Cleveland Cavaliers Preview
The Cleveland Cavaliers have one of the world's best young superstars in LeBron James. As a rookie last season he was everything the Cavs hoped, and more. In 2003-04, the team won 35 games and lost 47, just missing the playoffs. This season, key changes include the addition of defensive point guard Eric Snow, the loss of Carlos Boozer, and the addition of hopeful replacement Drew Gooden. Here's how Cleveland looks for 2004-05:
Paul Silas enters his second season as the head coach in Lebronland. He did a great job with the team last year, and appears perfectly safe in his position.
Cleveland is one of the few teams in the eastern conference with a legit center in Zydrunas Ilgauskas. "Big Z" has had two injury-free campaigns in a row and is living up to his contract.
Robert Traylor and DeSagana Diop will be backing him up. This will be Diop's 4th season in the league since coming from Oakhill Academy High School. He needs to show more this season or he won't have a job next year. Traylor will be serviceable in the middle. And even if he isn't, he's too big to move. Try it. He'll squash you.
The inside game of the Cavs is going to suffer with the loss of Boozer, but it's still a lot better than most of the Eastern Conference.
Lebron will be moving over to the small forward position this season. This is probably the best place on the court for him. He should have no trouble spreading defenses and breaking down the bigger and slower players at the position.
Drew Gooden will be at the power position and will look to replace Carlos Boozer. He's had a decent 3 years in the league, but hasn't lived up to expectations just yet. Gooden has to find consistency and a defensive presence this season. The Cavs need him to be what most thought he would be.
Rookie Luke Jackson and 2nd year shooter Aleksandar Pavlovic may get some minutes backing up Lebron. Ira Newble, Robert Traylor and Brazilian rookie Anderson Varejao should be the bench rotation up front.
Probably the biggest question mark for the team is the backcourt. Eric Snow will be moved to the off-guard position this season as Jeff McInnis will handle the point duties. I'm not sold on this idea working, Eric Snow has never really been much of a scorer. It's going to be a huge adjustment for him. And which of the two players will guard the other team's shooting guard?
Jeff McInnis is a solid point guard, and more of a scorer than Snow.
Veteran Lucious Harris will be the main man off the bench. He had decent success in New Jersey and will fit in well in Cleveland. Dajuan Wagner has fallen out of favour in Cleveland and may not see much time. He just can't shoot or play in control. Though, he's too young to give up on, and should not be totally discounted just yet.
The Cavs will miss Carlos Boozer. Not only from a talent level, but from an energy level. The Cavs 2nd unit is not overly strong. Any sort of injury and they'll be in trouble.
Best case scenario: The team stays injury-free and Lebron continues his dominance of the world. Drew Gooden and Eric Snow fit into their roles perfectly and the Cavs win 45 games.
Worst case scenario: Lebron doesn't progress much over last season, and Snow and Gooden don't add consistent performances. They run into injury problems and their lack of depth is tested.
Prediction: 3rd in the Central, 41-41.