The Cleveland Cavaliers had the odds stacked against them throughout the offseason, where the NBA title is concerned. However, they surprised many by finishing with a 44-38 record, barely missing the playoffs. This hadn’t happened since the 2017-18 season when they still had LeBron James.
The team saw spectacular growth from center Jarrett Allen and point guard Darius Garland, who subsequently became All-Star team members. They remained competitive all season long as Garland improved his performance. He averaged 8.6 assists, 21.7 points, and 3.3 rebounds per game.
In the upcoming season, Garland will have the support of Donovan Mitchell, so he will no longer be bearing the scoring load.
1. Donovan Mitchell
Last month, the Cavaliers acquired Mitchell in a blockbuster trade, shaking up the 2023 NBA Championship odds. They got the All-Star guard from the Jazz, which was the latter’s second big trade this offseason. They also exchanged center Rudy Gobert for a package of players and selections from the Timberwolves.
With this excellent addition, the Cavaliers look ready to leave their mark on the Eastern Conference after losing to the Hawks in the play-in faceoff last season.
2. Ricky Rubio
It’s a big win for Cleveland that they didn’t have to give up many players for Mitchell. They can replace Sexton, Markannen, and Agbaji with whoever remains on the roster. More importantly, the team brought back Ricky Rubio, the ideal backup for Garland. Rubio signed a multiyear deal with the Cavaliers.
3. Evan Mobley
Evan Mobley is an outstanding young forward. After an impressive rookie season, he looks like the real deal. This season, he’s sure to enjoy extensive playing time.
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Is their victory certain?
Some would argue against a certain victory of the Cavaliers, citing reasons such as minimal playoff experience and stiff competition in the East. Looking at teams that have won titles in the past, you’ll notice many have either come close to winning or won a championship before. The last time the Cavaliers were in the playoffs was in 2018, when LeBron James took them to the finals, where they suffered a huge loss to the Warriors.
If it hadn’t been for injuries to key players like Allen, Mobley, and Rubio, they might have been in the top six last season. The addition of Mitchell is very promising and increases the team’s potential. At the same time, the East is full of strong teams like Miami, Milwaukee, Boston, and Philadelphia. All of them could make the finals and have done so in the past.