After making a blockbuster trade with the Utah Jazz for Donovan Mitchell, hopes were high for the Cleveland Cavs. They made it to the play-in tournament last season, ultimately losing to the more experienced Nets and Hawks to miss out on the playoffs, but with such a young and talented core, the future looked bright. When they added Mitchell later in the offseason, they went from being a young team with potential to a team that could win now.
Just four years after LeBron’s departure in the summer of 2018, the Cavs appear to be ready to contend for a title. It was an impressive rebuild by GM Koby Altman. He started by acquiring Collin Sexton in the 2018 draft, and Sexton was the centerpiece of the Mitchell trade. Then came Darius Garland, and then Evan Mobley.
They added Caris LeVert last season, and with Darius Garland out over the past few games, LeVert has stepped in to be one of the Cavs’ main scorers.
The other night, the Cavs were down 15 to the Celtics in Boston and came back to win in OT. It was a great win, with Mitchell and LeVert both going for 41:
Mitchell and LeVert were a combined 11/17 from three. It was a heck of a win for that young Cavs team. Evan Mobley also added 19 and 10 on 7/12 shooting. He’s taken another step in year 2 and looks to be turning into a hell of a player.
Tonight, the Cavs beat the Knicks 121-108. Donovan Mitchell had 38. He was 8/13 from three. He’s been just on fire to start this season. Caris LeVert only had one point in the game, but the Cavs have shooters that were able to pick up the slack. Dean Wade was 6/8 from three for 22 points, and Kevin Love was 8/13 from three for 29 points.
It’s crazy that out of the Cavs Big Three from the Championship era–LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin Love–Kevin Love is the one who seems to be in the best situation today in 2022.
The Cavs are now 5-1 and behind only the 5-0 Bucks in the Eastern Conference. It’s still early, and it’s a long season, but the Donovan Mitchell trade looks like a grand slam. I’m not sure if the Cavs are ready to compete with the Bucks and actually win the Eastern Conference, but they should be one of the top 3-4 teams.
You figure it’s going to be the Bucks, the Celtics, and then the Sixers will probably get it together after their 3-4 start. The Hawks are 4-2 right now.
I would say that the Cavs probably have the most offensive firepower of all those teams. Now, that doesn’t mean they’re the best of those teams. They’re definitely not going to be as good as the Bucks and Celtics defensively, and that might be their undoing in the playoffs, but at the very least, they’ll be a fun team to watch, and in a year or two at most, they’ll be ready to make a run at it in the Eastern Conference.
The Tank Race for French phenom Victor Wembanyama is not going according to plan. Here are the current records of the teams that are said to be tanking for Victor:
- Spurs: 4-2
- Jazz: 5-2
- Blazers: 5-1 (best record in the Western Conference currently, and although they are not explicitly tanking, this was seen by many in the media as a year where the Blazers could decide to blow it up)
- Pacers: 3-4
And in the lead in the race for Victor Wembanyama…
- Lakers: 1-5
- Magic: 1-5
- Nets: 1-5
- Rockets: 1-5
Except, the Lakers have no chance of getting Victor Wembanyama, even if they go 1-81. That’s because due to the Anthony Davis trade, the Pelicans have the right to swap picks with the Lakers next year if the Lakers have a better pick than the Pelicans.
The Nets, however, do own their first round draft pick for 2023. Plus, they have either Utah’s or Philly’s first round pick, I really don’t know. I read this article to try to understand how that works, but I couldn’t comprehend it. I think there’s a chance the Nets get Wembanyama, but only if they suck and get the first overall pick themselves; they can’t get it with the other teams’ draft picks that they own.
So the Lakers aren’t tanking. At least not deliberately. They have nothing to gain from tanking.
This is kind of a weird situation, where the teams that were supposed to be bad are good (or at least have good records) while the teams that were supposed to be good (or at least the teams the media talks about the most) suck.
I still feel like the teams we thought would be tanking are still tanking, despite the strong starts. And the teams that we thought would be good but are not good are still going to be buyers on the trade market.
Except for the Nets. The Nets might blow it up at this point. They look miserable. When Steve Nash got ejected the other night, I’d never seen anything like that out of him. I didn’t even know he was capable of a freakout like that. He’s got to be miserable with KD and Kyrie in that locker room. You’ve got the whole situation with Kyrie Irving and supposedly tweeting out antisemitic material, and the firestorm around that. Even the owner of the Nets, Joe Tsai, called him out for it. I think the Nets are going to blow it up here soon, honestly.
I still think the Lakers are going to trade Westbrook for shooting and interior size. But the way all these teams have started–both sellers and buyers–just makes it a bit more interesting.
I was watching the Lakers-Nuggets game on Sunday night side-by-side with SNF. The Bills-Packers game wasn’t very entertaining because of how dominant the Bills are, and I figured the Lakers would probably win, so I streamed the game.
It was close throughout the first half, the Nuggets took a decent lead in the third, but then the Lakers just went on this incredible run to end the third quarter and start the 4th, and that was pretty much it. They were tenacious on defense, they were actually hitting shots, they were running the break–it was a great display of athleticism. Lonnie Walker especially looked good.
LeBron started the game pretty bad, smoking at least 4-5 layups early on, but he finished the game 10/22 from the floor for 26 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists. He was 2/5 from three. He was a -1 for the game, and that’s because a good chunk of the Lakers big run (I believe it was 18-3?) happened with him on the bench.
While LeBron led the team in scoring, his best moment of the game–or at least the most important play he made–may have been him locking Nikola Jokic up down low on a crucial possession late in the game:
Year 20. This man is one of one. I don’t care what anyone says, there’s never been anybody like him before. GOAT.
Westbrook coming off the bench continued to work well. He was +18 overall, 6/12 from the floor for 18 points, with 8 rebounds and 8 assists. And he was 2/4 from three.
The Lakers shot 13/30 from three, which was good for 43% from beyond the arc. They are still a deeply flawed roster; they need another big and more shooting, as until they prove otherwise, this game was the anomaly, and not the previous 5 games this season where they shot a combined 42/177 from three (23.7%).
But it’s funny how winning a game changes the whole outlook on the team. The Nets now look like the biggest trainwreck in the league, even though they have the same 1-5 record as the Lakers. The media will probably now focus on just how bad things have gotten in Brooklyn, rather than how disappointing the Lakers have been.