Mid-Season Awards: Highlighting the best Cleveland Cavaliers of the season

Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
2 of 4

Most Valuable Cavalier: Donovan Mitchell

When discussing the most valuable player on the Cavaliers, the conversation begins and ends with Donovan Mitchell. Over the course of this season, Mitchell has consistently unlocked the best from his teammates and flawlessly navigated the team through the injury woes and changing offensive schemes. Mitchell has not only been the best Cavalier this year, but he has made his case to be considered for the league-wide MVP award.

Donovan Mitchell currently sits fourth in points per game (28.4) across the NBA and is averaging a career-high in rebounds, (5.4), assists (6.3) and steals (1.9) in 35.5 minutes each night. No player on the Cavs has had more impact on winning than Mitchell this year. He is eighth in the NBA for Player Impact Estimate (16.6) and fourth in Net Rating (11) with a 31.2 usage rate. Every night, Mitchell has shown his dedication to the city and organization as a vocal leader both on and off the court.

As the Cavaliers shifted their offense, Mitchell took the helm in the point guard role while Garland recovered from a fractured jaw. In the first month without his backcourt partner, Mitchell averaged 7.2 assists and led the Cavs to a 7-2 record in those games. Through every setback and struggle this season, Mitchell has showcased true leadership and an ability to adapt to the changing needs of his team.

While Mitchell took the lead on the hardwood, one Cavalier made improvements throughout the season and has shifted their reputation throughout the Association.

Most Improved Cavalier: J.B. Bickerstaff

When the Cavaliers lost in five games to the New York Knicks in the 2023 playoffs, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff faced endless critiques of his lineup and rotation decisions, stagnant offensive designs and overall lack of experience. Much of it was well-deserved, but it pushed his defensive intelligence to the wayside. Cleveland's front office placed trust in Bickerstaff again, opting to improve the roster composition to test Bickerstaff's abilities with a versatile talent pool.

The season began looking like a broken record. Bickerstaff refused to trust in his bench and rarely deviated from his high pick-and-roll gameplan. Once Mobley and Garland were out, though, Bickerstaff was thrust into a position that required an entirely new scheme. Bickerstaff found instant success through floor spacing and deep bench rotations. The Cavaliers leaped from the fifth-worst offensive rating (111.1) before the injuries to the fourth-best (120.8) since December 16.

Since Garland's and Mobley's respective returns, Bickerstaff has continued his dynamic offense and has skillfully navigated the waters of a relatively redundant backcourt and frontcourt. Bickerstaff deserves immense credit for dramatically altering his approach to the game when nobody was forcing him to do it. Again, the Cavaliers had every reason to give up in December. Bickerstaff refused to let it happen and has earned the trust of his players and the respect of the league.

For all the heroics players have on the court, it is nearly impossible without a competent coach drawing up the plays. Nobody on Cleveland's payroll has made in-season improvements to the level that Bickerstaff has done, making him the most improved Cavalier of the season.