From 2018/19 through 2020/21, the Cavaliers held a 60-159 record, a 27.4% win percentage, the worst in the league over those three seasons.
However, in year four of the post-LeBron James rebuild, things are looking bright in Cleveland. Despite having one of the most difficult schedules and losing Collin Sexton for the season after meniscus surgery, the Cavs are 13-11, good for seventh in the Eastern Conference.
After ranking between 25th and 30th in both offensive and defensive rating every season from 2018-21, the Cavs are now 19th in the league in offensive rating and fourth in defensive rating. East Rookie of the Month Evan Mobley, who missed four games with an elbow sprain, looks like a future star, according to Jazz coach Quin Snyder, as relayed by Kelsey Russo of The Athletic.
“He’s gonna be a star in this league really soon,” Snyder said. “He’s having star-quality games already. I think his versatility makes him. It’s a rare combination of size, length, quickness and skill.”
Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen have formed a dynamic pick-and-roll combination; both were nominees for Player of the Month honors in the East. Wing Cedi Osman has played well when healthy, shooting 42.9% from three. Ricky Rubio has thrived as a veteran leader for the young team, serving as a mentor to Garland and providing heady play on both ends. Sign-and-trade acquisition Lauri Markkanen, never known for defense, has bought into coach J.B. Bickerstaff‘s system and is competing hard defensively.
That’s the most impressive thing when watching Cleveland — the way in which all its players have bought into the system. The Cavs play hard every game, which you don’t see very often in a league with a long, 82-game season. Even during the team’s five-game losing streak in November, when it was very shorthanded, the healthy players were giving full effort.
Prior to the season, we ran our annual Over/Unders polls, and 50.5% of our readers predicted the Cavaliers to be under 26.5 wins. They’re already halfway to 26 wins through 24 games, so the over seems like a very safe bet at this point. However, the East is surprisingly deep this season; only three games separate the fourth seed (Miami, 14-10) from the 12th (Toronto, 11-13).
We want to know what you think. Will the Cavs make the Play-In Tournament? Make the playoffs outright as a top-six seed? Or be out of the playoff picture completely?
Vote in our pool, then head to the comment section to share your two cents!