With the acquisition of former All-Star center Andrew Bynum, the return of coach Mike Brown and the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, Cleveland Cavaliers fans had a lot to give them hope.
What had looked like a serious playoff contending team is now up for debate.
The Cavs are off to a slow start this season, playing to a 4-7 record. They just ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Washington Wizards, 103-96, in overtime Saturday. With so many things going wrong, it is hard to see what is going right.
Cleveland’s star player, guard Kyrie Irving, has struggled thus far this season. He is shooting 39.5 percent from the floor, a meager 35.1 percent behind the 3-point arc, while averaging just more than 21 points per game. To some people, these numbers might seem decent but in Cleveland fan’s eyes, Irving is held to a higher standard.
Fans now question if the front office was wise in taking forward Anthony Bennett with the top pick in the draft. Bennett does not start, averages 11.7 minutes a game, just more than one point a game and is shooting 14.3 percent from the floor. Not to mention, Bennett missed his first 15 field goal attempts of the season. The possibility of Bennett being sent to the NBA’s Development League exists.
It is early in the season, but Mike Brown should be on the hot seat. Brown was successful when he had LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, but has yet to prove he can make a team that has few big names. He struggled with the Los Angeles Lakers and was fired after a 1-4 start in his second season. Who is to say this isn’t a repeat of his coaching disaster last year? Without James, Brown has to find a way to get Cleveland back to the playoffs, or he will be another one-and-done coach.
Adding on to the struggles of the ailing Cavs, team chemistry is at an all time low as confrontation has erupted in players-only meetings. Irving has also been confrontational on the sidelines, arguing that Brown should not have taken him out of the game against the Chicago Bulls Nov. 11. The arguments arise out of the Cavs lack of defense in the second half, as they have blown second half leads numerous times this season.
There are some positives fans can see through the gloomy fog. Power forward Tristan Thompson has started to break out and heavily contribute to the team. He is averaging 13 points a game and nearly 10 rebounds. Point guard Jarrett Jack brings an exciting burst of energy when he comes off the bench, averaging 9.8 points per game.
Although only playing seven games, Bynum has done well to contribute on the defensive side of the ball. For the Cavs to have any hope, Bynum is going to need to start putting up numbers on both sides of the ball. But with Bynum’s health and talks of retirement, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start looking for another big man to play center.
The Cavs’ struggles are relevant to their conference though. Just four teams in the Eastern Conference currently hold winning records (Indiana, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta). The season is still young, but a Cavalier playoff push needs to start now, every game counts.