It’s been a while since my last post about sports and I’m ready to start back up. Welcome back to the Broulis Beat Report.
I want to begin my first article talking about the Cleveland Cavaliers. What an amazing story thus far. Before the season first started, I had them in the bottom five of the NBA’s Eastern conference. Last year, Cleveland was bad and I wasn’t convinced they’d be any better this year. That’s even with the additions of rookie Evan Mobley and veteran guard Ricky Rubio and Lauri Markkanen.
I’m very happy to report that they’ve been proving me wrong so far.
Let’s go back to the Cavs’ 2016 title winning team. They weren’t a top 10 defensive. The Cavs were actually ranked 21st in the NBA in defense, allowing 110 PPG. Now, what saved Cleveland was their offensive rating. When they won the title, Cleveland was the 3rd rated offensive team, averaging 114 PPG. When you have LeBron James, Kevin Love, kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith on your team, you better be able to score.
Now, why am I bringing this up? Back then, that team played a lot of one-on-one basketball. But that’s how teams generally are setup when James is on the team. In 2016, the Cavs were 14th in the NBA in assists per game at 22. The team they beat for the title? The Warriors were #1 at 27 assists per game. Cleveland just so happened to play enough defense and score at the right time to bring home the ring.
Right now, this Cavs team is constructed to play as a team and wouldn’t win much if they played like that Cavs team. Each night, multiple Cleveland players are scoring in double figures and that puts a lot of pressure on any opposing team. They simply can’t defend Cleveland the way they did when James was here. If they shut down most of the other players and force LeBron to win the game, they had a chance. Now, teams must defend just about everyone.
In the 2021-2022 season the Cavs have the 3rd ranked defense in the NBA, only allowing 105 PPG. Only ahead of Cleveland are Phoenix and Golden State. When it comes to team assist leaders, Golden State is ranked #1 in the NBA, but now, Cleveland ranks 7th at 25 assists a game.
Darius Garland is an all-star and has become a great point guard. His ability to understand when he has to score, when to pass and see the floor and his teammates has improved so much since last season. Garland looks much more comfortable and confident on the floor and just watching him play, you can see he has finally let the game come to him and it’s slowed down for him a lot.
Jarrett Allen signed a big contract extension to stay in Cleveland and it’s really paid off. Allen is one of the best centers in the game and has accepted a leadership role this year. He’s become more vocal on and off the floor and his chemistry with PG Darius Garland is amazing to watch.
Kevin Love looks like he has accepted his role of coming off the bench. Cleveland’s $60 million dollar bench man has found a lot of success in this new role and he’s finally feeling good. Love is definitely making starter money, but right now, his role is working for him and the team. Kevin is in the running for 6th man of the year and he looks excited again to play.
What a rookie season so far for Evan Mobley. The young man out of USC is on track to win the NBA’s rookie of the year award and as the season goes further along, all he keeps doing is improving. His ability to shoot the mid-range jumper for a player his size is amazing and he plays both ends of the floor so well already. Once he gets more experience and adds 15 pounds of muscle, he’ll only get better. Right now, he’s only scratching the surface of how great he can become.
Imagine if Cleveland can maintain this success this year and get into the playoffs. That would be a huge success and give this young group of talented players a great experience as to what the playoffs are like and at such a young team age. The NBA’s league average age right now is 26 years old. The Cleveland Cavaliers are an average age of 25. You can thank Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Rajon Rondo for the age being above 23 for an average.
This team has a chance to get valuable experience at an early stage of where they are right now. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t personally read ANY articles predicating the Cavs being this good this early. I felt Cleveland would be in a group with Detroit, Orlando, Indiana, Atlanta, New York Knicks, Toronto and Washington. I still think they’re behind Milwaukee, Brooklyn and MAYBE Chicago. That’s not bad, compared to where this team was a year ago.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis