With tipoff getting closer and closer, it’s important to look back to last season. For both the good and bad, there are implications for how Cleveland is likely to perform. Here are five things to consider from the last Cleveland Cavaliers season.
Mitchell real deal
Starting off with the most obvious takeaway from last season: Donovan Mitchell is the real deal. He was an all-star caliber player in Utah and leveled up to a top three all-time highest single game scorer while in Cleveland. While always being a primary scorer for the Jazz, there was no doubt he would do the same in Cleveland. There was, however, doubt that he could continue to improve his scoring now being surrounded by more high-volume scorers. Mitchell quickly silenced these doubts when he took helm of the team to start the season after Darius Garland suffered an eye injury. Before the season was halfway over, Mitchell would score 71 points in a game placing him behind only Wilt Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant in the single-game scoring record books.
This time with Garland out also helped Mitchell to familiarize himself with the team and he, by the time Garland was healthy, had become deeply integrated into the team.
Even with the players and multitude of picks Cleveland gave up in exchange for Mitchell, it’s still seems to be a move that played out well above expectations.
Seeing as though Isaac Okoro saw a relative plateau in his play, Cleveland is still in need of a consistent starting small forward. The problem seems to have been addressed with the signings of Max Strus and Georges Niang, along with the drafting of Emoni Bates.
It’s not a guarantee, though. While Strus and Niang have proven to be solid in the past, neither of them are the caliber of player as the rest of the starting lineup. Granted, it’s a tough task. Every other member of the starting lineup has been invited to all-star weekend.
There is however the potential for this quality of player in Bates. A former top-ranked in his class player, Bates could be the three this team needs. He did fall much deeper in the draft than initially expected, but there is reason to believe he’ll perform.
Trust the office
Over the last few seasons Cleveland’s front office has seemed to make the right moves again and again. Although there have been many moves that didn’t necessarily pan out as expected (second signing of Ricky Rubio) there were never any trades or signings that blew up in their faces or derailed their progress. There were also minor moves that ended up looking much better with hindsight (first singing of Rubio).
With the proven recent success of the front office, and the quality of players on the roster, there’s good reason to believe that the moves this offseason will help the Cavaliers this upcoming season.
With the way Cleveland’s season ended, it was painfully aware to Cav’s fans that more experience was needed amongst the roster. While the lineup is riddled with current and former all-stars, not much playoff experience is present outside of one or two players. The playoffs are a different beast from the regular season. It’s not only focusing entirely on figuring out another team and how to beat them, but dealing with that team doing the exact same thing to you. Inexperience is invaluable.
This, too, seems to have been addressed with the signing of Tristan Thompson who had previously won a championship with the Cavaliers.
The final, and most important, takeaway is that of concrete progress. Each season since Lebron left, the Cavs continued to improve their regular season records and develop their young talent. Along with that, two seasons ago they made the play-in tournament. The following year they made the playoffs with no play-in. Although they made a first round exit, this is one of the best all around rosters in the East and should see another level up this upcoming season.
With those five takeaways from last season, hopefully the outlook for the upcoming Cleveland Cavaliers season is more clear.
Featured photo courtesy of NBA.com
“From Our Haus to Your’s”