Countdown to NBA Tipoff: Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview

Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview
Collin Sexton #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in action against Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors during the Toronto Raptors vs Cleveland Cavaliers NBA regular season game at Scotiabank Arena on December 21, 2018, in Toronto, Canada (Toronto Raptors win 126-110) (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t have the brightest season preview. However, they will undoubtedly start things off on a better foot than last year. This year’s squad doesn’t have to deal with the fresh departure of LeBron James. They’ve had time to toil and carve out an identity for themselves under head coach Larry Drew. Now comes year two of the rebuild under John Beilein. They will truly have to dig themselves out of their own hole this time, as prime LeBron James doesn’t plan on coming back to save them. The franchise will look to nurture their talented young core this season while keeping the door open on a potential Kevin Love trade.

Cleveland Cavaliers 2019-20 Season Preview

Recap of Last Season

The Cleveland Cavaliers finished with the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 19-63. The world quickly realized they were a lottery team after the 2018-19 season kicked off. Kevin Love played the first four games of the season then suffered a left foot injury. That led to surgery which turned into 50 games missed for the Cavaliers’ only true star. He returned to action after All-Star break, but the team was too low on talent and deep in a hole to make a dent in the league.

One bright spot was Cavaliers lottery pick, Collin Sexton. The rookie played all 82 games and averaged 16.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.0 assists on 40.2 percent from three-point land. He started the year out slowly, but Cavaliers fans are in love with the number eight pick of the 2018 NBA Draft. Seeing Sexton lay up 23 points in seven straight games in the month of March was just a cherry on top of their adoration for the young point guard.

Off-season Moves

The Cavaliers went full tank in an effort to land Zion Williamson, but the new lottery odds foiled their efforts. Cleveland had one of the three worst records in the league but fell all the way down to the fifth spot of the NBA Draft. They selected point guard Darius Garland, which seemed puzzling given the fact that they took a point guard last year in Collin Sexton. One could speculate that the front office opted to select the best player available. Both Garland and Sexton have question marks in their game related to size, playmaking, and defense, so time will tell how well the pairing can mesh.

The Cavaliers also brought on a new head coach in John Beilein. Beilein has never coached in the NBA but has 42 years of total coaching experience, including 12 years with the University of Michigan. He rallied the Wolverines to nine NCAA Tournament appearances and two showings in the championship game. The franchise hopes he can replicate that same consistency with their raw young core.

Aside from those major moves, Cleveland took chances on late first-round picks Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr. Porter Jr. is particularly intriguing. He has the toolset to be a standout NBA player but has a questionable sense of professionalism. Capitalizing on Kevin Porter Jr.’s potential may end up being a surprise weapon for John Beilein and the Cavaliers.

Season Expectations

The Cavaliers’ season will depend on what they do with Kevin Love. If they find a trade partner for Love’s contract before the season, they’ll attain a boatload of assets and be fully on board with another tank job. If Kevin Love ends up playing out the year, they will win a few more games at the cost of greater draft odds. They’re hoping to find a deal for Love before the season starts, but chances are Love will get hurt, sit out again, and negotiations will go into the madness of the trade deadline. The franchise has made all the signals that they’re in rebuilding mode, so the development of their young core should be priority number one.

Cleveland Cavaliers Season Prediction

Love will likely be dealt at the trade deadline to a contender or near-contender. That transaction will shake the NBA landscape, but leave Cleveland unaffected and richer with assets. They’re going to try and go down the tanking road again, hoping to land a higher pick than last year’s disappointing slide. Another year of growth from Collin Sexton and the addition of Darius Garland will lead the Cavs to a few more wins than last year’s 19-63 campaign. The Cavaliers will win 21-24 games and secure a top-three lottery pick thanks to a kinder twist of fate than last year’s sweepstakes.

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