Amico: Could be Another Long Season for Cavs, But Maybe an Intriguing One, too
What to make of this season's Cavaliers?
Well, the possibilities are endless. Basically, about the only possibility to leave out is the possibility of the Cavs winning big.
I'm not so sure that's the plan, and even if so, it's probably not in the cards.
But there are still reasons to follow these Cavs.
They have a first-year coach in John Beilein, a man who spent four decades in the college game, including a successful 12-year run at the University of Michigan.
Beilein, 66, comes across as more of everyone's favorite uncle than strict disciplinarian. Don't be fooled, though.
He commands practices likes a Gregg Popovich, earning his team's respect as both a teacher and basketball lifer.
Of course, Beilein lost a total of 40 games in his previous four seasons at Michigan. He is highly likely to lose more than that this year. He also lost 56 at Michigan in the previous five years combined. That, too, could be surpassed with this year's Cavs.
So why follow along?
The reasons are actually many and here are several to get you started before Wednesday's season-opener at Orlando:
1. How good is Darius Garland? The Cavaliers have high hopes for their rookie guard, selected with the No. 5 overall pick. He is as smooth a shooter as the Cavs have seen in the modern era. He is also a fairly nifty passer. But when you draft someone in the lottery, the hope is that player becomes one of the cornerstones and faces of the franchise, and almost from the start. Garland is still only 19-years old, but he will undoubtedly get every opportunity to grow into that man.
2. How good is Collin Sexton? Last season, Sexton played his best after being left out of the Rising Stars game at All-Star weekend. He admittedly was motivated by what he perceived as a snub. Truth is, Sexton probably didn't deserve to go. He wasn't good enough early. Then came the season's second half, when he averaged more than 20 points. Sexton is not a prototypical point guard. He is more a volume scorer with excellent speed. How Sexton fares this year, and how well he meshes with Garland in the backcourt, will tell you a lot about Sexton's future.
3. Who will get traded? The Cavs have five players in the final year of their contracts -- Tristan Thompson, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Knight, Matthew Dellavedova and John Henson. That makes each of those players candidates to be traded. That's just the way it goes in today's NBA. And contenders will certainly be all about Thompson, a high-energy player who gobbles up rebounds and doesn't need the ball to make an impact. Frankly, it'll be stunning if Thompson ends the season in Cleveland. The same could be said for Clarkson, who would be a nice scoring spark plug off the bench for any contender.
4. What about Kevin Love? No player on the team has as many possibilities surrounding him as Love. He is 31 now and repeatedly has had issues staying healthy. But when on the floor, Love is the Cavs' best player, a rare power forward who can knock down 3-pointers and be among the league leaders in rebounding. Love is also unselfish and is just fine with being the second or third option on a title-contending team. If he stays on the floor, the calls from opposing teams will come. General manager Koby Altman will have no choice but to listen.
5. So what's the plan? I don't expect the Cavs to be very good. I don't expect them to shock the world. Mostly, I'm not really sure of the plan. They just added three first-round selections in Garland, swingman Dylan Windler and shooting guard Kevin Porter Jr. How many more first-rounders do they need? Is the idea to stockpile as many as possible and, ahem, trust the process with an older coach and a bunch of first and second-year players? Or do they keep Love, try to re-sign Thompson during the offseason and attempt to accelerate their path back to relevancy?
Basically, I'm sure there is a plan. I just honestly have no idea what it is. And watching it unfold may be the most intriguing storyline of all this season.