Heading into the 2013-2014 NBA season, there is a lot of deserved excitement surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers. Much of that obviously starts with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving entering his third season in the league, but it also is due to the busy off-season that the Cavs had where they drastically improved their roster.
The Cavs started off their summer by using a bevy of draft picks to address several needs. With the number one overall pick they nabbed high-upside power forward Anthony Bennett to add frontcourt depth. At pick 19, Cleveland addressed their need for shooting on the wings by selecting Russian swingman Sergey Karasev. Then they used an early second-round selection to add defense on the wing potentially with Carrick Felix. The draft was highly productive for this team.
More than that, though, they also were active on the open market, bringing in Earl Clark for depth on the wing, Jarrett Jack as a third guard and veteran leader, and took a gamble (to some degree considering the financial aspects of the deal) on the oft-injured but talented Andrew Bynum.
Adding the pieces Cleveland did this summer to a core of guys like Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao certainly gives them the talent and depth to contend for a spot in the postseason. However, the Cavs making the postseason greatly depends on this team’s health which, given the track-record of many of the guys on their roster, is asking a lot.
If healthy, though, the Cavs frontcourt is going to be one of the deepest in the league, boasting a rotation of Bynum, Varejao, Thompson, Bennett and Tyler Zeller. Heading into the Cavs’ preseason opener, though, the health of their frontcourt is already off to a shaky start.
Earlier in the week, Zeller suffered a minor hip strain that will hold him out for Cleveland’s first preseason game on Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. Meanwhile, Bynum, who missed all of last season, has still not been medically cleared for contact with his knee injury which will keep him out, as well. In addition to those two centers being in suits on Tuesday, the rookie Bennett just returned to the floor after rehabbing a shoulder injury all summer and has reportedly been struggling with his conditioning. If that’s still an issue for him, it’s hard to imagine Bennett seeing a great deal of run against the Bucks either.
Essentially what you need to know about the Cavs’ first preseason game is that you can’t judge them by what you see on Tuesday. Sure, this team will still have Irving, Waiters, Jack, Thompson and Varejao, but that’s hardly the bolstered lineup that they hope to be using in the regular season. With Cleveland, the best strategy for judging them at the moment remains “wait and see.”
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