see how they’re doing while keeping focus on my club’s game days.

82 games is a very large number. Two months of postseason play is a very long time period. If you don’t make the playoffs or lose in the first round, it’s an eternity without hockey. I have been in all areas of this spectrum. Every time I hear potential ideas to make leagues better and even more entertaining, I listen.

The Lebron argument

change it up

(Photo from NBA News Corner)

LeBron James plays in a conference in the NBA where he knows he has the superior team. His goal until mid-April is almost always to keep his team loose in knowing this, as well as create stories for the media. He likes to have fun now, then be all business later. The way the NBA is set up has the league’s most dominant player knowing for sure that he will be back in the NBA Finals again. This has happened the last seven seasons.

NBA fans that are “anti-LeBron” are bored of this situation. So, what does the NBA commissioner do? NBA analyst Jalen Rose has been vouching for ‘open seeding for years.’ Forget the conferences and simply have the best 16 teams.

The same teams have been in the finals the last three years. Increase the parity, where there is seemingly none, and maybe do this in the NHL as well. It is 2017 (soon to be 2018) where traveling is not an issue. The NHL has the most parity by far, therefore open seeding could create ultra competitive and even more entertaining hockey.

Arguments for who deserves to be at the dance in mid-April would go away. Superstars would be seen evenly throughout North America. The integrity of the game would be enhanced wholeheartedly. The two best and most deserving teams most likely would be competing for the Stanley Cup every year. For these reasons, all sports should do this.

Trust The Process??

change it up

(Photo from wn.com)

Sticking with the NBA evidence, the 76ers have tanked the last few seasons to ensure No. 1 picks. They are now a competitive basketball team and will be beaten before or after they play Cleveland in the playoffs. However, the league wants to end tanking even though most believe it is impossible. I on the other hand have some thoughts.

What if there was a losers’ bracket? It would be a bracket for all the non-playoff teams. The winner of this bracket would receive the first overall pick. The rest of the first half of the first round would follow based on how everyone would finish. It may not be seen as doable, but I would beg to differ.

TV runs the world as I have been told. TV rights generate the bulk of each of the major sports’ revenue. Every one of the national networks would kill for each playoff series to go seven games. So what if there was just an excess amount of playoff series going on? I don’t know if that’s possible. It’s just one of the thoughts I have at this point in the NHL season.

Herm Edwards told us “you play to win the game.” So, let’s make that cliche the truest saying in sports. In a long and unbearable season, teams will say “let’s just win one for the fans” or “let’s play for the draft” and lose. Take those sayings and throw them out the window, so Edmonton doesn’t have four tries to get it right at the draft. Everyone in pro sports are considered the best in the world at what they do, so let’s always play for something.

Back To Hockey

I have absolutely no problems with the game of hockey at this point. My team is at the top of the standings seemingly every year. Even if they weren’t, I’d still go see them play.

However, I feel for teams like Arizona who have young talent, but are a team simply playing for jobs. It sucks they are 28th in league attendance. As a fan, you care about your organization above all else, but if you are a hockey purist, you want to see every team at their best.

This creates rivalries, entertainment value and revenue for a league that is four out of four compared to the other leagues in that regard. I despise every hockey club that is not my own, but some teams are just harmless, and I don’t get up as much for certain games.

When the Arizona Coyotes come to my hometown on a Tuesday night, I’m not excruciatingly excited. Is this similar to why my team plays down to their level those nights? The last time we played the Yotes, we squeaked out a shootout win in a surprisingly intense game.

I’m ready to battle every single night, but I’m not sure about the league itself. Let’s battle.

 

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Best team Eastern Conference

The best team in the East

The Boston Celtics have the best record in the NBA at 8-2 after a huge win against the Thunder with an insane 18-point comeback. The Celtics have the perfect team to perform well in the regular season with a core of young talent that will finish atop the Eastern Conference.

The new-look Celtics

The Celtics currently hold the best record in the entire NBA. With the favorite Cleveland Cavaliers falling apart, it’s hard to see another team challenge the Celtics for the No. 1 seed.

One of the biggest reasons for the Celtics’ success is how Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier have been playing. These three are all playing with fire this season, averaging more than 20 minutes per game, which is only going to help them improve in the long run.

Best team Eastern Conference

Photo from NBC Sports

The bench is filled with solid impact players, especially big guys like Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis, which is something they have been missing in the last few seasons. While Baynes is an established player who the Celtics cooped up in free agency, Theis is a rookie from Germany that has been a pleasant surprise, averaging 5.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and almost a block per game.

Kyrie Irving is getting it down on both ends of the floor and showing all the critics how good his defense really is by leading the entire league in steals this season. Irving has found himself in Brad Stevens’ constant ball movement offense. He’s been able to create so many different looks compared to his time in Cleveland.

Have the Celtics figured out their rebounding problem? Currently, the Celtics are fifth in the league in rebounds, which has been a weak point in recent years. It seems like there is a sense of urgency in defensive rebounding, especially with Tatum and Brown.

Al Horford has been picking up his game as of late, consistently finishing with around 15 points and ten rebounds per game. He just looks like he has more drive than last season. I feel like he’s attacking the paint way more than settling for his patent free throw jumper.

Overall, the entire defense looks really strong. They have held their last eight opponents to under 95 points in each game. If the Celtics keep up this defensive intensity, they might even be able to finish with the best record in the league.

What’s up with Cleveland?

The oldest team in the League is struggling early to secure wins in the early part of the season. The Cavaliers made a bunch of different acquisitions this offseason, but none of them seem to be paying off in regular season play.

Best team Eastern Conference

(Photo from Cavs Nation)

The Cavaliers have been battling through a few injuries this season as well, most recently losing Tristan Thompson to a calf injury that should keep him out for a month. This is a devastating loss for a team that already struggled in rebounding and interior defense.

Currently, the Cavs are 4-6, losing five of their last six games. They rank in the bottom four of the East and just lost to the Atalanta Hawks, the worst team in the entire Eastern Conference.

The team has so many old flashy names, but that doesn’t necessarily make a good team. You need to have roles filled, and the Cavs are lacking in a lot of key areas right now.

I do think once Isaiah Thomas comes back, the team will have more structure and chemistry, but that won’t be until around the All-Star break possibly. Can the Cavs figure it out in time and stay around the top of the East where they belong? Or will they fall to the bottom and have to claw back in the second half of the year?

 

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beat the Warriors

To beat the Warriors: Cavaliers

Right now the NBA is seen as the Warriors, and everyone else. Despite a rather sluggish start, nobody thinks there will be a contest come playoffs time. The way I see it, there are a lot of teams a move or two away from being able to compete, and these moves aren’t unrealistic. So here are a few moves that certain teams could make, to really be able to compete with the Warriors.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs already will be able to compete with the Warriors, so long as they have the King. To beat the Warriors, though, is a different story. The first thing the Cavaliers need is to cross their fingers and hope that when Isaiah Thomas returns from injury, he’s the Isaiah that played his heart out in Boston, not the handicapped one they faced a year ago. If Isaiah Thomas comes back full strength, the Cavs will be a serious threat to the Warriors.

Something that would most definitely not hurt the Cavs is starting faster. Cleveland ranks 25th in the league in first-quarter scoring. For context, last year they ranked third. Going down early has been their downfall in most of their losses.
Another key for the Cavs is the need for a big man to lock down the center. I’m not convinced that their defensive woes on the perimeter will continue; however, I do think they have a serious problem when it comes to the paint. Not only will getting a defensive beast big man help the interior defense, but by extension, it will elevate the perimeter defense, as there will be less defensive collapses.

As for who they should go after, I would say either DeMarcus Cousins or Jahlil Okafor. Of course, the latter would be much easier to obtain, maybe making the blockbuster move for Boogie is what they should do, considering the concern of star power on the team. Here’s what I would predict each trade look like, hypothetically speaking of course.

Trades:

Cavs receive:
C DeMarcus Cousins
C Alexis Ajinca
Pelicans receive:
SG Iman Shumpert
C Tristan Thompson
2018 1st round pick (via BKN)

Explanation: This is, of course, assuming the Pelicans drop off like I personally expect them to. Basically, with this trade, they’re going younger. They get a nice defensive two-guard in Iman Shumpert to pair with the offensively electric Jrue Holiday. Tristan Thompson is only 26 and still, has some serious potential. Not to mention a lottery draft pick that could just land them someone like Michael Porter.

Cavs receive:
C Jahlil Okafor
76ers receive:
PF Channing Frye
2018 1st round pick

Explanation: Philly seems to just want to be rid of Okafor, and a stretch forward who could provide some decent minutes off the bench for them, accompanied by a late first rounder could just do the trick. While it isn’t a blockbuster trade, the Cavs need someone to hold down the paint, and Okafor has at least been decent (1.1 BLK career average).

All in all, the Cavs are going to be able to compete, but I’m not too sure if they have what it takes to beat the Warriors right now.


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The Celtics’ season is not over

A tragic event occurred on Tuesday night. The Celtics new star forward, Gordon Hayward, suffered a brutal injury to his ankle.

Many people are counting this year as a complete loss for the Celtics, and while it is certainly not ideal, the Celtics could still make something out of this. Obviously, the Celtics rally in the second half was electric. Call me an optimist, but I saw enough from that second half team to be able to say they could yet be a top two seed in the Eastern Conference.

When it comes to personnel, I am only going to break down players I think will play an integral role in replacing Hayward in Boston.

Coaching

Brad Stevens

There is a legitimate argument to be made that this man is a better head coach than Steve Kerr, which would make him the second best head coach in the league. That exemplifies just how good he is at his job. While the GM’s of the league may think otherwise, I would say Brad Stevens is the best coach in the league at making adjustments, and he’s only getting started.

The team defense he has designed has even been able to hide Isaiah Thomas on that side of the ball, so Kyrie Irving’s lack of defensive skill should be no problem. With more offensive weapons at his disposal, it will be interesting to see what he comes up with on that side of the ball.

Personnel

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart was the biggest surprise to me on Tuesday, as he stepped up on the offensive end once Hayward left. His post work looked very good, like a budget Chris Paul almost. Not to mention his high effort, high-level defense and pretty decent court vision. A stellar performance from the young man, the Celtics are gonna need a lot more where that came from.

Jaylen Brown

Welcome, Jaylen Brown. A fantastic performance from the second-year man, leading his team in scoring with 25 points. His outside shot still needs work, however, his athleticism really overshadowed his lack of an outside shot.

He looked fierce in this outing as he carved up the inside, with 14 of his 25 points coming off of layups or dunks. His defense was also pretty good in this one, as he was putting up a good fight on every possession, and came away with two steals. He can step and make a difference in Boston.

Marcus Morris

While Gordon Hayward is gone, Marcus Morris should be back soon. Morris is a solid defender, and decent 3-point shooter, with a career 35.5 percent from beyond the arc. He is a great asset, especially for a team like the Celtics, as floor spacing for Kyrie Irving is key. He also brings that toughness when defending on the low block that someone like Al Horford just doesn’t seem to have.

Jayson Tatum

His offense looked very good in the second half of this game after a shaky start. I hope he blossoms quickly, as he has a similar skillset to Gordon Hayward, and could be a great sixth man, or a decent starter.

Aron Baynes

He showed some real value on Tuesday, playing decent interior defense, and grabbing quite a few offensive rebounds. He could log some serious minutes.

This Celtics roster cannot take another injury. With one more hit, even to a role player like Aron Baynes, could be enough to kill them. Though at the moment, I think they still have all they need to seriously challenge for the East crown, even if they will almost certainly fall short.


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NBA opening night predictions: Celtics vs Cavs, Rockets vs Warriors

It’s been a while since we have had regular season basketball. On Tuesday night, the NBA regular season kicks off. The two games slated are the Boston Celtics on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Houston Rockets on the road taking on the Golden State Warriors.

These two matchups have a possible conference final feel to them to tip off the season. They also have a little bit of bad blood in them as well.

The NBA season has finally returned and with a lot of Allstars changing teams this season should make for an interesting one.

Celtics and Cavaliers

Everyone knows about the bad blood between Kyrie and the city of Cleveland. That is going to be the best kick off to the season that could possibly happen. Kyrie gets to travel to Cleveland and hear all the boos and possibly lead his new team in a win over his former team.

The Celtics and Cavaliers finished one and two in the East last season and if these teams didn’t already know each other before, they certainly do now.

Both of the teams’ new guards are feeding into the fire as well. Isaiah Thomas said he may never talk to Danny Ainge again. Kyrie Irving has been quoted numerous times comparing the two cities now that he has found a new home.

So what does this mean for this game? It means that it will be chippy for sure, there will be a lot of booing of Kyrie Irving and there will probably be some technical fouls. All in all it will be a tough game that is a perfect way to open up the NBA season.

I think that the Cavs still win this one by near double-digits. The crowd will be fired up and LeBron James still seems to be frustrated with the way Kyrie left things. The Cavaliers take a statement win at home. These two teams will continue to give us great matchups moving forward.

Rockets and Warriors

NBA opening night predictions

James Harden guarding Steph Curry, Photo Courtesy of Trashtalk.co.

The Rockets acquired All-Star guard Chris Paul this summer from the Los Angeles Clippers. The Rockets have now built a starting lineup that many think can compete with the loaded Golden State Warriors.

In a possible Western Conference finals matchup, both the defending champs and a team predicted in the top five in power rankings square off. The Warriors add different pieces to their bench and can deliver blows to the Rockets.

The Rockets traded Sam Dekker, Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley and depleted their depth. They look to get big minutes out of their key guys heading into this season. Look for Eric Gordon to carry the bench scoring load as the season moves forward and be a front runner for the Sixth Man of the Year again.

Ultimately I think the season starts off with the Warriors winning by around 16. The Warriors are too deep and the Rockets are a team that will take a little time to gel. It’s also extremely difficult to win at Oracle and there’s no doubt it will be rocking on opening night.

The Season as a whole

Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Chris Paul, Paul Millsap and others have switched conferences, which will create the most exciting season in recent memory.

The young players who have entered the league are creating a large amount of buzz. Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum are all set to take the NBA by storm.

Teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers who haven’t made the playoffs in a few years are set to make a playoff run. A shifting of the power has made it more interesting and a less predictable narrative.

This new season will be one of the best and Tuesday night we get to kick the season off. Look for a lot of entertaining games and a lot less rest from star players. In summary, the NBA is back and it’s not a moment too soon.

 

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The Cleveland Cavaliers and J.R. Smith

The Golden State Warriors have left teams looking to chase them. The Cleveland Cavaliers seem to be one of the teams hot on their trail.

The Warriors look to beat teams with a deep rotation and many players who can play multiple positions. The Cavaliers have accomplished one of those things extremely well this offseason.

The Cavaliers depth is now at the same level of the Warriors, and there’s no denying that. Dwyane Wade joins a Cavaliers team as a steal. He adds depth at a shooting guard position and provides it at a low price (one year, $2.3 million).

The key loss this summer was Kyrie Irving and the key additions consist of Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose and Wade.

Depth

Let’s start off with the surplus of depth the Cavaliers have added this offseason. The Cavaliers arguably won the Kyrie Irving trade due to the depth that they added.

They added an All-Star in Isaiah Thomas and also added Jae Crowder, who is an upgrade at backup small forward and can shoot the three. On a team centered around LeBron James, shooting the three is a vital part of the Cavaliers’ offense.

Their starters will most likely be Thomas, Wade, James, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.

The second team features Derrick Rose, J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver, Crowder and Edy Tavares. Mix in Channing Frye and Jeff Green whenever the matchups seem favorable and this team is extremely deep.

The added depth helps with their matchup with the Warriors. Last season, including the postseason, the Cavaliers went 2-5 and allowed 120.3 points per game on average. In the five finals games, Kevin Durant averaged over 35 per game.

With Crowder on board, James gets relief on the defensive end from Kevin Durant and has a better chance of being rested in the fourth quarter to open up his offensive game.

Competing with the Warriors

Cleveland Cavaliers

New Cavalier Jae Crowder guards Lebron James. (Photo Courtesy of SI.com)

The Warriors have taken the new NBA and become unguardable. With the Warriors depth and their ability to add players who can be interchangable on both offense and defense, they are sometimes impossible to guard.

The Cavaliers have now covered the depth that they seemingly lacked in the 2017 NBA Finals.

The one problem that seems to be looming is what is going to happen at the point guard position. Thomas does add offensive firepower against the Warriors, but there’s a good chance that the Warriors will capitalize on his lack of height and have someone shoot right over him.

Rose could potentially see a rise in minutes come playoff time due to his size and not necessarily his scoring.

Bold Prediction

J.R. Smith Photo Courtesy of LarryBrown.com.

Listen, lots of sixth man award winners are pretty much primarily offensive weapons. J.R. Smith is on a very good team with the ability to come in and just flat out score. He won’t be as tired because he will be playing less and more efficient minutes.

I think J.R. finds a way to be in the top three voting for the sixth man of the year award. He might not be thrilled with losing his starting job to Wade, but I think he thrives in his new role off the bench. He is a former sixth man of the year winner in, so the statement isn’t too far fetched.

Smith averaged 8.6 points in 29 minutes per game last year, which was the second lowest total of his career. The Cavaliers are loaded, and with less pressure on him, output should improve.

Future Outlook

The Cavaliers still look like the top team in the East. They have gotten closer to Golden State and can officially hit them with two full lines of very good players.

The Cavaliers will have a new look to them this year and will have way more ammo to throw at the Warriors.

 

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Dwyane Wade Cavaliers

Three reasons why the Cleveland Cavaliers need Dwyane Wade

On Sunday, the Chicago Bulls and three-time champion Dwyane Wade reached a buyout agreement.

The 35-year-old guard dreamed of playing for his hometown, but after one year in Chicago, the dream has come to an end. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat had interest in Wade. On Tuesday, “Woj” reported that Wade decided on the Cavs.

A lot of people wanted to see “No. 3” finish his career with the Miami Heat. However, the 2006 finals MVP, wants to win another ring before he retires. Wade played 60 games last season and averaged 18 points, 4.8 rebounds and five assists per game.

The Chicago native still has plenty of gas left and can play at a high level. The 12-time All-Star will have his minutes taken into consideration. Although the 6-foot-4 guard played 60 games last season, he fractured his elbow and almost missed the playoffs which brings future injury concerns.

One thing is for sure though: joining the Cavaliers provides Wade with the best chance of returning to the NBA Finals.

Flash From the Past

It’s no secret that LeBron James and Wade are best friends and have been in the trenches before. Both future Hall of Famers feed off of one another, and occasionally, D-Wade has to call out LBJ. Adding the three-time champion into the fold provides the Cavs with another closer.

King James can defer to newly acquired Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love or Wade. Last season, James led the Cavaliers in points, assists, steals and blocks (Love led the team in rebounds, but I digress). Adding “The Flash” allows head coach Tyronn Lue to do the inevitable: put J.R. Smith back on the bench.

The Easy East

If the former Marquette star will have a direct path to the finals. LeBron has made it to the finals the last seven years. With the departure of Kyrie Irving, players will have different roles. Love will be the second option and Thomas will be the third.

More Bench Depth

Lue probably isn’t losing any sleep, but the addition of the former Bulls guard adds more ammunition to a solid roster. It’s safe to assume that Wade will start this season. Once Wade finalizes his deal with Cleveland, the projected starting lineup will be Thomas, Wade, James, Love, and Tristan Thompson.

Lue normally plays a 9-10 man rotation. The bench rotation will consist of Derrick Rose, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder, and Richard Jefferson.

This has been a crazy offseason. Will the Cavs make it to their fourth straight NBA finals appearance?

According to Woj, the deal will be finalized by Wednesday!

 

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NBA season preview: Central Division

The Central Division winner has been what seems like a foregone conclusion lately. The Cleveland Cavaliers led by star LeBron James have been one of the best teams in basketball the last few seasons.

There are teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons on the rise and teams dealing stars on the decline. Stars like Jimmy Butler and Paul George are moving out, which means the division race could be Cleveland’s once again.

Here are my record predictions for each of the five teams in the Central Division.

Chicago Bulls:

2016-2017 record: 41-41

2017-2018 prediction: 26-56

It’s a tough fall to lose Jimmy Butler, and the biggest part of that trade is the high draft pick the Bulls get in next year’s draft.

As far as winning now goes, the Bulls are relying on Zach Lavine to carry most of the offensive load.

Taj Gibson and Rajon Rondo are also gone from last year’s team meaning that a lot of offensive weapons have left. Dwyane Wade is currently looking for a buyout which would mean that some of the best offensive weapons could be gone.

The Bulls are going in the rebuilding direction and this season will be a tough one in Chicago.

Cleveland Cavaliers:

nba season preview: Central Division

Lebron James and Kevin Love, Photo Courtesy of sportsworldreport.com

2016-2017 record: 51-31

2017-2018 prediction: 48-34

The Cavaliers have been the team representing the Eastern Conference in the Finals each of the last three years. Obviously any team with LeBron James is hard to beat. This upcoming season, the Cavaliers are the favorite to win the Central Division.

With lots of teams getting more competitive, the Cavaliers stayed about the same this summer. Losing Kyrie Irving is a big deal due to his ability to create and finish around the rim. However, LeBron is still the best player in basketball and he can carry a team if he needs to.

LeBron and the Cavaliers will still be a top three seed in the Eastern Conference, but there will be a lot more competitive games this season, especially now that Isaiah Thomas is a defensive mismatch.

The Cavaliers are still the team to beat in the East, but I think they took a small step back this offseason.

Detroit Pistons:

2016-2017 record: 37-45

2017-2018 prediction: 36-46

Avery Bradley was a huge offseason move for the Detroit Pistons. He has the ability to score offensively and also rebound and defend at a high level for a guard.

Unfortunately the Pistons lost Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris. Morris and Pope provided scoring that was much needed throughout the year and Baynes and Drummond dominated the boards.

One addition that helps mightily on a somewhat poor shooting team is the drafting of Luke Kennard. Kennard can flat out shoot it and the Pistons will need it to free up Andre Drummond inside.

The Pistons stay about even after the offseason. They lose some offense but add some defense which will help them win the lower scoring games.

Indiana Pacers:

nba season preview: Central Division

Myles Turner, photo courtesy of Freep.com

2016-2017 record: 42-40

2017-2018 prediction: 33-49

Losing an All-Star in Paul George is a big deal but this Pacers team can still play. Lance Stephenson, Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo are a very good set of players who can be very good for this team.

Myles Turner is going to take a big jump this year and turn into a star and Victor Oladipo will benefit from not having as much pressure around him. The Indiana Pacers may have backtracked but they are still a good enough team to make a playoff push, it just might come up short.

Losing Paul George in the offseason means that your wins will decrease but I think the Indiana Pacers will still be very competitive this season.

Milwaukee Bucks:

2016-2017 record: 42-40

2017-2018 prediction: 47-35

The Milwaukee Bucks return the same core as they did last season, and this season everyone is more experienced.

They add D.J. Wilson out of Michigan and keep virtually the same team. Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo are looking to build off the great seasons they had last year.

The Bucks have built themselves into a team on the rise through the draft. They have a lot of versatile guys who can guard multiple positions.

Come playoff time they will be a hard out and I think that when they play Cleveland they will give them all they can handle.

 

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Breaking down the Cavaliers and Celtics blockbuster trade

Just when the NBA offseason seemed over, one of the biggest moves shook up the top of the Eastern Conference.

Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick were shipped away for Kyrie Irving Tuesday night and it shocked the NBA. Kyrie was obviously demanding a trade, however most people didn’t view the Boston Celtics as a landing spot, even if they could offer the best package.

As the top two teams in the Eastern Conference last season, the Cavaliers and Celtics didn’t seem like ideal trade partners. This trade is unique because both teams have gotten better in their own ways.

The Celtics

Cavaliers Celtics Blockbuster Trade

Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, Photo Courtesy of inquisitr.com.

Ultimately there were two big problems here. Isaiah Thomas is one offseason away from a new possible max contract, and Jae Crowder would contribute to a log jam at the small forward position.

When the Celtics made this trade, they were looking for stability, and that comes with Kyrie Irving. Irving has at least one more year on his contract and he is obviously not coming off a hip injury.

Jae Crowder is a guy who would ultimately interfere with the development of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Crowder would receive minutes that could be going to Tatum and Brown, which are important minutes that would speed up their development.

Based on this season’s summer league (obviously not that important), Zizic was at least one step slow. He seemed to be a few years away from translating his skills to contribute to an NBA rotation.

The biggest part of this whole deal is the Brooklyn Nets draft pick. The Nets haven’t recently been a powerhouse, and because of that the chance of that pick being high in the lottery is more likely than not.

The 2018 NBA Draft will be a loaded draft without a doubt, but with the additions of D’Angelo Russell and DeMarre Carroll, the Nets might not be in the cellar anymore.

The Cavaliers

Cavaliers Celtics Blockbuster Trade

Kyrie Irving, Photo Courtesy of Image Arcade.

Listen, there really wasn’t a choice for Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers here. Kyrie had voiced his frustration and if he had stayed on the Cavs to start the season, who knows how it would’ve played out.

The Celtics ultimately had the most to offer, but sending one of your stars to a conference rival is always messy. I don’t think the Cavaliers get to the Warriors level with this move, but they do close the gap.

Isaiah Thomas’ production-wise is nearly even with Kyrie and much cheaper, but the big key here is Crowder.

Richard Jefferson seems like he’s been playing in the NBA for 30 years, but for a fair amount of Finals minutes he chases Kevin Durant around. Jae Crowder adds another wave of defense to try and contain Durant.

In turn, Jae can attempt to guard Durant and give LeBron more minutes to rest.

The trade also opens up the idea of life after LeBron or could even get him to stay. The 2018 Nets pick could very well be a star.

There has been a lot of speculation on what LeBron will do next summer in regards to where he will play. If LeBron does walk, the Nets pick could be a player to build around. At the same time, LeBron could look at that as a reason to stay, and another playmaker to compete with the Warriors down the road.

The East moving forward

Oddly enough, these players were viewed differently by their former fan bases. Thomas was loved by the Celtics for putting it all on the line every night. Kyrie made the biggest shot in Cleveland Cavaliers history, but he also demanded to be traded out of that same scenario.

Both of the primary players in this trade are below average defenders and that’s a given, but both guards have unique skills that will be better suited for their new locations.

Kyrie is a pure playmaker who loves to finish around the rim and is possibly the best finisher in our game today. He comes to a Celtics team looking to help stretch the floor and finish when team don’t collapse, something he is better than Thomas at.

Thomas has the ability to spot up and also slash to create for others. Sharing the ball with LeBron will mean he will be off the ball much more than he was with the Celtics.

His spot up shooting was at 40 percent from three last season and that is with a large sample size. Thomas’ statistics will diminish without being the primary offensive weapon but he will still score well.

Both the Cavaliers and Celtics got better, and neither team lost this trade as the teams just filled different needs. The two top teams in the East just got a whole lot more interesting. Keep a lookout for opening night where Kyrie will get his nice warm welcome by Cavalier fans.

 

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