Cleveland Cavaliers Basketball Early Season Analysis

Former coach John Lucas actually got fined years ago for having LeBron James work out for the Cavs. The team was so determined that they literally threw the 02-03 season just to get him. And man did it work out. LeBron is better than anyone could've imagined, and has succeeded the hype. Just yesterday he scored 52 points! But does he have enough around him to make the Cavs a serious contender?.Over the off-season the Cavs built up an impressive supporting cast to surround LeBron with.

Larry Hughes is prolific both offensively and defensively, but hasn't scored as consistently as he did last year in Washington. Damon Jones and Donyell Marshell drastically improve the team's 3-pt capabilities. LeBron James gets to the foul line enough to give the Cavs the League lead in foul shots made. Cleveland gets many offensive boards (largely thanks to Drew Gooden) and denies other teams from getting rebounds, allowing only 38.1 a game.Ilgauskas and James make up most of the team's scoring.

When it comes to LeBron though, there's an awful lot of standing around. There have been some pretty lopsided box scores over the year, where Snow or Hughes just won't even show up. The bench is lacking a strong backup frontcourt, where undersized Alan Henderson and Jahidi White play Center. The team does a little standing around on defense too, where they are the worst team in the NBA in defending the 3.This team is built to do serious damage in the playoffs.

They're offense is extremely potent, #3 in the NBA in PPG. They meet all the requirements a good team should have. They can hit the 3-pointer when they need to and they can dump it inside to Zydrunas Ilgauskas when they have to score inside. He and Drew Gooden easily makeup Carlos Boozer's absence; the Cavaliers are 14th in the NBA in rebounding (only 1.2 rebounds separate them from 8th place Utah).

But really it's all about LeBron. He is far bigger than Jordan ever was but he has a lot to learn on defense. With this much help around him, he can score more prolifically than ever before. But his teammates need to help him out. On Saturday when he scored 52 against the Bucks, the Cleveland lost the game. So in the end the supporting cast has to lend a hand as well for a victory.

When Hughes scores more consistently, he'll give a great scoring trio between him, Ilgauskas and James. It might not be this year, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are a Finals team when the supporting cast clicks.

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By: David Pincus


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