With the start of the 2013-14 NBA season rapidly approaching, we thought it only fair to share what makes each team so exciting. Ontologically speaking, all 30 teams deserve our eyeballs this season. Even disastrous lineups still present oodles of plays, personalities, highlights and headaches. Here are five things to keep in mind for each team before flipping the channel.
Next up, a Cavaliers team with playoff aspirations.
[5 Reasons To Watch: Kings, Lakers, Knicks, 76ers, Bobcats, Cavs, Magic, Warriors, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Clippers, Clippers, Rockets, Bulls, Pistons, Bucks, Nets, Pacers, Wizards, Thunder, Heat, Mavericks, Celtics, Raptors Hawks, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Suns, Jazz]
Cleveland is home to the most loyal, but tortured fan base in professional sports. Whenever things actually are going well, they’re painfully reminded that the Sports Gods enjoy their suffering.
Whether it’s the overachieving Indians crumbling in the MLB Playoffs, or the suddenly relevant Browns losing their underdog QB for the season after starting 2-andâ€“0, the good times do not roll in Cleveland. Oh, and then there was that time that hometown hero and possible G.O.A.T-in-the-making LeBron James broke the collective hearts of all Ohio by leaving for the greener (and much warmer) grass of Miami.
But after three dreadful seasons, there is real hope this year! With Kyrie Irving entering his third season, and looking like a potential top five PG this year, he’s been surrounded with the best mix of young talent and role players in his short career. Cleveland might finally be over You Know Who.
But will the lofty playoff expectations be attainable in the suddenly deep Eastern Conference? Only time will tell. With the addition of Earl Clark, Jarrett Jack (6th Man of the Year Candidate), a healthy Anderson Varejao and Andrew Bynum (maybe), improvement from the young core (Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters both look more comfortable, and Tyler Zeller is beefed up after a steady diet of Krispy Kreme) and the 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett, the pieces are finally in place to make a run! Whether or not they reach their goal of a playoff berth, Cleveland will no doubt entertain. Let’s take a look at the top five things to watch out for on League Pass.
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Kyrie Irving goes Uncle Drew on Defenders
Irving is quickly making a name for himself as one of the premier scorers in the NBA. A lights out shooter who can take it to the rim and finish, Kyrie can be nearly unstoppable on offense. He understands his leadership role in Cleveland, too, going so far as to tell local kids â€” before he even put on a Cavs jersey â€” he won’t leave like LeBron (he already has Ohioan’s hearts) and continues to develop his game. That means doing it on both sides of the ball this year. After spending the summer taking care of his body, we can expect a whole lot of top ten plays from Irving this year.
Anderson Varejao Brings the Energy (and the Flops)
Andy Varejao has come a long way since he entered the NBA. Once strictly a catch-and-dunk center, he has developed a decent midrange game and superb passing skills to go along with his NBA-best hair. He developed some chemistry with Kyrie Irving before a quad injury â€” and scary pulmonary embolism in his right lung â€” prematurely ended his season last year. He’s also the Cavaliers energizer bunny, making hustle plays and playing with a seemingly endless reserve of emotion and vigor. Ok…he’s also known to be one of the best actors in the NBA, and he draws his share of charges (and his fair share of flops too), but a healthy Varejao is a must if the Cavaliers want to take the next step this season.
The Many Hairstyles Of Andrew Bynum
All jokes aside, if Andrew Bynum can return to anywhere near the level of production that put him in contention with Dwight Howard for the title of best center on the planet, than the Cavaliers [not-so]-risky investment in the injury-prone big man will be worth every penny. Lately, however, Bynum has been best known for sporting “unique” hairstyles while sitting on the bench in street clothes for Philly. Will he return and become a deadly pick-and-roll partner for Kyrie Irving as well as a much needed post presence for Cleveland? A healthy Bynum could drastically change Cleveland’s fortunes. Will he be more known for his play or his hair this year? Only time will tell.
The Canadian Imports
They probably both deserve recognition, but I’m grouping them together for space. Tristan Thompson has been in the news lately due to his decision to switch shooting hands (not as big of a deal as everyone makes it out to be; he’s ambidextrous and the results were positive for Team Canada during the FIBA tournament over the summer). His continued development is crucial for Cleveland this season because SOMEONE has to take some of the scoring load off of Kyrie. He’s also the frequent beneficiary of Irving’s dimes. He could very well be in the running for Most Improved Player at the end of this season.
Anthony Bennett, the top pick in the 2013 Draft and another Canadian import, has the potential to be a dynamic scoring threat in the future. Coach Mike Brown says he will play Anthony exclusively as a four (his natural position, but also the same as Thompson, meaning less playing time to start the year) and Bennett’s conditioning and weight will be an issue going forward.
But, if the preseason has shown us anything so far, it’s that Bennett is the real deal (scoring 14 fourth quarter points against the Magic this past week). The combo-forward possesses deep range, a variety of one-on-one moves, a pull-up jumper and a post game as well. Can he take some of the scoring load off of Irving? Will he be able to guard anyone (too slow for three’s…to small for four’s)? Bennett is the ultimate “Swing for the Fences” prospect, and after selecting him as the No. 1 pick, it’s clear the Cavaliers are betting he can hit a homer.
Dion Waiters Splitting Defenders
O.K. maybe the Wade comparisons were a little too much, but Waiters is clearly an NBA-caliber talent. A looks bigger than he really is– type of player, Dion hasn’t seen a shot he doesn’t like (as is the case with most young scorers). Can he be more efficient and step up both offensively and defensively in his second season? As is the case with most of the Cavaliers, his continued development (is he a starting SG, or ultimately a J.R. Smith-type off the bench?) will determine this season’s outcome. Either way, one of Waiters’ go-to plays is to split the defenders on the pick and roll, and then finish with the monstrous dunk. Expect to see this happen more frequently this year:
What do you think?
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