The Cleveland Cavaliers made some huge midseason changes, and were still able to reach the NBA Finals for only the second time in the franchise’s history. A lot of the credit is due to the new additions and the commitment made on both ends of the floor by the players as well as the coaching staff. The Cavs came up short, but there’s always room for improvement. We look at five players who are most likely to have a breakout season in 2015-16, starting with number 5:
5. Iman Shumpert
Shump will prove to be worth every penny of the $40 million contract he signed with the Cavs this summer if he provides at least 12-15 points on the nightly basis. Shump has made a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball, but this season, he should look to make significant strides on offense now that he’s in a winning environment. Similar to Kyrie, Shump is entering his fifth season and the time has come to simply get buckets. Whether or not the Cavs elect to bring back J.R. Smith will have a big impact on Shump and what the team needs from him. It was evident during last season postseason, that the Cavs needed scoring and Shumpert’s offense was much too inconsistent. If Iman adds a consistent jump shot to his game to go with the ability to create off the dribble, he will have a breakout year.
Click ‘Next’ to see the four player who can improve his game next season!
4. Tristan Thompson
With TT’s contract situation still up in the air, his play during the 15-16 season can be vital, not just for him personally but also for the team. Thompson provided a huge lift, after being inserted into the starting lineup whanaen Kevin Love sustained a season ending injury to his shoulder in the first round of the 14-15 playoffs. This year, I expect TT to still outwork people on the glass but also show improvement in his free throw shooting and on offense. If Tristan is lacking anywhere, it is definitely on the offensive side of the ball. If Thompson can add a few strong post moves, gain confidence with playing with his back to the basket and routinely hit a 10-12 footer then he will be an even deadlier player. Serge Ibaka would be a good model for Thompson to study. If Tristan can add a soft touch and polish his coordination on offense, he will definitely be in line for a break out year.
Click ‘Next’ to see the third player who can improve his game next season!
3. Mo Williams
Mo is no stranger to Cavs fans, as he came up big in many moments during his first tenure with the Cavaliers. Now that Mo Gotti is back, he definitely should add more depth at the point guard position playing behind the younger Kyrie Irving. The signing of Mo Williams is big because not only does it give the Cavs more scoring off the bench, but he should also be able to provide great leadership to both Irving and Delly. Last season, Mo scored a career high 52 points while playing with the Minnesota Timberwolves. This Cavs team doesn’t really need him to score anywhere near that much, but if he can run the offense when Irving and James are on the bench, that would be monumental. Mo will have a breakout year for the Cavaliers if he spreads the floor, knock down open shots, and create offense for others.
Click ‘Next’ to see the second player who can improve his game next season!
2. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie made significant strides last year as a player before his season came to an abrupt end after fracturing his left knee-cap. Last season started off shaky for him, as clearly entered the season with a score first mentality, as if he didn’t know how he had Kevin Love and LeBron James on his team. After logging a few games early in the season with zero assist, Kyrie was able to make adjustments and play better. As he enters his fifth season, I expect Kyrie to increase is point production and his assists. Last season Irving averaged 21 points and five assists. Those numbers should increase to around 25 and seven assists as Kyrie can potentially lead the Cavs in scoring. If Irving opts to become more of a facilitator for his teammates, expect his assist numbers to rise to the point where he can all sit back and watch a magician at work. He has a full year under his belt with playing with two all stars, so if healthy he should be ready to have an Uncle Drew type season.
Click ‘Next’ to see the number one player who can improve his game next season!
1. Kevin Love
Kevin Love finished the season with solid numbers as he came close to averaging a double-double at 16 points and 9 rebounds, but considering his prior numbers, he had an off year. Love often times looked out of the loop in the Cavs offense, similar to the way Chris Bosh did in Miami during the beginning of their first year, but the 2015-16 season is where Love can be the biggest breakout Cavalier if three things happen. First, the Cavaliers coaching staff must do a better job in establishing him in the post and making a commitment to going to him inside. He may never get back to the 26 points and 12 rebounds that he posted in Minnesota, as he is not the first option with the Cavs, but if more plays are called for him in the interior or the elbow, then Love can have an immense breakout year for the Cavs. Feeding him the ball more in the post will widen the floor and put pressure on any defense. If Kevin Love gains more comfortability within the Cavs offense and improves his defensive rotations, he will have the biggest breakout season for Cleveland.