3 important lessons Cavaliers learned in the 2023 preseason

Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images /
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After a short playoff berth, the Cleveland Cavaliers enter the 2023-24 NBA season with improved depth and a greater level of confidence in their personnel.

The Cavaliers have had maybe the most intriguing rebuild this century of basketball, considering their dramatic shift from the bottom of the league to one of the East powerhouses. After a dismal 22-win season, Cleveland shocked the NBA world with Darius Garland’s breakout season and the historic rookie season from Evan Mobley. With Garland and Mobley at the center, the Cavs doubled their win total with 44 wins and earned a spot in the Play-In Tournament.

Unfortunately, the Cavaliers lost two straight games, falling out of the Play-In Tournament. Their first year as a competitive team was short lived. Cleveland was not down and out, though, trading for perennial All-Star Donovan Mitchell in September 2022. With a talented core of Garland, Mitchell, Mobley and big man Jarrett Allen, the Cavs entered the 2022-23 season with an entirely new identity after plummeting in the standings when LeBron James left for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018.

As accelerated as their rebuild has been, the Cavaliers are not immune to humiliating growing pains. In the 2023 Playoffs, the Cavs had homecourt advantage against the New York Knicks, but their lack of experience and outside shooting led to an anticlimactic season’s end in an uncompetitive five-game series.

With a disastrous playoff series behind them, the Cavaliers had one of the best offseasons across the NBA. Although they did not make a blockbuster move again, the Cavs had a commendable offseason. The Athletic gave the Cavs a B+ grade for their offseason moves, citing the offensive versatility added to the league’s best defensive team.

The Cavaliers are still a young team, with their two best future prospects in Garland and Mobley at 23 and 22 years old, respectively. They still have plenty to learn, and this preseason suggested a handful of answers for them as they approach their October 25 season opener on the road against the Brooklyn Nets.

Here are three important lessons the Cavaliers learned from 2023 preseason play.

The first pertains to their pace.