The Cleveland Cavaliers have earned the #Believeland hashtag for sure, but not yet the #Acheiveland. The Cavs have only won 15 out of 34 games thus far, good enough for the 12th spot in the Eastern Conference. The first word that comes to mind is ewww. OK, not really a word? How about boorish, crass, swinish? That sounds about right.
Anderson Varejao, before he went down, led the league in rebounding and was a sure all-star. And, our knight in shining armor, Kyrie Irving is set to be a perennial all-star, if not MVP candidate in years to come. A team with two all-stars, rookie of the year candidate, and a previous Coach of the Year can only win 15 games? Welcome to the luck of the Clevelanders.
But don’t count out these Cavs just yet. The second half of the season could really turn some heads. In the final 33 games, 20 are at home, where the Cavs have won 38% of their games. Now with a significant home stretch, some signs of consistency, and an all-star leader, this second half can be a confidence builder going into next season.
With the Varejao injury, other players can now step up and prove they can be a staple in the Cavs fluctuating rotation. One of these players is Marreese Speights. Through only six games with the Cavs, he has shot 53% from the field and is averaging 14.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Anderson Varejao had some big shoes to fill, but Marreese Speights is showing he is a worthy replacement.
If I have one complaint about his game, it is his love of the mid-range shot. Sure, it is hard to find a big man who can knock down a consistent 15-footer, but almost half (42% to be exact) of his shot attempts are coming from mid-range. He is only shooting 45% from there, yet shoots 50% when he gets under the basket. I want to see him down in the post more, getting high percentage shots, and becoming a larger part of this offense.
I think Tristan Thompson also deserves a mention here. Cavs fans are still waiting to see if Tristan was worthy of a fourth overall pick, but big men take longer to develop in this league. Yet, Tristan Thompson has shown he can do the dirty work. He has had stretches of five double-doubles in a row, and is almost averaging a double-double now for the season. He has 11.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and I would not be surprised to see him averaging over 10 rebounds per game by the end of the season. The Cavs have some strong big men moving forward and like a fine wine, can only get better with age.