Cleveland Cavaliers: Predicting Final 15-Man Roster
Predicting the Cleveland Cavaliers 15-Man Roster
The Cleveland Cavaliers haven't quite recovered from "The Decision" yet as a franchise. In the last three seasons, the Cavaliers have won only 64 games. In LeBron James' final season in Cleveland, the Cavs won 61 games alone.
The Cavs, though, are a much improved team since James infamously left Cleveland for the Miami Heat. The Cavs have had a top-five pick in the last three NBA Drafts, including two of the last three first overall selections.
Before the LeBron days, the Cavs were a notoriously bad team on the court and in the draft room. Since James' departure, though, the Cavs have drafted an All-Star point guard, a star in the making at shooting guard and an athletic and versatile power forward in the frontcourt.
The Cavaliers were able to add tremendous help around their role players this past offseason and if healthy, this team could make a serious playoff run (a la Golden State Warriors last season).
Besides the draft selections and free agent acquisitions, though, the Cavs best move of the offseason may have been hiring Mike Brown to return as head coach. The Cavs fired Brown shortly after a quick playoff exit in James' final season to possibly help lure James back to Cleveland. The plan backfired, though, and the Cavs were wise to bring back the winningest coach in franchise history three years later.
So, what can Brown do for you? The Cavs certainly know. But which players help make up this up-and-coming contender in 2013-14? Click through the slideshow to meet the Cavs.
15. F Kenny Kadji
The Cavaliers' final roster spot will come down to veteran DeSagana Diop or the 6-foot-10, 240-pound rookie from Miami (FL). The Cavs are young, and even though they could use a veteran presence, this team is clearly leaning towards the youth-side in the frontcourt.
14. G/F Carrick Felix
A second-round pick from Arizona State, Felix has promise and could provide tremendous versatility off of the Cavaliers bench. The Cavs prefer youth on this team, giving Felix the edge over journeyman Jermaine Taylor.
13. G/F Sergey Karasev
Sticking with the youth movement, Karasev could see a lot of playing time early. Despite being only 19 years old, the Russian sharpshooter was one of the best international prospects in the 2013 NBA Draft. Fortunately for the Cavs, Karasev fell to the 19th overall pick. The Cavs are getting better and Karasev could be a big piece of a bright future.
12. F/C Tyler Zeller
Zeller struggled often as a rookie last season, but he still managed to average 7.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 26.4 minutes per game. Zeller's presence, though, will help the Cavs stretch the floor, as the 7-foot Zeller is a very good shooter (he shot 76.4 percent from the free-throw line last season).
11. G Elliot Williams
Williams hasn't played NBA basketball since the 2011-12 season, but he should gain an edge over Jermaine Taylor and Matthew Dellavedova on the Cavs roster because of his length (6-foot-5) in the backcourt. If the Cavs decide to have Dion Waiters come off of the bench (a la James Harden in Oklahoma City), Williams could become a starter because he is a very talented defender along the perimeter.
10. F Earl Clark
Clark spent the previous season with the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 7.3 points and 5.5 rebound per game. Clark likely won't be asked to start right away for the Cavaliers, but he will provide some quality depth off of the bench. The 6-foot-10 Clark is an athletic combo forward and he is only 25 years old, so he is worth having on the team.
9. G/F C.J. Miles
In his first season with the Cavs last year, Miles averaged 11.2 points per game primarily coming off of the bench. Only 26 years old, Miles is already an experienced NBA veteran, entering his ninth season in the league. The 6-foot-6 Miles is an experienced, young and versatile bench player who understands his role, a perfect combination for any NBA team.
8. G/F Alonzo Gee
Gee averaged 10.3 points per game and started all 82 games last season; solid numbers for a guy who should primarily be playing off of the Cavs' star talent. If the Cavs' stars can stay healthy this season, Gee's role as a sidekick will be extremely beneficial to Cleveland.
7. F/C Anderson Varejao
Varejao was having a career year last season, averaging a career-best 14.4 points and 14.4 rebounds per game. Varejao's 2012-13 season was cut short to 25 games for the second-consecutive season after he had developed a blood clot. If Varejao can stay healthy, the Cavs have a nice bevy of depth behind him with two young power forwards to learn from the aggressive veteran.
6. F Anthony Bennett
The Cavs shocked the world when they selected Bennett with the first overall pick in last summer's NBA Draft out of UNLV. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Bennett is undersized, but the Cavs love his talent. In the NBA, talent is what matters most, so Cleveland better hope they got this pick right like they did two years ago.
5. PG Jarrett Jack
Possibly the most underappreciated free agent signing this offseason, Jack averaged 12.9 points and 5.6 assists per game coming off of the bench for the Golden State Warriors last season behind young guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Jack could be a key reason why the Cavs improve this season, as he will come off of the bench again in relief of two rising young studs in the backcourt.
4. F Tristan Thompson
The 6-foot-8, 22-year-old power forward averaged 11.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game last season, but he could see a dip in playing time after switching shooting hands in the offseason, as he has said in the offseason he will be a right-handed shooter. With a No. 1 overall draft pick behind him, Thompson's days as a starter in Cleveland are likely numbered.
3. C Andrew Bynum
The Cavs signed Bynum to a two-year contract in the offseason and nobody really knows when he is going to return to the floor. Last season, officially a member of the Philadelphia 76ers after he was indirectly part of the Dwight Howard trade which sent Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, Bynum didn't appear in one game. With the signing, though, the Cavs didn't have to give up any significant player to acquire Bynum, so Cleveland can only be rewarded in this situation.
2. G Dion Waiters
As a rookie last season, Waiters averaged 14.7 points per game in 61 games played. Waiters had an impressive rookie year and he will likely continue to build off of his early success if he and the Cavs' franchise player can stay on the floor this season.
1. PG Kyrie Irving
Irving, the heart and soul of the Cavs, averaged 22.5 points and 5.9 assists per game in 59 games played last season. The Cavs will go as far as their star point guard, and with a revamped and improved group around him, Irving could become one of the NBA's truly elite point guards this season.