2008-2009 Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview
2008 Cleveland Cavaliers preview from MadduxSports.com. Maddux Sports the premier professional handicappers also offers winning NBA Picks daily to our visitors.
The Cleveland Cavaliers (45- 37) could not make it back to the NBA Finals last season. In the second round of the 2007-2008 playoffs, they lost to the Boston Celtics 97- 92 and were eliminated. Prior to the start of the season, things did not go well as center/forward Anderson Varejao and swingman Aleksandar Pavlovic held out and both got late starts. Needless to say, team chemistry was off and both players lacked the conditioning need to excel. Guard Larry Hughes proved to be a bust and was traded with Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown to Chicago, while the Cavs got Ben Wallace and Joe Smith. They also sent Donyell Marshall and Ira Newble to Seattle in exhange for Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak. West, who played point, proved to be helpful taking some of the scoring onus off of forward LeBron James.
The Cavaliers offense was dismal. James excelled and everyone else simply followed. And although their rebounding was some of the best in the league, the team’s overall defense was a little better than adequate. At the charity stripe, Cleveland was 28th and their threes didn’t hit very often either. The best offensive rebounder on the team, in fact a master at it, was Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The Cavs were not so much a team but a bunch of players, a few of whom played good enough to win more than they lost.
Two rookies join the team this season—forward J.J. Hickson, who was the 19th overall pick out of NC State, and forward Darnell Jackson, who the Cavs acquired in a deal with Miami. Guard Daniel Gibson, another young player, inked a five-year deal with the Cavs. He looks to have a bright future.
In the frontcourt, James continues to be a spectacular player, leading the team in points per game (30.0) and assists per game (7.2). He also averaged 7.9 rebounds per game and hit 81% from the field. At center, Ilgauskas hauled down an average of 9.3 RPG and hit 47% from the field and 80% from the foul line. Forward/center Ben Wallace, who starts his 13th season, won’t give the team many points, but he can play “D.” Joe Smith, a 13-year vet, can hit from inside and out. But both guys are slowing down.
Gibson looks to be the Cavs’ man in the backcourt. He hit 43% from the field, 44% from downtown and 81% from the foul line. Likewise, Szczerbiak has a clean shot, hitting 43% from the court, 41% from the three-point mark and 85% from the charity stripe. It’s hoped that Szczerbiak, who saw his output drop after coming to Cleveland from Seattle in a trade last season, will find the mark again. West is a good shooter and has fine defensive chops but is small.
The Cavaliers need one more star player to make them contenders. James is a top performer and workhorse but there’s no one else on the team who comes close to what’s needed. True that Ilgauskas is a tough competitor and Gibson could become a consistent outside threat, but that other dynamic threat is missing. Second in the Central and the playoffs are both attainable tis season.