Sports

2012-2013 Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview

Chad W. Lutz
They say once changes are made it takes a while for the effects to take hold. Ask any dieter plugging away at a weight loss plan and they’ll tell you change doesn’t happen over night. Athletes asked this very same question will give you the very same response: change takes time, and often isn’t permanent, or even imminent.

When the one formerly known as 23 left Cleveland for South Beach in July 2010 Cavaliers fans knew it meant changes, and lots of them. Just how many changes we'd encounter probably the majority of us couldn't see coming. The most notable change that occurred was winning. We went from being the best team in the NBA for two consecutive seasons to setting a professional record for most consecutive losses in any sport. That one still hurts a little to talk about.

But, changes have been made, deals dealt, acquisitions acquired, games lost, games won; all the while the Cavaliers remain the Cavaliers: a franchise in rebuild mode and searching for a winning formula and an NBA title. Along the way, we’ve picked up valuable pieces like last year’s Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving, big man Tristan Thompson, energy and swing man Alonzo Gee and seasoned shooter C.J. Miles to provide additional scoring and ball handling. The Cavaliers also picked up center Tyler Zeller and guard Dion Waiters in the 2012 draft in hopes the young college hoops stars would mature as quickly as Irving and instantly provide scoring, defense and additional leadership.

What does all of this equate to? Well, get ready, because we’re about to find out.
Get ready. Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson have something to say this season. (www.club937.com)
Since the Cavalier's season tipped off on October 30th against the one-time perennial playoff adversary Washington Wizards with a decisive 94-84 victory, the Cavaliers appear to have the talent to become a playoff team. Dion Waiters has gelled seamlessly into Byron Scott's Princeton Offense and shows the ability to take over the scoring load from Irving, if necessary. Anderson Varejao appears to have completely rehabilitated his hand fracture and is playing the best basketball of his career in the past seven games.

Kyrie Irving's numbers are right on track with what many analysts projected during the offseason. As of November 12, the young point guard averages 22.9ppg and 6.3apg. His near 23 points per contest put him at fourth best in the NBA. Anderson Varejao's 13.0rpg put him at second best in the league, behind only Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies. The rookie, Waiters, has also been posting monster numbers, including 15.4ppg (second best on the Cavs) and an NBA record for most three pointers in a single game six contests or less into a professional career (7). Alonzo Gee continues to make progress as a defender and averages 2.0spg in addition to dropping 11.7 points per contest and not missing a single free throw through 21 attempts (as of 11/12/2012).
Rookie Dion Waiters drives to the hoop on opening night against the Wizards (www.bleacherreport.com)
I'm excited Alties. Lebron, who? Ok, maybe I won't go that far, but the Cavaliers are showing growth and maturity in their starting lineup and quick results from the rookie crew. The only drawbacks are Tyler Zeller has missed a number of games due to a concussion and broken cheek bone suffered on November 7 in a win against the L.A. Clippers and C.J. Miles apparently forgets he's playing the game of basketball every time he steps out onto the court. The offseason acquisition of C.J. Miles was originally supposed to provide Kyrie Irving and company an extra scoring option off the pine. In six games so far this season, Miles has failed to score more than 10 points in all but one game and has been held scoreless twice on an abysmal 11-47 shooting (23.4%).
We're wondering the same thing Luke: Where's the bench play?
All that said, the Cavalier's record stands at 2-5 heading into action against the relocated Brooklyn Nets November 13, 2012. With the exception of losses to Oklahoma City on November 11 and a blowout loss at home against the Bulls on November 2, the Cavs have kept pace with every team and have had opportunities to win. The biggest culprit in any Cavs loss lies squarely on the non-existence of the Cavaliers bench. Through seven games, Tyler Zeller and Daniel Gibson are the only bench players averaging more than 5.0ppg. In comparison, Tristan Thompson is the only Cavs starting averaging less than 10.0ppg, however; the young forward has recorded two double-doubles already this season and has scored at least 10 points in four of the last seven contests. Meanwhile, Samardo Samuels and C.J. Miles average 5.4ppg and 4.5ppg in 17.8mpg and 17.3mpg, respectively.

For the immediate future, the problem with the Cavaliers bench needs to be addressed before a 2-5 record looks more like a 4-15 record. The season is still young and the Cavaliers have youth on their side, along with several scoring and defensive options. We're still on a learning curve as a team and mistakes are bound to be made in the early going. My only hope is that the Wine and Gold learn from their appalling meltdown in Phoenix on November 9. No team up 26 at any point in a game should end up losing by 2. Turnovers and poor play by the Cavaliers bench cost the good guys a victory in the desert, but I have a feeling Byron Scott will be damned if anything remotely resembling catastrophe on that grand of a scale befalls the Wine and Gold again this season; at least, not if he has anything nice to say about it.

So, there you have it. The 2012-2013 Cavaliers season is well underway and already we're seeing exciting things to talk about. Are we ready to call for a playoff run already? Damn right. We're Cleveland. We think every team every year is going to win it all. And why shouldn't we? That's what makes being a Cleveland fan so damn fantastic. Win or lose, we love our teams (we also need something to distract from the horrible Indians and disappointment Browns). Sera Sera.

No sympathy from Ironic Fate.