Cleveland had a very interesting offseason. The team lost Kyrie Irving, but was able to acquire star-to-rotation players in Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose. Thomas is coming off the best season of his career so far, averaging nearly 29 points per game and leading a Celtics team to the Eastern Conference Finals. Crowder is an ideal combo forward that provides defensive grit, that also gives LeBron James the luxury to ease off on defending their opponent’s main wing scorer. Wade, now 35, still managed to put up 18.3 points per game, and, though a shell of his former MVP self, Rose averaged about the same number of points.
But let’s be realistic. The Cavs didn’t do enough to put themselves closer to beating the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, who are improved after boasting the highest offensive rating and second highest defensive rating last year. Thomas’ hip injury may sideline him until the beginning of 2018. Crowder lacks the instant offense that Cleveland is lacking in their rotation players. Wade will probably make less of an impact on both sides of the floor as he turns 36 next January. And to top it all off, Rose and his glass knees are coming off an abysmal 21 percent three-point shooting season.
Let’s say the Cavs win the East again. Thomas, although offensively gifted, is a significant liability on defense due to his stature. Nothing will make Golden State happier than seeing an extra Cleveland player provide help defense on Curry, leaving at least one of their big four open. I can already picture Mike Breen saying, “Curry posts up Thomas, LeBron comes over to help, Curry passes to a wide open Durant — bang!” Honestly though, is Crowder going to do enough to contain Draymond? Will Wade actually defend anyone? Will Rose actually make it through a whole season without a knee scare? The answer is no to all those questions. The Cavs didn’t do anything drastic to jump ahead of the Warriors. At best, they’ll now lose to the Warriors in only six games this time around.