The Cavaliers have dramatically improved over the past month, enjoying a 13-game winning streak and their current five-game streak along the way. They have surged up the Eastern Conference standings as well, rising all the way to second place behind the Boston Celtics. Situated only 1.5 games back, Cleveland is in prime position to take control of the conference moving forward.
The roster power rankings have been adjusted. New players have captured more playing time and taken advantage of their respective opportunities. Others have fallen off a bit and dropped a few places.
1. LeBron James
Who else? LeBron is having one of his most prolific offensive seasons yet, buoyed by his vastly improved outside shooting. He is currently hitting on 40.7% of his three-pointers and 77.1% of his free throws.
2. Kevin Love
Love has really stepped up over the past month, defending other teams’ centers with a surprising amount of success. Some more scoring on the offensive end would be nice, but Love is working within the confines of Cleveland’s offense. No complaints here.
3. Dwyane Wade
Wade has found his role as the lead ball-handler of the team’s second-unit. The guard has surprised a lot of doubters this season, injecting a springy step and energy into games. He also has been shooting from three-point range a bit, connecting on 35.3% of his long-range shots.
4. Kyle Korver
The 36-year-old is having one of his best seasons, thanks to LeBron’s passing abilities. Korver has been working hard on the defensive end, while providing his usual output of tremendous shooting.
5. Jeff Green
The forward has been nothing short of a revelation so far, providing much needed scoring from the bench. He is averaging 10.6 points per game in only 21.7 minutes, while shooting 50.9% from the field. His dunks are always a source of energy for the Cavs.
This one is a shocker. In the offseason, Cleveland signed Calderon to a minimum contract, a move that was widely panned. But Calderon has stepped in stunningly well, shooting the ball well and playing passable defense. The point guard looked finished two years ago, but has revitalized his career.
7. J.R. Smith
After a brutal start to the season, Smith has perked up. His three-point shooting is up to 36.7% and his defense has improved. His hustle steal against the Washington Wizards secured Sunday’s victory.
8. Jae Crowder
Slowly but surely, Crowder is starting to improve. He has been a big disappointment so far, but is starting to make positive contributions. In his past five games, Crowder is shooting 50.0% from the field and 35.0% from three.
9. Cedi Osman
The rookie finally received some playing time and made the most of it. He has turned into a regular contributor for Cleveland, averaging 5.8 points per game on 63.2% shooting in 15.8 minutes in his last five appearences. Expect to see more and more of Osman as the season goes on.
10. Channing Frye
Frye is a floor-spacer and three-point specialist at this point in his career, but he has made some defensive strides after some offseason work. He has a role to play on this team.
11. Tristan Thompson
It remains unclear whether there is a place for Thompson in Cleveland’s rotation. The forward has stayed largely shackled to the bench since his return from injury. He has no offensive game, and his rebounding efforts have been lacking this season.
12. Derrick Rose
Rose is still out with an ankle injury, but should not expect to see much playing time when he comes back. He cannot shoot or pass very well, and the Cavaliers have performed far better without him, as sad as that is to say.
13. Iman Shumpert
Shumpert is a trade candidate as soon as he recovers from knee surgery. He may not be an NBA-level player at this point.
14. Ante Zizic
The young big-man is a project who could see some playing time in future seasons.
N/A Isaiah Thomas
Thomas is expected to return in the first week of January, providing Cleveland with an instant, major offensive boost. However, the Cavs will have to play tough defense to make up for the 5’ 9” point guard.
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