Being a Cavs fan has not been something too many people have been proud of for the past four years, with LeBron James playing for the Lakers. The real ones have stayed patient, hoping that the team would pull together and put a competitive bunch on the court. And it has finally happened.
Coming into the year with low expectations, Cleveland has begun with a 7-4 record. They have overcome several key guys being out and continued to knock off very good teams on a night-in, night-out basis.
Here are three reasons for the team’s success so far.
Evan Mobley Has Exceeded Expectations
When you are the #3 pick in the draft, there will instantly be expectations placed on you. And for Evan Mobley, nobody knew exactly what to expect right off the bat. And so, whatever ceiling he may have had, has already grown tenfold. He has been playing at an incredible level.
Against the Knicks on Sunday, he finished with 26-9-5, including two threes. The deep shot is something he has been putting the time in on, so to see results like that in big games is huge. One of those long balls snapped a long Knicks run and kept the Cavs in front with a commanding lead during the fourth quarter.
He leads the league (by a wide-margin) in contested shots, and is also putting up 1.0 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. In all, Mobley’s averages are 15-8-3. He is shooting 52% from the floor and an impressive 80% from the charity stripe. With Collin Sexton going down, he’ll be leaned on even more.
And the early indications are that he can handle the responsibility.
They Have Two Terrific Playmaking Guards Instead of One
No disrespect to Sexton here, but passing has never been his forte. He has been much better at it over the past few years, but he isn’t going to change games with his passing ability. Adding Ricky Rubio has opened things up in a whole new way.
The team leaned heavily on Darius Garland for playmaking last year, but Rubio has come in and made things easier. While Garland leads with 7.6 assists a night, Rubio is not far behind at 6.8. He has four double-doubles on the season already, and has seven games of at least seven assists.
By having two players that can pass it around like that, it is creating more easy looks for perimeter players and slashing bigs.
Jarrett Allen is Dominating
When they acquired him last year, the Cavs knew that Jarrett Allen was a special talent. That’s why they gave him a five-year $100 million extension this offseason. And he has rewarded them by getting off to the best 11-game start of his career.
The Fro is putting up career-high averages in points (14.9), rebounds (1.6), steals (1.2), and field-goal percentage (.687). He has been pulling down rebounds like he hadn’t previously, and is coming off winning the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award for his efforts.
Allen has been able to clean up his teammates misses with easy put backs. His post-game has gotten to a point where they can dump the ball in to him and he can make shots. He is one of the biggest lob threats in the NBA. And, he even made a clutch bank-shot triple with the 24- second clock about to touch zero.
A big year will be in store for Allen if he can stay on the court, and perhaps he can even represent Cleveland in this year’s All-Star Game.
The Cavs have earned their wins against very good basketball teams. So the fact they are 7-4 is truly impressive. Watch out for them, and make sure to gameplan defensively.
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