I have no idea how the Cavs are going to do this year in terms of wins and losses, but after watching the two exhibition games, there’s certainly cause for optimism for the long-term prospects of the franchise.
First, Kyrie Irving looks like a player. Just watching him on the court you see a player with all the tools. While he has struggled with his jump shot, he looks like a natural point guard. He handles the ball beautifully and he can finish near the basket. His teammates are still getting used to the passes he zips in there. He knows how to drive to the hoop and get to the foul line. He’s very quick and also seems to have a second gear that helps him blow past people. He’s also smart and steady. With Irving it looks like the Cavaliers have a legitimate building block for the future.
Tristan Thompson has also shown some flashes. When he first walked on the court in Detroit he looked lost. He doesn’t have much of an offensive game and he was making dumb fouls on defense. But when he came out in the second half he got a couple of dunks and then some wicked blocks, and all of a sudden he looked great out there. The kid runs the floor very well and he has a high motor.
Omri Casspi looks like a nice addition. He’s another high energy player that will fit in well on a team that will be relying on defense and fast break points. Coach Byron Scott made a revealing observation last week, calling Casspi a “pit bull” and implying that the team last year sometimes had the attitude of less aggressive canines. I think he was referring to J.J. Hickson, who clearly had talent but often seemed to disappear.
Scott wants an aggressive team this year, and it looks like they have a bunch of players who will put in the work and effort. Getting Anderson Varejao back is a big part of that. He’s looked great in the preseason games and he sets the tone for the entire team. Guys like Samardo Samuels and Alonzo Gee bring that same attitude.
This will be a high-energy group that plays like a team, so I don’t expect this team to be embarrassed like they were last year. They should be competitive and start the process of building for the future.