Cleveland Cavaliers: 5 Players Who Must Step Up In 2013-2014
5 Cavaliers Who Need To Step Up Their Game In 2013-14
The Cleveland Cavaliers are coming off of a miserable 24-58 season, and haven’t had a winning season since 2009-10 when LeBron James was still a member of the team. Even though the Cavs haven’t been good for a few seasons, there are legitimate benefits that come with losing. The biggest benefit that comes with losing is the high draft pick that is attached to a losing season.
The Cavs have had a lot of luck with the NBA Draft Lottery in the past decade. In 2003, they were able to land the No. 1 pick and draft James, in what may have been one of the best drafts in NBA history. Just a few seasons ago, they were able to luck into the No. 1 pick and draft Kyrie Irving, who may be the best point guard in the NBA in a couple of years. In that same draft, they also landed the No. 4 pick and used it on defensive-minded forward Tristan Thompson. In this past draft, the Cavs were able to draw the first overall pick yet again; they drafted Anthony Bennett, a scoring machine that plays forward.
After a couple really bad seasons, it’s time for the Cavaliers to make a leap. They need to leap from the bottom of the barrel and into the middle of the barrel, if that makes any sense. Normally, the middle of the pack is the last place you want to be if you are an NBA team, but in this case, the Cavs need to take a step forward. If the Cavs are going to make the playoffs as a seventh or eighth seed in 2013-14, they need a few players to take their game to a new level.
It sounds crazy that Kyrie Irving needs to up his game, but like any young player, there is room for improvement. His defense is terrible at this stage of his career and he is injury prone. If he is able to improve his defense and stay healthy, it will be a major help for the Cavaliers' young roster.
Dion Waiters had an impressive rookie campaign. He showed that he can score and he can do it in bunches. Unfortunately, his defense, much like Irving's, is atrocious. He also takes bad shots, causing him to have a low shooting percentage. Waiters needs to play more defense this season and take smarter shots.
In his brief career, Tristan Thompson has shown flashes of being dominant. He seemingly has the ability to put up points when the Cavs need him to, but he doesn’t do it consistently. The Cavaliers drafted Thompson as a “project big man," so his inconsistencies in the early stages of his career were to be expected. However, Thompson is a veteran compared to the rest of the Cavs’ roster, and he needs to play like one.
This one is all about staying healthy. The Cavs signed Bynum to an extremely team-friendly deal over the offseason. With a healthy Bynum combined with Irving, Thompson, Waiters and Anderson Varejao, this Cavs team can be extremely dangerous.
Tyler Zeller may not get a lot of playing time this season, especially if he isn’t able to get stronger and better defensively in the paint. Zeller has always been a very lean big man, even in his college days. For him to see minutes this season, he needs to put on some weight and develop a better overall game.