A lot of things went right for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. Donovan Mitchell had a career year, Evan Mobley took a step forward as a defender, and their top 6 players all played at least 68 games. That was a combination of work and luck, and it helped to propel the Cavs to 51 wins and home-court advantage in the playoffs.
While the team hopes to continue the good vibes heading into this season, it’s possible that things go the other way. Luck can just as easily turn bad, development can plateau and chemistry can turn sour. What if the 2023-24 season goes from exciting hope to a painful nightmare?
Let’s look at three scenarios that would ruin the upcoming season for the Cavaliers. If all of the good players got hurt for the season, that would be an obvious disaster, but let’s look at more likely situations. What problems could derail the season?
The Cavaliers hope that they have solved the small forward problem. Max Strus brings an element of floor-spacing and movement shooting this team has not had in years. He’s proven in the playoffs and brings an element of toughness this group could use too.
He’s also just a 37 percent career shooter from deep, and at 6’5″ he doesn’t have the size or athleticism to be a truly elite defender. It’s possible that the trio of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and Strus just doesn’t have enough size and defense to be viable. If Isaac Okoro doesn’t take a huge step forward as a shooter the small forward position will still be a major question mark.
That’s an unacceptable outcome for a Cavaliers team ready to contend now. They need to balance building the best team now without completely mortgaging the future, but being terrible now isn’t an option. They need at least an acceptable answer at the 3.