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The Transformation Of Cavs From A Lottery Team To A Super Team


The Cleveland Cavaliers have undergone a massive transformation in the past 4 months aided by some good fortune that began at the NBA draft lottery. On May 14th, 2014 the Cavaliers entered the NBA draft lottery with the 8th worst record and a miniscule 1.7% chance of winning the #1 overall pick.

Somehow…someway…Cleveland won the draft lottery for the 2nd year in a row. On June 26th the Cavaliers cashed in that #1 pick for forward Andrew Wiggins out of Kansas making him the organization’s 2nd straight #1 overall selection, having drafted Andrew Bennett from UNLV with the #1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. We will get back to Wiggins & Bennett as these two #1 overall picks would help shape the Cavs into the juggernaut they have become.

Cleveland General Manager David Griffin entered the NBA free agency & trade season armed with plenty of ammunition. The first big bullet he fired was on July 9th where he traded guard Jarrett Jack & forward Sergey Karasev to Brooklyn while sending center Tyler Zeller to Boston along with a future 1st round pick as part of a 3 team deal. In turn, the Cavaliers acquired the draft rights to Ilkan Karaman, Christian Drejer & Edin Bavcic. In addition, the Cleveland Cavaliers also received a conditional 2nd round pick from Boston. On a side note, Marcus Thornton was sent from Brooklyn to Boston in the deal. It had been rumored since the end of the NBA Finals that Cleveland would heavily pursue Miami free agent Lebron James in the off-season. This move appeared to have opened the door financially for the Cavaliers to bring Akron’s chosen son back home. On the afternoon of July 12th, James announced his decision on Sports Illustrated’s website in a touching letter to the nation that he was returning home to re-join the Cleveland Cavaliers. James would now join fellow all-star Kyrie Irving to form a dynamic 1-2 punch in Cleveland’s lineup. Cleveland had become the center of the NBA world…and they were just getting started.

Since the beginning of the NBA summer league there were rumors flying that Cleveland was looking to acquire all-star forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves. LeBron James & Love had become close while playing in the Olympics for Team USA. Love had expressed his desire to play alongside James someday. Would the Cavaliers be willing to give up on #1 pick Andrew Wiggins and his untapped potential? On August 23rd that question was answered when David Griffin pulled off perhaps his most impressive move of the off-season sending Wiggins and 2013 #1 pick Anthony Bennett to Minnesota in exchange for Love. Cleveland also sent one of their 2015 first round draft picks (from Miami) to the Philadelphia 76ers who also received Luc Richard Mbah a Moute & Alexy Shved from Minnesota. The 76ers sent Thaddeus Young to Minnesota. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin had accomplished what they set out to do…form a new big 3 in Cleveland. With Kyrie Irving locked up for 6 more years along with Lebron James & Kevin Love verbally committing long term to Cleveland, the Cavaliers have what looks to be a 5 to 6 year dynasty in the making.

{adinserter 2} Along the way Cleveland was able to sign veteran free agents Mike Miller, James Jones and Shawn Marion to bolster the bench along with holdovers Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson. The starting unit consisting of Irving, Dion Waiters, James, Love & Anderson Varejao is now considered one of if not the best starting 5 in the NBA. Also acquired in a smaller deal early in the off-season was veteran center Brendan Haywood who is looking to make a comeback after missing all of last season with a foot injury. Also, the 2014 2nd round draft pick Joe Harris out of Virginia is a promising young sharpshooter. Free agent guard Ray Allen is still weighing his options as to whether or not he will make a comeback to the league. He has a strong desire to continue to play alongside Lebron James and make one more run at another NBA title. Cleveland would certainly give him that opportunity. The Cavaliers also have the non-guaranteed contracts of John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy who they are possibly rumored to be using to try and acquire a defensive minded rim-protecting center.

The off-season has been a dream come true for Cavaliers fans who have endured four years of bad basketball since LeBron James left for the Miami Heat. In those four years however they were able to acquire five high first round draft picks in Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins. David Griffin did a brilliant job turning Bennett & Wiggins into Kevin Love. New head coach David Blatt could not be coming into a better situation than this current roster. It will take some time for the players to adjust, but they are expected to flourish in Blatt’s brilliant offensive system.

There are some fans who debated trading away a player with superstar potential in Andrew Wiggins. The opportunity to acquire a proven NBA all-star in Kevin Love was too tempting to pass up. Getting a proven commodity who is just 26 years old was a no brainer. LeBron James is 29 years old and will be on the downside of his career in a few years. This was not the right time to find out when or if Wiggins would live up to that potential. The time to win is now…and win big!

The economic impact on the city with the return of LeBron James alone will be enormous. It is estimated he will bring in more than 5 million dollars to the city next season alone. Cleveland fans now have a team which will compete for an NBA championship for multiple seasons. The long suffering sports fans of this town deserve a winner more than any major sports or NBA city in the United States.Even though Cleveland endured four rough season of basketball since James’ departure, the fans still came out to the games and supported this team. This should no doubt be a season to remember. I believe for a lot of fans including myself the magnitude of this off-season has yet to sink in and probably will not until opening night…or at least until the pre-season opener when we see all of the new acquisitions in a Cavaliers uniform at last. Out of the 17 players on the current training camp roster, only 5 return from last season’s team. It has been a wild off-season…and the fun is only beginning. Hang on Cavs fans…we are in for one hell of a ride!

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