With Thanksgiving right around the corner, here a look at five things Cleveland Cavaliers fans can be thankful for this 2024-24 season.
Entering the 2023-24 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have one of the best young cores in all of basketball. Between Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen there’s not many skills this group of players doesn’t have.
Scoring? They can do it in bunches. Defense? They finished last season with the best defensive rating in the league. Ball movement? Though it’s slowed down in recent games, this squad’s passing has jumped to another level this season and seems to be more heavily utilized when at least three of these four guys are on the floor.
Although Emoni Bates was the most interesting prospect entering the season, it’s Craig Porter Jr who’s showing out so far. He’s averaging 7.1 points, 2.7 assists and 2.2 rebounds a game and been vital in filling in as backup point while Rubio is out (more in that later).
He looked great against the 76rs earlier this week, a game in which he managed to outmaneuver Joel Embiid for his first three shot attempts. His first two buckets came off of (impressive) moves around Embiid in the paint and while his third attempt, a fadeaway mid-range jumper, didn’t connect he still managed to put Embiid on skates and make him visibly frustrated. A very impressive feat for a rookie. Porter, Jr. looks surprisingly comfortable as an NBA player in his first stretch as a Cavalier.
While the other young talent, such as Bates and Sam Merrill, aren’t playing great, they’re proving to be fine role players with good upside.
New roster additions
While Ty Jerome has missed most of the season due to injury and Damian Jones has been quiet, Cleveland’s other additions are looking really good. Max Strus has played up and down the lineup averaging 14.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists this season. Tristan Thompson is also bringing back his signature hard-nosed style play to Cleveland. Though he doesn’t get as much playing time as the other guys, he certainly leaves all his effort on the court.
Georges Niang, averaging 7.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and one assists per game, isn’t having the best start to the season. He does, however, play hard and has a short memory when it comes to scoring (something missing from last season’s bench unit) and seems to be a valuable piece of this team as they manage their health.
Despite the fact that this early stretch of Cleveland’s season has largely been defined by injury, this team is looking good. With a roster contrasted the way Cleveland’s is, it’s safe to assume they’ll be a good regular season team. The key matchups, then, become those that are possible indicators of how the postseason will go.
Against teams such as the Nuggets, the 76ers or the Warriors, for instance, Cleveland remains undefeated. Sure Jamal Murray was out for the Denver game, but so was Donovan Mitchell. Donovan Mitchell was out for the Philadelphia game too, in fact, and Cleveland still managed to beat a full Sixers squad.
With playoffs comes health management, and this team has proved early on that it can stand up to the best teams in the league (at least for a game or two). It’s not a guarantee that this postseason will be better than last, but it’s about as good an indicator as can be hoped for at this point in the season.
Font office’s attitude towards roster
Maybe the most important thing on this list, Cleveland fans can rest assured that their players are being taken care of. Ricky Rubio has yet to play this season, missing not because of an injury, but to focus on his mental health. The Cavaliers organization has been extremely supportive of Rubio’s decision and, although struggling with guard depth, remain so.
The office also hasn’t rushed any player back to the court before they were ready to do so, indicating that they’re considering this team’s long term potential rather than focusing on short-sided successes. This is so important because with four all-star caliber players (and one who’s becoming a free agent after next season) it’s vital that the organization shows they are as dedicated to taking care of the players as the players are to winning.
Cleveland fans have a lot to look forward to this Thanksgiving. Between the core four, the young talent, the new roster additions and both the way Cleveland’s looking early and how their front office is supporting the players individually, this team is heading for a heck of a season.
Featured photo courtesy of NBA.com
“From Our Haus to Yours”