Are the Cavaliers Title Favorites?

     Over this NBA offseason, another Big 3 has been formed.  When Lebron announced his return to Cleveland, it seemed that the whole sports world stopped.  Everyone was in awe of the fact that the king had returned home.  Heat fans burned jerseys, and Cavs fans seemed to completely forget how angry they were four years ago, and accept LeBron with hopes of actually winning a title.  Immediately, the NBA title odds inflated the Cavs’ title chance to 4-1, ahead of both the Spurs (5-1) and the Thunder (6-1).

     Then today, the world stopped again. Everyone then went crazy about a deal which we basically knew would happen eventually.  The Cavaliers did something almost unthinkable.  They traded away the last two #1 overall picks, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, and their first round pick in 2015 for Kevin Love.  It’s a very controversial move, under interesting circumstances.  They have a rookie coach, and a whole bunch of talent.  Updated title odds give them 5-2 odds at a title, which equates to 40% odds.  All this news and press coverage boils down to one simple question:  Are the Cleveland Cavaliers title favorites?
     They certainly believe they are, it’s completely obvious that they want to win now.  Any other mindset and they would’ve kept Andrew Wiggins, who obviously has tons of potential and could be a star in the league, along with a first rounder next year.  If they weren’t trying to win a championship, Lebron wouldn’t have come home.  Fans have the right to expect a title.  Most of that just comes with LeBron.  As a general rule, any Lebron James led basketball team is supposed to win a title.
     Cavaliers fans see the situation this way.  The Cavs went to the NBA finals, and went to five straight conference semifinals with LeBron as their only really good player, so now that LeBron has Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, a big 3 full of guys that could all be potential hall of famers if they can win a couple titles together.
     So are the Cavs and their fans delusional or should they be expected to win the title?  The short answer is this.  They should be title favorites, as they are the best team in the league.  I’m not happy to say this as someone who to put it nicely, isn’t a LeBron fan, but they look like a team to be feared.
     There’s a lot of reasons why.  First off, I think the Big 3 itself is underrated.  Why?  The Timberwolves and Cavaliers haven’t been relevant in the last few years.  This means that people haven’t gotten many chances to see  just how good they are.  Kevin Love is the best scoring big man in the league.  He can score from the post, mid range, and the 3.  He’s a guy who’s lead the league in rebounding.  He’s a guy that as long as he’s healthy fan go 22-25 points and at least 12 boards.  He’s averaged 15 boards a game before.  Kyrie Irving is a guy who’s a very good ball handler, averages 20 and 6 assists, and is still growing.  He’s only 22 years old.
     Age is a huge benefit to this team.  Unlike LeBron’s Heat, where you could definitely see the age with guys like Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and especially Dwyane Wade.  Look at the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Even in the “Big 3”, Irving is 22 and Love is only 25.  Other key contributors for the team will be Tristan Thompson, 23, and Dion Waiters, 22.  This is a team that is young and talented.
     These guys aren’t just the big 3.  They are good around the board.  As I’ve already said, Waiters and Thompson will be strong this year and in the years to come.  Anderson Varejao is a guy I think is really underestimated.  When healthy, which I admit isn’t often enough, he’s a double double type player.  Plus, he’s good friends with LeBron.  And let’s not forget the Miami Heat sharpshooters from 3 moved to the Cavs.  Mike Miller and James Jones know how to shoot the ball, and are scary when on a roll.  
     What we’re essentially looking as is a young, versatile, backcourt with a high potential, LeBron, good shooters, and three big guys who will combine to be make one of the league’s best rebounding teams.  That sure sounds good to me.  
     Now the question becomes this: where are the weaknesses?  The first one that comes to mind is defense.  They don’t have a true lockdown defender, although they have a few solid guys.  A big time shot blocker is something could really add the finishing touches to the frontcourt.  Additionally, the backcourt isn’t that deep.  Matthew Dellavedova and John Lucas III aren’t the best backup point guards, and Mike Miller and James Jones aren’t too special at anything besides shooting.
     Is this the best team ever?  Of course it isn’t.  We haven’t even seen these guys play together before.  However, in an east that is horrendously weak, they should have no problems taking the #1 seed in the conference.  Teams like the Wizards and Bobcats might be good in the future, but not really huge threats now.  The Pacers have really disappeared from contention without Paul George and Lance Stephenson, and the Heat without LeBron isn’t the same Heat.  The Bulls stand the best chance of taking the Cavaliers down, but they aren’t as talented.  
     Let me clarify something.  They may not be the NBA’s best team, but they have the greatest chance to win the title come next June.  I wouldn’t pick them on 5-2 odds, but I still give them a 60% chance at the eastern conference, and about a 50% chance in the finals if they make it that far.  That basically means I’m giving the Cavaliers a 30% chance to win it all next season.  The West has the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, and others, but  only one of them can advance to the finals, lowering their chances at the title.
     I may not be a LeBron James fan, and I don’t like the concept of manufacturing a super team, but I can’t discount that this team looks really good.  Only time will tell if they can live up to that expectation.
     Thanks for reading,
     Connor

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