The Cleveland Cavaliers began their 45th season in the NBA with high expectations and through 10 games the Cavaliers are off to their best start (8-2) in 30 years.
A key reason the Cavaliers are off to a quick start is the play of point guard Mo Williams, who has stepped into the starting point guard roll for the injured Kyrie Irving. Williams has provided a nice scoring spark in the starting unit by averaging 15.6 points in the Cavaliers first 10 games.
Once Irving returns to the floor, Williams will assume to roll he was brought the Cleveland to do, provide a consistent scoring option off the bench for the Cavaliers to give Irving rest throughout a game, which is something they lacked last season.
Another positive for the Cavaliers to begin the season is the improved play of starting power forward Kevin Love. Last season Love struggled to fit in to the offense for much of the season, this year however is a different story as LeBron James told reporters early in the season that he wants the offense to run through Love.
It has only been a small sample size, but it does appear that Love is much more comfortable in his role this season as he is averaging 17.2 points and 12.1 rebounds for the Cavaliers through 10 games. I guess that poolside meeting with James really was an affective one.
One thing the Cavaliers had going for them early in the 2015-16 season was the benefit of a relatively easy schedule. The combine record of the Cavaliers opponents in their first 10 games is just 24-34.
Last season the Cavaliers had the necessary veterans to provide their expertise and knowledge to the younger, more inexperienced members of the team. However those veterans did not do much more than offer their advice to teammates.
This season the Cavaliers made it a priority to bring aboard veterans players who still have some talent left in the tank. Along with Williams the Cavaliers front office brought in 14-year veteran forward Richard Jefferson.
While the numbers Jefferson has put up are not anything special, he has been able to be a solid backup to LeBron in the early part of the season. Jefferson, is averaging 26 minutes per game and is scoring 8.8 points per game.
Throughout the summer and the start of training camp the biggest story surrounding the Cavaliers was the contract dispute between the organization and power forward Tristan Thompson. The two sides remained at a stalemate throughout training camp and it appeared that the contract negations would roll over to the start of the season.
Then seemingly out of nowhere, the two sides reached an agreement on a new five-year $82 million deal just six days before the start of the regular season.
Thompson is performing well thus far for the Cavaliers as the backup power forward to Love. Thompson is averaging 7.5 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game on about 25 minutes per game. Even though Thompson missed the majority of training camp he seems to be in excellent shape and is doing just what the Cavaliers are paying him to do, rebound, play defense and hustle.
However not all members of the Cavaliers have enjoyed success in the early part of the season as forward J.R. Smith has been unable to get on track so far. Smith is only averaging 6.3 points on just 30 percent shooting from the floor and is shooting an uncharacteristic 25 percent from three-point range.
The one thing that has remained consistent for the Cavaliers is the play of LeBron James. James is off to a roaring start, unlike last year. Through 10 games, James is averaging 27 points, six rebounds and six assists. A little over two weeks ago James became the youngest player in NBA history to score 25,000 points.
Although the Cavaliers are off to a great start this season, James was critical of the team after their loss to Milwaukee on Saturday night, telling EPSN that, “We give a half-ass effort sometimes and expect that we can just make a run at the end,” James said. “We’re not good enough to do that right now.”
There still are kinks to work out and the Cavaliers are far from a finished product as Irving and Iman Shumpert are still on the mend recovering from injuries. However, with James as the leader and performing at his usual MVP level, the Cavaliers are in good shape and getting off to an 8-2 start will hopefully position the wine and gold nicely for when Irving and Shumpert return.