The Cleveland Cavaliers are a much better team talent-wise than they were before the trade deadline, having added the young talent of Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., and Rodney Hood to play alongside George Hill, but they have still not been able to put everything together and win games consistently. Since the trade deadline, they are only 6-4. There’s still time to make everything click, but they will need to pick it up soon if they want to end up being the one seed in the East.
There’s no question that this team has the talent to be the best in the East. They have some very young and talented players to go with the greatest player to step foot on a basketball court, LeBron James. LeBron can obviously lead any team to the playoffs, just like he did in 2007 with absolutely no help, and the 2018 LeBron is better than the 2007 LeBron. He can absolutely carry the team, but to win, but everyone will need to step up and do their part on defense side. With these trades, the Cavaliers’ weren’t looking to instantly become the best defensive team in basketball, but these young players have the athleticism, drive and talent to make them be a contender.
Along with making significant gains on defense, for the Cavaliers to be the best team in the East, they will have to pass some darn good teams. One of those is the Celtics. Like the Cavaliers, the Celtics have some pretty amazing young talent as well. They’ve got Kyrie Irving at the helm and Jayson Tatum, Jalen Brown, and Terry Rozier as all of their young pieces. Together, these guys are better than the Cavaliers’ young pieces – and they also have Al Horford, who is one of the most under-rated big men in the NBA. Not only do they have all of this talent, they have amazing chemistry as well.
The other team the Cavaliers will have to pass is number one in the East right now, the Toronto Raptors. Now, the Raps don’t have the same amount of talent as the Celtics, but they have more than the Cavaliers. Demar Derozan is having an amazing season. Even though he is averaging less points than last season, he is hitting more threes and is averaging more assists. Kyle Lowry is paired with him in the backcourt, and while Kyle is not as dominant as Demar, he is definitely good. Even though he’s dropped to an average of 16.5 points per game, he has stepped up defensively. With the Raptors having five players average double digit points and all of them stepping up on the defensive side, it will be hard for the Cavs to beat this team.
With the Raptors and Celtics standing in their way, I don’t think the Cavaliers have what it takes – right now – to be the best in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors are their biggest obstacle, yet the Cavaliers can definitely surpass them if they can do a better job of working together. The good news is that this team has only been together for nine games, so I can definitely see that happening – and they can’t afford not to, especially if they want to try and retain LeBron during free agency, as he will most likely be leaving, come this off-season.