Does recent NBA history tell us Cavs will sustain their big leap?

Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images /
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Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers, Boston Celtics. Photo credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images /

Will Cavs sustain their big leap? What recent teams made the same leap?

Three teams made a larger season-to-season increase in net rating than the Cleveland Cavaliers did last year. Those teams are the 2007-08 Boston Celtics (+14.3), the 1997-98 San Antonio Spurs (+13.2) and the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns (+10.8).

The Celtics went from a rebuilding team to a sudden contender with the additions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. They won just 24 games in 2006-07, then won 66 games the following season behind the “Big 3” and beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. Their leap was triggered by the sudden addition of in-their-prime star talent.

The Spurs had a similar influx of talent, but perhaps one more similar to what the Cavs experienced. In the 1996-97 season star center David Robinson went down early in the year to injury, and the organization tanked their way to the first overall pick. They selected Tim Duncan, who as a rookie stepped in and was a two-way force immediately alongside the healthy Robinson. The Spurs went from 20 wins to 56 and lost in the second round of the playoffs.

Finally, the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns took yet another path to a seismic leap. In 2003-04 the Suns won 29 games, and partway through the season, Mike D’Antoni took over as head coach. That summer D’Antoni instituted his fast-paced system, the team signed free agent point guard Steve Nash, and the result was a 62-win season and the start of the “Seven Seconds or Less” era.