The Cleveland Cavaliers should be able to make some kind of jump in the upcoming season for a variety of reasons. First off, it feels like the Cavs have some potential stars with both Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Players like Isaac Okoro and Jarrett Allen are fully capable of taking the next step in their development. The Cavs also added some new key pieces like Evan Mobley, Lauri Markkanen and Ricky Rubio. On the Cavaliers’ first media day, Sexton reiterated this will be the season where the Cavs take a jump.
Collin Sexton says that this year is the year the Cleveland Cavaliers will take the next jump.
— Evan Dammarell (@AmNotEvan) September 27, 2021
How much can Cleveland improve?
Now the real question is how much the Cavs can improve this year. Pending good health, there is absolutely no reason why the Cavaliers cannot improve in some capacity. Making a jump would mean making significant progress though, grabbing five more wins compared to the previous season would not cut it.
Cleveland has such a young roster, it would be very difficult to earn a playoff spot. In years past, the playoffs could have been a possibility, but the Eastern Conference continues to improve every offseason. Having playoff expectations for Cleveland is somewhat unrealistic unless some unexpected events occurred. This could include scenarios like players like Okoro or Allen making huge progress in their play, or the rookie Mobley shines in his first season in the NBA.
Considering how unlikely a playoff birth is, what would a jump for the Cavs look like? The NBA Play-In Tournament could be one realistic expectation for Cleveland. Making the tournament would be difficult, but a good season could allow the Cavs to finish anywhere from 9th-11th in the Eastern Conference. This would mean the Cavs are on the verge of a play-in spot or earned a play-in spot. If Cleveland is fighting for a playoff spot end of the season, this is ultimately a successful season.
The Cavaliers simply need to be more competitive in every single game and have a chance in most games. Being knocked out of the play-in tournament would be a tough blow since they would barely miss the playoffs, but it’s progress. This would lay some competitive foundation for the franchise and could lead to a playoff birth in the following season.
Since LeBron James left Cleveland, the Cavs have finished 14th, 15th and 13th in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers need to get out of the bottom of their conference. Moving up to 10th or 11th in the conference would be some welcomed progress that certainly entails more winning.
The Cavs have a very young roster, the future is still bright. They do not have to be competing in the playoffs this season, but some progress does need to be made. It feels like this is Cleveland’s year to decide if this core built by Koby Altman will truly work. If it’s a failure, someone like Collin Sexton could be moved rather than extended. Taking the next step in the upcoming season, as Sexton mentioned, has to happen if this core is to stay together.
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