NBA / Sep 16, 2008 / 1:15 pm

Highs and Lows: Cleveland Cavs

LeBronLeBron James (photo. Mannion)

NBA training camps start up in a few weeks. In the meantime, we’re going team-by-team, from 1 to 30, exploring what each team’s ceiling is for the upcoming season and where their basement is. In other words, what are the realistic best-case and worst-case scenarios for each squad?

Additions: PG Mo Williams, PF J.J. Hickson, SG Tarence Kinsey, C Lorenzen Wright, PF Darnell Jackson.

Losses: PF Joe Smith, SG Devin Brown, PG Damon Jones.

Ceiling: NBA Finals
LeBron has taken a talent-deficient team as far as the Finals before, so there’s no reason to believe he can’t do it again. Not to mention this Cavs squad is better than ones in years past. Mo Williams is an underrated passer (when he wants to be) who can score and is someone who’s not going to just stand around and watch LeBron operate; in this case, his tendency to jack shots may actually be a good thing. LeBron hasn’t had a backcourt teammate with Mo’s explosiveness before in his Cavs’ career. Cleveland actually has depth in the backcourt/wing positions with LeBron, Mo, Delonte West, Daniel Gibson, Wally Szczerbiak, Sasha Pavlovic and Tarence Kinsey. Rookie J.J. Hickson was impressive in the summer leagues and his presence along with a full season from Anderson Varejao should allow Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace to limit their minutes going into the playoffs. Mike Brown is a good defensive coach and this team has solid shooters; he just needs to keep being creative with how he utilizes LeBron (more post-ups, less bringing the ball up) and this team could get back to the brink of a championship so long as they have arguably the best player in the game.

Basement: First-round playoff exit
The East is stronger, and if the Cavs run up against the wrong team in the first round they could be sent home. Over the last three years they’ve feasted on the Wizards — and in two of those years Washington was decimated by injuries. While the Cavs came close to knocking off a Celtics team in last year’s conference semifinals that looked nothing like the Boston group who went on to win the championship, all it takes is a bad stretch of games from LeBron or a great stretch of games from an opposing superstar and the Cavs could fall to the likes of Miami, Detroit, Washington or even Philly early on. And what point will the distraction of LeBron’s 2010 free agency start to have a negative affect on the team?

’08-09 NBA preview archives
9/15 — Phoenix Suns
9/12 — Milwaukee Bucks
9/11 — L.A. Clippers
9/10 — Orlando Magic

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  • it aint easy being green

    get a FOR REAL second scoring threat for lebron to play with or they’ll be done in round 2. mo’s aight, but not enough to get over the hump.

  • jay rich

    it wont matter until they get a new coach. rite now they will be a playoff team but they still got a shit load of work to keep bron in c-town

  • Sam I Am

    Bum team going to get a 4 seed again and lose again.

    The window is actually this year

    Bum team

    booo LeBron

  • s.bucketz

    Tarence Kinsey is pretty nice…if he can get some burn im expecting some good things from him

  • loganlight

    I agree with Jay Rich… until they get a new way of thinking in C-Town things are not going to look good. I expect a ‘disappointing’ 2nd round exit this year.


  • jay rich

    where the hell is kinsley from??? he didnt even play in memphis how the hell is he gonna help???im tired of the cavs gettin other teams bench players…who on this current roster besides bron would start on boston,l.a.,or any other championship level team this team sucks and if it wasnt for lebron bein the best player in the east they would not be considered a threat to anyone

  • control

    It will be worth watching the Cavs play just to see if Mo fucks over Bron like he did Redd in the crunch time. He does that a few times and I can see Bron killing the guy.

  • http://www.myspace.com/carli_borikua4life QuEsT????

    areeeeeee u nutssssss!!??!?!? ceiling nba finals!?!?!?! helll no the ceiling is second round exit and bottom is not going to the playoffs

  • jay rich

    @post 8

    the reason NBA finals is because when you have the best player on the floor anythings possible.thats why the bulls won 6 championships because they had the best player not the best team but player. but having said that they wont be in the finals lol

  • Big V

    I agree with the ceiling and floors here. The top teams in the East right now have to be Boston and Cleveland, with Philly, Miami, and Detroit on their heels. Washington’s a question mark until we get more clarity on their health situation.

    I can definitely see Cleveland somehow getting to the Finals and losing, or getting ousted in 6 or 7 in the first round if the matchups don’t work in their favor. Both Miami and Boston present a big challenge for them if they meet early in the playoffs.

  • odi

    jay rich
    “the bulls won 6 championships because they had the best player not the best team but player”
    u must be crazy man
    jordan had the best all around team in the 90s the best sf the best rebounder prob the best coach the best three point shooter the best sixth man a and a bunch of good role players
    i know u jordan fans are kinda crazy but that comment is the best ever
    name me a team that loses its best player and gets within one game of the conference finals
    ONLY ONE TEAM THE BULLS IN 94 and u come here and post that they didnt have the best team
    one man doesnt win 72 games
    he might be the greatest for most of u but dont talk like he didnt have the best team

  • Ian

    the bulls didnt have the best team only the best player lol gtfoh

  • fallinup

    jay rich….you speak blasphemy, my brother.

    Like odi said. One man don’t win 72 games.

  • jay rich


    look man all i was sayin is that if you have a great player on your team and that player happens to be the best in the fuckin conference then you always have a chance.the bulls had the best player in the world but no they didnt have the best team they had a good team but not the best team. they didnt win without jordan therefore proving my point. the first three championships they did not have a great rebounder only on the last 3. also they lost when jordan first came back bcuzthey werent better than the magic THAT YEAR. jordan wasnt fully back yet but when he was they won. they didnt have the best team but hey they won so…….

  • jay rich

    are you idiots gonna sit there and say that the bulls were a better TEAM then say the knicks or the fuckin pacers???? these teams took the bulls to 6 and 7 games and if it had not been for the BEST PLAYER IN THE GAME the bulls would not have won shit

  • ian

    jay rich
    the pacers better hahahahahahahahahaha
    the bulls second best player pippen was better than the pacers best player hahahaha

    the knicks needed 7 games and the refs to beat the bulls without jordan which means that the bulls without their best player were just as good as the knicks hahahahahahahah
    and only twice the bulls played 7 games and u decided to put the 2 teams that made that happen and call them better

    u take the pacers without reggie the knicks without ewing and u have the BALLS to post that those casts are better than pippen rodman kukoc harper and kerr
    u sir are the idiot

  • ian

    “teams took the bulls to 6 and 7 games and if it had not been for the BEST PLAYER IN THE GAME the bulls would not have won shit”

    dumbest shit ever when u talk cast u talk about the players around the stars and sir the knicks nor the pacers had 2 superstars what u r tryin to do here is compare the jordanless bulls to the full knicks or pacers and its not done that way u take away all best player of all three sucka

  • odi

    my god rich so many flaws in that post
    ” they didnt win without jordan therefore proving my point”
    shit man what we are sayin is that NO team with the best player can play better teams as close as the bulls did and your are comparin the 94 bulls to the full knicks you think that if ewing wasnt there the bulls dont woop the shit outta the knicks because it went 7 games with the full knicks. which meanssssssssss take your time and read this that the role players on the bulls were better than role players on the knicks.

  • odi

    rich im a girl

  • Ian







    off the top of my head jay it seems that the bulls are better than the others

  • fallinup

    Sadly….the best player in the game came back and the Bulls still lost to the Magic. Sooooooo…..flawed logic be damned.

  • Brown

    Mo won’t be able to get away with his jacking in Cleveland because Lebron is a leader. Michael Redd is a talented ball player, but not a leader. A true leader would have taken care of that shit himself. The same goes for a true coach. Their coach last year let him do whatever the hell he wanted to and wasn’t held accountable for it. Real leaders hold the players accountable for their actions. Look at KG in Boston. They have Eddie House, a known jacker, who played within himself and within the game because KG would have torn a strip off him if he didn’t.

    Anyone who thinks Mo is gonna play out-of-conrol like he did in Milwaukee is in for a surprise.

  • Kobeef

    I never would have imagined this was possible but Lebron’s team is worse this year than it was last year. Joe Smith was the best PF on the team and they lost him and Devin Brown brougt more than Sasha and Wally at the swing position so they probably see a drop-off there as well.

    I’m not convinced that Mo is any better than Boobie so the PG position is a wash. At they 5 they have an even slower and older Z and Big Ben…awesome.

    No wonder Lebron hangs out in Dallas and New York. This bunch is depressing.

  • MSkittle

    It’s “effect”… not “affect”

  • Diego

    I second Kobeef regarding Joe Smith, and I think basement easily could be lower. LeBron gets injured for 20 or so games, bye, bye playoffs. Even without that, I see in the East (in no particular order): Boston, Philly, Detroit, Atlanta (my bias), Washington, Toronto, Chicago as playoff bound, with Charlotte, Miami and Cleveland filling last spot (I’m not saying 8th seed here).

  • Bron42 had springs before slamball

    od is really charles barkley lol

  • Magnifico

    @ Diego, Cleveland that low? Really? I guess we are really factoring a Lebron injury there. Cavs have been a solid 4-5th seed, don’t think they might fall too far off.

    Anyways, the current line-up of the Cavs do represent the worst case scenario. They still have expiring contracts so I guess there’s still some upside when they do make some moves hopefully. Ferry needs to step up!

    Mike Brown! Its been years already, create a better offensive system for Bron! Enough of the high pick and rolls….

  • johnsacrimoni

    Regardless of which of those ’90s Eastern TEAMS was the best, Jay Rich does have a point. You can have incredible depth and 10 GOOD players but GREAT players win in this league, period. When there are only 5 men on the floor one man makes a huge difference. That’s why the Cavs have any kind of chance and why most people feel the Heat will be a playoff team this year despite having over half their roster subpar.

  • johnsacrimoni

    I don’t think Charlotte’s going to contend for the playoffs, but I could be wrong. My prediction in no particular order:
    Boston, Toronto, Philly, Miami, Washington, Miami, Detroit, and Cleveland with Atlanta, Chicago and Milwaukee just missing the cut. In the West: Top 4 LA Lakers, New Orleans, Houston, Utah. Next 4: San Antonio, Phoenix, Portland, and the last spot fought out between Dallas and Golden State.

  • Tom S.

    Mo Williams not any better than Boobie? I love Boobie, but Mo crushes him in ball-handling and ability to get to the rim.
    Everyone hates on Mike Brown, but the man knows defense, and defense wins championships.
    Don’t forget the Cavs have nearly $25 million in expiring contracts (Wally, Snow, Varejao) to make another deal before the deadline.