The Cleveland Cavaliers could be real contenders next season

Evan Mobley and Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images)
Evan Mobley and Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers got off to a blazing hot start this past season behind the stellar play of All-Stars Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen as well as Rookie of the Year Candidate Evan Mobley.

Although this hot start fizzed out about midway through the season, it was largely due to a plethora of injuries that plagued the team throughout the season, most notably a fractured finger to Jarrett Allen just after the All-Star break.

The Cavaliers were 35-21 with Allen, on pace for 51 wins which would have put them firmly in the second seed position in the Eastern Conference. However, the Cavs were horrendous without their star center and played at a clip of 9-17 without him.

Jarrett Allen’s injury was unfortunately not the only thing holding the team back throughout this past season.

Injuries to Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, and Evan Mobley also held this team back from its full potential this past season.

The nice thing about injuries, though, is the fact that they heal. They will be back next season, hungry for a spot in the playoffs.

While the roster feels slightly incomplete without a bonafide secondary ball handler or elite wing, the Golden State Warriors had an incomplete roster without a true center and still won the 2022 NBA Finals.

So, while it may be nice for them to add a versatile wing like OG Anunoby or Andrew Wiggins via trade, they don’t necessarily need a guy like that to win a chip, they just need the rest of the roster to be good enough to cover that weakness.

If they aren’t confident in their ability to do that with Collin Sexton seemingly likely back, then there is still time to complete a trade like this before the season starts.

The Cleveland Cavaliers brought in some great depth to help boost their inconsistent bench unit.

A big reason for the Cavaliers early success was also the elite play of Ricky Rubio, who scored almost exclusively from three, but he created plays on offense while holding his own on defense, both as an individual defender and as a team defender.

They managed to sign him to a deal recently following his ACL tear back in late December, hindering the playmaking ability of the team outside of Garland. The team moved for Rajon Rondo as a replacement, but he just wasn’t the same as Rubio, who should help when he’s back post-injury next season.

The Cavs also signed guard Raul Neto to help in case of injuries to any of the other high-level guards on the roster, while also allowing them to sit down every once in a while, a commodity rarely seen last season for Darius Garland.

Guards were not the only signings the Cavaliers made as they signed big man Robin Lopez to a deal this free agency, and he can back up Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, allowing them to sit more often while also providing injury insurance, something they did not have last year at this position either.

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With newfound depth on the roster, the Cavaliers should feel confident in their chances of making a deep run in the playoffs next year, especially if they can fill in the holes in their roster.