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30 preseason predictions: Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs have more talent around surging superstar Kyrie Irving than ever before as they look to return to the playoffs this year.

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It's no secret that the city of Cleveland has had its fair share of depressing sports moments. Thanks in no small part to being spurned by one NFL franchise and one NBA franchise player, the championship drought in Cleveland is now up to four-TY years. I can all but guarantee you that the Cavaliers won't win a title this year, though they certainly are taking steps in the right direction.

The Cleveland Cavaliers

Prediction: The Cavs will place in the top seven in the Eastern Conference, and Anthony Bennett will win Rookie of the Year.

Much like the Wizards, the Cavaliers were plagued with injuries last season. That'll happen when you have Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving on your roster. It certainly doesn't help that they have a newly appendix-less Tyler Zeller and that they signed the perpetually injured Andrew Bynum.

The offseason acquisitions in the draft and free agency were huge. When Andrew Bynum is healthy, he is, at the very least, a top three center in the NBA. Jarrett Jack provides some much needed leadership and scoring ability off of the bench. Earl Clark played a solid role for the Lakers, but was never able to earn too much playing time. That should be different in Cleveland where they are lacking at the small forward position, and he should prove to be great role player when given extended minutes.

Despite all of the health risks and current injuries, the Cavs could be good this season. Their starting lineup has always been solid, but it will be even better with the all-around beast that is Bynum and the more-than-competent Earl Clark.

Of course, we can't forget about Kyrie Irving, AKA Mr. Fourth Quarter. He is a highlight machine, but what makes him special is his ability to penetrate to the rim with his ridiculous ball handling. While he is primarily a scorer, Irving sees the court well and he has a good sense of when to kick it to his teammates if they are open. When healthy, Irving was a beast last season, but the rest of his roster was, for the most part, mediocre. Now that his team is deep, Kyrie could and should have a huge season.

It's not too often when choosing the first pick in the NBA to be Rookie of the Year would be a bold prediction, but it might just be the case this season. No mock draft projected Bennett to get picked first, and there are four or five players who are currently favored over him in the ROY rankings. What could separate Bennett from the Oladipos, McLemores, and Zellers is the fact that he will be a contributor on a good team.

Bennett has all of the talent to be a key contributor for the Cavs this season. While lacking in height (a mere 6'7" tall), Anthony all but makes up for it with his immense 7'1" wingspan, which can help make the opposing ball-handler uncomfortable in the paint. His wingspan is actually longer than Cody Zeller's and Kelly Olynyk's, both of whom are actually five inches taller than Bennett.

Bennett can bring Cleveland a little bit of everything. His weakest point right now is probably his post game, and while the Cavs can't count on him to score consistently with isolation plays in the post, he does have some semblance of a game down low. The ability to shoot the three as well as finish at the rim could be huge for Bennett if he wants to earn major minutes on a Cavs team that is already stacked with talented big men. In his second preseason game, Bennett torched the Magic in the fourth quarter with some brilliant shooting.

I don't expect Bennett to have any nights like this early in the regular season this early in his career. Don't be surprised though if he starts to make shots when the Cavs call his number.

Other Cavalier Predictions:

  • By midseason, "The Return" will no longer refer to Derrick Rose, but Andrew Bynum's return to bowling.
  • Kraft Foods will partner with Alonzo Gee to form the new spray on cheese brand, "Gee Whiz".
  • Kyrie Irving will place in the top five for MVP voting.