The Cleveland Cavaliers reloaded with sharpshooters Max Strus and Georges Niang, took flyers on backup pivot Damian Jones and on journeyman Ty Jerome, plus re-signed Caris LeVert. These weren’t the flashiest moves, but in combination with the pieces in place, the group has enough to earn a top-three seed in the East.
In 2022-23, the Cavaliers had a respectable regular season, winning 51 matches and earning home-court advantage in round one against New York. The difference in the series was Cleveland getting killed on the glass, the starters getting beat straight up, and the role players not offering much from long range.
Heading into the next campaign, the Cavaliers are motivated by the sting of embarrassment. Dependable deep shooting is now covered with Strus on deck, providing options as a starter or reserve. Niang is a decent backup sniper who can be impactful defensively with versatile defenders around him.
Jones and Jerome should be looked at insurance policies in case the group is ravaged by injuries.
LeVert’s re-signing came at a hefty price, but the group couldn’t afford to lose his skill set after what it gave up for him. Using him as the playmaker with Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, and Strus flanking him in a small-ball set with Evan Mobley at center, could become one of the Cavaliers’ top lineups with constant movement on the perimeter and off-ball cuts inside. With various options to convert behind the arc in this five-man unit, it would be problematic for drop-heavy defenses like those of the Milwaulkee Bucks and Boston Celtics.
So, based off of their offseason, where do the Cavaliers stack up against the Eastern Conference’s contenders?
We’ll begin with the upper echelon of the East.