While their record isn’t outstanding, the Cleveland Cavaliers currently sit at 2-2, eighth in the Eastern Conference. Thanks to a healthy blend of veteran leadership and youth development, Cavaliers coach John Beilein and his team rebuilding are off to a great start.
2-2 hardly seems like an accomplishment. The Cavaliers offense sputtered against the Orlando Magic on opening night, only scoring 85 points. They followed their poor start with Beilein’s first NBA victory against the Indiana Pacers at home last Saturday. The team was ecstatic for Beilein, to say the least.
Based on core statistics and on-court performances, the Cavaliers veterans have paved the way for future success, at least at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. The team is undefeated at home (2-0). While it’s too early to predict how the 2019-2020 Cavaliers will defend their home court, it’s a promising and optimistic start.
In 34 minutes-per-game, Thompson leads the way for Cleveland. In a surprising twist of events, he also leads their team in points scored (20.3 per game). Thompson, primarily used as a rebounding and defensive specialist, continues to fuel the Cavaliers on both sides of the ball.
The statistics currently represent Thompson as the Cavaliers most dynamic player. Against the Pacers last Saturday, Thompson drained a three-point shot; I was there to witness the pure attempt from high in the nosebleed section (tickets were cheaper that way). Additional side note, the new arena looks incredible.
During the team’s first four games, Thompson has recorded a double-double in all of them. He even scored 20 points in back-to-back home games, a career first for the nine-year veteran. While he’s currently average 20.3 points per game and putting up consistently great defensive numbers every night, it’s difficult to overlook the contributions K-Love continues to make on this Cavaliers squad.
The veteran leadership on this Cavaliers team is an aspect not to be ignored. Collin Sexton looks like a much-improved player, while Darius Garland continues to get better. While he’s currently struggling, rookie Kevin Porter Jr. continues to receive more playing time, an attempt Beilein makes to get him more acclimated to the NBA. Rookie Dylan Windler should benefit from Love and Thompson’s recent play when he returns from injury soon.
This season, Love ranks among the NBA elite in rebounding numbers. While he’s averaged less points than normal so far, his 16.8 rebounds per game make up for that. In addition, Love has continued to show signs of elite passing ability in Beilein’s system, average 5.0 per game.
In their most recent win against the Chicago Bulls at home, Love recorded 17 points and 20 rebounds. During the postgame press conference, Love told Yahoo! Sports him and Thompson need to continue to anchor this Cavaliers team. The first four games are an indication they’ve been successful in doing so.
“We’re just feeding off each other,” Love said after the win. “We talk every day that we need to set the tone for the rest of the team.”
In a much weaker Eastern Conference this season, all bets are off. If Love and Thompson can remain consistent and provide the necessary leadership for the young core, this Cavaliers team should see more victories like the ones against Indiana and Chicago at home. The team will travel to Indiana for another contest against a struggling Pacers squad.
On a final note: Happy Halloween, Cavaliers fans!
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