How Cleveland Cavaliers young stars can make the All-Star Game next year

2022 NBA All-Star - Taco Bell Skills Challenge
2022 NBA All-Star - Taco Bell Skills Challenge / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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The Cleveland Cavaliers are the hottest team in the NBA, taking 18 of its last 21 contests, and there are no signs of slowing down now that Darius Garland and Evan Mobley have been re-integrated into the starting unit.

The group has the third-highest offensive rating in the seven games since the band has been back together. Seven matches (6-1) is a minuscule sample size, but the revamped ball movement has made the outfit stronger. It helps when players of DG and Mobley’s caliber return and aren’t trying to hijack the offense or stubbornly resist the new game plans.

In the short term, the outfit looks like a group that won’t exit the playoffs quietly; the group had the second-highest net rating in January (15.1) and third in February (13.6). In the long term, it has the pieces to run the East for years to come.

Before Garland broke his jaw and Mobley hurt his left knee, they averaged 34 and 33.6 minutes per game, respectively. Since they’ve come back, their minutes are at 26.9 and 25.8. Garland’s numbers are down to 12.7 points and six assists per game. Mobley is at 15.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

Despite Garland’s points average being down by eight lately, it shouldn’t concern Wine and Gold supporters for now since he’s been back just nine games on a minutes restriction. Additionally, his and Mobley’s minutes per game will assuredly get raised as the season comes to a close, and the former will rediscover his outside touch with time.

Watching how the Cavs are operating now and how its work is mostly ignored by national media and scores of outside fans makes one wonder what kind of love the team would have got if it started the season this way instead of 10-9. Yes, the injuries forced coach J.B. Bickerstaff to get creative, successfully, and plug the right pieces. But if the Cavaliers established its franchise-best 18-match stretch sooner, and DG and Mobley didn’t get wounded, could it have been in a position to have four All-Stars in Indiana? The Cavs are second in the Eastern Conference currently, and only Donovan Mitchell was recognized for the ASG, while Jarrett Allen was snubbed from the list.

Such a thing has happened nine times in the NBA’s existence. First, the Boston Celtics had four in 1962 and 1975. Next, the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers, followed by the 1998 Los Angeles Lakers, 2006 Detroit Pistons, 2011 Celtics, 2015 Atlanta Hawks and the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018.

None of these groups had a winning percentage lower than 65 (‘75 Celtics) by the All-Star break. The average winning percentage of teams with four All-Stars before the exhibition is 78.2. The Cavaliers’ victory rate is at 68 percent for 2023-24, but at 86 percent over the last 21 games- sustaining a winning percentage this high s is probably not happening since only two clubs in NBA history have maintained it over an entire season (1995-96 Chicago Bulls, 2015-16 Golden State Warriors), per Stathead (subscription required).

How can Garland and Mobley evolve their respective games to bring the Cavs into NBA All-Star history?