Ah, the Cavs! The Cleveland Cavaliers are next up on the list of teams from the Eastern Conference. The Cavs finished last season with a 53-29 record, coming in second place the Eastern Conference and making a playoff run that ended in a Game 6 loss at the hands of the Warriors, led by MVP Stephen Curry, in the NBA Finals in the matchup of rookie coaches (David Blatt and Steve Kerr), pushing LeBron's career Finals record to 2-4.
Matthew Dellavedova G (starting until Kyrie Irving returns from injury)
JR Smith G (starting until Iman Shumpert returns from injury)
LeBron James F
Kevin Love F
Timofey Mozgov C
Key Bench Players:
James Jones G/F
Anderson Varejao C
Tristan Thompson F/C
Mo Williams G
Richard Jefferson F
Shawn Marion (retirement)
Salary Cap (Tristan Thompson's max deal)
The Cleveland Cavaliers were the beneficiary of being the team that has LeBron James last season, or at least in last year's playoffs. At times, James had to be the only one who was allowed to touch the ball or do anything with the ball. But this year, James may look a little more to guys like Kevin Love and (when he returns) Kyrie Irving to carry a little more of the load offensively.
The bench of Cleveland is nowhere near as deep as the Bulls or even the Celtics but, once again, that shouldn't matter due to their overpowering starting lineup. But look for an older guy like Richard Jefferson to have an impact on this Cavs team, especially come playoff time.
The Cavaliers did lose a little bit this offseason. Starting with Shawn Marion, who retired after last season. Granted Marion wasn't a huge force in the lineup, but he provided veteran leadership that is very important when building a championship contender. That is where a guy like Richard Jefferson comes into play.
Cleveland also lost a ton of cap space due to them giving Tristan Thompson a 5-yr, $82 million contract extension to be a backup. I find that to be very idiotic; they have a loaded lineup and other big men on the bench, why sign a backup to a max contract? It just doesn't make any sense.
The X-Factor for the Cavaliers is health. We have already seen what everyone can do and we can expect more of the same from them. The only question is, will they stay healthy? If so, then you have yourself a championship contender. If James or Love goes down, Cleveland might fall off the table a little bit.
I expect the Cavs to finish with roughly a 63-19 record, they just have too many big names to their team that, if healthy, have no chance of being stopped.