As Power Rankings suggest, Cavaliers must learn from playoff failure

Evan Mobley and Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
Evan Mobley and Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /

In what now seems like ages ago, it was rough to see the Cleveland Cavaliers lose 4-1 to the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Cleveland did not play up to par, and offensively, it was a struggle far too much to have a good chance of winning the series.

It’s not the end of the world when looking at next season, though. All postseason experience is meaningful, particularly for young players, and Darius Garland and Evan Mobley should be better-suited to rebound in their postseasons to come from here.

To reiterate, Cleveland did have their issues in the playoffs, which was unfortunate, with the Cavaliers being the higher seed, and they won 51 games in the regular season. The Wine and Gold returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2018, and going into the postseason, it didn’t appear to be far-fetched to believe Cleveland could make noise.

The results that followed were tough to see, sure, but the Cavaliers can build on this now-past season.

Having said that, the Cavs do have to learn from postseason failure, and as recent Power Rankings suggest, they have to address their issues. Hopefully doing so, combined with more experience, should pay off.

As recent Power Rankings from a few media outlets have demonstrated, the Cavaliers must learn from their last playoff disappointment.

Both ESPN and Bleacher Report’s initial 2023-24 Power Rankings had the Cavaliers slotted at No. 12 in the Association, with USA TODAY having Cleveland a step behind at No. 13 in theirs.

With how Cleveland’s season ended with a disappointing playoff performance against New York, the Wine and Gold being a bit outside the initial top 10 for those three outlets seemed about right, with the upcoming draft and free agency around the corner.

As each of those outlets stressed, the Cavaliers are still young at their core, so there’s still time for some internal improvement and they should benefit from playoff experience, but it’s evident their offense needs a boost. Cleveland has to aid Garland, Mitchell, Mobley and Allen by adding perimeter shooting, and as B/R’s Andy Bailey expressed, finding a “consistent presence” at the starting 3 is going to be important for the Cavaliers’ chances.

It’s sensible that the Cavs have often been linked to trade targets such as Dorian Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale, and Tim Hardaway Jr. (as far as shooting), among others, for how they’d be meaningful floor spacers and quality, supplemental role players. The same goes for a number of possible free agency targets.

What is also apparent, though, is how Cleveland needs to fortify its bench, which could make a noticeable difference for stretches of games in the playoffs next year and beyond. Scoring in that regard is one obvious area which comes to mind, and the backup 5 spot was one where the Cavaliers could’ve definitely used some reinforcements versus the Knicks, additionally.

It’d be meaningful if Cleveland were to end up signing one of several rumored possible targets such as Mason Plumlee, Naz Reid (for offense as well), or Thomas Bryant, for glass cleaning for bench stretches. A player who is particularly intriguing, from a two-way and shooting perspective, would be Mo Bamba, too, for what it’s worth.

The overarching theme from Cleveland’s initial rankings from those three media outlets involves the Cavaliers needing to learn from their playoff failure, partially internally but coupled with that, for them to address their shooting/bench needs.

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Koby Altman and company have to help guys such as Garland, Mitchell and Mobley out in the offseason ahead by bringing in a few solid pieces to balance the roster and workload out somewhat.