Cleveland Cavaliers becoming relevant once again

Sep 23, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) and wide receiver Greg Little (15) reacts to a holding call during the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Buffalo won 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

The Cleveland Browns are sitting pretty uncomfortably at 0-4 right now, and the road ahead of them doesn’t look any easier than three games that the AFC North bottom dwellers could have came away with a victory in. A banged up defense faces the likes of Joe Flacco, Eli and Peyton Manning, Andy Dalton, rookie sensations Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger (twice), Tony Romo, Carson Palmer and Matt Cassell in their remaining 13 games.

That’s even without mentioning how sluggish and unorganized the offense has looked so far, as slippery-handed wide outs have been missing easy catches and rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has made countless poor choices when airing out the ball.

Stay with me Cavalier fans, as there is a point in mentioning the Browns on a Cavaliers website.

Aug 27, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians batting coach Bruce Fields (left) watches the game with manager Manny Acta (11), bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. (15) and pitching coach Ruben Niebla (33) during a game against the Oakland Athletics at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

As of Monday, October 1, the Cleveland Indians have only managed a miserable record of 26-54 (.325) since the All-Star break. For a team that was once leading the AL Central for 40 days into late May. A collapse of epic proportions took place, and the Cleveland club struggled to get men on the base to score.

More than three runs per game was asking too much of the Tribe, and a team with young, budding talent, who fell victim to the injury bug and still managed to fight it out for a little while, finally caved in and turned into the team that many predicted they would be at the beginning of the season; a team fighting it out for last place in the AL Central with the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals.

The Indians are now only one game away from holding that position, and the worst record in the American League, over the Twins. Why can’t Cleveland have nice professional sports teams? With the recent firing of manager Manny Acta, it seems that the Tribe are almost as far away from playoff contention as the Browns are.

While Cavalier fans endured two of the worst back-to-back seasons since the 2001-02 and 2002-03 campaigns these past two NBA years, a light was shining at the end of the tunnel. That light happened to be in the form of a one-year Duke point guard.

Dec. 15, 2010; Miami, FL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott (left) looks on as Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (right) during their game at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 101-95. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

After enduring one of the toughest seasons in franchise history after LeBron James’ departure from the team in free agency, Cavalier fans still managed to show up in numbers. Whether that was due to fans already having their tickets preordered before James had even made his decision is irrelevant, but Quicken Loans Arena was at full capacity 97.8 percent of the time. A lot of that had to do with fans anticipating his return, but the Wine and Gold faithful still managed to pile on in, which is something that the Indians have failed to do in struggling times.

Despite boasting the worst record in the Association a year prior, Cleveland managed to rank 19th in attendance, having nearly 16,000 fans on a nightly basis. Basketball sells, and the No. 1 draft pick in 2011 was giving fans a reason to believe that this team could quickly become the city’s best once again.

Even with one of the most popular Cavalier players in the last decade out with a wrist injury for a big portion of the season, basketball fans still seemed interested in seeing what the organization could do to build the team up after the rubble from the post-James era was finally cleared up. They played their cards right, by filling in the areas that needed addressed the most with shooting guard Dion Waiters and center Tyler Zeller.

Mar 18, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) looks to pass the ball in the third quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Those picks may not have been fan favorites, however. I was at Quicken Loans Arena the night that Waiters was selected No. 4 overall, and the boos were quite loud. The disgruntled looks on the faces of the Cavalier spoke for themselves. It was the classic “another bad draft from a Cleveland team” look. That look continued to show as Summer League started. Waiters was out of shape, a very conditioned Kyrie Irving hurt his hand on the first day of practice and Alonzo Gee was still yet to be signed.

Things changed quickly, however, in the matter of a few months. Waiters was said to be working out in Los Angeles and getting back into shape. It has been reported that he has lost up to 10 pounds from the Las Vegas debacle until now. Samardo Samuels topped Waiters’ weight loss by supposedly raising him 20 pounds. The power forward looked by far the most improved out of any Cleveland player in Summer League play.

Omri Casspi played terrific overseas for Team Israel, and is determined to not let down Cleveland for a second year. Young guns, who could possibly be called up to the final roster this season, Michael Eric and Kevin Jones were great undrafted free agent signees. To cap it all off, the Cavaliers inked a three-year agreement with Gee and brought aboard the very energetic C.J. Miles, who could waver between the two and three this season.

The point is, what’s different about the Cavaliers is that they have playoff implications this year two years removed from LeBron James. General manager Chris Grant has made many fantastic moves these past two seasons, as he has stockpiled draft picks and hasn’t spent a large sum of cash to get the players he thought fit for the team. The Cavaliers avoided being involved in any big moves this season, backing out of a Dwight Howard mega deal multiple times.

They know that they can build a successful squad that can compete in the Eastern Conference by patiently rebuilding through the draft, picking up key role players for a low free agency fare and not chasing any superstars that may be available.

With camp starting today and Cavaliers Media Day becoming a frenzy of high hopes, things are looking up in Cleveland even if the Browns and Indians are down for the count. Get excited Cleveland, the Cavaliers will be an exciting squad to watch this season.

Topics: Alonzo Gee, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dion Waiters, Kyrie Irving

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