To basketball fans that don’t cheer for Cleveland, the situation there is very bleak. But to those who pay close attention to the Cavs’ situation and watch all of their team’s games (like me), it’s clear that there is plenty to be cheerful about.
When LeBron left in 2018, he put the franchise in a tough spot. But they’ve drafted well, and been able to field a team that doesn’t always go down quietly against the NBA’s premier teams. Read on for a look at some guys who can break out next year and become known by the mainstream media.
If you look at Garland’s statistics, you’d think he was decent. But the truth is, he struggled with his confidence and also his consistency. Garland had a very hard time on the defensive end, and ended up ranking among the very worst players in the NBA in most of those categories. He couldn’t keep his man in front of him.
But there were some nights where Garland was firing on all cylinders and stroking his signature step-back three. Based on his small sample size during his lone year at Vanderbilt, he’s capable of making shots from anywhere. The issue has been that he has been a bit too passive at the wrong times.
Playing for a great coach in JB Bickerstaff for a full year should allow Garland more opportunities to play next to Collin Sexton. He’ll have chances to be a premier scorer, like Jordan Clarkson was before being shipped out. Look for Garland to come in as a whole new player, ready to prove the haters wrong and assure the front office that taking him at #5 was worth it.
If Dylan Windler (hypothetically) averaged 1.5 points per game in five minutes a night, it would still be considered improvement from last year. That’s because leg injuries/flare ups kept him off the court for the entire season. After a promising final campaign at Belmont, he never got to show the NBA what he could do.
Windler is finally going to be playing this year, and Cavs fans should be buzzing about his potential. He brings elite three-point shooting to a team that sometimes lacks it. He can rebound very well for his size, and is a guy that can be a prominent player in the offense for long stretches.
In his last college game for Belmont, he scored 35 points (7-14 3PA) against Maryland. Against some big fish, he put those numbers up. So, as he transitions to the NBA game, where he had a year to learn from the bench, we can expect a big season from him.
Kevin Porter Jr.
KPJ’s rookie year was as promising as Cavs fans could have ever dreamed. Porter had some fantastic performances, making all of the draft picks they had to send to Milwaukee for him worth it. He can throw down crowd-pleasing dunks, and make plays as a ball-handler.
There were also some nights where KPJ would struggle, and be pretty quiet in all areas on both ends of the floor. His improvement will come in his consistency. If he can score 15+ points on a nightly basis, and average 3-5 assists, that would be him playing his best.
Porter is somebody that is still relatively unknown outside of Cleveland, but if he puts the work in, then it can definitely change this year.
There is no doubt that Collin Sexton has already come a long way as an NBA player. He was the first rookie since Tim Duncan with 23+ points in seven straight games. He was averaging 30 points per game in the month of March before COVID shut the league down. Sexton’s next step will be leading the Cavs to wins with this scoring and playmaking.
Larry Nance Jr. has been a great fit since coming to the city where his dad once shined. He can knock down the three, dunk on anybody who tries to stop him, and is a fantastic rebounder & passer. If the Cavs trade Kevin Love before the end of the season, look for him to start putting up nightly double-doubles.
The Cavs haven’t played since March 9th of last year, so there’s no doubt all of these guys are itching to get back out there and prove to the league that they’re on a mission.