Skip to content

Adding LeBron, Kevin Love makes Cavaliers contenders, but three things can hold them back

Aug 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Cleveland Cavaliers v San Antonio Spurs Cleveland Cavaliers v San Antonio Spurs

Dan Gilbert — one of the hardline owners in the last CBA negotiations, a guy who wanted an NFL-style franchise tag and taxes that would make it hard to build or maintain a super team team — has gone out and gotten himself a super team.

With the addition of Kevin Love to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers are contenders. Kevin Love’s outlet passes are going to get LeBron, Irving, Dion Waiters and others some easy transition buckets. LeBron is going to create space for Love he hasn’t seen in years. If they play uptempo and use some smart sets this is a team that is going to score a lot of points.

But they should not be title favorites. Not yet in my book. I can think of three things that could (and I think will) keep them from winning a title next season.

1) Defense. LeBron is an elite defender, Irving is solid, Shawn Marion can still defend multiple positions well, but Love has his flaws and needs to be paired with a rim-protecting big man — Anderson Varejao is not that. Cleveland has some questions about how they plan to protect the paint with this roster, and what style of defense they will play. I don’t think the Cavaliers are going to be a bad defensive team by any means, but can they be elite enough to win a title with what they have? It may take another move or two to shore up this side of the ball.

2) Experience. LeBron has led a team to four straight finals, Marion and Mike Miller both have rings, however neither Love nor Irving have ever even played in a playoff game. To ask these guys to go from their first playoff experience to being key cogs in a team going for a title. Plus guys like Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova are going to be asked to step up into bigger roles, then do that deep into the playoffs.

3) There are some other very good teams out there. There is no easy path for the Cavaliers, even if they are in the softer East. First, I’m in the camp that the Bulls are going to be very good (I’m betting on Derrick Rose’s knees to be healthy for most of the year). The Bulls right now have an identity as a team, something the Cavaliers will be searching for. If the Cavaliers do get to the Finals there are some very good teams waiting? Did you see the San Antonio Spurs dismantle the Heat in the Finals last year? Well they brought everybody back and are the team to beat. Oklahoma City will still have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Clippers will be improved. There are questions.

I think Cleveland is going to win a ring or three over the next five seasons, but it may take them a year to get it all together. Much like as it took LeBron’s Heat teams a full season to really figure out a style that worked for them. I expect something similar in Cleveland.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Kendall Marshall near deal with Sixers

    Sep 4, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    He’s coming off an ACL surgery and misses the start of the season.

  2. Eric Bledsoe: Suns not content just sneaking into the playoffs

    Sep 4, 2015, 2:24 PM EDT

    Phoenix Suns v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    Given the strength of the Western Conference, they should be

  3. Report: NBA would continue to receive national TV money during work stoppage

    Sep 4, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT

    John Skipper, David Levy, Ted Leonsis, Adam Silver AP

    That’ll make owners more prone to locking out players

  4. Report: Rockets signing four free agents, including Chris Walker

    Sep 4, 2015, 12:23 PM EDT

    SEC Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Florida vs Alabama Getty Images

    Houston also reportedly adding Denzel Livingston, Remi Yusuf, Will Cummings

  5. JaVale McGee says he’s close to healthy, will be ready for season

    Sep 4, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    JaVale McGee AP

    If he’s healthy and the vintage, athletic McGee Dallas could use him.

  6. John Wall got a $20,000 portrait of himself for his birthday (PHOTO)

    Sep 3, 2015, 11:15 PM EDT

    John Wall John Wall

    The street artist Madsteez painted the commissioned piece.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2030)
  2. K. Irving (1641)
  3. A. Davis (1528)
  4. L. James (1433)
  5. K. Durant (1419)
  1. K. Bryant (1369)
  2. R. Rubio (1361)
  3. T. Thompson (1220)
  4. J. Clarkson (1151)
  5. A. Aminu (1127)