After a disappointing finish to last season, the 2023-2024 NBA season is going to be a crucial one for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Due to their accelerated rebuild, the franchise has huge expectations for the first time since LeBron James skipped town for the second time five years ago. Last season was all about growth and progression, and the Cavs accomplished those two things.
They won 50 games, clinched a top four seed in the Eastern Conference, and ended a five-year playoff drought. Unfortunately, to quote center Jarrett Allen, who had prior playoff experience, the lights were “brighter than expected” even for him, in the playoffs. They flamed out faster than a bad musical on Broadway against the New York Knicks in five games. It was a tough pill to swallow in a season that was highly successful for the most part.
Now, this season the Cavs have to progress from that failure and reach new heights. If they don’t the team will look A LOT different next season.
Fortunately, the Eastern Conference is as wide open as it has ever been, and the Cavs have a real chance to make some serious noise and put the league on notice. Here are my three bold predictions for the Cavs this season.
No. 1: The Cavs will have three All-Stars
The Cavs’ only All-Star last season was All-NBA guard Donovan Mitchell, and they arguably should have had two, as guard Darius Garland’s numbers were very similar to his All-Star campaign in 2022. However, I expect the Cavs to send three representatives to the All-Star Game this year, with Garland and Evan Mobley joining Mitchell.
The case for Mitchell is a simple one: he is a borderline top 10 player in the league and is coming off the best season of his career. He has been named an All-Star four years in a row and I do not expect that to change this year, as he has something to prove after a lackluster postseason performance.
As for Garland, he was the only player in the league last season to average 20 plus points, seven plus assists, and shoot over 40% from three. He has become one of the elite playmakers in the NBA, and one of the best guards in the Eastern Conference. He has improved every season of his career and I expect him to take another huge stride this season.
As for Mobley, he is only 22 years old, and has asserted himself as one of the best defenders in the NBA. This past season, he became the youngest finalist ever for Defensive Player of the Year, and was named to the All-NBA Defensive First Team. He also increased his points per game, and field goal percentage last season. From January to March, Mobley showed flashes of what he can be offensively, as he averaged 18 points per game during that period. I believe he will continue to develop his offensive game, and along with his already elite-level defense, I expect him to be the Cavs’ third All-Star this coming season.
However, that is not my only bold prediction involving Mobley…