This is going to be the first article in a series known as the “Complete Guide” series. Each article is going to go in depth on the team it focuses on, explaining what Trade Deadline moves were made, How they look for the remainder of the season, and the future of the team. Without further ado, Here is the Complete Guide to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the worst record in the Easter Conference, and second worst in the NBA (Golden State Warriors). Cleveland fell apart immediately after the departure of LeBron James. Cleveland only grabbed 19 wins last season and may be on pace for that again this year. Cleveland is in the early stages of rebuilding and trying to accumulate as many assets as possible. They have a few young, promising players that can get Cleveland back to relevance in the near future. Their roster consists of:
Note: Bold = Rookie
^ = two-way contract
* = All-Star
- PG: Darius Garland (20)
- SG: Collin Sexton (21)
- SF: Cedi Osman (24)
- PF: Kevin Love (31)
- C: Andre Drummond (26)
- Tristain Thompson (28)
- Kevin Porter Jr (19)
- Larry Nance Jr (27)
- Dante Exum (24)
- Ante Zizic (23)
- Alfonzo McKinnie (27)
- Matthew Dellavedova (29)
- Matt Mooney^ (24)
- Dean Wade^ (23)
- Marques Bolden (21)
Their roster consists of four players in the starting lineup that are 26 or under. Their combination of Sexton and Garland is still a questionable one, but the offense the two of them bring is quite enticing.
Garland was drafted 5th overall in the 2019 Draft. He showed potential as one of the most athletic Point Guards to play the game during his time at Vanderbilt. His shooting percentages aren’t great, shooting 39.5% and 36% from three, but it can take rookies a season or two to really get going.
Second-year player, Collin Sexton, has shown great improvements this season. He’s upped his scoring by more than three points, averaging 19.9 points. He’s also managed to show his defensive capabilities, now averaging one steal per game. His field goal percentage has improved from 43% to 46.3%. His assist number have went down from 3.0 to 2.6, which isn’t his fault. The aforementioned Darius Garland took his place at Point Guard and Sexton was moved to Shooting Guard, meaning his job is simply just to score now.
Third-year Cedi Osman had surprised the Cavs last year, breaking out as a great all-around offensive talent. The 31st overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft provides Cleveland with a nice young role player. Osman’s scoring has gone down from 13.0 points to 11.0 points this season, which could be expected when Cleveland added Garland to their roster. His Usage Rate has gone down from 18.6% to 16.5% after Garland showed up. With his limited opportunities, he has been averaging 51.3% on two-pointers and a career-high 39.4% from deep. He is also averaging 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He hasn’t necessarily regressed because he has more limited touches and minutes, but he hasn’t improved this season either.
Kevin Love is the only player above the age of 26 in the starting lineup. The 31 year-old Power Forward is the last of the big three from the LeBron James era. Love had recently been frustrated with the Cavaliers, making it public in an outburst caught on camera during a game. The trade rumors began to flow in until Beilien’s “Thugs” incident. After that incident, things seemed to come back together between the five-time All-Star and the Cavaliers. Love has been averaging 17.8 points on 45.8% shooting and 38.2% from deep. Signs point to this being Love’s final year with Cleveland and he will likely be traded in the off-season.
The newest addition to the Cavaliers, Andre Drummond has already embraced Cleveland as he enters his next chapter. Drummond was one of the bigger All-Star Snubs this year, averaging a career-high 17.8 points on 53% shooting. He is leading the NBA in rebounding for the third year in a row and fourth time in five years. He grabs 2.0 Steals and 1.7 Blocks on the defensive end, as he is one of the better paint defenders in the NBA. His ball-handling and his playmaking have also improved. He is averaging nearly three assist per game, one of the best among Centers not named Nikola Jokic.
Their bench is highlighted by Tristain Thompson, Kevin Porter Jr, Larry Nance Jr and Dante Exum. Thompson and Nance are both solid bigs capable of starting, but with a lot of frontcourt depth, are stuck on the bench. Along with the two of them is rookie Kevin Porter Jr, who they traded four second-round picks and $5 Million dollars for during the 2019 Draft, and Dante Exum, who they required a few months ago in exchange for Jordan Clarkson, both of whom are building blocks for Cleveland’s future.
Trade Deadline Moves:
The trades that Cleveland made before the deadline includes Dante Exum and Andre Drummond. Exum is a young Point Guard picked 5th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. Exum needed a change of scenery after being declared a bust in Utah. The 24 year-old Point Guard still has time to turn his career around after an injury-plagued few years. Andre Drummond was the other player they traded for. Cleveland trading for Drummond was a head-scratcher to most, but Cleveland likely has the intention to sign Drummond to a long-term deal. Drummond is only 26 and has never been with a Point Guard that has the potential of Sexton or Garland for pick-and-rolls.
State of the Cavaliers:
Cleveland is definitely not winning the championship, or making the playoffs. Cleveland is in the middle of tanking as they have been every since LeBron left. Cleveland is currently the worst team in the Eastern Conference, three games behind the New York Knicks. Cleveland may move up a spot or two with the addition of Drummond, but will still be deep in the lottery.
Cleveland is going to be rebuilding for the next few years. Garland or Sexton, Osman and Drummond are all part of Cleveland’s future plans. The Sexton-Garland backcourt likely can’t stay for too long, though, because they are both ball-dominant Point Guards with a score-first mentality. One of them will likely be traded, most likely for a Shooting Guard or a package with Kevin Love. They may be packaged together before the NBA draft to get another pick to draft two players in this draft, or receive some other young talent.
Andre Drummond is also a big part of Cleveland’s future plans. Drummond is on the last guaranteed year of his contract, but he is looking more and more likely to accept his Player Option. Cleveland seems to be counting on that as they want Drummond around for many years.
Tristain Thompson and Larry Nance Jr also seem to have limited days left in Cleveland. Thompson is going to become a free agent next season and Nance has a tradable contract. Nance will likely be traded for some Second-Round picks and some young draft “busts” to help them build for the future.
Cleveland’s far future is looking bright. They have the chance to build something special with their young players and could be contenders by 2024 or 2025. Cleveland fans are going to have to be patient. Really patient. If they wait long enough, they may see their team flourish once again.