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How far do LeBron James' Cavaliers fall in the latest NBA Power Rankings?

By Matt Dollinger
November 23, 2014

Before we start debating whether Kentucky could beat the Cavaliers -- which is a ridiculous question, because we all know John Calipari can't coach in the NBA -- let's pause to reflect what's transpired in Cleveland the last few months:

1. LeBron James returned, putting championship expectations on a team that went 33-49 last season.

2. Kevin Love was acquired, forming a super-talented Big Three, albeit one where two-thirds has never made the playoffs or been on a winning team.

3. Kyrie Irving, coming off an MVP run at the FIBA World Cup, was asked to hand over the leadership reins and No. 1 option responsibilities.

4. David Blatt was hired, a successful coach in Europe, but one who had never sat on an NBA bench before.

5. Dion Waiters was asked to play a complementary role after shooting 17-plus times per game last season.

6. No rim protector was drafted, signed or traded for in a deal.

Now, is a 5-7 start that much of a shock to the system? We knew Cleveland's Big Three could struggle early on after seeing Miami's super team do the same (a 9-8 start in 2011) a few years ago. But the issues have been profound. Despite having three of the most talented players in the league, the team's offense is league average. The team's defense -- which doesn't feature a single player averaging a block per game -- is even more pedestrian, ranking No. 26 in points allowed per possession.

Some of these bumps will eventually be smoothed out. LeBron will eventually loosen up, Love will find his niche, Irving will learn to run the offense and Waiters will shoot above 40 percent. But some of the issues aren't going away, like the team's lack of a shot-blocker or bench depth. 

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Let's keep the hot takes to a minimum this week and acknowledge while the Cavaliers are plagued with problems, LeBron isn't taking his talents back to South Beach if the team's four-game skid continues.

In non-LeBron news, the best player in the NBA, Anthony Davis, moves his team up to No. 12 this week. The Spurs and Suns rise after 4-0 weeks and the Hornets tumble as their disappointing start continues.

(All stats and records through Nov. 23).

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Eagle (-2)
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