Today I will not be writing just another Contender Preview. Oh no, not just any ordinary Contender Preview. This one's very special. Know why? Because it's about the Cleveland Cavaliers. And we know that's what we REALLY want to read about. They certainly will be a bigger factor in the Lakers' season than any of the Contenders the proficient and articulate C. A. Clark has written about, right? Right. By the way, WaveOcean bribed me into writing all of this. He promised to create a DVD of Justin Bieber music videos for me if I did this. Squee!
For the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 2010 season came to a bitter end when they were eliminated in the second round by the Boston Celtics and LeBron James decided to sign with the Miami Heat on national television, abandoning his team and his promise to bring a title to Cleveland.
Now the Cavaliers have started over, rebuilding the franchise and distancing themselves as much as possible from LeBron James. This includes changing their logo, changing their team uniforms, changing their basketball court design, and taking on a new catchphrase: "All For One. One For All."
As for the team itself, they have parted ways with Zyndrunas Ilgauskas, Shaquille O'Neal, and Delonte West. To compensate for this, the team has shifted F Anderson Varejao to the C position and acquired 4th year Center Ryan Hollins. However, sophomore and former Tar Heel Danny Green (a member of the 2009 championship team) has been waived. The other mainstays that are still with the team are Mo Williams, Antwan Jamison, JJ Hickson, Jawad Williams, Leon Powe, and Anthony Parker. Besides Varejao, the only remaining member of the Cavaliers team that reached the 2007 NBA Finals is Daniel Gibson.
Don't look now, but the Cavaliers actually seem have a brighter outlook than the general consensus may have been. Despite an embarrassing and inexcusable home loss to CSKA Moscow, the Cavs have improved to 6-2 in the preseason, including 2-0 on the road. During this stretch they have been playing while 4 critical members of their rotation have been battling injuries: forward Antawn Jamison (sprained left knee) and swingman Anthony Parker (sprained fingers on right hand) guard Mo Williams (groin) and forward/center Anderson Varejao (ankle, personal reasons).
The Cavaliers have averaged 94.75 points while giving up an average of 83.25 points. The scoring has been balanced, with 4 Cavaliers in double figures in every game and JJ Hickson being the most consistent performer. Still, when Byron Scott falls asleep during the NBA Summer League, it's always a bad warning sign.
With the money and publicity taken away, the Cleveland Cavaliers will have only two games on national tv this season: a TNT matchup with Miami, and an ESPN game against New Orleans.