Right after the Cleveland Cavaliers bowed out to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, the former immediately became the odds on favorite in Las Vegas to win the 2016 NBA crown. This is as early as it can get to make those bets but no one can blame the Vegas think tanks for choosing so. The Cavs did suffer a heartbreaking loss but the future has never been this radiant. On the assumption that every integral piece will be back, which is most likely the case, Cavs Nation has come up with 7 reasons why the Cleveland Cavaliers will be the 2015-2016 NBA Champions.
7 – Return Of The Men In Black
Anderson Varejao, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving are all starters for the Cavaliers who failed to finish the season and contribute due to injuries. In Varejao’s case, he may see himself off the bench with Timofey Mozgov having solidified his starting center spot. But Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are expected to come out more determined than ever being two-thirds of the Cavalier big three. Each of these players brings a dimension to the Cavaliers that was sorely lacking in their postseason run. Varejao will provide energy off the bench and his pick-and-roll defense will be felt by opponents. Kevin Love will give the Cavs that stretch four to open up the lanes for Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. Kyrie Irving will be that second dynamic scorer for Cleveland.
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6 – Championship Experience
When the Cavaliers entered the previous finals series, one their most highly touted advantage over the Warriors was their championship experience. However, outside of LeBron James and James Jones, the other veterans who have tasted a championship were buried deep in the bench. This time around, that postseason and finals savvy will be exuded by the regular rotation players. Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Matthew Dellavedova all got a tremendous amount of experience points last season and it should only bode well for the Cavaliers’ cause going forward.
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5 – Identity
Before the start of the 2014-2015 season, the Cavaliers were already making news with how strong their lineup was mainly because of the arrival of LeBron James and Kevin Love. But outside of the Big Three’s establishment, there were a number of obvious glaring holes in the team and the big question mark on how will they play together. One year after, the Cavs have already developed their identity as a team after acquiring the necessary pieces and going through the fire together. Cleveland is now recognized as a team capable of becoming an offensive juggernaut and a defensive dynamo all at the same time.
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4 – Support From Ownership
The Cavaliers are expected to have a sky-high payroll in the coming season with all the contract decisions they have to make to retain their core. LeBron James, Kevin Love, and JR Smith are all expected to opt-out but still sign a new deal with Cleveland. Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and Matthew Dellavedova are all restricted free agents who are expected to receive decently priced to overpriced offer sheets which the Cavaliers will have to match. Fortunately, majority owner Dan Gilbert has traditionally never held back on spending for the team and is not expected to take a step back from that kind of thinking especially with how close the team is to being on top. Dan’s the man with tremendously deep pockets for the Cavs.
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3 – Lebron James and David Blatt’s Relationship
Yes, they didn’t start off on the best possible track last season. Yes, there have been reports of James taking over some of Blatt’s coaching duties even in the finals. But all those are to be taken with a grain of salt. David Blatt, unlike other rookie coaches, has no NBA connection whatsoever which makes it difficult for him to earn brownie points from the national media. hence, all these rumblings. However, if you read reports from outlets that have religiously trained their eyes on the Cavs all season, it’s a totally different story. LeBron James and David Blatt aren’t best buddies but that doesn’t take away anything from their player-coach relationship. Which superstar is best friends with his coach anyway? The basketball relationship of these two is constantly evolving and, despite numerous tirades from outside entities, their collective basketball knowledge are going to take the Cavaliers all the way to the top of the mountain.
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2 – The Bigger Three
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love started the season on a rough note. Problems with maturity, commitment to defense, and their overall fit were aplenty last season and it affected their learning curve such that a good amount of time was spent on having to exorcise all these issues. They did manage to find their groove in the second half of the season and there was no turning back from then on. In the coming campaign, the Cavalier Big Three will start from where they left off last year and the coming months will be about further improving an already cohesive triumvirate.
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1 – The Bench Mob
The Cavaliers’ bench was an eyesore last season and was even more excruciating to watch during the postseason. But with the Cavs’ expected return to full health, the bench will become deeper and more prolific. Cleveland’s second unit will feature a scrappy and defensive minded crew with Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and Matthew Dellavedova putting the clamps on opponents. James Jones is still a very reliable option for those long range shots and with another solid pick up via free agency, the Cavs’ second unit could become really scary.