Cleveland Cavaliers: 3 way-too-early bold predictions for the 2021-22 NBA season
The Cleveland Cavaliers made some bold moves in the offseason. As for one, they made a twin tower duo after securing Jarrett Allen to a hefty deal then drafting Evan Mobley with the third overall pick. They also acquired Ricky Rubio via trade for some much-needed veteran presence. These moves, coupled with the presence of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, the Wine and Gold seem to be promising to look out for.
But before we hop the bandwagon, let’s try to examine carefully and predict how these offseason moves will pan out in the 2021-22 NBA season.
3. Competition at the guard spot
The Cavaliers have Sexton, Garland, and Rubio at the point guard spot. While Sexton can move up as a shooting guard just like last season, it’ll be inevitable that competition for the two starting guard spots will ensue. Rubio is a bonafide starter in the league. We can assume that it would be okay for him to move to a bench role. He’s been in the NBA long enough to see how things work. But Rubio is still well within his prime at 30 years old. More than that, he is a veteran and one of the most skilled guards in the league. The right way to use him is to include him in the starting lineup.
Will this create a rift among Rubio, Sexton, and Garland? Or will this friendly competition ultimately benefit the roster? We have to sit and find out. But at face value, this may create a domino effect of more problems.
2. Cavaliers trade at the deadline
Sexton was heavily involved in rumors last season. Amid his team-high production of 24.3 points per game, there were lingering questions about his decision-making, playmaking abilities, and more importantly, if he’s really the next big thing. This has created a disconnect between both parties. Sexton might be expecting to land a heavy bag but the Cavaliers do not believe he’s worth it. The Wine and Gold front office failed to address these concerns in the offseason. “Failed” seems too harsh a word because maybe, team officials are willing to see how things pan out with Sexton in the fold.
After all, reports reveal that negotiation between both sides is back on the table. Whether this motivates Sexton to iron out his play and ultimately become the franchise guard is a matter of wait-and-see. Whether or not this happens, the Cavaliers still have things to fix at the guard spot. Basketball, after all, is not just a question of talent. It’s also how the players mesh well with one another.
This is similar to the Phoenix Suns situation some three or four seasons ago. They were loaded in the guard spot with Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe, and Brandon Knight. Note that they are the most prominent names. They also had some reliable guards in the roster like Elfrid Payton and Leandro Barbosa at a certain point. Looking where the Suns are at right now, they were able to sort out everything for the better. But during those times, it caused lots of headaches for the front office.
1. End of Love Era
Love’s future as the franchise star will likely depend on Mobley’s performance in his rookie campaign. Looking at the roster, the Cavaliers have a solid twin tower duo in Mobley and Allen. Both are defensive beasts and also have tremendous upside on offense. Note that the Cavaliers made it clear that Allen will now be their focal point. Both parties agreed to a five-year, $100 million deal a few weeks ago.
When we say the “End of Love Era,” this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Cavaliers will boot out the five-time All-Star via trade. Love’s contract runs up until 2023. He’s owed $31.2 million this season and $28.9 in the next. These hefty amounts will not trigger teams to actively seek him, not to mention how Love has been battling with all sorts of injuries over the past three seasons. As such, the end of the Love era simply means is that the one-time champion will not be the front and center of the Wine and Gold anymore.
The Cavaliers made a rather unorthodox move to have two traditional big men as their potential franchise players. Though versatile big men have existed here and there throughout history, it’s only in the last couple of years that we’ve seen teams actively seek out stretch bigs. This is an odd experiment that could either turn the Cavaliers into one big laughingstock or the franchise of the century.