The Cleveland Cavaliers are close to a transitional period. Their megastar LeBron James looks ready to leave for brighter lights, the cupboard for draft picks appears bare, and the roster isn't getting any younger. Don't forget about that juggernaut in the Bay Area that the Cavs can't seem to get past.
Losers of eight of their last eleven, Cleveland has fallen a bit by the wayside. It seems impossible for them to get the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference considering that Boston's fighting for the best record in the NBA (34-12, tops in the Eastern Conference). So why should the Cavs be optimistic about their chances of returning to the NBA Finals?
One reason has to point back to LeBron. LeBron has been to seven straight NBA Finals and while his record isn't exactly appealing, LeBron has averaged 28.1 PPG in his last seven playoff seasons. James has also averaged 7.9 RPG and 6.7 APG in his last seven postseason trips, including ten rebounds a game, 29.7 PPG, and eight rebounds a game in his last three playoff seasons. LeBron has elevated his game when it mattered most.
However, he either hasn't had much of a team around him or he's simply faced better teams put in front of him. So what can Cleveland do to usurp Golden State? There lies the other reason for Cleveland to be optimistic: Brooklyn's 2018 first-round draft pick. Cleveland acquired this pick when they traded Kyrie Irving to Boston, who still has plenty of picks to spare. If Cleveland wanted to make one last gasp at the Larry O'Brien trophy, they can use that pick to get another player to Cleveland, i.e. a player like DeAndre Jordan or Kemba Walker.
They can do this or use that pick to begin rebuilding if LeBron indeed bolts Cleveland for the second time. Cleveland can start from scratch and try what Philadelphia did, which is, "Trust the Process". In any case, Cleveland's time for chasing the NBA title is running out. It appears that they won't be getting that title barring a miracle or a dramatic event involving Golden State.
Photo courtesy of HoopsHype
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