The Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the best teams in the NBA last season, as they had a seven-win increase from the 2021-22 season to the 2022-23 season. This led to them having home court advantage and being the fourth seed in the playoffs. However, they fell short in the first round, and lost in five games to the New York Knicks.
Even with that disappointing finish, last season was a successful one for the Cavaliers. Even though the team underperformed heavily, how they did last year was positive. The first season of Donovan Mitchell’s tenure in Cleveland went pretty well, as he made All-NBA Second Team. Evan Mobley was an All-Defensive First Teamer, and the rest of the team played well in the regular season.
A 51-31 record was impressive, given the circumstances with still a young team and Mitchell being in his first season with the Cavaliers. Next season should be even better, as the Cavs made tremendous offseason additions to better suit the roster.
Looking out in the Eastern Conference, a lot of teams might look worse than they did last year. The Milwaukee Bucks have an older roster, so another year older for everyone on the roster won’t help, and there could be some regression from players like Brook Lopez, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton.
The Philadelphia 76ers might be worse, too. Considering that James Harden has requested a trade, and looks like he will be traded, their team will likely look worse than last year. Also, Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler are not getting younger for the Miami Heat, so Miami might not be a strong contender at all next season. We’ll have to see what plays out in relation to the Damian Lillard trade talks there, anyway.
The only teams that I think look like contenders in the Eastern Conference as of now are the Boston Celtics, Bucks (even though I don’t like their roster buildup), and maybe the Cavaliers, but I’m not 100% sold on that as of now.
The Cavs’ squad is still super young, but they still have a ton of talent, and got better based on who they brought in this offseason. The young players in Cleveland can all make big jumps, and Darius Garland can and will be an All-Star next season. In addition, Evan Mobley could also make that jump to being an All-Star, and maybe even become the Cavs’ first ever Defensive Player of the Year.
Big things can come out of this squad next season, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Cavaliers make a solid postseason run come next April. The team they have is really talented, and their team is really slept on just because of the one poor playoff series that they had.
A favorite quote of mine is from the legend himself, Michael Jordan. He said “to learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.” Success doesn’t come without failure at first, so Cleveland should be better next season after failing in the postseason.
Now, 51 wins is a great mark for a team that had their first year together at full power. However, considering a few top teams in the Eastern Conference might be not as strong as last season, 51 wins could potentially be beaten. Yes, a lot of teams in the Eastern Conference did get better, but so did Cleveland.
I predict the Cleveland Cavaliers will have a 55-27 record in the 2023-24 campaign.
55 wins is only four wins higher, which may not sound like a lot. However, 55 wins would have given the Cavs the third seed in the East, which probably would have given Cleveland a second round appearance after facing off against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round. In the Western Conference, 55 wins would have been the first seed, so 55 wins is definitely a good mark to hit.
Will Cleveland be a contender next season? Well, first we have to get through the regular season, and maybe at that point, we can have that conversation and get an answer.
As of now, we have to wait a bit longer until the NBA’s regular season starts in late October.