Cavaliers Strong Supporting Cast Puts Pressure on LeBron James

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CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts while taking on the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

In January LeBron James went on an aggressive post game rant stating the Cavaliers needed more pieces. Since then Cleveland has added Derrick Williams, Deron Williams, and Andrew Bogut. If the Cavaliers fail to repeat as champions in June, it’s on James himself.

When J.R. Smith and Kevin Love return from injury, the Cavs rotation will go a legit 12 deep. This is the best supporting cast James has ever had. A combination of All-Stars, sharp shooters, and seasoned veterans surround the best player of a generation. It’s now up to him to lead them to glory.

The Backcourt

Kyrie Irving has developed nicely into the role as James’ Co-star. He’s averaging a career best 24.7 points per game, and is up to 6 assists per game. Irving’s continued improvement in the passing and facilitating department has taken his game to a new level. Due to his scoring ability the ball is often put in his hands late in games to close it out.

Deron Williams may not be the same guy who was twice named to the All-NBA second team back in his Utah Days, but the Cavs don’t need him to be. What Cleveland needs from him is 15-20 quality minutes a game to run the second unit. Williams is averaging 8.2 assists for his career, therefore making him a viable option as the “playmaker” LeBron lobbied for.

The off guard spot will be the Cavaliers deepest position. J.R. Smith has been out since December with a thumb Fracture, but is expected to return soon. Since coming to Cleveland just over two years ago, JR has become a legit two way player. He’s always been terrific outside shooter, currently 17th on the NBA’s all time three point makes list. However it’s his improvement on the defensive end that’s made him such a big piece of the Cavs roster.

Kyle Korver was acquired via trade back in January. He’s one of the best three point shooters the game has ever seen, currently 5th on the NBA’s all time three point makes list. Paired with a guy like James who can drive and find the open man like nobody else we’ve ever seen, he’s become even more lethal from beyond the arch. With Cleveland he’s shooting 50% from downtown.

Iman Shumpert might not put up the prettiest numbers, but he’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. He played a large role in slowing down Stephen Curry in last year’s finals. Cleveland will surely come across some elite guards in the playoffs, whether it’s John Wall, Isaiah Thomas, or Kyle Lowry, and Shumpert will be called upon to lock them up.

The Frontcourt

Kevin Love is currently out after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, but will be back for the playoffs. Love is having his best season with the Cavaliers averaging 20 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. His ability to stretch the floor, but also score in the post up game make him a big part of Cleveland’s success.

At 6-foot-11 Channing Frye shoots 40% from three point range making him another perfect fit to play with James.

Richard Jefferson is a veteran, all around player who can run with the second unit. At 36 years-old he still has some bounce, as he reminded both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson on Christmas day.

Derrick Williams did enough during his two 10 day contracts to be kept around for the remainder of the season. With Kevin Love out he provides depth and has fit in nicely at 10.5 points per game.

Tristan Thompson is the Cavaliers defensive anchor and does the dirty work. Thompson is a force on the offensive glass averaging 3.8 offensive boards per game. He also ha the ability to come guard the pick and roll on the perimeter.

The newest Cavalier Andrew Bogut will serve as a rim protector and backup Tristan Thompson.

LeBron James Himself

At 32 years old James’ window to collect rings in running out. He’s lost four times in the finals, but in two of those losses (2007, 2015) the players around him had no business playing in an NBA finals. However this time there are no excuses (barring injury), he’s surrounded by a large group of quality NBA players.

What LeBron James has already accomplished is breathtaking. Which is why we hold him to a higher standard. He’s made it clear many times he wants to be recognized as the greatest player of all time. In order for that to be possible he needs a few more rings, and this year is a golden opportunity. The King got what he wanted, and now it’s on him to deliver.

 

Main Photo

CLEVELAND, OH – JUNE 16:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts while taking on the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

 

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