All-Star weekend was a smashing success for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen performed well in their All-Star Game debuts. That duo plus Evan Mobley took home the title of Skills Challenge champions. Mobley and Isaac Okoro won the revamped Rising Stars Challenge. Then, of course, it all took place in Cleveland.
Now the team looks to switch gears back to continuing their impressive regular season dominance. The Cavs have been sitting close to the top of the East all season long. Unlike past Cavaliers-teams, we know that this young and fiery group is going to give their all every night. We know that JB Bickerstaff will have the guys focused and prepared, whether it be for a game or practice.
Not every question has a solidified answer, though. As the Cavs ease back into daily basketball, there are 5 particular burning questions that stick out. All-Star weekend in Cleveland generated significant buzz on whether Lebron would sometime soon make his return once again to Ohio. That’s fun to think about and envision, but there’s another prominent Cavalier whose return is being speculated and anticipated as well.
Will Collin Sexton make his return this season?
When Collin Sexton went down with a knee injury earlier this season, it was originally diagnosed as a season-ending injury, but if there’s one thing that will always remain true with the Cavs’ young scoring guard, it’s that he’s obsessed with the game of basketball. He was always going to give his all in an effort to get back on the court this season, and there’s a chance that the hard work just might pay off.
Sexton has stated that he’s not ruling out a return to the team this season. As he’s progressed through his rehab, Young Bull has been very active and engaged in team activities. Since rejoining the team, he’s been the most consistently exuberant face on the bench.
It’s such a unique situation, due to his impending Restricted Free Agency after the season ends. The Cavaliers have done just fine without Collin this season, but that clearly has much more to do with the rest of the roster taking strides rather than his absence. The team is still missing his offensive firepower. There’s just as equal a shot that we see him don the wine & gold once again this season, as well as never play for the Cavs ever again.
105 seconds of Collin Sexton attacking the basket. Nobody Atlanta put on him could stay in front of the Young Bull. pic.twitter.com/K8Od2HkcWq
— Brayden Todd (@BraydenBallin) October 25, 2021
How does Caris LeVert fit with this team?
Caris LeVert played four games with the Cavaliers before the All-Star break. He’s clearly still finding his footing with this roster, which is to be expected. A player like LeVert who is very involved in the offensive side of things will take time to figure out the precise role that is best for him.
Caris LeVert iced the game last night for the Cavs against his previous team. 3 clutch buckets late in the 4th pic.twitter.com/X1uztQ2IzM
— Brayden Todd (@BraydenBallin) February 12, 2022
JB Bickerstaff seems to be having him settle into a 6th man role where he can have more free will handling the ball with the second unit. The main thing to watch is the chemistry he starts to develop with the Cavalier big men. The vast majority of Cleveland’s actions involve Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, and/or Kevin Love. They all bring a plethora of play-finishing skills to the table.
The Cavs’ newest addition to the team will be tasked with setting them up, creating shots for himself as well as others. So long as he can execute his job with the ball in hands, show some activity off-the-ball, and put forth some effort defensively, he’ll fit in just fine with this team.
Who makes the playoff rotation?
It truly is wild to be nearly certain that the Cleveland Cavaliers are a playoff lock at the All-Star break in the year of 2022, but here we are. The playoffs are an entirely different beast compared to the regular season, but Cavs fans are no stranger to that. They only went 3 seasons without a playoff appearance, since their 4 straight Finals trips with LeBron at the helm.
The game starts to slow down. Scoring in the half-court becomes a struggle. Rotations are shortened. Youngsters tend to be tested. We’ll see all these things happen with this team. For the Cavaliers, there will likely only be minor changes. JB Bickerstaff has remained very consistent in his rotations all season long, despite injuries. Expect that to continue through the postseason for the most part.
Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Caris LeVert, Kevin Love, and Lauri Markkanen are all practically guaranteed to get heavy minutes. Earlier in the season, Bickerstaff leaned on an 8-man rotation for a length of time. That was partially due to injuries, but we will likely see something of that sort come playoffs time.
Two of Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman, Dean Wade, and Rajon Rondo will snag those last rotation slots. I strongly believe Okoro and Osman are the most likely outcome, but we could see a dash of Rondo sprinkled in every now and then. That would leave things looking like this:
- Darius Garland
- Isaac Okoro
- Lauri Markkanen
- Evan Mobley
- Jarrett Allen
- Caris LeVert
- Cedi Osman
- Kevin Love
- Rajon Rondo (sporadic)
What individual accolades do the Cavs take home?
The Cavaliers have achieved most of their success due to their willingness to play hard and together, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been individual standouts who have helped propel the team. Whether on the court or off the court, there have been several players who have thrown their hat in the conversation for the title of first Cavalier to win a significant regular-season award since Kyrie Irving won Rookie of the Year 10 years ago.
Evan Mobley: Rookie of the Year
The 3rd overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft has been a revelation for the city of Cleveland. He was the best basketball prospect to play for the state of Ohio since LeBron James, and he’s lived up to it. He affects every area of the game. Defense. Scoring. Passing. Shooting. That’s unheard of for a rookie.
Here’s Evan Mobley picking up 12 consecutive points for the Cavaliers offense in the 2nd quarter last night pic.twitter.com/DDGMN6EtQt
— Brayden Todd (@BraydenBallin) November 11, 2021
Mobley’s part of a stacked draft class, but he’s cut ahead of the pack and is the current frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. His numbers aren’t eye-popping, but he’s got something no other rookie has on their resume. He is one of the best players on a very good team. That speaks levels to how good the rook has been.
JB Bickerstaff: Coach of the Year
There’s competition for this one, but what Coach Bickerstaff has done for this team has been incredible. This year’s Cavaliers are more talented than last year’s team, but JB deserves every ounce of credit for elevating the Cavs to the heights they’ve flown. The whole team respects him and he has the team moving forward, unshaken, no matter what obstacles are thrown in their path.
Darius Garland: Most Improved Player
This is another highly contested award. The strides Garland has taken give him just as good a case for the award as anyone, though. Darius has single-handedly kept the Cavaliers offense afloat at times due to his knack for high-level shot-making and facilitating. Just two seasons ago, he was regarded by many as the worst player in the NBA. This year he was just named an All-Star.
Koby Altman: Executive of the Year
David Griffin’s successor has never been gun shy. Since taking over as GM of the Cavaliers, Koby Altman has made plenty of bold moves. This has led to skeptical impressions of him at first glance, but they’ve paid off. Altman’s acquired an elite young core, and provided a supporting cast that has brought the most out of them.
How high and how far will the Cavs go?
The Cavs have a bright future. That’s an overused phrase, but this time it’s legitimate. They have a glowing future that’s already bleeding into the present. There’s a chance the team can soar as high as the first seed in the regular season, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising.
For this year’s playoffs, it probably wouldn’t be too wise to expect them to go too far in the playoffs due to the lack of experience on this team, and the heightened pressure and talent level that a post-season environment brings in the NBA. The Cavaliers have still often struggled against the top tier of teams this season.
It’s fair to expect home-court advantage in the first round and a second round exit. Considering what the expectations were like coming into the season, that’s a smashing success for a team that is exceedingly well positioned heading into the future.