Cleveland Cavaliers: Dynasty or Glory?
For most Cleveland Cavaliers fans, they’ll always remember where they sat on July 8th, 2010. That dreadful day will go down as one of the worst in Cavaliers history, as we saw LeBron James announce to the world he was “taking his talents to South Beach”.
This jolted a new era for Cavaliers basketball, suffering through watching guys like Luke Harangody, Samardo Samuels, and Ryan Hollins, Cleveland would win just 19 games in 2011 and earn themselves picks 1 and 4 in the 2011 NBA Draft.
What every Cavaliers fan was blind to at the time of ‘The Decision’ was James was actually doing the franchise a favor. It gave them a chance to start over, to rid themselves of dead weight like the ageing contracts of Anthony Parker, Antawn Jamison, and Jamario Moon. If it weren’t for James competing for titles with that franchise somewhere in Florida, the cleansing process would have hurt less, but it’s because of James’ move that the Cavs sit in the position they are today.
In the four seasons LeBron James played basketball somewhere other than Northeast Ohio, the Cavaliers were handed the top overall pick an astounding three times. Incredibly, that’s the same amount of number one picks as six NBA franchises, and more than ELEVEN franchises in their entire history. The Cavs got mixed outputs from the three guys they selected, but they all led to important parts of the 2016 title.
It’s clear that Kyrie Irving was worth the first overall pick, hitting somewhat of an important shot in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. But in 2013, the Cavaliers struck out hard with the selection of Anthony Bennett, however, he would turn out to be a valuable trade asset. Then in 2014, Cleveland would select another Canadian, Andrew Wiggins.
In order to acquire Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Cavaliers handed over Bennett, Wiggins and a Miami Heat 1st Rounder from the original sign-and-trade with LeBron James and the Heat. Thanks Pat!
Thanks to the 2010-2014 LeBron-less mess, the Cavaliers possess a scary roster for not only this season, but for years to come.
When any media outlet talks about the Cavs playing James too many minutes a night, they talk about him like he’s a ripe 40-year-old. Many might be surprised to find out that LeBron will turn just 32-years-old on December 30th.
At 32 years of age, LeBron has accomplished more than anyone else at that same age, and still has much more to give. James still finds himself in just about every MVP conversation, showing on a nightly basis he’s still the best basketball player on the face of the earth. In this case, age is just a number, and we’re sure to see a few more All-Star caliber seasons out of the four time Most Valuable Player.
For Kyrie Irving, his age may be the most staggering number. The 24-year-old Duke product has done things in his five-and-a-bit seasons that legends of the game couldn’t achieve in their 15+ years as a pro. Irving’s resume includes an NBA Championship (that still feels so nice to write), three All-Star appearances, an All-Star MVP award, an Olympic Gold Medal, a FIBA World Championship Gold Medal and the concurring tournament MVP award.
At 24-years-old, Kyrie Irving hasn’t even reached his prime. He’s learning from one of the best floor generals to ever play the game (LeBron James) whilst being coached by a former player, that happened to win two titles playing the same position as Irving. His full potential still hasn’t been reached, and when he does get to that point in his career, you can bet he’ll be in the midst of those MVP conversations.
Kevin Love is another guy people seem to think is older than he is. Love is a fresh 28-year-old, right in his prime, with his numbers coming to fruition this season. Before the beginning of 2016-17, Love was written off by most pundits after a sub par Finals performance. Fran Blinebury of NBA.com ranked Love as low as the NBA’s 8th best power forward, but has only been proven wrong by the Cavalier’s All-Star quality numbers.
Love has taken his game to a new level this season, leading all Eastern Conference power forwards in scoring (per game) and rebounding. He’s an integral part of this team’s immediate success and a huge part of its future.
Along with the ‘Big 3’ the Cavs posses a 26-year-old Iman Shumpert, a 24-year-old Tristan Thompson, and a 31-year-old J.R Smith. With healthy, yet not too far stretched age differences between players, this team was not assembled for a quick run.
The Cavaliers have the ability to build themselves a dynasty for many years to come, but hey, why not aim for glory at the same time?