2009-10 Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview
Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers (66- 16)) seemed like the team to beat. Along with putting the NBA's MVP and leading scorer on the court each night and ranking first in scoring margin, they lost just three home games. They were first in the Central Division and the Eastern Conference but despite all of that, they lost in the conference finals four games to two to the Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic. Howard drew double teams throughout that series, leaving the Cleveland defense exposed. Once again, it became "wait until next year" in Cleveland. Well it is next year and the Cavs will once again be contenders for first in the Eastern Conference, and they have a good shot at the 2009- 2010 NBA crown and the Larry Brown Trophy.
At center Zydrunas Ilgauskas (12.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.0 APG) hit from downtown 39% of the time and was good on frees 80%. James (28.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 7.2 APG) is perhaps the best in the NBA at making his way past defenders and taking it to the rim. The addition of 16-year vet Shaquille O’Neal (17.8 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.7 APG), who’s coming off a very productive year with the Suns, gives the Cavaliers a much-needed big man presence upfront. At the forward spot, Jamario Moon (7.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.2 APG) offers athleticism and defensive chops, especially on the wing.
The backcourt of Delonte West (11.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.5 APG) and Mo Williams (17.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.1 APG) proved to be extremely effective last season. Both handle a range of chores, including defense, passing, rebounding and shooting, with professional aplomb. The addition of six-year veteran Anthony Parker (10.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.4 APG) offers the backcourt some fine depth.
The good news is that this team now has excellent wing defense and some new power in the frontcourt. If you’re looking for problem areas, then look to the free throw area where O’Neal and Varejao are weak and James can be inconsistent. O’Neal is a big concern in this area because he gets so many charity stripe opportunities.
In 2008- 2009, the Cavs improved their win record by 21 games. They were helped by the combo of West and Williams in the backcourt; both of whom are sharpshooters. Also last year, power forward Anderson Varejao (8.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.0 APG) returned in good health; he gave the team solid play in 81 games. And, as usual, James was simply magnificent. This season, the additions of free agents Parker and Moon have made the Cavs very deep. Add in O’Neal and you’ve got some topnotch new guys that coach Mike Brown can utilize.
Cleveland has done well under Brown, who has coached them to three second-place finishes and one first-place finish in the last four seasons. Still, he was outcoached in the playoffs last season, and Brown has not been able to guide this team to a championship in the five years he’s been at the helm. If any year will be the year, this one looks extremely promising. The Cleveland Cavaliers are poised to win it all in 2009- 2010.