Fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers have every reason – well, one specific reason – to feel confident before the start of the upcoming preseason.
A savior has returned home to attempt to bring championship glory to a city that hasn’t known that experience for five decades.
LeBron James, who broke the collective heart of an entire city four summers ago when he announced to the world via “The Decision” broadcast that he was joining the Miami Heat, used a letter of his own to tell the world that he was returning home to northeast Ohio to rejoin the Cavs. That one SI.com story, and the story that appeared when one clicked on that link, set Cleveland into a hysteria similar to what occurred in the area this past May when the Browns landed rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft.
It also set the Cavs up to be immediate contenders for more than just a playoff spot. Here are 10 reasons the Cleveland Cavaliers could win the 2014-15 NBA Finals.
10. The Eastern Conference is Still All Kinds of “Meh”
Name a team in the East that is, right now today, in as good a position as are the Cavs, assuming that Cleveland is able to pull off a significant deal before the start of the season.
The Indiana Pacers had their chance this past spring, and they choked it away. Nothing about the remaining “Big Two” of the Heat should scare the Cavs, especially considering that Dwyane Wade is a shell of his former self due to injured knees that aren’t getting any younger. Carmelo Anthony re-signing with the New York Knicks should put that club in an ideal position to get knocked out of the second round of the playoffs.
The East is Cleveland’s to lose.
From there, were the Cavs to win the conference, they would be a single series away from winning a title. Anything can happen in a best-of-seven showdown.
Anything, including Cleveland winning something of merit.
One club to watch out for is the Chicago Bulls. They are a mystery so long as Derrick Rose remains unable to survive an entire NBA season, but Rose has proven himself to be an MVP-caliber player when he stays healthy for longer than a month or so. Chicago could, depending on the moves the team makes in free agency, match Cleveland talent-for-talent when all is said and done.
9. Kyrie Irving Now Has His Motivation
The talent is there with Irving. No knowledgeable basketball fan or analyst would dare seriously say otherwise. Some who watched and covered the Cavs on a daily basis would, during what was a disaster of a campaign for the team, question the passion and even the work ethic of the player.
Those days are about to become history.
James may not be in the twilight of his career, but the 29-year-old is not heading back to northeast Ohio in order to enjoy some champagne basketball before riding off into the sunset. He wants to win multiple titles, and that will involve James demanding that Irving bringing his A-game each time he takes the court.
8. The Luckiest Guy in the NBA
It was not that long ago that David Blatt was merely one of the most successful Americans to ever coach in European basketball who was also a no-name among most US basketball fans. Now, less than a month after he landed his first ever NBA gig, he will have the opportunity to coach the best player in the world.
Blatt has a reputation for being an offensive guru, and also for being a coach who demands effort in training sessions as much as he does during actual games. He is, in short, an ideal leader for a team filled with several potential stars who have some growing up to do, a team that also happened to struggle getting the ball inside the basket last season.
Cleveland professional sports fans are the best in all of North America if not the world. They have been emotionally battered time and time again, and yet they come back for more each and every season.
How pumped up were Cavs fans upon hearing the news that LBJ was returning? The team sold out all season tickets in under 10 hours after the announcement was made.
Best of luck to all opposing sides who play road games in Cleveland. The Quicken Loans Arena will be rocking for over 40 nights, as an adoring fan base that has had little to cheer about since the summer of 2010 will be revelling in the ability to watch James in-person as one of their own.
6. The Great Equalizer
It gets said at the end of every NBA season. Age, the great equalizer, is bound to catch up with the San Antonio Spurs. Somebody keeps forgetting to inform the Spurs of this, though, as they were once again unquestionably the best team in the league at the conclusion of the postseason.
Still, age has to catch up with this roster eventually.
Tim Duncan will be 39 years old next April. Tony Parker is pretty banged up for a guy who is 32. San Antonio missed out on acquiring Pau Gasol. This has to be the year when the house of cards that are the Spurs begins to tumble.
5. Anthony Bennett
The polite way to put it would be to say that Bennett disappointed during his first season in the NBA. It would be far more accurate to say that the first overall pick of the 2013 draft was an out-of-shape mess who underwhelmed at both ends of the court throughout his rookie campaign.
Bennett showed up to summer camp this time around in much better shape, and he has impressed in the brief time he has spent with teammates following the offseason. Some have suggested that the Cavs are, in Bennett and in Andrew Wiggins, getting two new No. 1 picks for the upcoming season if Bennett is able to stay at his ideal weight and play as well as originally advertised.
Bennett could potentially be packaged in a trade that brings a known superstar to Cleveland, so his value to the Cavs may have little to do with what he contributes on the court while wearing the team’s colors.
4. The Unknown
Acquiring James will not, if certain insiders and analysts are correct, be the final significant transaction completed by the Cavs before summer ends. It is now known that neither Carmelo Anthony nor Pau Gasol will be joining the club, but Kevin Love continues to be linked with Cleveland, and for good reasons.
Love wants to play for what will, for several years down the road, be a stable postseason team. He wants to be in a position to win a championship immediately.
Sounds like Love wants to play alongside the best player in the world, a man who will be in the Cleveland starting lineup this fall.
James’s talent being a reason for why the Cavs can contend starting next season must and will be mentioned. What must also be remembered is that James is the type of player who makes everybody in the lineup better.
That means Kyrie Irving will be better. Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett will, so long as they are on the Cavs, be better. Kevin Love, if the Cavs are able to acquire his services, will be better.
Add that, along with the fact that James will take pressure off of every other Cleveland player merely by being on the court, and the roster of the Cavs looks much more impressive than it did on the morning of July 11.
2. Oh yeah, That Guy
Perhaps you missed the news that LEBRON JAMES, the best player ON EARTH, is now playing for the Cavs. That’s why Cleveland could win it all next year.
James is far more than just a great talent. He is a player that gives just about any team in the league an additional 10-15 wins on his own. Cleveland could have used those extra ten victories last season.
The Cavs would have made the playoffs had such an imaginary scenario occurred.
LBJ still has, at worst, another two to three seasons of being an elite player. The Cavs will be legitimate contenders every year until James experiences a drop-off.
1. A Different LeBron
The LeBron James who left the Cavs for South Beach and the Miami Heat in 2010, the young kid responsible for “The Decision,” is not the man returning to Cleveland. James grew up quite a bit over the past four years, both as a player and as a man.
James learned how to show up when the spotlight of an NBA Finals is upon him. He has twice experienced championship glory, and he also earned personal honors during his time in Miami.
James is now capable and ready to be an on-the-court leader, a veteran able to guide younger players to success. He is a proven champion, the best player in the league, and James is also filled with the belief that it is his destiny to bring a title to Cleveland.
Doubt him at your own risk.