YOU GUYS! The day has finally arrived and the Cleveland Cavaliers will take the court against the Brooklyn Nets at Quicken Loans Arena. Still, it’s time to look ahead at the entire season and make a few predictions. Site co-editors Chris Manning and Zak Kolesar will answer 11 true of false questions and make 10 bold predictions on the Cavaliers and the NBA as a whole. So without further adieu, let’s get down to it.
True or False
1. Vegas has the Cavs win total at 40.5. They will go over.
Chris: True. This all rides on the team’s health and progression of young talent, but the pieces are there to make a real statement with 45 wins. But it’s more likely they win right around this 40.5 prediction.
Zak: True. Let’s put Andrew Bynum aside for a moment. I think this team can definitely play .500 ball without him, and I don’t expect him to miss the ENTIRE season. I think we will see big leaps from Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters this season, so I think they can hold strong against a plethora of weak Eastern Conference opponents.
2. Kyrie Irving scores more PPG than he did last year.
Chris: True. Expect Irving to have his true breakout season this year. I truly believe that this will be his time to shine and become one of the league’s best. I’m betting he scores 25 points a game this season
Zak: True. Of course. On opening night I’m expecting him to drop 30+ and shoot lights-out from long range. He plays big-time ball, and he’s proven that with an improving offensive game over the offseason. I think all of his averages increase this season.
3. The Cavaliers make a trade in February involving Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejao and/or Tristan Thompson.
Chris: False. This is hard. I really think that if the Cavaliers want to acquire a young piece they are in love with, it’s going to take at least one of these three players. But I also think Thompson is going to be a Mike Brown favorite, Waiters will make strides and Varejao will have another solid season. It’s close, but I say false.
Zak: False. This is a pretty easy false for me, honestly. Without knowing the health of Bynum, I don’t think it’s a smart idea to say bye to Varejao yet. Last season we had our chance, but his stock has dropped significantly since his hot start to the season last year. And Thompson and Waiters are pivotal in the future development of this team as starters, so a defiant false from me.
4. Andrew Bynum plays more than 50 games.
Chris: False. I say false, but it could easily be true. I just don’t know enough about his health to make a prediction above of 50 games.
Zak: True. I don’t think we will be 30 games into the season before we see Bynum on the court, and once he gets in the motion of things and become fluid with Irving in the pick-and-roll offense, I think he stays here. That doesn’t mean he will start 50 games, but I think he’ll definitely see action in 50+ games.
5. Anthony Bennett wins Rookie of the Year.
Chris: False. I’m already on the record as saying Orlando’s Victor Oladipo will take the award, and I also think Bennett will be stuck behind several other players in Cleveland. There is just too much working against him.
Zak: False. I agree with Chris. I have no clue how much of him we’ll even see Wednesday night against the Nets. I like Oladipo and Otto Porter’s chances much better than Bennett, and those players will receive significant starting minutes over Bennett.
6. Dion Waiters will be the Cavaliers most improved player.
Chris: False. I say Thompson takes his honor home. We’ll see about Waiters, but I remain skeptical right now.
Zak: True. I wasn’t impressed by Waiters besides a few games sprinkled here and there last season, so I think he has the most room for improvement. Waiters knows that Mike Brown will take him off the court if he’s not playing solid defense, and we saw how fired up that made Dion last season.
7. Sergey Karasev is a factor as a rookie.
Chris: False. I am very high on the Russian rookie, but it’s too soon. I think he will spilt his time between Canton and Cleveland, making it hard to gauge his rookie year. But if C.J. Miles gets traded at some point, then I expect to be proven wrong.
Zak: True. The Cavaliers are in need of shooters, and Karasev will definitely have his name called upon at some point this season from Canton. Miles is a flashy player, and I’ve been very impressed with Karasev’s form at such a young point in his basketball life.
8. Mike Brown is welcomed back to Cleveland with open arms.
Chris: True. But I am very interested to see how he is received against Brooklyn and when/if the Cavaliers go on a losing streak. My thoughts are that most fans know he’s a very good defensive coach that will improve a horrid defensive team. They also remember that he was highly successful in his first run. I think he’ll be okay.
Zak: True. I think a lot of people realize that it was a mistake to bid adieu to Brown in the fashion we did, so I don’t think there was ever any animosity between the Cleveland fan base and Brown. But you have to win games for people to want you to stay head coach. That’s what it all comes down to.
Chris: False. Washington is a step ahead of the Cavaliers right now and so are the Pistons. I do think the Wine & Gold have more upside than those two teams, but Washington and Detroit are closer to finished products than the Cavs right now. That gives them the edge.
Zak: True. I think Detroit is going to be a fun mess for Cavs’ fans to watch this season. As for Washington, I think they pose more of a threat to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference rankings because of the Wall-Beal-Porter trio that I wanted to be Irving-Waiters-Porter, but Cleveland has the star power to overwhelm the Wiz at the end of the day.
10. Jarrett Jack is the second leading scorer behind Irving.
Chris: True. I can’t count on Bynum or Waiters, so I expect Brown to lean heavily on Jack to score off the bench. That may put him in the running for sixth man of the year.
Zak: False. No way. This is Dion’s territory. Even if he shoots 35 percent from the field, I still expect him to be the second leading scoring just because of the high volume of shots he took in his first season.
11. The Cleveland Cavaliers make the playoffs.
Chris: False. I see this team falling just shy of the postseason. There will be improvement, but it won’t be enough to get them over that last final hump. I also think they are relying too much on uncontrollable variables – Bynum’s health, Waiter’s maturity, etc. – to be good enough for 82 games to sneak into the bottom end of the East.
Zak: True. Another off-year for the Eastern Conference and some postseason moves will put Cleveland in playoff positions Nos. 5-8. They need to finish above seven teams, so let’s map it out: Orlando, Charlotte and Philadelphia I have as locks to finish behind Cleveland. There are six teams in the cloudy area, and the Cavaliers need to finish above four of them: Boston (rebuilding), Milwaukee (lost star backcourt members), New York (could self-implode?), Toronto (they started playing better toward the end of last season) and Washington (these two teams will be duking it out for a few years).
Chris Manning’s Bold Predictions
- Kyrie Irving will average 25 points per game, increase his assists average to over seven per game and shoot 40 percent from three.
- The Cavaliers will trade for a small forward before the February deadline.
- They will also be forced to experiment with Anthony Bennett at the three.
- Jarrett Jack will play more minutes per game than Dion Waiters.
- C.J. Miles will be the first Cavalier traded.
- Chris Paul will win MVP. And Jason Collins will be his teammate by season’s end.
- One out of these three players will find a new home before the deadline: Al Horford, Kenneth Faried or Kevin Love.
- Roy Hibbert will win Defensive Player of the Year.
- Derrick Rose will be a near unanimous selection to win Comeback Player of the Year.
- The Chicago Bulls will take down the Miami Heat and take down the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Finals.
Zak Kolesar’s Bold Predictions
- Kyrie Irving will not be the suspect of any injuries this season.
- The Cavaliers will not be a part of any major trades before the deadline, meaning that we won’t see them dealing players 1-6 on the roster.
- Andrew Bynum will see the court in 2013 as a Cavalier.
- Dion Waiters will shoot over 45 percent from the field.
- Cleveland will go on a winning streak of seven games or more in the 2013-14 season.
- Dwight Howard will work out beautifully in Houston, but they will deal with a nagging point guard problem all season long.
- The Brooklyn Nets will finish No. 2 in the Eastern Conference standings behind the Miami Heat.
- The Los Angeles Lakers will miss the playoffs this season, even though this will not seem as much of a surprise to many.
- The Miami Heat will three-peat.
- Derrick Rose won’t average over 20 points this season.