Hype is Real is an NBA.com Philippines series that gives an optimistic view of every NBA team heading into the 2022-2023 season. This is our way of convincing people why they should support and watch a particular team.
Overview of last season
The Cavaliers were one of the surprise teams of last season. They started the year guns blazing as they employed a huge lineup that maximized their length. Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley turned out to be a big man revelation with a natural defensive prowess. Paired with Lauri Markkanen and All-Star Jarrett Allen, the frontcourt trio wreaked havoc. And with the much-improved play of fellow All-Star Darius Garland, Cleveland made some serious noise in the Eastern Conference.
However, they lost steam entering the playoffs and awful injuries to Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio derailed what could have been an exciting postseason run. They were able to enter the Play-In Tournament as the eighth seed before losing to the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks.
What’s new this season?
Cleveland went all in during the offseason, pulling one of the biggest trades heading into the new year. After all the speculation about where Donovan Mitchell was headed, he ended up as a Cavalier.
Cleveland gave away Sexton (via sign-and-trade), Markkanen, incoming rookie Ochai Agbaji, three unprotected first-round picks, and rights to a pair of first-round swaps to Utah in exchange for the three-time All-Star.
Mitchell, who already has a ton of playoff experience and big-time moments, is only 26 which means he’s just scratching the surface of his prime. He undoubtedly gives Cleveland a go-to guy alongside Garland. With this potent pairing, it’s easy to see them become a deadly backcourt in the East. Imagine all the pick-and-rolls, spacing, and highlights they can come up with. Cleveland was looking for a way to boost its postseason chances. On the other hand, Mitchell was looking for a change of scenery after plateauing in Utah.
All eyes will be on Mitchell once the season starts. He’s the new guy, after all. He’s a star and with it comes star expectations. He was the main gunner in Utah and he will look to do the same in a new city.
However, as much as there is warranted fanfare surrounding Spida, Garland’s continuous improvement shouldn’t be overlooked. If Mitchell wasn’t traded, Cleveland would be Garland’s team without question.
At the end of the day, it’s not really an issue “whose team is it” anyway. Two stars can surely coexist and it doesn’t matter who gets all the headlines. Right now, winning is more important in Cleveland.
Sneaky fun guy
For all the hype surrounding the new-look Cavs, you gotta be happy for the OG. That’s right, the one and only Kevin Love. It’s been six years, believe it or not, since the Cavs won the title with the Big 3 of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Love. In NBA years, 2016 seems so long ago. After a myriad of changes, Love is still in Cleveland. Irving continues to make headlines in Brooklyn while James already won a title for Los Angeles.
Before the Cavs’ spirited attempt to make the playoffs last year, Love was on pace to finish out his remaining years in Cleveland. Now he’s given a renewed chance to compete for a contender.
There’s a lot to be happy with all the changes in Cleveland, but Kevin Love deserves a shoutout too.
If we thought that the feel-good, bursting-with-potential team of last season had tremendous vibes already, then we’re in for an even wilder ride this season. The Cavaliers will be on everyone’s League Pass watchlist and for good reason. They’re a young and up-and-coming team with a new star and a city hungry for something to cheer about. Everyone wants to know how Mitchell will do in his first year in Cleveland.
The Cavaliers are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in five years. With a revamped roster headlined by Mitchell, they’re on the right path.