The Cavaliers have labored through an offseason filled with scrutiny, questioning, and stress. As the team continues to consider possible trades for Kyrie Irving and a possible 2018 LeBron James exit, the actual upcoming season has been ignored. However, regular season games are only two months away all, and training camp will be here in a matter of weeks. The following are predictions for how Cleveland’s players will perfom this upcoming season.
PG Kyrie Irving (if he is still on the team)
Irving has requested a trade from the Cavaliers, but the right deal has not been easy to find. There has been talk, and owner Dan Gilbert mentioned the possibility, that Irving will be present with the Cavaliers in training camp. If Irving and James are able to talk out their differences there, maybe the point guard will have a change of heart.
If Irving plays in Cleveland next season, he will take on an even larger offensive role. LeBron coasts more and more through each regular season to save himself for lengthy playoff runs. Irving will have the ball in his hands to score more than ever before, and could put up some impressive marks.
Projection: 26.4 PPG, 6.5 APG, 3.3 RPG, .460 FG%, .384 3P%, .875 FT%
SG J.R. Smith
Smith struggled last season, putting up one of the worst statistical seasons of his career. His jump shot was off all year long, and he was not the same dynamic defensive player. However, Smith had a lot to deal with, as his daughter was born five months early midseason (and survived), and, far less seriously, he fractured his thumb. Smith was distracted and out of rhythm throughout the 2016-17 campaign, but showed how explosive he can still be in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, scoring 25 points with seven three-pointers. He is expected to show a lot of improvement.
Projection: 11.9 PPG, 2.1 APG, 2.9 RPG, .407 FG%, .383 3P%, .690 FT%
SF LeBron James
The “King” has pulled back in regular season games in recent years to conserve energy, and should do so to an even greater extent this season. James will still hold the ball quite a lot to set-up the offense, but will not drive or shoot as much, and will probably play less minutes, dragging down his overall per game stats. His shooting efficiency could improve though, as he settles only for the easiest shot attempts.
Projection: 24.7 PPG, 8.5 APG, 7.4 RPG, .560 FG%, .362 3P%, .708 FT%
PF Kevin Love
Love is another player who could see an increased offensive role. While he has normally taken the backseat to James and Irving, the power forward could become more involved thanks to James’ passivity. Love’s name has also been mentioned in trade rumors all off-season long, so he has even more motivation to perform.
Projection: 21.2 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 2.5 APG, .444 FG%, .365 3P%, .821 FT%
Thompson’s role should not change much. He is a high-energy guy who battles for rebounds and loose balls, while catching ally-oops and running the floor. After struggling in the Finals, he will come into the season full team ahead.
Projection: 8.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 0.9 APG, .605 FG%, .573 FT%
PG Derrick Rose
The former MVP has an opportunity to make a great impact off the bench. While injuries will always be of concern, Rose’s ball-handling and driving will be important assets when James is off the court. Cleveland has been notorioulsy vulnerable in the Finals without LeBron, and Rose could help bridge the gap.
Projection: 14.8 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.7 RPG, .473 FG%, .288 3P%, .821 FT%
SG/SF Kyle Korver
The three-point specalist has the green light to shoot whenever he wants. With more practice time under his belt to get used to his new team, Korver can truly thrive on the Cavaliers.
Projection: 11.2 PPG, 1.1 APG, 2.9 RPG, .496 FG%, .492 3P%, .884 FT%
SF Jeff Green
The free-agent acquisition provides forward depth. Green struggled and looked lethargic last season on the Orlando Magic, but should be more lively on the floor in what could be his last chance to be a meaningful NBA player.
Projection: 8.4 PPG, 0.8 APG, 2.3 RPG, .436 FG%, .338 3P%, .797 FT%
Shumpert has been criticized for his in-game desicions, lack of offensive skill, and defensive lapses. The Cavaliers reportedly tried to trade him away this off-season, but no team would take on his sizable contract. The guard will need to show serious improvement to win back the organization’s favor.
Projection: 6.2 PPG, 1.6 APG, 3.3 RPG, .387 FG%, .338 3P%, .786 FT%
SF/SG Cedi Osman
Heading over from Turkey this season, Osman is a natural fit for Cleveland. He is an athletic, rangy player who can play forward and guard positions, and is used to coming off the bench in Europe.
Projection: 6.5 PPG, 0.7 APG, 1.8 RPG, .427 FG% .343 3P%, .738 FT%
The three-point shooting big-man has trouble staying on the floor in the Finals thanks to his horrendous defense, but he can still contribute in the regular season.
Projection: 8.3 PPG, 0.8 APG, 3.7 RPG, .449 FG%, .386 3P%, .825 FT%
The 37-year-old did not show much in the playoffs last season and probably should have retired after Cleveland’s championship. Jefferson is running on fumes at this point.
Projection: 5.2 PPG, 0.6 APG, 1.7 RPG, .441 FG%, .353 3P%, .719 FT%
If Tavares brings a solid presence in the paint, that would be a big boost against Golden State’s centers, should the Warriors and Cavaliers meet in the NBA Finals once again.
Projection: 4.3 PPG, 0.2 APG, 3.1 RPG, .626 FG%, .404 FT%
The Cavaliers signed Calderon this offseason in a move that was widely panned. The point guard has not been a productive player in years. If he sees much court time, the season has gone horribly wrong.
Prediction: 2.7 PPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 RPG, .404 FG%, .360 3P%, .882 FT%
PG Kay Felder
Felder disappointed last season and did not show enough in summer league for Cleveland to have any sort of confidence in him.
Projection: 4.1 PPG, 1.3 APG, 0.8 RPG, .383 FG%, .329 3P%, .735 FT%
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